A Senate Republican leader suggested Sunday that Attorney General Eric Holder should consider resigning over the decision to criminally charge alleged Christmas Day airplane bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab rather than put him in military custody for interrogation.
Holder is “doing a better job of interrogating CIA employees than he is of interrogating terrorists, and he’s not making a distinction between enemy combatants and terrorists flying into Detroit trying to blow up planes and American citizens who are committing a crime,” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said in an appearance on Fox News Sunday.
“He needs to go to Congress and say I made that decision, and here’s why. And based on that perhaps he should step down,” Alexander said, according to The Hill.
Alexander is chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, the No. 3 GOP leadership position in the Senate. He is among the least partisan of Senate Republicans, according to an analysis by Congressional Quarterly, which found the Tennessee Republican was among those GOP senators who voted most often with President Barack Obama.
Last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and four top Republican committee members wrote in a letter to Holder that the decision to have FBI agents instead of intelligence officials interrogate Abdulmutallab was “hasty. The Nigerian national and alleged al-Qaeda-linked operative is accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner with explosives hidden in his underwear.
Holder has been under fire from Republicans for a number of national security decisions, including his decision in August to appoint a special prosecutor, John Durham, to investigate whether CIA employees and contractors broke anti-torture laws during the Bush administration.
The decision to have Durham look into the matter came on heels of the DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility recommendation that urged Holder to reopen nearly a dozen alleged CIA prisoner-abuse cases.
Holder also backed release of Bush-era Office of Legal Counsel memos in April that justified brutal interrogation techniques that critics consider torture. The White House at the time fretted over the political implications of releasing the memos but ultimately decided the matter was the Attorney General’s call.
And on Friday, the Obama administration reversed Holder’s November decision to hold a trial in Lower Manhattan of self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other alleged plotters of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The decision to move the trial came after a bipartisan outpouring of criticism about the security costs and disruptions of holding a trial in New York.