A-G defends civilian terror trials against criticism

Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday defended the prosecution of terrorism suspects in civilian court after the top-ranking Senate Republican urged him to send two Iraqis to Guantanamo Bay rather than try them in the U.S. state of Kentucky.

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday defended the prosecution of terrorism suspects in civilian court after the top-ranking Senate Republican urged him to send two Iraqis to Guantanamo Bay rather than try them in the U.S. state of Kentucky.

Holder criticized what he called a “rigid ideology” among political opponents working to prevent terror trials that have been successfully handled by civilian courts hundreds of times.

“Politics has no place — no place — in the impartial and effective administration of justice,” Holder said in remarks prepared for delivery to the American Constitution Society’s convention.

“Decisions about how, where, and when to prosecute must be made by prosecutors, not politicians.”

Although Holder didn’t mention Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell by name, his comments come two days after McConnell took to the Senate floor and urged Holder’s Justice Department to send terrorism suspects Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi to Guantanamo Bay.

He said a trial planned in his home state of Kentucky could risk retaliatory attacks against judges, jurors and the broader community.

The Justice Department says there have been more than 400 convictions of terrorism-related charges in civilian courts.

“Not one of these individuals has escaped custody,” Holder said.

“Not one of the judicial districts involved has suffered retaliatory attacks. And not one of these terrorists arrested on American soil has been tried by a military commission.”

But members of Congress have successfully fought Holder over the prosecution of five other terrorism suspects planned for New York City, including alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

The Obama administration bowed to the political pressure and backed off the plan, saying it would instead prosecute them before a military commission.

Holder insisted in his speech that civilian courts are “our most effective terror-fighting weapon.”

“Despite this reality, we continue to see overheated rhetoric that is detached from history — and from the facts,” Holder said.

“We see crucial national security tools, once again, being put at risk by those who disparage the American criminal justice system, and misguidedly claim that terror suspects cannot be tried safely in our civilian courts.”

Alwan and Hammadi were arrested in the United States after being admitted as refugees from Iraq in 2009.

Homeland Security officials have said the men slipped through cracks in the system that have since been fixed.

They are charged in a 23-count indictment with conspiring to send weapons and money to al-Qaida in Iraq. Alwan is also charged with attacking American soldiers in Iraq.

Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said after their arrests, the two waived their rights to remain silent and appear quickly before a judge and were interrogated for several days to gather intelligence.

Authorities say the weapons and money from Alwan and Hammadi didn’t make it to Iraq because of a tightly controlled undercover investigation.

The FBI said Alwan spoke of setting roadside bombs near Bayji, Iraq from 2003 through 2006. The FBI said investigators found his fingerprints on an unexploded bomb.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The future of Westerner Park continues to be plagued by many unknowns, including when city council will make a decision about financing its operations. (File photo by Advocate staff).
Red Deer city council delays making decision on Westerner Park financing

It will mean missing the next opportunity to apply for a provincial loan

Nineteen-year-old Amanda enjoys a ride during a visit to Spirit’s Respite Ranch near Stettler. photo submitted
Busy days at Spirit’s Respite Ranch near Stettler

The ranch, which launched operations last summer, provides support through animal interaction

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer at the announcement that the city will be getting a drug treatment court Thursday. Jason Luan, associate minister of mental health and addictions, looks on.
Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Veer concerned about rising COVID-19 cases in Red Deer

The City of Red Deer is reminding citizens to protect themselves against… Continue reading

Rode
Volunteering played major role in RDC awards

Under normal circumstances, the RDC Red Deer Bottling Athlete of the Year… Continue reading

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said on Thursday that the province has seen its first case of the B.1.617 variant. (Photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Red Deer nears record number of active COVID-19 cases

Alberta reports 1,857 new cases of COVID-19, 1,326 new variants

Curtis Labelle (second from left) and his band are planning a cross-Canada tour in 2022. Meanwhile, Labelle is continuing to host his weekly livestreamed talk show, Chattin 88. (Contributed photo).
Red Deer rock pianist takes on a talk show role

Curtis Labelle’s Chattin 88 gets views from around the globe

Toronto Maple Leafs' Nick Foligno (71) and Mitchell Marner (16) celebrate Marner's goal on Winnipeg Jets goaltender Laurent Brossoit (30) during second-period NHL action in Winnipeg on Thursday, April 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
Leafs end five-game winless skid with 5-3 win over Jets in North Division battle

Leafs end five-game winless skid with 5-3 win over Jets in North Division battle

Taylor Pendrith from Richmond Hill, Ont. salutes the crowd after sinking a birdie on the 18th hole to come in at five under par during first round of play at the Canadian Open golf championship Thursday, July 24, 2014 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
PGA Tour Canada splits into Canadian, American circuits for 20201

PGA Tour Canada splits into Canadian, American circuits for 20201

Like father, like son: Floreal emerges as one of Canada’s top sprinters

Like father, like son: Floreal emerges as one of Canada’s top sprinters

Toronto Blue Jays center fielder George Springer (4) walks on the field during a team workout, Wednesday, March 31, 2021, at Yankee Stadium in New York. The Blue Jays face the New York Yankees on opening day Thursday in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Injured Jays OF Springer to play in intrasquad game Friday

Injured Jays OF Springer to play in intrasquad game Friday

Toronto Raptors' Khem Birch (24) defends against Brooklyn Nets' Blake Griffin during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 21, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Raptors ride strong 3rd quarter to 114-103 win over Nets

Raptors ride strong 3rd quarter to 114-103 win over Nets

Team Canada's Jocelyne Larocque celebrates her goal past the U.S.A. with goaltender Embrace Maschmeyer during first period of Women's Rivalry Series hockey action in Vancouver, Wednesday, February 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Stunned Canadian players head home after women’s world hockey cancellation

Stunned Canadian players head home after women’s world hockey cancellation

Health Minister Patty Hajdu is shown at a COVID-19 press conference in Ottawa on Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Kawai
Health Canada proposes new restrictions on talc in some personal care products

Health Canada proposes new restrictions on talc in some personal care products

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady passes under pressure from Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Alex Okafor during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. Lawmakers are debating legislation to legalize single-event betting as a bill reaches final reading in the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mark Humphrey
Bill on single-game sports betting on cusp of passing — but not for first time

Bill on single-game sports betting on cusp of passing — but not for first time

Most Read