The Plot Thins
September 29, 2009
Among those who know me well, few can remember when I covered any subjects other than Al Qaeda and the global jihad. I wrote about Osama Bin Laden when he was "Usama bin Ladin." And so since September 14, all anybody's been asking me are questions about a young Afghan immigrant named Najibullah Zazi and his alleged involvement in the first Al Qaeda cell uncovered in America since the 9/11 attacks. Here are my answers to the four most common questions I've been getting. 1. Is this just another of the government's over-hyped terror plots? U.S.
Time For The President To Press "The Reset Button" Between His Administration And The C.I.A.
September 18, 2009
The FT yesterday used President Obama's own metaphor from Washington's relations with Moscow. He has, that is, resolved to press "the reset button" with Vladimir Putin's Russia But, of course, he can do so only from our side. Putin has sent him a big mazal tov but no reciprocal gift. Quite to the contrary. As the Financial Times points out, Russia has embarked on an aggressive foreign policy in Latin America, partnering with Hugo Chavez, the wild man of the region. Russia is also now doing military exercises with Belarus.
Rahm on the CIA vs. Holder
August 28, 2009
This morning's lede story in The New York Times about the divisions between Leon Panetta's C.I.A. and Eric Holder's Justice Department has a couple of interesting nuggets. Now that Justice is going to be conducting an investigation into detainee abuse, Langley is angry. Rahm Emanuel, when asked by the Times, said of the dispute: “Leon’s representing his institutional building,” Mr. Emanuel said. “Eric’s representing his institutional responsibilities.” Translation: One is doing his job, the other is doing what he has to do, politically speaking.
OK, It's a Little Coarse. But the Question Is Worth Asking.
August 25, 2009
Can anyone, and Eric Holder in particular, "find 12 [random] Americans who would vote to convict an American citizen for threatening the life of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?" I doubt it. Not even on the Upper West Side. (The question has been posed by Michael Goldfarb on the Weekly Standard web site.) But not even that fact can dispose of the problem. Which suggests that Attorney General Holder, by foraging into what is by contemporary standards ancient history, has put himself outside the matrix of democratic standards.
Did Holder Have a Choice?
August 25, 2009
Marc Ambinder makes a smart point about Eric Holder's decision to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate CIA interrogators: There was so much information in the public domain--and so much information that would eventually be released--that the attorney general could no longer argue that no specific instances of lawbreaking had been brought to his attention.
Special Prosecutor to Investigate Alleged CIA Torture
August 24, 2009
Today marks two important moments in the debate over torture: the release of a 2004 report by the then-CIA Inspector General regarding interrogation techniques, and also the decision to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the violation of torture laws in interrogations (as the AP is now reporting). And it seems that Attorney General Eric Holder has chosen prosecutor John Durham to spearhead the investigations. Durham’s was a name that was thrown around as a front runner last month when the idea was growing some initial steam.
Gates-gate is the culmination of one of those occasional spates of race-related events that occur and flow into one another over a month or so. These spates are, in fact, precisely the “conversation” on race that Attorney General Eric Holder claims does not happen in America. What, after all, has all of this talk been from the Ricci decision through to the uproar over what happened on Henry Louis Gates’ front porch?
July 23, 2009
Over the past few days, there’s been much speculation over whether Attorney General Eric Holder will launch an investigation into the CIA’s use of torture after 9/11. One of the top contenders in leading an investigation seems to be John Durham, a name you probably don’t recognize--or may have forgotten. So who is this low-key prosecutor that may take on the most high-profile national case since Watergate? Durham began his career at the Connecticut state attorney’s office shortly after graduating from University of Connecticut Law School in 1975.
Truth or Dare
May 20, 2009
BARACK OBAMA is trying to split the difference on torture. He wants to move forward—no messy dwelling on the Bush-Cheney era—except that he’ll look backward if forced. There will be no independent commission to hold top-ranking officials politically accountable. But, if Attorney General Eric Holder wants to prosecute the Bush lawyers who defended the legality of waterboarding—John Yoo, Jay Bybee, and Steven Bradbury—well, the president won’t stand in the way. What does Obama gain by this approach?
Free Ted Stevens!
April 01, 2009
Eric Holder just did. From NPR, which broke the news that the Justice Department is seeking to void the corruption conviction against the former Alaska Senator: With more ugly hearings expected, Holder is said to have decided late Tuesday to pull the plug. His decision is said to be based on Stevens' age — he's 85 — and the fact that Stevens is no longer in the Senate. Perhaps most importantly, Justice Department officials say Holder wants to send a message to prosecutors throughout the department that actions he regards as misconduct will not be tolerated.