We’re just swimming in “what if a Republican did it?” material tonight, aren’t we?
I’m sure there’s a good explanation. Like, say, that he knew he’d be grilled about this stuff, especially his advocacy for Padilla, if Republicans had the briefs in hand, so he decided to “forget” to mention them. Am I warm?
“It has come to our attention that some but not all briefs submitted to the Supreme Court by or on behalf of Attorney General Holder as counselor amicus were supplied to the Committee in the course of his confirmation process last year. We regret the omission,” Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy…
The Padilla brief endorsed by Holder stated, among other things, that using the ordinary judicial system to deal with a citizen seized as an enemy combatant “might impede the investigation of a terrorist offense in some circumstances. It is conceivable that, in some hypothetical situation … the government might be unable to detain a dangerous terrorist or to interrogate him or her effectively. But this is an inherent consequence of the limitation of Executive power.”
[Bill] Burck, former deputy White House counsel, and [Dana] Perino, former Bush White House press secretary, said [in NRO] that acknowledgment in the brief contradicted Holder’s public statements justifying the FBI’s reading of Miranda rights to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the alleged underwear bomber.
Yesterday, a Justice Department spokesman said that the briefs were ‘unfortunately and inadvertently’ left out of his submission to the committee. Really? Are we expected to believe that then-nominee Holder, with only a handful of Supreme Court briefs to his name, forgot about his role in one of this country’s most publicized terrorism cases? Or that he was not reminded about it when he later received our letter about recusals? That strains credulity…
“Holder’s Padilla brief clearly shows an appreciation that charging a terrorist in civilian court carries risks, most notably the risk of ineffective interrogation. But he withheld those views from the committee prior to confirmation, then tried to convince us, as the Attorney General, that there really is no risk at all.
Kyl ends by saying he’s keen to learn in Holder’s next appearance before the committee why he supports civilian trials now but was wary then. Let me spare him the suspense: At the time, Holder didn’t have to answer to any nutroots constituency screeching at him about using “Bush tactics” or whatever. Which, very ironically, means that the flip-flop on KSM’s trial that’s so irritated the left may in fact mean that Holder’s true, privately held view of how best to handle him has now prevailed.
But I digress. I’m tempted to ask why we even bother having confirmation hearings if key material isn’t being disclosed (where were the Republican researchers at the time, incidentally?), but if there’s any lesson to take from the past week, it’s that Democrats don’t sweat the procedural small stuff when trying to push something or someone through Congress. So let me ask this instead: Is there any cabinet member who’s been a more total liability to Obama than Holder? Between this, the KSM debacle, and the Abdulmutallab headache, he’s batting close to 1.000. What’s it going to take for The One to shift gears?