Attorney General Eric Holder spoke in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee today, saying he wanted to address his controversial decision to try the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Khalid Sheik Mohammed in New York City. See a video below.
Holder told the mother of a man who died aboard Flight 93 which crashed into a Pennsylvania field near Shanksville, PA that "there was evidence, not yet made public, that makes federal court the best place to try Mohammed."
I guess what I'm saying is trust me," the attorney general said quietly, as reporters and security staff crowded around the pair.Here are some of the "highlights" of Holder's appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee today:
I will trust you. I will defer judgment," said Hoagland, though she added she still has serious doubts about his plan.
(1) The 9/11 attacks were both an act of war and a violation of our federal criminal law
(2) There are more than 300 convicted international and domestic terrorist currently in Bureau of Prisons custody. Including those responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in the attacks -- embassies in Africa.
(3) In fact I expect to direct prosecutors to seek the ultimate and most uncommon penalty.
(4) I know that we are at war. I know that we are at war with a vicious enemy who targets our soldiers on the battlefield in Afghanistan and our civilians in the streets here at home.
(5) Prosecuting -- 9/11 defendants in federal court does not represent some larger judgment about whether or not we are at war. We are at war. And we will use every instrument of national power civilian military.
(6) I'm not scared of what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has to say at trial, and no one else needs to be afraid, either,” Holder said.
(7) We need not cower in the face this enemy.
No. 6 is pure elitist arrogance, bathed in contempt and disdain for the country and the citizens. The American people are not "scared," are not "afraid," of what KSM has to say. What the animal has to say is irrelevant. How much more demeaning of the American people can a public service get?
Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) asked Holder how a civil trial could be better when KSM had already tried to plead guilty before a military commission"
How can you be more likely to get a conviction in a (civilian) court than that?" pressed Kyl, to applause from some in the hearing room.Holder's non-answer to a very direct question was that the decision to try KSM in New York was not based on the whims or the desires of KSM - "he will not select the prosecution venue. I will. And I have." The question was, why would you think a conviction in civil court will easier than in the military commission - where KSM wants to plead guilty?
Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) asked Holder to name one enemy combatant (now known legally as an "unprivileged enemy belligerent") captured on a battlefield and tried in a U.S. civil court. Holder could not name one, and Graham pointed out that there are none. Graham accused Holder of "making bad history," and said "I think you've made a fundamental mistake here."
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said: "I believe this decision is dangerous. I believe it's misguided. I believe it is unnecessary." Holder boasted that 300 terrorists are currently held in U.S. prisons. Sessions asked for a list of those terrorists, and after a slight pause, Holder said he would get the list for the Senator.
In the meeting, Senator Jon Kyl mentioned a previous request from Senator Charles Grassley, who has asked Holder for list of DOJ attorneys who have previous ties to terrorists. Holder indicated he would think about it. Here is what Grassley says on his website:
I plan to ask the Attorney General about potential conflicts of interest within the department related to political appointees working on detainee issues. Media reports have highlighted certain political appointees at the department and their prior advocacy on detainee issues. I would like to know more about these appointees and the work they are currently doing at the department. Any prior representation on the other side of these issues could raise potential conflicts of interest that should be fully disclosed as part of basic transparency and accountability at the department.The video below is excellent. Listen as Senator Lindsay Graham tells Holder, your actions "are a perversion of the justice system.