Obama scrambling for a way out of KSM trial dilemma
The word is that Holder and Obama "never expected" the kind of pushback against holding a civilian trial for 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikk Mohammed.
This is pretty clueless in and of itself. How tone deaf do you have to be in order to be caught unawares when such large majorities favor keeping KSM from using a civilian trial as a propaganda tool?
So now, Obama is frantically looking for a way out - keeping the idea of a civilian trial open but moving the venue somewhere else. This is probably a dead end and there are even many Democrats who believe the president will cave on the issue and have KSM tried by a military tribunal.
According to this article in the Washington Post by Anne Kornblut and Carrie Johnson, the president has "inserted himself" into the decision making process:
Officials acknowledged that Holder does not deserve all the blame for the political problems. "Their building represents what they do -- justice. It's rightly not staffed with people who have to worry about congressional relations or federal funding," one White House official said.
At first blush, the choice of New York made sense to many lawyers inside and outside of the administration: Judges and prosecutors there have handled serious national security trials, the Manhattan courthouse and tunneled detention complex would not require any of the suspects to move aboveground, and security costs would be lower than building a new facility.
But several sources questioned why the administration -- especially one replete with political veterans -- has not done a better job of managing the complex politics of national security.
"How did this happen?" asked Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.). "It was being blind to political realities, and I don't mean partisan politics. I mean the real, legitimate grass-roots feelings. They misread it."
Managing the politics of terrorism has not been assigned to one person at the White House. Many people are dealing with the issue of the trial, including Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, National Security Council Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, deputy national security adviser Thomas E. Donilon, senior adviser David Axelrod and White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. Increasingly, Phil Schiliro, the head of White House legislative affairs, has worked on building support in Congress. The new White House counsel, Bob Bauer, is also managing "a central piece of it," one senior White House adviser said.
Peter King is being kind. The White House didn't "misread" anything. It never entered their pointy little heads that anyone except die hard hawks would object to the spectacle of KSM being paraded before the press everyday while he would be allowed to spout his propaganda to the world.
Reading between the lines, it is clear that the president and his people are very unhappy with AG Holder. They should be. Anyone who would propose trying a terrorist as a civilian has no business being in charge of the Justice Department.
Hat Tip: Ed Lasky