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Sessions Backs Down on Mirandizing Osama Bin Laden

The first contentious moment between Attorney General Eric Holder and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) came almost three hours into today’s hearing. Asked to clarify his statement that Osama bin Laden won’t be Mirandized if he’s somehow apprehended alive — as a way of bashing Mirandization of terrorists as a weak response — Holder replied that bin Laden wouldn’t need to be Mirandized. Incredulous, Sessions asked why that was, if the Obama administration will indeed proceed on the presumption of trying terrorists in civilian courts. “The concern [on Miranda] is whether information we might get from a person might be excluded” from trial if someone isn’t Mirandized,” Holder explained. With bin Laden, “we have sufficient information” to obtain a conviction. Because he’s admitted to 9/11!

Sessions: “I acknowledge that’s possible.” Understatement of the day.

Holder and Sessions went back and forth, with Sessions raising his voice at times. “It’s pretty clear to me you made a firm decision to go the other way, with civilian courts with all these other cases,” Sessions said, unable to box Holder in. Holder defended civilian trials for terrorists, but insisted that he will retain the right to be “flexible, pragmatic and aggressive” in deciding whether to bring charges against a terrorist in civilian courts or military commissions. The attorney general did not raise his voice.

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