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David Axelrod talks about the New Yorker piece, Khaled Sheikh Mohammed and White House-Justice Department tensions in C-SPAN interview

By Anne E. Kornblut
Is the White House unhappy that Attorney General Eric Holder sought to try the confessed 9/11 mastermind in Manhattan federal court?

Yes, according to an article by Jane Mayer in the latest issue of the New Yorker.

And in an interview late Friday, senior adviser David Axelrod did not dispute that a rift had emerged between the White House and the Justice Department over the 9/11 case, which has recently become a political sore spot for the administration.

Despite a rising tide of opposition to having a trial in Manhattan, which has sent the administration scrambling to find another location, Axelrod said it was not a mistake for Holder to announce the trial would be held there. But Axelrod did not defend it -- or portray it in any way as a decision that came from the White House. "The attorney general was responding under the protocol that was developed between the Department of Justice and the Department of Defense for the prosecution of terrorists," Axelrod said in an interview for C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" series set to air on Sunday.

Acknowledging White House resistance to the Justice Department decisions, Axelrod continued: "Rahm has a perspective that's different. He's the chief of staff. He looks at things from a legislative perspective, he looks at things from other perspectives."

Rahm Emanuel, Mayer reported, strongly opposed giving the 9/11 plotters a civilian trial.

"Believe me, we have disagreements all the time within the White House, within the administration," Axelrod said. "That's as it should be. People have different perspectives, different points of view."

Maybe so. But it is not every day that a senior administration official admits it.

Privately, White House officials have expressed increasing frustration with Holder since last year, in large part because of his decision to investigate whether past CIA interrogation techniques were illegal. In the New Yorker piece, Mayer writes that Emanuel was frustrated not only that Holder took a backward-looking approach toward the CIA investigations but also try Khaled Sheikh Mohammed in federal court -- despite objections from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), an important administration ally on other issues, including the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

A sharp partisan debate over national security policy has arisen over the last few weeks as Republicans have objected to the administration's handling of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian arrested after allegedly trying to bomb a plane as it landed in Detroit on Christmas Day. Sen. Scott Brown rode to victory in Massachusetts in part by criticizing the detainee policy, accusing Obama of giving terrorists "new rights." Other Republicans echoed the claim, based in part on inaccurate reports that Abdulmutallab had stopped cooperating with investigators after he was read his Miranda rights.

Axelrod, in the interview, described all such criticism as unfounded. He repeated a list of earlier suspects handled by the Bush administration in a similar way. "We haven't invested anybody with one more right than they had before we took office," he said. "And we're actually not behaving any differently than the last administration did. Which raises the question: is this really about politics, or is it about dealing with the issue?"

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 5, 2010; 7:43 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , National Security  
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Comments

The problem here runs deeper than the politics. The president, the AG, and Mr. Gibbs most recently have already stated, for the record no less, that KSM is guilty, and will be executed. So the principle and it is a very important one no doubt, in which one is presumed 'innocent' until proven in a court of law (in this particular case a civilian court) to be guilty has already been undermined. This moves the whole trial into type of predatory investigation in which the conclusion is already known and situated within the premise of the procedure--i.e., the civil trial itself. The issue is now this: are 'show' trials a good thing for the United States and are they what our country stands for? I think not. The incompetence all around on this issue is an example of truly stunning ignorance and 'malpractice' from the executive to the AG.

Posted by: agrossman2 | February 6, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

What a load of horsepoopery.

To even suggest that Holder made the KSM decision without Obama's approval is absurd.

Posted by: spamsux1 | February 6, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Torture is a war crime. Posted by: MNUSA
----------------
Then turn yourself in for torturing all the other posters with your sophomoric drivel.

Posted by: SUBLIMEWOODY | February 6, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Obama's adviser David Axelrod talks about public show trials in U.S. civil and criminal courts for self proclaimed enemies of U.S. See parallels of NY criminal trial decision to handling of Detroit attempted terrorist attack.

