Attorney General Eric Holder is appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning for a hearing on oversight of the Justice Department--the second at which he's appeared since being sworn in in February--and, while a range of issues will come up, Holder jumped right into his decision to try the 9/11 conspirators in New York, during his opening statement.
And he was very deliberate in telling the committee that he knows the country is at war:
Finally, there are some who have said this decision means that we have reverted to a pre-9/11 mentality, or that we don't realize this nation is at war...
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 on the streets here at home. I have personally witnessed that somber fact in the faces of the families who have lost loved ones abroad, and I have seen it in the daily intelligence stream I review every day. Those who suggest otherwise are simply wrong. Prosecuting the 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, law enforcement, intelligence, diplomatic, and others -- to win. We need not cower in the face of this enemy. Our institutions are strong, our infrastructure is sturdy, our resolve is firm, and our people are ready.
Holder's statement addresses the main thrust of criticism of the worldview held by President Obama and many Democrats since the 9/11 attacks: that closing Guantanamo, backing away from military commissions, and banning waterboarding--just to give some examples--not only are soft, but that they ignore the realities of a post-9/11 world--the reality that the United States is at war.