03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Holder Acts Like a Patriot As Republicans Continue to Shriek in Terror

The swift regression of the Republicans from an oppositional political party into a mob of screaming infants during the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed trial preliminaries has been well documented by Salon's Glenn Greenwald.

The right's typical accusations of "traitor!!" and "Al-Qaeda lover!!11" -- directed at anyone attempting to defend the civil liberties that Habeas corpus grants to every human being accused of a crime in the United States -- are neither new or surprising, but Greenwald's dismantling of these juvenile attacks is great and should be read in their entirety.

Today, the New York Times brings us the latest in the de-evolution of the Republicans. When contrasted with the recent statements by Attorney General Eric Holder, the right really does look like a bunch of sniveling cowards afraid of being tempted by the siren call of a Jihadist. For example, here is what Holder said before before the Senate Judiciary Committee

We need not cower in the face of this enemy...Our institutions are strong, our infrastructure is ready, our resolve is firm, and our people are ready.

Contrast that with Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the ranking Republican, who said

It's not cowering in fear of terrorists to decide the best way for this case to be tried is to be tried by a military commission...I think there are clear advantages to trying cases by military as opposed to what can become a spectacle of a trial, with high-paid defense lawyers and others focused on using that as a forum.

"The spectacle of a trial" thing is the card the Republicans always play. Translated, it means they think so little of Americans' patriotism (and after eight years of Bush, who can blame them?) that the second KSM launches into a terroristy diatribe, American men will run out to acquire the necessary chemicals to build dirty bombs, while the women fashion burkas out of the courtroom's drapes.

That's pretty insulting to Americans, and it would be downright offensive to Thomas Paine, as Greenwald points out. In his 1790 Dissertations on First Principles of Government, Paine wrote

An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws. He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.

Basically, even the accused bad guys deserve a trial. Protecting the liberties of the ideological opposition is one of the good core American values Republicans don't like to acknowledge anymore -- along with much of the Constitution. Compare the above statement from one of the original patriots with this remark by Holder

What we are doing is a national responsibility


I'm not scared of what Khalid Shaikh Mohammed has to say at trial...And no one else needs to be afraid either. I have every confidence that the nation and the world will see him for the coward that he is.

Which man do you think Paine would embrace as a friend to democracy, and which do you think he would punch in his little weasel Alabamian face?

Just in case the stark difference between Holder and the Republicans' responses to the KSM trial wasn't clear enough, Chuck Grassley (R-IA) rushed in at the last moment to say something stupid

I don't know how you can make a statement that failure to convict is not an option, when you've got juries in this country...I think a lot of Americans thought O.J. Simpson ought to be convicted of murder, rather than being in jail for what he's in jail for now. It seemed to me ludicrous.

Oh, he went there. That's an O.J. Simpson reference, folks. In 2009. And the adults were talking about an entirely separate trial involving an accused terrorist. Yet, Grassley couldn't help himself and blurted out the last time some colored fellow made him really mad. To be fair, I'm sure Grassley has so little exposure to minorities that the O.J. Simpson trial probably was his last encounter with a person of color.

Cross-posted from Allison Kilkenny's blog. Also available on Facebook and Twitter.