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Holder on the Hill

Eric Holder went to the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday to testify. He walked back his statement that Osama bin Laden wouldn’t be captured. Now he says we could capture and interrogate him — sans Miranda rights. He also insisted that a New York trial for KSM isn’t off the table. The administration still wants to close Guantanamo but would have to get congressional approval to open the Illinois prison for the detainees. (Translation: it’s not happening.) And he’s not telling us the names of the Justice Department lawyers who previously represented al-Qaeda members.

It was in some ways a perfect distillation of the Obama approach to Islamic terrorism: nontransparent, politically untenable, impervious to facts, and increasingly unbelievable. The positions Holder advocates — closing Guantanamo and trying KSM in New York — increasingly have a theoretical and academic feel to them, in no small part because it’s obvious that public and congressional opinion runs strongly against the administration. Somehow that’s fitting for the law professor turned president. It sounds so reasonable and so high-minded in the classroom, but in the real world, the criminal-justice model for fighting terrorism runs into national-security concerns and political and practical realities. Meanwhile, one wonders who is going to craft the real policies — the ones that will actually be implemented. It sure doesn’t seem that Holder or his crew of former al-Qaeda defense lawyers are the ones to do it.