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Who’s in Charge Here?

Karl Rove observes a string of bad-news Friday news dumps by the White House, the latest being the decision to move KSM to a civilian courtroom for trial. He writes:

What we are seeing with the White House’s timing in releasing its decision on KSM and other terrorists is a presidency clinging to campaign tactics that aim to dominate the 24-hour-news cycle. The problem is that ploys that work in a campaign don’t work nearly as well when you’re in charge of the executive branch. Once in office, you have to live with the consequences of a policy decision.

The debate now taking place over trying terrorists in civilian courts is showing this White House that it cannot escape the hard realities that come with making presidential decisions. Not even Friday afternoons can offer sanctuary from dangerous or ill-considered policy choices.

As a preliminary matter, it suggests that Eric Holder’s claim that he did not speak to the president about this is disingenuous. Holder just magically chose a Friday announcement date when the president would be overseas? No, of course not. It insults our intelligence to maintain that the president was a sideline observer and that the rollout was not carefully orchestrated with the White House so as to minimize — however temporarily — the fallout from what is certainly the worst decision of Obama’s presidency.

The see-ma-no-hands gambit is now familiar to those watching Holder’s operation. The same explanation was offered for the decision to name a special prosecutor and declare CIA operatives who employed enhanced interrogation techniques to be on the hot seat once again.

Obama himself played the “Not me!” game yesterday:

In another interview, Obama said he had not tried to tell Attorney General Eric Holder whether the case involving KSM and four other alleged 9/11 plotters should be heard in federal court or before a military tribunal.

“I said to the attorney general, make a decision based on the law,” the president told CNN’s Ed Henry. “We have set up now a military commission system that is greatly reformed and so we can try terrorists in the forum. But I also have great confidence in our Article 3 courts, the courts that have tried hundreds of terrorist suspects who are imprisoned right now in the United States.”

This is preposterous — the White House would have us believe that Holder made this call? “The law” provides for a military commission, so it is no answer to say that “the law” determined this decision.

At the next White House presser or in the next Obama interview, it might be a good idea to ask the president why he, not his attorney general, decided to give KSM a platform in New York to preach his jihadism and put his captors on trial. The president, not Holder, should be asked how he can justify the grief inflicted on 9/11 victims’ families and how he balances the intelligence giveaway that such a trial entails with the PR “credit” we’re supposed to receive. Obama and Holder can spin all they want, but the media — yes, one holds out faint hope on this score — shouldn’t play the patsy and buy into the nonsense that this is all Holder’s doing.

And if Obama sticks to his story? He should then explain why he has delegated one of the most far-reaching and damaging national-security issues of his presidency to someone else. Who’s the president here?



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