After announcing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and five others would be tried in New York City in a civilian court rather than by a military tribunal, Attorney General Holder was asked a question by Senator Graham.
“Can you give me a case in United States history where a[n] enemy combatant caught on a battlefield was tried in civilian court?” Senator Graham asked Holder.
Responding, Holder said, “I don’t know. I’d have to look at that. I think that, you know, the determination I’ve made…” Graham interjected, “We’re making history here, Mr. Attorney General. I’ll answer it for you. The answer is no.”
It is mind-boggling that the Attorney General could make such an earth-shattering, precedent-setting decision, but not know that it was actually precedent-setting.
By his own admission, the Attorney General made an historic determination without understanding that he was setting a precedent and that it had ramifications.
By this decision, the protections afforded US citizens and visitors to the US are now to be extended to enemy combatants, who were never in the US, but who now may remain in the US forever.
Those ramifications aside, the most confounding thing is that the Attorney General couldn’t answer the Senator’s question and acted as though he had never considered such an obvious point.
On what basis did he make his determination?