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Holder Denies Drone Strikes Are to Avoid Adding to Gitmo

Image: Holder Denies Drone Strikes Are to Avoid Adding to Gitmo

Thursday, 06 Jun 2013 01:58 PM

Attorney General Eric Holder denied Thursday that the Obama administration is killing suspected terrorists with drone strikes to avoid capturing them and sending them to the Guantanamo prison it wants to close.

Appearing before a Senate panel, Holder also generally declined comment about a long-running National Security Agency program to collect phone record of millions of U.S. customers of Verizon as part of an anti-terrorist effort, and affirmed he will not prosecute journalists for doing their jobs.

Beset by controversy, Holder turned aside talk that he might resign. He drew a quick vote of confidence from Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who said she hoped other lawmakers wouldn't use his appearance as a chance to berate him.

On drone strikes, Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine told Holder she had seen no "preference for a capture" of suspected terrorists overseas since President Barack Obama took office. She asked if that was because the administration wants to avoid adding to the population at the prison constructed more than a decade ago on a U.S. military base on Cuba.

"It is not a function of not trying to take people to Guantanamo," Holder replied. He mentioned two suspected terrorists who have been captured since Obama took office, and said, "the desire to capture is something that we take seriously because we gain intelligence."

The president took office seeking to close the Guantanamo facility, and generally wants to try suspected terrorists in civilian courts. Congress initially prevented him from shuttering the prison, but Obama has recently announced he intends to renew his attempt.

Holder told lawmakers he was willing to discuss the NSA program in a classified hearing, but was limited in what he could say in public.

Republican Sen. Mark Kirk if Illinois asked for assurances that there had been no monitoring of members of Congress or the Supreme Court as part of the program.

Holder said there was "no intention to do anything of that nature, that is to spy on members of Congress or spy on the members of the Supreme Court." Congress and the courts are parts of independent branches of government under the U.S. Constitution.

The attorney general is under orders from President Barack Obama to review department guidelines on investigations involving leaks, and Holder said the goal of such probes is to prosecute government officials who jeopardize national security by violating their oaths.

"The department has not prosecuted, and as long as I'm attorney general, will not prosecute any reporter for doing his or her job," he said.

Holder's remarks were directed at the recent disclosures that the government had secretly obtained logs of some Associated Press phone calls and had obtained a search warrant to gather emails of Fox News journalist James Rosen.

© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
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Attorney General Eric Holder denied Thursday that the Obama administration is killing suspected terrorists with drone strikes to avoid capturing them and sending them to the Guantanamo prison it wants to close. Appearing before a Senate panel, Holder also generally declined...
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2013-58-06
Thursday, 06 Jun 2013 01:58 PM
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