Wil S. Hylton:
On the campaign trail, Obama had blasted torture as illegal, but as president he had little incentive to prosecute the crime, which would be distracting and politically costly.
Just a few years earlier, the Bush team had ignited a national scandal when political operatives tried to influence U.S. attorneys, yet the Obama administration had gone a step further, allowing operatives to apply political pressure on the attorney general himself. What's more, the pressure would continue for months.
In the months since Holder lost custody of the KSM trial, his place in the administration has only become more conflicted. On national security, in case after case, he seems to have reconciled himself to policies that he would have once condemned.
Of the fifty-seven habeas hearings that have taken place at Guantanamo, some thirty-eight prisoners have been set free by a judge. Yet the Holder Justice Department is denying habeas hearings to the prisoners at every other US facility, including more than 600 detainees at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Despite clearly promising to grant habeas to enemy combatants, Holder and Obama now insist that they never intended to do any such thing. Only the prisoners who happen to be housed in Guantanamo, they say, have a right to court. Prisoners who were shipped anywhere else have an entirely different set of legal rights -- which is to say, none at all.