Michael Gerson sums up where the moral preener has left us: “Under Holder’s influence, American detainee policy is a botched, hypocritical, politicized mess.” Botched because a mass murderer has been acquitted of all murder-related charges. Hypocritical because the Obama administration is unlikely to release him after his sentence is up. (In other words, who cares what the judicial system says: the man’s a terrorist!) And politicized because decisions were made by the agenda-driven leftist intention of proving that the Bush administration was composed of a bunch of knuckle-draggers — legally and morally unsophisticated.
But as it turns out, the things that work in the war against Islamic fascism are the policies that the Bush team employed (staying the course in Iraq, indefinite detention — Bagram or Guantanamo, what’s the difference?), and the things that don’t work (closing Guantanamo, using civilian courtrooms for terrorists, second- and third-guessing intelligence operatives) are generally the missteps the Bush team sidestepped. Who’s the more unsophisticated commander in chief?
Bush had no trouble deciding that waterboarding in limited circumstances to extract actionable information was preferable to letting Americans die. The press is still horrified. Obama concludes that the use of drones to kill terrorists and, inadvertently, some civilians is a necessary wartime strategy. He’s commended for his no-nonsense approach to the war. Does Obama occupy any higher moral ground?
The lesson of the past two years is that there is no benefit in playing to the sensitivities of European elites and university professors. If the administration is going to lose its reputation for being feckless and inconsistent, it should drop those tactics designed merely to distinguish it from the previous administration and stop applying the American legal system in inappropriate contexts in order to demonstrate its superiority. Oh, and of course, Eric Holder needs to go. He has proved politically tone-deaf and legally incompetent. What good is he to the administration, or to the country?