Holder To GOP: We’re Simply Doing What Bush Did

February 3, 2010 9:24 a.m.

In a letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Attorney General Eric Holder is continuing the push back against GOP attacks on the Obama Administration’s decision to handle Umar Abdulmutallab in American courts.

“Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, the practice of the U.S. government,
followed by prior and current Administrations without a single exception, has been to
arrest and detain under federal criminal law all terrorist suspects who are apprehended
inside the United States,” Holder writes (emphasis in original).He also says that, directly after the attempted Christmas attack, Holder himself made the decision to charge Abdulmutallab with federal crimes, “with the knowledge of, and with no objection from, all other relevant departments of the government.”

Via TAPPED, you can read the full letter from Holder below.

Adam Serwer picks up on a key paragraph in which Holder responds to the argument of some Republicans that Abdulmutallab should not have access to a lawyer. Look, Holder argues, at the past actions of former Attorney General Michael Mukasey:

Some have argued that had Abdulmutallab been declared an enemy combatant, the government could have held him indefinitely without providing him access to an attorney. But the government’s legal authority todo so is far from clear. In fact, when the Bush administration attempted to deny Jose Padilla access to an attorney, a federal judge in New York rejected that position, ruling that Padilla must be allowed to meet with his lawyer. Notably, the judge in that case was Michael Mukasey, my predecessor as Attorney General. In fact, there is no court-approved system currently in place in which suspected terrorists captured inside the United States can be detained and held without access to an attorney; nor is there any known mechanism to persuade an uncooperative individual to talk to the government that has been proven more effective than the criminal justice system.

Eric Holder letter to Mitch McConnell 2-3-2010

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