Well .. Well, doesn't this just surprise the hell out of us. : :http://www.politico.com/blogs/joshgerstein/0611/Holder_lawmakers_endangering_war_on_terror.html
June 16, 2011
Holder: lawmakers endangering war on terror
Efforts in Congress to force terrorism suspects into military commissions are undermining the war on terror, Attorney General Eric Holder charged in a speech to a liberal lawyers' group in Washington Thursday night.
"I am determined to defeat our enemies," Holder said in his address to the American Constitution Society. "But victory and security will not come easily. And they won’t come at all if we adhere to a rigid ideology, adopt a narrow methodology, or abandon our most effective terror-fighting weapon -- our Article Three [civilian] court system."
"Without civilian law enforcement and Article Three courts, our ability to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat terror plots; to secure actionable intelligence; to enlist international cooperation; and to punish those who have -- and who intend to -- harm Americans would be seriously damaged," Holder declared to considerable applause from the audience of about 700. "We must speak out. And we must set the record straight."
Since 2009, Republican lawmakers -- with the support or acquiescence of many Democrats--have repeatedly passed legislation limiting the Obama administration's ability to try accused terrorists in civilian courts. Obama has signed several broad bills containing such measures, even as he expressed disagreement with the terror-trial limits. However, last month, the White House issued its first veto threat ever against legislation seeking to rein in the administration's options for dealing with detainees.
"Politics has no place -- no place -- in the impartial and effective administration of justice. Decisions about how, where, and when to prosecute must be made by prosecutors, not politicians. This is true for every case, whether it involves or white collar criminals or brutal terrorists," Holder said.
Notwithstanding Obama's past decisions to sign bills that effectively blocked civilian trials for some terror suspects, Holder vowed that "so long as I am privileged to serve as Attorney General, I will defend the exclusive right of the Executive Branch to determine appropriate venues and mechanisms for all criminal trials."
The terror-trials controversy is bubbling up again as the administration presses a case in federal civilian court against two Iraqi nationals in Kentucky accused of aiding attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq.
"The place for foreign terrorists and terror trials is in the secure detention facility at Guantanamo Bay -- not in U.S. communities and civilian courtrooms," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement Thursday night. "There is wide, bipartisan opposition to giving the rights of U.S. citizens to men who tried to kill our troops on the battlefield."
In a 14-minute speech that stuck largely to the script displayed on teleprompters, Holder also touted other Justice Department stances popular with the liberal group, such as support for retroactive reductions in sentences for crack convicts and aggressive enforcement of civil rights laws. However, Holder made no mention of what would have been a sure crowd-pleaser: that he persuaded President Barack Obama to drop courtroom defense of the Defense of Marriage Act.
Department officials appear to have concluded that mention of the DOMA move by administration figures in an arguably political venue could undermine arguments that the decision was based strictly on the legal merits. Nevertheless, the lawyer who introduced Holder hailed the DOMA decision -- earning a loud cheer from the crowd.
Holder met more skepticism when he asserted that the Justice Department has "pushed" for Obama judicial nominees facing resistance from Republicans in the Senate.
Minutes after Holder left the room, 7th Circuit Judge Richard Cudahy used an awards presentation to lament the "somewhat pathetic efforts of the administration" on one judicial nominee, Victoria Nourse, which he said "do not look any more promising than most of its efforts on appointments these days." (Cudahy prefaced his criticism by noting that he's hardly a disinterested observer -- Nourse is his daughter in law.)