Why did AG Eric Holder make his decision in the first place to charge Abdulmuttallab in the U.S. civil system court show trial procedure? No one can deny that the Nigerian intended to detonate the explosive device to kill all those on board the U.S. commercial flight. This incident was an act of war on the U.S. by a religious Islam Muslim militant group associated with the declared al-Qaeda enemy group in Yemen. The enemy of U.S. claimed responsibility.

AG Eric Holder does not have a justification to charge in the civil system instead of under the law of war by the U.S. military detention system. Holder claims no one objected at the time including Obama. The American people object for good reason. We have been attacked by these extreme religious groups of Islam. They have declared war on the U.S. and threaten more attacks on the U.S. The enemy has executed and attempted mass killing of innocent civilians and disturbed the lives of all Americans.

We need a President and a White House that will prosecute a war on terrorism in defense of the American people. To treat Abdulmuttallab as a non-terrorist attacker on the U.S. is an insult to all Americans. Holder’s decision is a very bad mistake and a miscarriage of justice. It will aid and abet terrorist to attack by propaganda and deed. Know your enemy. We need a public out cry in our defense.

Posted by: klausdmk | February 6, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I don't for a minute believe that racist Holder did it all on his own.
So, he won't be fired, as he should have.
This incompetent Odumbo and his cabal of leftist pigs neeeds to be defeated at every turn.

Posted by: LarryG62 | February 6, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Are we dealing with superman here? This guy is a common criminal and should be treated as such. There's nothing super or special about him even though the Repubs would have us quaking in our boots about the plan to try this terrorist in our courts. Regardless of how we try him, we are still subject to more terrorist attacks. That's a fact of life.

I'm wondering if the Repubs are worried about security for Americans or what a regular trial might reveal. Torture is a war crime.

Posted by: MNUSA | February 6, 2010 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Your pretty much a m0r0n aren't you???

Considering the fact that none of these terrorist groups are signatories of the Geneva Convention their not protected under the document. One day LIB T@RDS like you will wake up and realize who the enemy is. Maybe you'll even stop hating your own country. However I seriously doubt it. You aren't that smart. The reason they don't want to have a civilian trial is because most civilians don't have the technological expertise to hear the case. This is the reason the lawyers we're able to get OJ acquitted They don't understand the evidence. Not to mention the costs. Which is what is causing problems now.

Posted by: askgees | February 6, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

When will the president give Holder his pink slip? In my humble opinion, terrorist have no rights.

Posted by: truth1 | February 6, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Are we dealing with superman here? This guy is a common criminal and should be treated as such. There's nothing super or special about him even though the Repubs would have us quaking in our boots about the plan to try this terrorist in our courts. Regardless of how we try him, we are still subject to more terrorist attacks. That's a fact of life.

I'm wondering if the Repubs are worried about security for Americans or what a regular trial might reveal. Torture is a war crime.

Posted by: MNUSA | February 6, 2010 9:08 AM | Report abuse

"based in part on inaccurate reports that Abdulmutallab had stopped cooperating with investigators after he was read his Miranda rights"

-Completely agree with you, sally62. I think we all know where Kornblut stands - I think she'll believe whatever the Administration tells her.

Posted by: willle | February 6, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Typical reaction from the Obama Fantasy Spinmaster:
Throw Holder under the snow plow to cover another ignorant,
ideological radical decision.

Who is running the store?
Emanuel/Axelrod or Holder?
Obama didn't have a hand in this decision?

UNLIKELY.

Posted by: Concerned14 | February 6, 2010 7:22 AM | Report abuse

"based in part on inaccurate reports that Abdulmutallab had stopped cooperating with investigators after he was read his Miranda rights"
__________________

How can the average citizen know which "reports" are accurate - because a liberal journalist tells us so?

What I also wonder about is: since the man was interrogated before the Miranda reading... will the court throw out evidence he gave to the FBI as would be the case in general?

Given the man was taken in the act ... I also take offense at the politically correct use by this partisan journalist of "allegedly trying to bomb ..."

All this a reflection of Obama, commander in chief, more worried about warning against jumping to conclusions than for his dead soldiers ... to the point of not even going to Fort Hood before the memorial.

The people are not dupped by the highjacking/compromising of security for liberal (20% of Americans) PC & PR reasons.

Posted by: sally62 | February 6, 2010 7:15 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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