Holder vs. McChrystal: What Would We Do with Bin Laden?
Attorney General Eric Holder had a testy exchange yesterday with House Republicans determined to paint him as weak for his faith in civilian courts that have convicted many orders of magnitude more terrorists than military commissions. It took a baroque turn when Holder fielded a hypothetical question about whether the FBI would Mirandize Osama bin Laden. “He will be killed by us, or he will be killed by his own people so that he is not captured by us. We know that,” an exasperated Holder said. “The possibility simply does not exist.”
Ironically, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, gave a different answer in a press briefing with Pentagon reporters today:
If Osama bin Laden comes inside Afghanistan, which is the writ of my mandate, because I’m the ISAF commander here, we certainly would go after trying to capture him alive and bring him to justice. I think that is something that is [inaudible] is understood by everyone.
Apparently not by everyone. Eric Holder just can’t win. Admittedly, the question of what to do with bin Laden has been sadly hypothetical since the al-Qaeda leader’s 2001 escape from Tora Bora. But it’s still surprising to hear two senior officials in the best positions to provide guidance give diametrically opposed answers.