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Ken Blackwell / December 5, 2009

De-fund Eric Holder’s Manhattan Transfer

Ex-White House counsel Greg Craig thought it was a good idea to transfer Elián Gonzalez from the arms of his loving family in Miami into the arms of Fidel Castro. Transfer Elián from Florida to Cuba. Bad idea. Attorney General Janet Reno thought she might have to prove her toughness by transferring dozens of women and children from a Waco cult headquarters to eternity. Really bad idea.

But Eric Holder’s plan to transfer Khalid Sheikh Mohammed from Guantánamo Bay to Manhattan for a civilian trial is surely liberals’ worst idea. KSM and his cohorts had agreed to plead guilty before a military tribunal, accept a sentence of death, and speedily rendezvous with their 72 ladies-in-waiting.

This offer of way out for the administration was not good enough for Attorney General Eric Holder. He insists on trying the terrorists before a civilian jury in federal court, just a few hundred yards from Ground Zero. Next to martyrdom and a free trip to paradise, this has to be the terrorists’ wildest dream.

No turbaned genie ever appeared out of Aladdin’s lamp to grant three greater wishes than these. KSM to Genie: One, I want to exploit my status as mass murderer; Two, I want to inflict even greater pain and suffering on the families of those thousands whom I’ve murdered; Three, I want to make my trial a magnet for my brother jihadists throughout the world.

Eric Holder’s decision to try the terrorists in Manhattan may not be simply the worst decision of this administration, it bids fair to stand with Dred Scott and Roe v. Wade as being among the three worst decisions in American history.

Congress has the power to prevent this farce from going forward. Congress must spare us this travesty. Congress must act. Phyllis Schlafly has reminded us—serious student of the Constitution that that she is—that Congress has the power to restrict the appellate jurisdiction of the federal judiciary. Very true. But Congress has a power that would provide even more immediate relief: That power is the power of the purse.

We need to move quickly to deny Mr. Holder’s Justice Department any federal funds to transfer or try any of the Guantánamo detainees apart from military tribunals. President Obama is on record as approving those military tribunals. As a senator in 2006, he even voted for the measure that established those tribunals. Of course, he is now on record backing up his besieged Attorney General.

We would actually be doing Mr. Obama a great favor by having Congress override his hasty and reckless Attorney General. I think the President would secretly heave a sigh of relief if Congress would prevent this gross error from going forward.

It’s vitally important that the people’s representatives speak on this point. It’s why we have checks and balances.

We should have a good chance of prevailing on a cutoff of federal funds for civilian trials of terrorists. How many Members of Congress would relish the prospect of having to explain on the campaign trail next year why they voted to spend a minimum of $75 million a year on security for the New York show trials? Especially, voters will object when Guantánamo Bay was built with taxpayer funds for precisely such trials. I believe we’d have good prospects of winning on such a proposition. But even if we don’t carry this amendment, we would certainly have a vote that would be of intense interest to American voters as they approach the 2010 elections next fall.

The ins and outs of the health care debate, cap and trade (tax and trade to insiders), and the stimulus require voters to pay the strictest attention as lawmakers wade through numerous 2,000+-page legislative behemoths. But a vote Up or Down on Holder’s Manhattan Transfer has a marvelous clarity. Let’s get clear.

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