6 Controversies Addressed at Holder Senate Hearing

The fight over indefinite detention is just the start

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Attorney General Eric Holder testified Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Holder, who has been at the center of controversies about where to conduct the trial of alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khaleid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) and how to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, was peppered with tough questions from Democratic and Republican Senators. Here's what he said and what commentators think it all means.

  • New York Trial Fight Still Going  The Swamp's Michael Muskal reports, "A civilian trial in New York for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his co-defendants in the Sept. 11 terror trial is still a possibility, Attorney General Eric holder told senators today. ... Holder had originally proposed trying Mohammed in a civilian court in New York, but that decision is under review by the White House after New York officials changed their minds and rejected the idea."
  • Holder OKs Indefinite Detention Spencer Ackerman is aghast. "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) leads the charge against Attorney General Eric Holder’s effort to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in civilian court. But when it comes to indefinite detention, they found a lot of common ground," he writes. "If I understand Graham and Holder correctly, what they’re describing sounds an awful lot like what used to prevail at Guantanamo Bay."
  • No Decision on KSM Trial  The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder explains, "The reason why no decision has been made is twofold: one, the White House hasn't made a decision about whether they want to support a strong public push by the Justice Department to try those suspects in federal courts. Number two, the basic dilemma, as crystallized to me by a senior administration official last week, is that President Obama hasn't decided whether closing Guantanamo Bay is a higher priority."
  • The 'Dept of Jihad' Controversy Is Over  The American Prospect's Adam Serwer concludes, "The smear campaign waged by Liz Cheney's group Keep American Safe against Justice Department lawyers who had advocated on behalf of suspected terror detainees has seemingly discredited itself by virtue of its own shameless McCarthyism. Only [GOP Sen.] Chuck Grassley, who had originally asked for the identities of the Justice Department lawyers, brought up the issue at all -- and when Holder argued that his concerns about disclosing those names had been borne out by the 'reprehensible' efforts of Keep America Safe, Grassley couldn't really argue. He just moved on."
  • 'Flip-Flop' on Killing Bin Laden  Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin scoffs, "Holder should have worn an Olympic gymnast’s outfit. After boasting last month that bin Laden would be killed and that he’d be reading Miranda rights to his corpse, Holder now says capturing him remains his preference and goal."
  • White House Shutting Out Holder?  NPR's Ari Shapiro thinks so. "The White House has been working directly with Senator Graham on these issues, cutting Holder out of the loop. The White House is now poised to overturn Holder's decision and send the alleged 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, to military court." However, "Officials at the White House don't want to look as though they are undermining Holder."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.