HOLDER CAN'T HOLD THE LINE - AT 7:02 P.M. ET: The backlash against Attorney General Holder's decision to try the mastermind of 9-11 in a civilian New York courtroom is building more and more. Look for this to become a significant campaign issue.
Holder testified before a Senate committee today. The reception was not entirely warm, as Fox reports:
A top Senate Republican on Wednesday accused Attorney General Eric Holder of "making bad history" in his decision to send professed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his co-conspirators to New York for trial in civilian court.
Speaking at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in which Holder testified, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., raised concerns that the attorney general was imperiling national security by determining that war-time combatants, potentially even Usama bin Laden, might be sent into the criminal system.
"We're making bad history here," Graham said. "The big problem I have is that you're criminalizing the war. ... I think you've made a fundamental mistake here."
Testifying for the first time on the decision, Holder delivered a point-by-point rebuttal to his critics who say he's treating the suspects with a "pre-9/11 mentality."
But the rebuttal did not seem to sway any senators.
And now President Obama weighs in with a statement that is borderline weird:
Meanwhile, President Obama said in one of a series of TV interviews during his trip to Asia that those offended by the legal privileges given to Mohammed by virtue of getting a civilian trial rather than a military tribunal won't find it "offensive at all when he's convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him."
Obama quickly added that he did not mean to suggest he was prejudging the outcome of Mohammed's trial. "I'm not going to be in that courtroom," he said. "That's the job of the prosecutors, the judge and the jury."
COMMENT: So the president says he'll be convicted and executed, then says he wasn't prejudging the outcome of the trial.
Oh dear, oh dear.
Wait 'til the defense brings up the president's statement during jury selection.
I would not be shocked if the decision to try Mohammed in New York is reversed, especially if it starts to affect Democratic political fortunes.
November 18, 2009