Holder’s Press Conference Liveblog

Holder: I stand by decision that best venue for prosecution civilian court.

Had developed plans for dealing with classified evidence.

“Members of Congress have intervened.”

Decisions about who, where, to prosecute have always been made by members of Executive Branch. Yet they’ve taken one of the nation’s most tested counter-terrorism tools off the table.

We must face a simple truth. Cannot allow trial be delayed any longer.

Move prosecutors to dismiss indictment filed in civilian courts.

Effectiveness of federal prosecutors have been subjected to unfair and unfounded criticisms.

Too many people–many of whom do know better–have expressed doubts about our federal courts.

Our National Security demands that we continue to prosecute terrorists in federal courts. Our heritage demands that we have full faith in court system.

Want to thank federal prosecutors who have spent countless hours working to bring this to trial.

It is my sincere hope that we will be able to deliver the justice [victims families] have so long deserved.

Open question on death penalty: Holder defers to DOD.

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  1. BoxTurtle says:

    If Holder had any sense of decency left, he’d announce his resignation at the end of this news conference.

    Boxturtle (I shouldn’t be so hard on him, he’s just obeying Obama)

    • nomolos says:

      Decency is not a word that can be associated with anyone in the Øbama administration.

      From my point of view if they want to prosecute the ringleader of 9/11 they can find him living in McLean Virginia.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    How, exactly, has “Congress intervened” to stop an exclusively executive branch decision on whether to charge a suspected criminal in court or in a novel, semi-closed, foreign-located “military commission”? Has it effectively frozen funding? Isn’t that freezing justice and oughtn’t it to be openly confronted and attacked as unAmerican?

    When Mr. Holder says Congress, does he mean Congress did something? Or does he mean the White House is afraid Congress might do something? That is, if Mr. Obama doesn’t cave before being rudely asked to cave? All that saves is the obvious humiliation; the caving carries its own price and frequently gives Republicans more than even they dare ask for.

    • Gitcheegumee says:

      Don’t be surprised if some wag starts referring to our Caveman administration.

      Geico paging the White House….

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If Congress has frozen justice, then any delay is Congress’ doing, not the administration’s. Why does Mr. Obama feel compelled to own a problem he hasn’t created and isn’t responsible for fixing? How does moving a prosecution to a novel military commission unfreeze rather than make permanent that absence of justice?

    Is this another example of Mr. Obama’s endless triangulation – his incessant looking for the corner in a round room – or does our constitutional lawyer president fundamentally agree that Congress is correct in denying justice?

    Or does he blindly hope that political conflict in the most political of jobs will magically disappear because he would be more comfortable if it did?

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Mr. President, is the three-fifths justice of a military commission adequate because the alleged crimes are so heinous or because the political compromise is so convenient?

    If Congress scurries and squeaks again, will three-fifths justice be enough for Tony Soprano or the Spokane bomber or the next Scooter Libby?

  5. PJEvans says:

    Holder wants convictions so he can be seen as effective. Obama wants convictions so he can be seen as being tough on terrorists. Congress (the Republicans in particular, I think) want convictions because they think that it will give us street cred in the so-called global war on terror.

    The rest of us would prefer actual justice, but we don’t count.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Holder claims he wanted civilian trials that would “prove the defendants’ guilt while adhering to the bedrock traditions and values of our laws.”

    A zealous junior prosecutor could be excused for that framing, though s/he shouldn’t be promoted until they adjust their attitude. The United States Attorney General, however, should be held to a higher standard.

    His job starts with enforcing the law without fear or favor, and with instilling that goal in his team of thousands of lawyers, investigators and prosecutors. That’s the minimum. So, too, is knowing the law or knowing how to find it, in being better at arguing than anybody who works for him, and in knowing the difference between what he can say in his office, in the White House and in the courthouse.

    As the most senior law officer of the United States government, however, the Attorney General’s most important job – the one he can’t delegate to his prosecutors and investigators – is summed up in a time-honored phrase: His job is to ensure that justice is done and that it is seen to be done. Those are two different objectives; Mr. Holder has failed to achieve either of them.

    What that means in framing the quoted part of his speech is this. He should have said that he believes these defendants are guilty and that he intends to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt in the appropriate court of law.

    What that means for his speech as a whole is that he shouldn’t have given it. He should have resigned and given another one that doesn’t so flaccidly abandon his responsibility to follow his boss down the slippery slope of political triangulation.

    The impression Mr. Holder is trying mightily to leave is that he fought the good fight and lost, but that the consequence for these defendants is minimal. They will be tried by tribunals with the same or similar legal and procedural standards as a federal court. As those tribunals are presently structured, that is patently untrue.

    At a minimum, Mr. Holder should have committed to substantial improvements in those legal and procedural standards so that they become the equivalent of their federal judicial counterparts. Instead, he seems to have done what any good, non-lawyer bureaucrat would do: he’s kicked the can to the DoD and pretends that it’s their problem now. That’s why if he didn’t resign before his speech, he should do so after it.

    • PJEvans says:

      He can get away with his statements because most people don’t know how thoroughly stacked against justice those ‘military trials’ will be, or how many of the prisoners are genuinely innocent of being terrorists. (And the media aren’t going to do anything to change that.)