The Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives has voted 212-206 to ban the Obama administration from spending any funds to try terrorism suspects in civilian court instead of by military commissions. Attorney General Eric Holder is reportedly all miffed and vexed. Since Congress failed to pass a new budget for 2011, the House passed a continuing resolution on Dec. 8 to continue funding the government next year. Somebody on the House Appropriations Committee, to Holder's supposed shock and dismay, inserted a provision that prohibits federal funds from being used to prosecute terrorist detainees in federal criminal courts, according to Susan Crabtree writing for The Hill. When Democrat members learned about the trial provision, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer went into damage control mode. Pelosi's office did not return a call for comment, according to Crabtree. Holder called it "an unprecedented grab of executive authority by Congress," according to Crabtree. "We have been unable to identify any parallel ... in the history of our nation in which Congress has intervened to prohibit the prosecution of particular persons or crimes," Holder opined.
It's about subject matter, venue, and funding of federal courts, Mr. Holder. The Constitution gives Congress the authority to decide on those. You can look it up.
Holder should have seen it coming after the House Armed Services Committee unanimously approved a defense authorization bill last May that banned funding to build or modify any facility inside the U.S. to house Guantánamo detainees.
Public outrage caused Holder to rethink his 2009 decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), the confessed mastermind of the 9/11 act of war on America, and his co-conspirators in New York City, a few blocks from Ground Zero. Holder has repeatedly promised for nearly a year that he's a few weeks away from announcing his decision.
But then, Holder has been busy with other monumental tasks such as a trip to Switzerland, where he failed to persuade the World Cup Soccer Committee to choose the United States as the venue for either the 2018 or the 2022 game. Instead, Russia will host in 2018, and the paradise known as Qatar is host in 2022. Maybe Holder was really trying to convince the Swiss to let him house and try KSM and company in an Alpine ski village. On Dec. 11, Holder was off to reassure a San Francisco Muslim group that he wouldn't let the FBI entice Muslim youngsters into becoming terrorists. Who thinks Holder's date book will be filled up speaking to Christian and Jewish groups worried that their kids can be talked into committing mass murder?
Holder created his catch-22 when he ordered the charges dismissed against KSM and his co-conspirators in the military court in Guantánamo Bay. As a result, KSM and company are still in custody without charges filed in any court anywhere, which makes a successful prosecution a bigger problem for Holder, who has repeatedly wrapped up the KSM cabal in the U.S. Constitution.
So there sat the befuddled Holder, facing the wrath of his base on his left and the majority of
Americans on his right who don't want KSM and his band of butchers tried in the United States. And what to his wondering eyes should appear but the Democrat leadership in the House so enraged by Obama's tax deal with the Republicans that they turned on Obama and saved Holder's briefs in the process?
Is Holder not smart enough to get it, or is he just faking outrage? Say he does decide to try KSM and KSM's co-conspirators by military commissions in Gitmo, or say he concedes that they are unlawful enemy combatants who can be held without trial. Why wouldn't he cherish the chance to put the blame on Mame when the antiwar left goes ballistic?
Crabtree's column sounds like Democrats have placed Obama on their Christmas naughty list for cutting deals with Republicans on the House resolution. Take for example Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.): "This is a lack of leadership on the part of Obama. "I don't know where the f*** Obama is on this or anything else. They're AWOL."
All together now, let's sum it up with some seasonal style:
'Twas right before Christmas, when all through the House
All the Democrats were stirring at the White House Mouse;
The payback was hung by leadership with care,
In hopes that the Dems wouldn't give it a stare;
Holder was nestled all snug in his bed,While visions of terrorists danced in his head;
And Pelosi in her kerchief, and Hoyer in his cap,
Had just settled their brains for Obama's trap,
When out on the floor there arose such a clatter,
They sprang from their beds to see what was the matter.
Away to the window they flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.They heard St. Moran exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Where the * expletive * is Obama on this cold winter's night?"
The last time we saw him, he was hiding behind Bill Clinton.
Jan LaRue is senior legal analyst with the American Civil Rights Union.