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Can Reid Protect Holder-and KSM?

7:50 AM, Nov 19, 2009 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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One of several e-mails I've received on the KSM trial:

"I'm an attorney and a former civilian and military prosecutor. Congress can indeed remove jurisdiction for Article III courts to try this case or any other terrorism case. I think Republicans should get a bill going fast on this and make the Democrats go on record right away on this."

I agree. But when you suggest this to Senate Republicans, they point out that Majority Leader Reid is moving to the health care bill, that he will presumably get 60 votes for cloture on the motion to proceed to the bill Saturday or Monday, and that health care will then be on the floor until the (attempted) showdown final cloture vote just before Christmas. The only interruption will be a brief one, for an Omnibus bill that will take care of government funding (the Continuing Resolution runs out Dec. 18) and a few other issues-and that will be an unamendable conference report. So, it was explained to me, there are procedural obstacles to getting a floor vote on the KSM to New York issue in the near future in the Senate (and the minority has no power to start with in the House).

But this isn't a fact of nature. This is a choice Reid has made. Of course he could interrupt the health care debate for a day or two-what's the rush on health care?, most of it doesn't go into effect for a few years anyway, except for the taxes-to allow for a debate and vote on some version of the Lieberman-Graham legislation to reverse Holder's reckless decision. But Reid certainly doesn't want to do this. And House Republicans have filed a discharge petition to force their legislation to the floor. But Pelosi will put pressure on Democrats not to sign on.

There will only be congressional action if popular outrage forces it. The public needs to understand that if Congress does nothing, they're enabling Holder and the KSM trial. Especially after Holder's appalling performance yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, you wouldn't think congressional Democrats would want to be known as Holder's enablers. So exposing the emptiness of the arguments on Holder's side, and putting pressure on Congress to step up to prevent KSM from getting his wish, a gold-plated trial and bully pulpit for jihad in New York, is key.

The man to focus on, I think, is Harry Reid. Many Nevadans are family members or friends of those who died on 9/11. Many other Nevadans have contributed-many through serving in the military-to our efforts in the broader war on terror. If they-along with everyone else in the country-let Sen. Reid know they want an up or down vote on KSM, they might be able to force Reid to change the Senate calendar, and allow Congress to do its duty.