But Matt Apuzzo this week highlighted an aspect of Holder's work that's every bit as important: shifting terrorism trials back to American courts.
The news peg, of course, is Ahmed Abu Khattala, the suspected terrorist accused of launching the 2012 Benghazi attack. The right demanded that the Obama administration deny Khattala a civilian trial and ship him to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Holder ignored the Republicans' demands, and this week, Khattala was arraigned -- in open court, in a routine legal proceeding, just as the American justice system is supposed to operate.
Five years ago, the debate over whether terrorists should be prosecuted in criminal courts was so contentious that it made its chief advocate, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., a political liability. Republicans argued that F.B.I. interrogation was not suited to wartime intelligence-gathering. By extension, civilian courtrooms were no place for terrorists, who did not deserve the same rights as common criminals.
But as Mr. Holder prepares to leave office, his success in reversing the Bush administration's emphasis on trying terrorism suspects in secret prisons or at offshore military tribunals may be one of his most significant achievements. While he did not end the debate -- each new arrest brings fresh statements of disapproval from critics -- the Justice Department can now point to a string of courtroom victories that his liberal supporters, as well as many law enforcement officials, believe has reshaped the government's approach to prosecuting terrorism.
"History will remember these years as the time when we resolved one of the most contentious debates in the post-9/11 era: about whether our legal system was equipped to handle national security cases," Mr. Holder said recently in a written response to questions about the issue.
This is one of the A.G.'s most important successes, and it's also one of the areas in which Republicans were completely wrong -- whether they're prepared to admit that or not.