To the Editor:
In some alternative reality, the trial of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in a federal court might have been “the defining event of my time as attorney general” for Eric H. Holder Jr. In the current political reality, that has been precluded by Congressional grandstanding.
All is not yet lost. Mr. Holder can still do much to restore our standing in the community of nations by prosecuting torturers, and he can restore civil rights here in this country by repudiating 10 years of expanded use of national security letters, the secret government subpoenas for records or data.
Mr. Holder has a difficult job, in which the ever-changing “art of the possible” (that is to say, politics) intersects with the eternal demands of justice. It’s not yet time to admit defeat.
Lafayette, Calif., April 5, 2011