The head of the U.S. Department of Justice, Attorney General Eric Holder, was grilled by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday over his approach to trying terror suspects and closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay.
Republicans pressed the Attorney General on his plan for prosecuting terror suspects currently being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison. Some senators accused Holder of working to undo the military commissions set up by the Bush administration for terror trials, and others questioned his desire to try suspects in civilian courts.
Holder also came under fire for seeking to hold the trial of suspected 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City. Republican senators worried about the security risk of such a public trial and also questioned whether a prison for terrorists should be established on the U.S. mainland, as the Obama administration has proposed. Overall, Democrats defended the attorney general's discretion to choose where and how to prosecute terror suspects.
"The overwhelming consensus in New York, as you know, is that [the trial] shouldn't be there. And I just strongly urge you to make sure that that doesn't happen." - Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)
"This administration will use every tool available to it to fight terrorism -- every tool. This includes both civilian courts and military commissions." - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
"The American people are not interested in terrorists being brought from Guantanamo to their own communities. Reality is a stubborn thing. Pretending that terrorists can safely be treated as common -- common criminals will not make it so." - Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)
1. What happens when a suspected terrorist is arrested?
2. Why might Americans be nervous about living near a prison that is holding terrorist suspects?
3. Who is in charge of making sure that someone accused of terrorism gets a fair trail?
4. What is Guantanamo Bay? Why is it controversial?
5. When President Obama first took office, what was his plan for the prison at Guantanamo Bay?
1. What do you think should happen to the terror suspects currently being held at Guantanamo Bay? Why?
2. Do you think it's a good idea to set up a prison for terror suspects on the U.S. mainland? Why/why not?
3. What are the pros and cons of trying high-profile terror suspects like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in the U.S.? How and where do you think such suspects should be tried?
4. What are the key differences between military and civilian trials?