Last week, by chance I saw some of the highlights of US Attorney General Eric Holder’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the decision to move Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and several other of the 9/11 terrorist suspects’ trials to a court in New York. During his testimony, Mr. Holder was asked a pointed question by Sen. Lindsey Graham that, to my surprise, went missing from the Bay Area’s major newspapers’ following day coverage.
Sen. Graham asked Mr. Holder if the United States had previously tried an enemy combatant (who was picked up on the battlefield) in a US civilian court. Holder could not provide an immediate answer and said something about looking into it. Graham cut him off, said don’t bother to check, that he had the answer and that the answer was no.
On Nov. 19, the San Francisco Chronicle published Associated Press Reporter Devlin Barrett’s story on Holder’s appearance before the Senate Committee. Contained in the Chronicle’s run of the story was the following paragraph:
“But South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham called the decision ‘a perversion of justice’ by putting wartime enemies into the civilian criminal court system. ‘We’re making history, and we’re making bad history,’ Graham said.”
The Mercury News also published Devlin Barrett’s story. But the above mentioned paragraph did not appear in the Mercury News’ run of the story.
How could the U.S. Attorney General not know whether or not there was a precedent for trying an enemy combatant (captured in a foreign country) in a US court? How could he make such a decision without that information? And if he did have the information, why didn’t he answer the senator’s question?
The question for the rest of us is, how can such an important issue escape press coverage? In their Nov. 17 editorial, the Mercury News implored its readers to “have faith,” that the trial for 9/11 suspects “promises justice.” Faith and promises? How about some facts first?