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Posts Tagged ‘Eric Holder’

Holder On KSM Trial: ‘I Know This Case In A Way That Members Of Congress Do Not’

TPM Muckraker

Ryan J. Reilly | April 4, 2011, 4:15PM

Despite his announcement today [yesterday] that the trials of five alleged Sept. 11 co-conspirators will be held in a military court, Attorney General Eric Holder is standing by his original decision to hold civilian trials for five alleged Sept. 11 conspirators in federal court and blames Congress for forcing his hand in sending them to the military system.

In a short 13-minute news conference at Justice Department headquarters on Monday, Holder came out forcefully in defense of his original decision in November 2009 to prosecute the alleged terrorists in federal court and said that he had “reluctantly” made the reversal of his original decision due to the “needless controversy” over the KSM trial and restrictions that Congress had placed on the executive branch.

Holder chastised members of Congress for setting up “unwise and unwarranted restrictions” on transferring Guantanamo detainees which could “undermine our counterterrorism efforts and could harm our national security.”

He said the trial decision had been “marked by needless controversy since the beginning” and that the prosecution of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his co-conspirators “should never have been about settling ideological arguments or scoring political points.”

“Had this case proceeded in Manhattan or in an alternative venue in the United States, as I seriously explored in the past year, I am confident that our justice system would have performed with the same distinction that has been its hallmark for over two hundred years,” Holder said in his prepared remarks.

But in light of the restrictions imposed by Congress on transferring detainees to the U.S., Holder said the Justice Department had to “face a simple truth: those restrictions are unlikely to be repealed in the immediate future. And we simply cannot allow a trial to be delayed any longer for the victims of the 9/11 attacks or for their family members who have waited for nearly a decade for justice.”

Asked by CNN’s Terry Frieden whether it was Holder’s belief that he “knows best and that there is just no room for the public’s view” on where a trial should be held, Holder said that he didn’t want to hold himself out as “omniscient” but said the “reality is though I know this case in a way that members of Congress do not.”

“I have looked at the files. I have spoken to the prosecutors. I know the tactical concerns that have to go into this decision,” said Holder.

“So do I know better than them? Yes. I respect their ability to disagree, but I think they should respect the fact this is an executive branch function, a unique executive branch function,” Holder said.

Despite the reversal, Holder said that the administration would continue to fight to get the restrictions on transferring Guantanamo Bay detainees lifted.

“It is still our intention to close Guantanamo. It’s still our intention to lift those restrictions,” Holder told reporters.

The Justice Department also released the December 2009 indictment against KSM and his four co-conspirators, which had been under seal until it was withdrawn this week.

Nolle and Unsealing Order – 4-4-11

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Crooks & Liars- By Heather Wednesday Jul 14, 2010 9:00am

Rachel Maddow reviews the case against six New Orleans police officers who are now finally facing federal charges for shooting unarmed citizens on the Danziger Brige in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It’s really sad that it has taken this long for the Justice Department to finally be doing something with this case. It’s long overdue. TPM has more.

DOJ Charges Six NOPD Officers Involved In Danziger Bridge Shooting:

The Justice Department has charged four New Orleans police officers with opening fire on unarmed civilians in the days after Hurricane Katrina, killing two and wounding four. The DOJ has also charged them, and two other officers, with conspiracy relating to the resulting cover-up.

U.S. Attorney Jim Letten and Attorney General Eric Holder announced the charges in an afternoon press conference today, five years after the shootings on the Danziger Bridge in New Orleans.

Four police officers — Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, Robert Faulcon and Anthony Villavaso — are being charged with civil rights violations in connection with the shootings. If convicted, they could face life imprisonment or the death penalty.

The two others, Archie Kaufman and Gerard Dugue, are charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice. Kaufman and Dugue were the investigators in the original case, and are accused of falsifying reports and false prosecution.

Five other police officers and one civilian have already pleaded guilty to charges related to the cover-up. The four accused of the shooting had been charged with murder in connection with the incident, but the case was thrown out in 2008.

On Sept. 4, 2005, seven NOPD officers, including the four charged today in the shootings, rode to the Danziger Bridge after getting reports of officers under fire. There, they encountered a family on their way to the supermarket for supplies. For unknown reasons, the officers allegedly opened fire, killing 17-year-old James Brissette and wounding others.

The officers then allegedly drove to the other side of the bridge, where they found another group of people and again opened fire. Ronald Madison, 40, who was mentally disabled, was shot in the back and killed.

Faulcon is the one who allegedly shot Madison, according to the indictment. Bowen is accused of kicking Madison as he lay on the ground dying.

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John Yoo

ACLU Sues Justice Department On Torture Report

TPM Muckraker

Zachary Roth | January 25, 2010, 9:08AM

The ACLU filed suit Friday in a bid to force the Justice Department to release its internal report on torture.

The long-awaited report from the department’s Office of Professional Ethics considers whether DOJ lawyers like John Yoo broke ethics rules in writing the memos that approved torture.

In November, Attorney General Eric Holder testified that it would likely be out by the end of the month. At that time, the department said it was going through the normal review process.

In December, the ACLU had filed a FOIA request for the report.

