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Greg Craig in Trouble … But for What?

I’ve disliked Greg Craig since the time–before Obama was elected–he insulted our intelligence by suggesting Obama had flip-flopped on FISA because FISA (and not the odious Protect America Act) was expiring. It was bad enough that Obama caved on an important issue without his advisor insulting our intelligence as to why.

But I’m worried that Greg Craig’s job as White House Counsel may be in jeopardy for the wrong reasons. 

The WSJ reports that is in jeopardy.

Mr. Craig has come under criticism from inside the administration and in Congress for a perceived failure to manage the political issues that have originated from Mr. Obama’s decision to close Guantanamo, according to officials in the administration and in Congress. This criticism has drawn focus away from president’s priorities, such as health care and energy.

Since when is it the job of the White House Counsel to manage "the political issues" on key national security issues? Isn’t that the job of the political people–men like Rahm Emanuel (whom Greg Craig saved a heap of headache in the way he handled the Blagojevich fallout, though in that, too, he insulted our intelligence) and David Axelrod?

And from there, the description gets even weirder. Apparently, Greg Craig is in trouble because Dick Cheney made a stink after Obama released the torture memos.

Mr. Craig and Attorney General Eric Holder won the fight to release the memorandums, with minimal redactions, but the White House had to move quickly to limit political damage. Former Vice President Dick Cheney sharpened criticism of Mr. Obama during a televised speech that followed Mr. Obama’s own address intended to explain his national-security vision. 

And because polls no longer support closing Gitmo.

Mr. Obama signed executive orders during his first week in office to close the Guantanamo prison, to review the cases of the more than 200 detainees there and to draw up possible changes to detention and interrogation policies.

At the time Mr. Obama enjoyed public support for his Guantanamo plans, polls showed. Six months later that public support has dissipated, polls show.

In other words, WSJ seems to suggest that Craig is in trouble because he supported the right decisions on policies, but the political people in the White House mismanaged implementing those decisions. Taking the correct stand on moral issues only works, after all, if you sustain that stand and refuse to be cowed by Dick Cheney.

I fault Greg Craig because he has apparently hewn too close to Dick Cheney’s philosophy, particularly in the Obama Administration’s serial, absurd invocation of state secrets. But this rumored discussion to can him seems to instead stem from a desire to scapegoat him because Rahm screwed up health care reform.

In other words, I worry that this is an attempt to shut down all efforts to do the right thing on torture, and not an attempt to implement those right decisions more effectively.

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Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel is an American journalist whose reporting specializes in security and civil liberties.