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Holder’s on the Hot Seat « The Washington Independent

The House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on the Justice Department is off to a good start, with Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) listing the questions he plans to put to the featured witness, Attorney General Eric Holder.

Conyers promised to question Holder about all the hot-button topics that have dominated the news and prompted questioning from Democrats lately, including the department’s controversial use of the “state secrets” privilege to conceal executive action; the administration’s plans for closing the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay; the possible prosecution of former government officials who may have authorized the use of torture and whether the department would support appointing an independent prosecutor; the release of additional Office of Legal Counsel memos relating to the “war on terror” and the pending internal Justice Department investigation of the lawyers who wrote the memos; the Obama administration’s flip-flop on releasing detainee abuse photos; and the House proposal to create an independent blue ribbon commission “to investigate and tell the American people about the real reason that we entered into a war on terror,” as Conyers put it.

Not to be outdone, ranking minority member Lamar Smith (R-Texas) laid out his list of concerns, which read like recent Republican talking points. They included a warning that President Obama’s pledge to close down Guantanamo Bay and release terrorists and bomb-makers into the United States “could in fact endanger American lives”; why Holder would consider releasing some of the 17 Uighur detainees who “are all associated with terrorist organizations” when in fact “there is nothing wrong with the Guantanamo facility” — claiming the Justice Department is “worrying about image more than substance”; and why the government is tolerating local policies that prevent police from checking immigration status, when “time and again we have seen Americans killed by illegal immigrants protected by sanctuary policies.”

In short, today’s hearing promises to be, at the very least, an uncomfortable few hours for Attorney General Eric Holder.

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