Attorney General Eric Holder surfaced today at the annual gathering of the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, the umbrella group for Jewish community relations councils around the country. According to the JTA, after receiving a standing ovation — no “cowards” there — he proceeded to knock down a straw man when he said “the conflict between fighting terrorism and protecting ‘our tradition of civil liberties’ is not a ‘zero-sum battle.'” Such an idea is not only “misguided,” he said, but “has done us more harm than good.”
Let’s be clear about this. Those who defended the Bush administration’s actions which kept the nation safe after 9/11 have never said there was such a “zero-sum battle.” The idea that the existence of the “model prison” — Holder’s description — at Guantanamo or the rough handling of a few hardened terrorists in possession of vital intelligence — undermined “our tradition of civil liberties” was what the left-wing netroots crowd that helped elect his boss has expressed. And it is this key part of Obama’s coalition that has been disappointed by the Obama administration’s cautious approach to dismantling many of Bush’s policies.
If anything has done more harm than good, it is Obama and Holder’s insistence that the Bush era policies did undermine our traditions. It is they and their fans on the left who did their best to besmirch our reputation abroad for purely partisan reasons.