AG Holder on Arizona and Guantanamo

Attorney General Eric Holder was at the Aspen Ideas Festival this week, where he was interviewed by CBS's Bob Schieffer for a segment of CBS Face the Nation that aired today.

There's not much new in his interviews. Basically, he said that the Arizona lawsuit is based on the pre-emption argument -- that the state law violates the Constitution's Supremacy Clause. The racial profiling argument was weaker because there's no evidence of it yet. He said down the road, should evidence develop that the law is resulting in racial profiling, the Government will have the tools to make the challenge. [More...]

Some opponents of the law have focused on the argument that it could lead to racial discrimination. Holder said, however, that at this time, the Justice Department's argument based in preemption is stronger at this time.

"It doesn't mean that if the law, for whatever reason, happened to go into effect that six months from now, a year from now, we might not look at the impact the law has had and... see whether or not there has been that racial profiling impact," he said. "And if that was the case, we would have the tools, and we would bring suit on that basis."

On closing Guantanamo and the scheduling of the 9/11 defendants' trials, Holder said politics is holding up both.

On the 9/11 trials:

"Republicans and Democrats arguing about this in a political way, as opposed to dealing with the substance... is something that I think is regrettable and has resulted, I think, in the delays that we have seen."

Holder still prefers federal court trials over military tribunals, but sounds willing to accept a decision for the latter.

"There have been a really limited number of people who have been tried in the military tribunals, which is not to say that they should not be used," he said. "But... I think if we try to exclude the federal criminal justice system, we are taking away one of the tools that we have. And I think ultimately we make this nation much weaker. That's a very dangerous thing, I think, to take that tool out of our hands."

On closing Guantanamo:

This is another instance where I think politics, unfortunately, has entered into this discussion," he said. "I think there's a lot of misinformation out there. We have proven an ability to hold in our federal prison system people convicted of, charged with terrorist offenses very effectively, very safely. There is no reason to believe that people held in Guantanamo cannot be held wherever we put them in the United States."

..."Guantanamo… serves as a recruiting tool for al Qaeda," he said. "The intelligence shows that, continues to show that that is true. It has served as a wedge between us and our traditional allies. We have done all that we can to try to close Guantanamo."

On that last note, does anyone believe Obama has done all he can to close Gitmo?

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    Gimme a break (none / 0) (#1)
    by Dadler on Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 09:51:03 AM EST
    Just like with DADT, Obama could change things with Guantanamo tomorrow if he wanted to. But apparently he doesn't want to.  

    "Very effectively, very safely..." (none / 0) (#2)
    by kdog on Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 10:15:03 AM EST
    Yeah Eric...so safe and effective that Europe won't send prisoners to your pens because of human rights concerns.

    Closing Gitmo isn't as important as ending the inhumane policies at Gitmo...I don't see what transfering the human rights monstrosity from Gitmo to a federal pen accomplishes.  May as well leave it up and running if we're not gonna change the inhumane way we chose to battle inhumanity.

    No, no, its OK, really (none / 0) (#4)
    by pluege2 on Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 11:21:17 AM EST
    our Federal prisons are just as inhumane as gitmo. Its all very consistent. We can guarantee that any gitmo prisoner transferred to a Federal prison on the lower 48 will be sure to be treated inhumanly.

    Well (none / 0) (#8)
    by squeaky on Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 02:02:06 PM EST
    Super Max may be less humane than Gitmo:

    The European Court of Human Rights yesterday blocked the transfer to the U.S. of four suspected terrorists. The grounds: They might get sent to Supermax in Florence, CO which has inhumane conditions.



    Like So Many Things... (none / 0) (#3)
    by pluege2 on Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 11:19:08 AM EST
    does anyone believe Obama has done all he can to close Gitmo?

    ...obama has done his best to BS the left while kowtowing to the craven republican/conservative axis of evil.

    On Gitmo... (none / 0) (#5)
    by Romberry on Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 12:21:42 PM EST
    ...Obama talked the talk but didn't walk the walk. More than one Congressman and Senator has been quoted as saying that the admin never made it a priority or spent much time on the issue or otherwise did a thing to bring pressure to bear in order to see to it that the President's executive order was carried out.

    As far as politics when it comes to trials or tribunals, I'd like to see the Attorney General and the DoJ ignore the politics and get on with upholding the Constitution and the law.  Here too I don't think that the issue is so much the Republicans (though they are certainly a problem) as it is an administration that seems to operate out of fear of them and without any real adherence to principle.

    The adage is that people will follow someone who is strong and wrong rather than someone who is weak and right. I think there is some truth to that, and absent any real leadership, that's what many are doing.

    Comments from Carl Levin on Gitmo... (none / 0) (#6)
    by Romberry on Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 12:27:35 PM EST
    Via Glenn Greenwald:
    "There is a lot of inertia" against closing the prison, "and the administration is not putting a lot of energy behind their position that I can see," said Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee . . . . .

    Mr. Levin portrayed the administration as unwilling to make a serious effort to exert its influence, contrasting its muted response to legislative hurdles to closing Guantánamo with "very vocal" threats to veto financing for a fighter jet engine it opposes.

    Last year, for example, the administration stood aside as lawmakers restricted the transfer of detainees into the United States except for prosecution. And its response was silence several weeks ago, Mr. Levin said, as the House and Senate Armed Services Committees voted to block money for renovating the Illinois prison to accommodate detainees, and to restrict transfers from Guantánamo to other countries -- including, in the Senate version, a bar on Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia. About 130 of the 181 detainees are from those countries.

    "They are not really putting their shoulder to the wheel on this issue," Mr. Levin said of White House officials. "It's pretty dormant in terms of their public positions."

    (Emphasis from the original at the link.)

    WH is unwilling to play hardball (none / 0) (#7)
    by ruffian on Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 01:49:42 PM EST
    with Congress.  They could tell Congress they are closing Gitmo, and if funds are not appropriated to house the prisoners someplace else pending trials/tribunals, the prisoners will be sent back to wherever it was they were caught.  Period.  The choices are: in prison in America, or back to the "battlefield".  Then do it in a couple of cases.

    I personally believe it is all mostly theater anyway. With few exceptions, if these prisoners are released they will be no more or less dangerous than the terrorists we are creating by keeping them.  

    Empty threat (none / 0) (#9)
    by jbindc on Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 07:40:48 AM EST
    Most of those countries won't take them back and it would be political suicide.

    Did Bob Schieffer ask Holder about (none / 0) (#10)
    by republicratitarian on Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 09:24:30 AM EST
    the Black Panther issue?

    Sssshh (none / 0) (#11)
    by BTAL on Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 10:19:56 AM EST
    Don't mention that.

    Oooops (none / 0) (#12)
    by republicratitarian on Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 10:50:34 AM EST
    My bad, thought it would have been a prime time to ask the question, lol.

    Not really his purview though (none / 0) (#13)
    by Socraticsilence on Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 05:06:11 PM EST
    I mean since it was under the Bush admin's watch that the case occured and all.