Holder v. Mukasey & Giuliani
By Mary Jacoby | November 18, 2009 8:58 pm
Attorney General Eric Holder used his Senate Judiciary Committee appearance today to push back against conservative critics on national security.
Without naming names, Holder refuted recent comments by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Mukasey’s close friend, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, both of whom have slammed Holder’s controversial decision to try alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in federal court in New York.
“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,” Holder said in his opening remarks before a Justice Department oversight hearing.
The “pre-9/11 mentality” comment appeared aimed right at Mukasey, who was President George W. Bush’s last Attorney General. On Tuesday Mukasey criticized the Obama administration for dropping use of the Bush-era “war on terror” phrase.
“Using soft, cushy euphemisms instead reflect they’re back in a pre-9-11 mentality,” Mukasey told the Washington Times. “In some ways it’s worse, because at least before [the attacks] we were not aware of what we were facing.”
: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/nov/17/exclusive-mukasey-warns-against-holding-911-trials/
decision to
refute his predecessor, Michael Mukasey, who has become one of the Obama administration’s most vocal critics on national security.
Holder had spread “misinformation” by arguing a federal trial for al-Qaeda operative Khalid Sheikh Mohammed could help terrorist groups glean valuable intelligence, the Wall Street Journal’s Evan Perez writes.
“I have every confidence the nation and the world will see him for the coward he is. I’m not scared of what KSM will have to say at trial – and no one else needs to be either.
I have every confidence the nation and the world will see him for the coward he is. I’m not scared of what KSM will have to say at trial – and no one else needs to be either.
In remarks during a Justice Department oversight hearing,
During a Senate hearing today on terrorism, Holder dismissed as “misinformation” allegations by Mukasey and other critics that terror groups could gain valuable intelligence from the planned civilian trials for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others four others alleged to have plotted the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Holder expressed confidence that “we can protect information in [civilian] courts in the same way that they can be protected in military commissions.” Mukasey has been critical of Holder’s decision to try the men in civilian courts rather than military tribunals.
During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday, Sen. Orrin Hatch cited a 2007 Wall Street Journal opinion article by Mukasey that stated, “during the trial of Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, an apparently innocuous bit of testimony in a public courtroom about delivery of a cell phone battery was enough to tip off terrorists still at large that one of their communication links had been compromised. That link, which in fact had been monitored by the government and had provided enormously valuable intelligence, was immediately shut down, and further information lost.”
Hatch also cited an assertion by Mukasey, that Osama bin Laden obtained a list of unindicted co-conspirators that included bin Laden himself, just days after prosecutors had introduced such evidence in the 1995 trial of Abdel Rahman and others in plotting to bomb U.S. targets.
Holder didn’t dispute that bin Ladin may have received the information within days, but said that the “co-conspirator list was not a classified document.  Had there been a reason to try to protect it, prosecutors could have sought a protective order.”
The attorney general laid out a timeline of what is known about bin Ladin’s cell phone use to dispute the charge that the al Qaeda leader gained intelligence from a criminal trial thousands of miles away.
The phone records were used in trials related to the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa. Holder said bin Ladin last used his cell phone Oct. 9, 1998. The government began producing evidence in the case Dec. 17, 1998. The phone records were disclosed in court more than two years later, March 20, 2001.
“So with regard to those allegations and those contentions, there’s a factual problem,” Holder said in one of several combative exchanges during the hearing. “There are factual inaccuracies that underlie those contentions.”
http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2009/11/18/holder-versus-mukasey/

Attorney General Eric Holder used his Senate Judiciary Committee appearance today to push back against conservative critics on national security.

Without naming names, Holder refuted recent comments by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Mukasey’s close friend, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, both of whom have slammed Holder’s controversial decision to try alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in federal court in New York.

“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,” Holder said in his opening remarks before a Justice Department oversight hearing. “I know that we are at war.”holder mukasey giuliani

The “pre-9/11 mentality” comment appeared aimed right at Mukasey, who was President George W. Bush’s last Attorney General, and who served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York in the mid 1970s with Giuliani.

Mukasey had earlier criticized the Obama administration for dropping use of the Bush-era “war on terror” phrase.

“Using soft, cushy euphemisms instead reflect they’re back in a pre-9-11 mentality,” Mukasey told the Washington Times. “In some ways it’s worse, because at least before [the attacks] we were not aware of what we were facing.”

And Giuliani said Wednesday that if Holder “truly believes we are at war,” he will reverse the decision to try KSM in civilian court and instead let the military try him. “It sends a signal to the terrorists that we are not taking this seriously, as we did before,” the 2008 Republican presidential candidate told reporters on a conference call arranged by the Republican National Committee.

Giuliani became famous for his leadership of New York through the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks that brought down the World Trade Center. He became mayor in 1994, a year after followers of an Islamist leader with ties to Osama Bin Laden, the “blind sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman, had first tried to bring down the towers, using explosives.

NBC’s First Read political newsletter points out a perceived inconsistency in Giuliani’s statements over time. In 1994, the New York mayor praised a guilty verdict in the first WTC bombing trial as demonstrating that “New Yorkers won’t meet violence with violence, but with a far greater weapon — the law.”

For his part Mukasey has been on an op-ed spree in recent weeks, publishing arguments in favor of military commissions in the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

Holder on Wednesday said his critics who said courts can’t handle terrorism cases and that classified information wouldn’t be protected are spreading “misinformation.”

“Our courts have a long history of handling these cases, and no district has a longer history than the Southern District of New York in Manhattan,” Holder said. Among the high profile terrorism trials in New York was the 1994-95 trial of Abdel Rahman, who was convicted of plotting to blow up the United Nations and other New York City landmarks. Mukasey, then a federal judge, presided over the trial.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) cited Mukasey’s previous statements that he believed the Abdel Rahman trial had been bad for national security. The trial produced a public list of  unindicted co-conspirators — including bin Laden — that may have tipped off the al-Qaeda leader he was wanted by the U.S. government, Mukasey has said.

Holder parried that prosecutors would have sought to keep the unindicted co-conspirator list classified and secret, if it had really compromised national security.

But one of the most interesting exchanges Wednesday came with a Democrat on the Senate panel. Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis) asked Holder what he planned to do if a jury failed to convict KSM. ”Failure is not an option,” Holder said, adding that he’d spoken already to the prosecutors about it. “These are cases that have to be won. I don’t expect that we will have a contrary result.”

Replied Kohl: “Well, that’s an interesting point of view. Um, I’ll just leave it at that.”

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