Who Is James Cole? Why's He So Blase About 9/11?

President Obama made a set of recess appointments to get around Senate confirmation yesterday, including a new ambassador to Syria, reversing the Bush administration's decision to withdraw an ambassador after the assassination of Lebanese president Rafik Hariri. Obama also went around the Senate to give Attorney General Eric Holder a deputy, a number-two named James Cole. Who is James Cole? The networks never reported on Cole's nomination in 2010 -- this Justice Department isn't the least bit newsworthy, compared to the complete pounding the networks gave Alberto Gonzales and John Ashcroft in the Bush years.On Fox, Sean Hannity warned about his views back on June 16:

All right, this president sure knows how to pick them. The Anointed One's nominee to be the number two at the Department of Justice thinks that 9/11 is similar to any other domestic crime. In a 2002 article James Cole wrote, quote, "Our country has faced many forms of devastating crime including countless acts of rape, child abuse and murder. The acts of September 11th were horrible, but so are these other things."

I can hardly wait for this guy to get to the Department of Justice.

Fred Lucas at CNSNews.com explained these views came in a September 9, 2002 op-ed in the Legal Times.

“For all the rhetoric about war, the Sept. 11 attacks were criminal acts of terrorism against a civilian population, much like the terrorist acts of Timothy McVeigh in blowing up the federal building in Oklahoma City, or of Omar Abdel-Rahman in the first effort to blow up the World Trade Center,” said Cole. “The criminals responsible for these horrible acts were successfully tried and convicted under our criminal justice system, without the need for special procedures that altered traditional due process rights.
 
“Our country has faced many forms of devastating crime, including the scourge of the drug trade, the reign of organized crime, and countless acts of rape, child abuse, and murder. The acts of Sept. 11 were horrible, but so are these other things,” Cole wrote in his op-ed.

Cole did concede in his Legal Times piece that an “arguable difference” between domestic rape, child abuse and murder and the 9/11 attacks was that foreign organizations and perhaps even countries were involved in the latter. “But we have never treated such influences as a basis for ignoring the core constitutional protections ingrained in our criminal justice system.”
 
He pointed to the war on drugs as an example where significant damage to the United States has been done, where foreign powers have been involved, but where the U.S. still used its domestic justice system for dealing with the problem.
 
“The ‘war on drugs’--a longer term and far more devastating disaster for our country in terms of the number of affected people has been facilitated by foreign organizations and governments,” he wrote. “Yet, even after Panamanian President Manuel Noriega was arrested by U.S. military forces in Panama, he was brought to the United States, tried in the federal courts, and had full access to counsel, a trial by jury, the right to cross-examine witnesses, and the right to present his own defense.”

But the media wouldn't want to imply that Eric Holder's Justice Department is weak in the War on Terrorism, even though that term has been discarded by Team Obama.

Congress-watchers might remember that it was this same James Cole who was selected as an independent counsel to investigate the ethics of House Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1996, in which Gingrich paid the House Ethics Committee $300,000 for somehow violating the spirit of the tax code for teaching a college course called Renewing American Civilization. 

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis