Emanuel Isolated on Civilian Terror Trials
The Washington Post runs a breathless piece of Kremlinology arguing that Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, “is a force of political reason within the White House and could have helped the administration avoid its current bind if the president had heeded his advice.” Among the key components of that case is Emanuel’s opposition to trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his fellow 9/11 conspirators in civilian court, an opposition rooted in the political calculation that the Obama administration’s commitment to closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay depends on the support of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who’s making that support contingent on trying KSM through a military commission.
Emanuel lost the initial fight with the president on that score. And apparently for good reason. The Post reports that he was the only one making the case for the commissions:
According to a person familiar with the conversations, who discussed the confidential deliberation on the condition of anonymity, Emanuel made his case to Obama, articulating the political dangers of a civilian trial to congressional Democrats. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. presented a counterargument rooted in principle, for civilian trials.
David Axelrod, senior adviser to Obama, supported Holder, the source said. The president agreed that letting the Justice Department take the lead was the right thing to do.
So the attorney general and one of the political strategists key to electing Obama made a principled case and Emanuel offered… Lindsey Graham, who doesn’t control any congressional committees and who has a dubious record of bringing Republican Senate votes along with him. This is “political reason” how, exactly?