This afternoon the Justice Department released Attorney General Holder’s five-page letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on the case of Umar Abdulmutallab. The letter is powerful evidence of the damage wrought by the three pillars of Obamaism.
Holder first takes responsibility for the treatment of Abdulmutallab as a criminal defendant, with the agreement of the Obama administration’s entire national security apparatus: “I made the decision to charge Mr. Abdulmutallab with federal crimes, and to seek his detention in connection with those charges, with the knowledge of, and with no objection from, all other relevant departments of the government.” He then defends this treatment of the case:
The decision to charge Mr. Abdulmutallab in federal court, and the methods used to interrogate him, are fully consistent with the long-established and publicly known policies and practices of the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the United States Government as a whole, as implemented for many years by Administrations of both parties. Those policies and practices, which were not criticized when employed by previous Administrations, have been and remain extremely effective in protecting national security. They are among the many powerful weapons this country can and should use to win the war against al-Qaeda.
I am confident that, as a result of the hard work of the FBI and our career federal prosecutors, we will be able to successfully prosecute Mr. Abdulmutallab under the federal criminal law. I am equally confident that the decision to address Mr. Abdulmutallab’s actions through our criminal justice system has not, and will not, compromise our ability to obtain information needed to detect and prevent future attacks.
Holder doesn’t pass the buck for his treatment of the case, but the letter suggests (without explicitly stating) that President Obama concurred in it:
In the days following December 25 — including during a meeting with the President and other senior members of his national security team on January 5 — high-level discussions ensued within the Administration in which the possibility of detaining Mr. Abdulmutallab under the law of war was explicitly discussed. No agency supported the use of law of war detention for Abdulmutallab, and no agency has since advised the Department of Justice that an alternative course of action should have been, or should now be, pursued.
As Daniel Foster points out, Holder also asserts that “without a single exception” (emphasis in original) terror suspects arrested on American soil have been treated as federal criminals, although Holder later notes two exceptions under the Bush administration in which suspects arrested under criminal law were later transferred to military custody by executive order. (Foster had previously pointed out these two case and cited the applicable executive orders here.)
Others more knowledgeable than I will have intelligent and important observations to make on this revealing document. Holder’s confidence that his treatment of the case “has not, and will not, compromise our ability to obtain information needed to detect and prevent future attacks” seems particularly misplaced. For the moment, I note only the clarifying nature of the letter. The whole sorry spectacle of the Abdulmutallab case is Obama’s folly.
UPDATE: Kenneth Anderson manfully grapples with the twisted logic of Holder’s letter.