Ben Lerner

Reality keeps intruding on Attorney General Eric Holder’s approach to terrorism.

During recent testimony before the House Appropriations Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee, Holder had a heated exchange with Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas), over the rights of terrorists – specifically over whether a captured Osama bin Laden would need to be read his Miranda rights in accordance with the civilian prosecution model that Holder continues to advocate. 

Sean Hannity FREE

Holder’s response: “Let’s deal with reality…we will be reading Miranda rights to the corpse of Osama bin Laden.  He will never appear in an American courtroom…He will be killed by us, or he will be killed by his own people so he’s not captured by us.  We know that.”  End of story, according to Holder – no need to allow the question of civilian trials to get hung up on a remote hypothetical…except that a day later, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, stated that the goal of US forces remains to capture bin Laden alive, “something that is understood by everyone.”  Almost everyone, anyway. 

Reality struck again back when Holder declared – without consulting with local authorities – that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his associates, currently held in Guantanamo Bay, would be tried in civilian court in Manhattan.  Public outcry followed, during which New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and Members of Congress from both parties voiced strong opposition to the plan and urged Holder to reconsider.  The White House is now apparently close to reversing Holder’s decision, one that was clearly disconnected from any understanding of the risks associated with trying KSM in the federal court system.    

Ben Lerner

Ben Lerner is Vice President for Government Relations at the Center for Security Policy, where he manages the Center’s educational efforts and interactions with the federal government.