ACLU lawyer Jameel Jaffer said in a press release:

Under the Bush administration, the Office of Legal Counsel issued a series of memos intended to permit interrogators to use methods that the United States had previously described as war crimes. As a result of those memos, hundreds of prisoners were abused and tortured, and some were even killed during the course of interrogations. The public has a legitimate interest in knowing whether the authors of the memos violated ethical rules as well as the criminal laws, and in ensuring that those who wrote the memos, as well as those who authorized torture, are held accountable. The release of the ethics report is long overdue.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Lieberman: Probing Torture Puts Us At Risk

TPM Muckraker- By Zachary Roth – August 24, 2009, 5:10PM

Joe Lieberman believes that investigating clear evidence of torture will put Americans at risk of another terror attack.

In a statement, the deeply conservative Connecticut senator, who has in the past expressed his support for waterboarding, said that Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision — which already has drawn criticism for not going far enough — “will have a chilling effect on the men and women agents of our intelligence community whose uninhibited bravery and skill we depend on every day to protect our homeland from the next terrorist attack.”

What a responsible centrist.

The full statement follows after the jump…

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Ralph Lopez | Daily Kos | Thu Jul 16, 2009

pic

“You have the power to hold your leaders accountable.” – President Obama, Ghana, July 14, 2009

While congress says it is gearing up to investigate what is old news, that CIA and Special Ops forces are killing Al Qaeda leaders, a decision of far different gravity is being contemplated by Attorney General Eric Holder.  The new insistence of Congress on its oversight role, conspicuously absent throughout 8 years of Bush, is suddenly rearing its head in the form of questioning a policy which has been in place with no controversy for years.  The U.S. has been hunting and killing Al Qaeda leaders outside of official war zones since 2004, when the New York Times reported that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had signed an order authorizing Special Forces to kill Al Qaeda where they found them.

As recently as September 2008 CBS reported that Special Forces struck Qaeda leadership in Pakistan.

The decision faced by Holder, whether or not to appoint a Special Prosecutor on torture, is of a different gravity altogether.  A weight of evidence keeps building which indicates torture was employed on innocent men, that it didn’t work, and that it didn’t prevent any attacks.  And it gets worse.  Bush’s own FBI Director Robert Mueller recently confirmed to the New York Times what he told Vanity Fair a year ago, that “to [his] knowledge” torture didn’t prevent a single attack.  Former Legendary CIA Director William Colby has said that torture is “ineffective.”

(more…)

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The Times/UK, July 14, 2009

Dick Cheney

(NganMandel/AFP/Getty Images)

Some believe the order Dick Cheney, the former Vice-President, made that one CIA programme begun after September 11, 2001, be kept secret from Congress, was illegal

Catherine Philp in Washington

President Obama is under pressure to start an investigation into the Bush Administration’s torture and antiterrorism programmes after fresh revelations about a cover-up.Mr Obama has been reluctant to pursue any such inquiry and is concerned that it would open political divisions and endanger his urgent domestic agenda of economic rescue, healthcare reform and dealing with climate change.

A slew of revelations about previously unknown intelligence programmes and the involvement of the Bush Administration in concealing them has brought mounting calls from the Democratic Party for an inquiry.

Continued >>

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Independent’s Day

Obama doesn’t want to look back, but Attorney General Eric Holder may probe Bush-era torture anyway.

By Daniel Klaidman | NEWSWEEK
Published Jul 11, 2009
From the magazine issue dated Jul 20, 2009

It’s the morning after Independence Day, and Eric Holder Jr. is feeling the weight of history. The night before, he’d stood on the roof of the White House alongside the president of the United States, leaning over a railing to watch fireworks burst over the Mall, the monuments to Lincoln and Washington aglow at either end. “I was so struck by the fact that for the first time in history an African-American was presiding over this celebration of what our nation is all about,” he says. Now, sitting at his kitchen table in jeans and a gray polo shirt, as his 11-year-old son, Buddy, dashes in and out of the room, Holder is reflecting on his own role. He doesn’t dwell on the fact that he’s the country’s first black attorney general. He is focused instead on the tension that the best of his predecessors have confronted: how does one faithfully serve both the law and the president?

Alone among cabinet officers, attorneys general are partisan appointees expected to rise above partisanship. All struggle to find a happy medium between loyalty and independence. Few succeed. At one extreme looms Alberto Gonzales, who allowed the Justice Department to be run like Tammany Hall. At the other is Janet Reno, whose righteousness and folksy eccentricities marginalized her within the Clinton administration. Lean too far one way and you corrupt the office, too far the other way and you render yourself impotent. Mindful of history, Holder is trying to get the balance right. “You have the responsibility of enforcing the nation’s laws, and you have to be seen as neutral, detached, and nonpartisan in that effort,” Holder says. “But the reality of being A.G. is that I’m also part of the president’s team. I want the president to succeed; I campaigned for him. I share his world view and values.”

These are not just the philosophical musings of a new attorney general. Holder, 58, may be on the verge of asserting his independence in a profound way. Four knowledgeable sources tell NEWSWEEK that he is now leaning toward appointing a prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration’s brutal interrogation practices, something the president has been reluctant to do. While no final decision has been made, an announcement could come in a matter of weeks, say these sources, who decline to be identified discussing a sensitive law-enforcement matter. Such a decision would roil the country, would likely plunge Washington into a new round of partisan warfare, and could even imperil Obama’s domestic priorities, including health care and energy reform. Holder knows all this, and he has been wrestling with the question for months. “I hope that whatever decision I make would not have a negative impact on the president’s agenda,” he says. “But that can’t be a part of my decision.”

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