Time has another one of those Rahm v. Holder profiles. It is notable from the slew of other ones for two reasons.
The anonymous source calling Holder a coward
First, the story features several main sources for this story: Lindsey Graham, speaking on the record.
Holder, issuing no-nonsense statements like this, on the record:
And it’s Holder’s experience in the law-enforcement system that makes him such a strong believer in its ability to put terrorists like KSM away forever. “We should have great faith in the resilience of our systems, the resilience of our people, the toughness that has always separated Americans from other peoples in this world, and that’s what’s made this country great,” he says.
And at least one anonymous White House aide (AKA Rahm).
What I especially love about about that anonymous White House aide is that the guy who is too chicken to speak on the record seems to be parroting GOP attacks calling Holder weak on terror.
Republicans, meanwhile, were busy turning Holder into the poster child for White House weakness on terrorism, and some polls showed that most Americans agreed with them. “The only two people who still believe in civilian trials,” says one of the meeting’s attendees, “are Holder and the President.”
Brave anonymous White House aide!! Singlehandedly fighting terrorism by hiding behind anonymity!!
Lindsey’s July (?) meeting with Holder and December meeting with Obama
The article also provides a useful timeline for two meetings Lindsey had with the Administration, first an July (or August) meeting with Holder.
By July, Obama had asked Holder to decide whether it was feasible to prosecute KSM in a civilian court. Holder chewed on that question for weeks. Meanwhile, Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who opposed civilian trials, asked Holder to meet with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a key centrist vote on matters of counterterrorism. Graham told Holder he strongly opposed civilian trials for the alleged 9/11 conspirators and that they could affect his support for closing Guantánamo Bay prison, a key Obama goal.
And then a December meeting with Obama.
When Obama met with Graham in early December, the Senator laid out his case against civilian trials. But the President said he thought Holder had the better side of the argument. “I just agreed to disagree with the President on that issue,” Graham told TIME.
Those meetings are interesting both for the way they match up to the timeline of the attacks on Holder and Greg Craig (which started in earnest around the time of the first meeting, and culminated in the December meeting after Craig had been ousted.
I’d really love to know the logic for the Obama meeting. After all, this was before the Christmas day bombing, when the Administration was still basking in the success of the foiled Zazi plot. And it came at a time when the Democrats had 60 votes in the Senate.
So why meeting with Lindsey?
It sure suggests the push against civilian trials is more about politics than efficacy.
But we knew that.