Holder Deferential On Guns, Cautious On Detainees

Here are some more excerpts from Katie Couric's interview with Attorney General Eric Holder.  First, an exchange on guns -- and check out his deference to the National Rifle Association. After the jump, Holder, on whether the 14 high-value detainees in U.S. custody will be tried in federal courts.


KATIE COURIC: What about reinstating the assault weapons ban and closing the gun show loophole? Do you think that will stop the flow of weapons to the U.S?

ERIC HOLDER: Well, I think the thing we need to do is come up with those things we can do right away. And we're gonna be moving 100 ATF agents to the border. About 26 DEA agents to the border. And that will happen over the next 30 days or so. And I think that will have a pretty dramatic impact on reducing the flow of weapons into Mexico.
(TRACK) But the guns being purchased and used in the US has also become front and center, given that a recent series of mass shootings from southern Alabama sound up to upstate New York have killed 57 people. While The Attorney General said he supported reinstating the assault weapons ban during his confirmation hearing, he's been silent on the subject since.
KATIE COURIC: Did someone tell you to back off?

ERIC HOLDER: No one's told me to back off.  I understand the second amendment.  I respect the second amendment.

KATIE COURIC: It's been reported that democrats on capital hill are getting increasingly chummy with the NRA and receiving more campaign contributions from that organization than in previous years. And nobody wants to get the NRA riled up. Has this become political at all?

ERIC HOLDER: No, I don't think it has. In fact, I look forward to working with the NRA to come up with ways in which we can use common sense approaches to reduce the level of violence that we see...in our streets and make the American people as safe as they can possibly be.

KATIE COURIC: What about gun shows?  In over 30 states, people can simply walk into gun shows and buy a gun, sometimes, from unlicensed dealers without a background check.  Would you support closing the gun show loophole?

ERIC HOLDER: Well, again, these are issues that we'll have to discuss.  The president will be the one who will ultimately set policy. Things that are politically saleable and things that will ultimately be effective.

KATIE COURIC: Does the closing the gun show loophole fall into those categories?

ERIC HOLDER: Well, that'll be one of the things I'll talk about with the president.
(TRACK) Another thorny issue of the AG's plate...where to put the approximately 250 detainees currently being held in Guantanamo. The president has ordered the facility closed by January of next year. Among them, 6 detainees who have been charged as co conspirators in the planning of 9/11..

KATIE COURIC: Is there any chance that some of the high value detainees, I believe there are 14 of them currently in custody, will be transferred to US prisons?

ERIC HOLDER: It's hard to say.  At this point, we are, again, making these individualized determinations.  And it's not clear where any of the detainees will ultimately end up.  But what we will make sure we do is that the American people will be safe with regard to whatever decisions that we make. 
 
Many of the cases are complicated by the fact that they involve classified information that could compromise national security if discussed in open court. Despite that, for the first time, Holder said article three, or federal courts will likely handle a number of high profile, politically sensitive cases.
 
Sot:  we will bring, I think, a substantial number of those people who we decide to charge in article three courts.  Others might be taken to-- military courts.  Others perhaps, to these military tribunals with-- some enhanced-- enforcement with some-- enhance-- enhanced measures.

KATIE COURIC: There is also the issue of the treatment of some of the detainees.  For example, alleged 9/11 mastermind, Khlalid sheikh Mohammed.  It's been reported that he was water boarded.  You have come out publicly and said water boarding is torture.  So how would that stand up in civilian court?

ERIC HOLDER: Well, that's one of the issues that we'd have to deal with.  Try to figure out-- exactly what we can do with detainees who have-- have been subjected to these enhanced interrogation techniques. And whether that-- poses a problem in bringing-- tryable cases.