Harsh interrogations and Guantánamo Bay, secret prisons and warrantless eavesdropping, the war against Al Qaeda and the one in Iraq. On issue after issue, President Bush has showed little indication that he will shrink from the most controversial decisions of his tenure.
With the decision to charge six Guantánamo detainees with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and to seek the death penalty for the crimes, many of those issues will now be back in the spotlight. In an election year, that appears to be exactly where Mr. Bush wants the focus to be.
The White House said on Monday that Mr. Bush had no role in the decision to file charges now against the six detainees, leaving the strategy for prosecuting them to the military.
Still, the cases soon to be put before military tribunals -- including that against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who has described himself as the mastermind of the attacks -- represent a major part of "the unfinished business" that Mr. Bush and his aides talk about when they vow "to sprint to the finish," as one aide did again on Monday.
Mr. Bush never sounds surer of himself than when the subject is Sept. 11, even when his critics argue that he has squandered the country's moral authority, violated American and international law, and led the United States into the foolhardy distraction of Iraq.