Report: White House Aides Fretted Over Holder’s National Security Decisions
By Ryan J. Reilly | January 4, 2022 7:34 pm

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (file photo by Ryan J. Reilly / Main Justice).

A standout new New York Times Magazine story on President Barack Obama’s handling of terrorist threats includes details about the political pressure on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder as he made the decision to try self-declared Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in civilian court.

According to the 8,800-word article by the Times’s Peter Baker, some in the White House, including Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, raised concerns about the “collateral cost” of Holder’s decision, announced in November.

Those concerns were relayed to the Justice Department, Baker wrote. Ultimately Obama declined to intervene and let Holder make the call.

Holder also had disagreements with John Brennan, the president’s counter-terrorism adviser, who initially sided with Holder and then-White House Counsel Greg Craig in an internal battle over whether to release Justice Department memos about C.I.A. interrogation methods.

But Brennan later came to support the C.I.A.’s view, which said that those memos would give terrorists too much information about the agency’s tactics, writes Baker.

Craig was eventually ousted from the White House after months of internal criticism about his handling of national security policies.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney has led a chorus of GOP criticism against the administration’s national security policies, including Holder’s decision to try Mohammed in federal court.

Baker’s story is scheduled to be published in the Jan. 17 print edition of the newspaper. It was updated, edited and posted online early because of relevant news events, including the attempted terrorist attack on a U.S.-bound jetliner on Christmas day, according to Politico’s Michael Calderone.

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