Attorney General Eric Holder told the House Judiciary Committee today that the Justice Department is prepared to defend in court President Obama’s controversial decision to withhold release of photographs allegedly showing abuse of detainees.
But Holder otherwise had with few firm answers on how he would handle key issues surrounding the authorization of the harsh interrogation methods used against suspected terrorists.
Holder reiterated many of his same talking points as committee members asked him if he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the authorization of the interrogation methods and prosecute Bush officials responsible for the approval of the techniques.
“We will allow the law and facts to take us wherever it is appropriate,” Holder said. He added later: “No one is above the law.”
The Attorney General said the much anticipated Justice Department Office of Professional Responsibility into the “torture memos” should be ready in the next couple of weeks, but Holder shed no light on its expected findings since he said he has not seen it yet.
Holder was also questioned numerous times about what the Justice Department would do with 241 detainees at Guantanamo Bay when the military prison closes in less than a year. He said the Justice Department is still reviewing their cases.
He reassured the committee members that the safety of the American people will be paramount if the Justice Department decides it will bring certain detainees to the United States.
“We are not going to release anyone or transfer anyone that would pose a risk to the American people,” he said.
The attorney general also stood behind President Obama’s decision to block the release of several photos that document prisoner abuse, despite the Justice Department’s previous assurances that it would make sure they were released. He said releasing the photos could have a “major impact” on the military conflict.
“I think the president has made a decision that was consistent with protecting our troops,” Holder said.