AG Holder faces tough questions at today’s Senate Judiciary hearing

Attorney General Eric Holder is to testify this morning during an oversight hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The hearing will be carried live on C-SPAN and will have more today and this evening as events unfold.

Holder will likely face tough questions over his failure to disclose prior to his confirmation hearing that he participated in two amicus briefs on behalf of Jose Padilla. Republican senators are sure to ask him about the Department of Justice’s March 22, 2010 response letter to the committee wherein Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich all but conceded the ‘Moussaoui-fix’ to the Classified Information Protection Act had been incorporated into Military Commissions yet remained lacking in federal statute. The Washington Post writes:

Chief among the Republican targets: Holder’s announcement, since reversed, that the administration planned to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, in federal court in lower Manhattan. No new arrangements for a venue have been made. And the decision is now being managed by the White House rather than the Justice Department, putting Holder in the awkward position of having to defend a decision that has been overruled and is still in limbo.

But that well-worn territory may be the least of Holder’s concerns, according to several Judiciary Committee officials.

Republicans are livid about Holder’s failure to include in his confirmation questionnaire that he had written friend-of-the-court briefs in the terror case of Jose Padilla, arguing that civilian trials were appropriate to handle terror suspects and keep executive power in check. Holder sent a letter apologizing to the committee immediately after the amicus briefs were disclosed, but “there is still a lot of anger there,” one Republican aide said.

And there are questions about his recent public statements. The last time Holder appeared on Capitol Hill, testifying before a House Appropriations subcommittee, he had a testy exchange with Republicans over his intent to use civilian courts for terrorist trials. At one point, he declared that, far from coddling terrorists, the administration would never capture the most wanted al-Qaeda leader alive — but would instead “be reading Miranda rights to the corpse of Osama bin Laden.”

That triggered a debate within the administration over the policy for handling bin Laden, with Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, contradicting Holder the following day.

Perhaps we will get some outline of the DOJ’s plan to appeal the ordered release of 9/11 hijacker recruiter Mohamedou Slahi:

A convicted Ohio terrorist had ties to an al Qaeda suspect who met with some of the Sept. 11 hijackers and told them how to reach Afghanistan to train for jihad, according to a federal court ruling.

Guantánamo Bay detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi sent Christopher Paul a fax in 1997 asking for advice on where to send would-be jihadists, or holy warriors, and later referred to Paul as “a man of great respect in al Qaeda,” according to the ruling Friday by U.S. District Judge James Robertson in the District of Columbia.

Federal prosecutors had previously acknowledged the fax but had never said who sent it. Robertson’s order referred to the fax as a key piece of the government’s evidence about Slahi’s recruitment for al Qaeda. Slahi met Paul in Afghanistan in 1992, apparently had contact with him in Germany in 1998 and then called him twice from Canada in 1999, according to Robertson’s order.

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