The top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee criticized the decision to delay a scheduled oversight hearing with Attorney General Eric Holder Tuesday, taking the opportunity to flesh out his disagreements with the way the Justice Department has handled terrorism cases under Holder’s leadership.
“The last time Attorney General Holder testified before the Senate was November 18th of last year. Then in late January, following revelations that the Christmas Bomber had been hastily Mirandized — without consulting the relevant intelligence agencies — Republicans called for an immediate hearing with the Attorney General,” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said in a statement. “Unfortunately, that hearing was never held. We were told instead that we would have an opportunity to question Attorney General Holder at a planned oversight hearing in March.”
“Now that won’t happen either. But while this hearing has been delayed, the Attorney General cannot delay action to repair his broken policies,” Sessions added.
DOJ aides were intently preparing Holder for the hearing on Monday evening when the Senate Judiciary Committee announced the oversight hearing would be postponed to allow senators to attend the White House signing ceremony of the newly passed health care law. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, attended the signing ceremony .
Sessions’ full news release is below.
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, made the following comments today after it was announced that Attorney General Eric Holder’s appearance at a Department of Justice oversight hearing, originally scheduled for today, would be postponed until April:
“The last time Attorney General Holder testified before the Senate was November 18th of last year. Then in late January, following revelations that the Christmas Bomber had been hastily Mirandized—without consulting the relevant intelligence agencies—Republicans called for an immediate hearing with the Attorney General. Unfortunately, that hearing was never held. We were told instead that we would have an opportunity to question Attorney General Holder at a planned oversight hearing in March.
“Now that won’t happen either. But while this hearing has been delayed, the Attorney General cannot delay action to repair his broken policies.
“The American people need to know what road Attorney General Holder will take: Will he continue to needlessly reject military commissions and to treat terrorists like common criminals? Or will he utilize the lawful military justice system as a crucial resource in the war on terror?
“Just last week, Attorney General Holder suggested that Osama Bin Laden might receive the same legal treatment as Charles Manson. This statement failed to recognize the extraordinary legal and security differences between a domestic killer and the foreign leader of an international terrorist network with which we are at war.
“Does he really believe that if we capture Bin Laden — or any of his top deputies—the first question we should ask them is if they want a lawyer?
“And just last night we finally received the Department of Justice’s response to the written questions submitted after the Attorney General’s November testimony. In those responses, the Department of Justice concedes that military commissions have better safeguards than criminal trials for protecting classified information — contradicting the Attorney General’s own testimony.
“It’s time for the Attorney General and the Obama Administration to utilize the nearly 10 years of effort that went into establishing military commissions after 9/11. Congress passed legislation and we even built an ideal site for these trials with a multi-million dollar courthouse at Guantánamo Bay.
“Military justice is consistent with our history, our laws, our security, and our values. Failing to utilize it jeopardizes needed intelligence and is a dangerous deviation from the longstanding principles of war.”