The full 3-hour plus session before the House Judiciary Committee is available here on C-SPAN.
Here are some highlights – scrolling around is a bit of a pain. Times are approximate. I’ll point out the parts worth watching by highlighting them.
00:00 – Holder’s opening statement
10:00 – John Conyers barely stays awake while trying to read his opening statement, and by the end of it he forgot that it was his opening statement rather than his first question. Incredible. BTW he keeps calling him “General Holder”.
14:00 – Lamar Smith’s opening statement. He blasts the administration as you might expect.
19:00 – Return after a recess. Conyers sleepwalks through some softball questions that he reads off a piece of paper. Thank God for staffers, else he would surely nod off. He turns 80 today, and he certainly is showing his age. He looks less alert than Strom Thurmond did in his 90s at the Clarence Thomas lynching hearings.
25:45 – Note how difficult it is for Holder to admit that someone who belongs to a terrorist organization and received training at a terrorist camp on killing innocent civilians perhaps should be called a “terrorist”. This sums up the administration’s attitude toward Gitmo: They say they won’t release terrorists, but don’t agree that anyone at Gitmo is a terrorist. Note that this may be your only chance ever to see a Washington official compare a terrorist to an FDR Supreme Court Justice.
32:00 – Jabba the Hutt Jerry Nadler blabbers about the need to go after the Bush administration and protect the terrorists detainees’ rights.
39:30 – Jim Sensenbrenner goes into the Patriot Act, especially the “Lone Wolf” provision. He fears there will be no push to reauthorize it and get that through Congress before they shut down for the year, thereby letting it expire at the end of the year.
44:30 – Bobby Scott has a variety of questions related to race and white-collar crime. His last question is so stupid I can’t even figure out how to summarize it.
50:00 – Howard Coble asks if detainees will live off the federal dole after release. Holder tapdances. Then he follows up a Scott question about retail crime, before returning to Gitmo. He asks Holder about a particular terrorist and Holder says he doesn’t know anything about the gentleman. Coble then wakes up Conyers so the hearing can continue.
55:00 – Mel Watt opens by weakly joking about something Coble said before lobbing a race-related softball. Then he asks about prosecuting whoever created the financial meltdown/credit crisis/etc.
1:02:00 – Bob Goodlatte starts in on using foreign laws and opinions as a basis for US judicial decisions. Holder says taking into account what other countries think is “not a bad thing.” Holder won’t answer a hypothetical question about using a foreign opinion as a guide in how to interpret the Constitution. Then he asks about the possible impeachment of a LA judge before moving on to illegal immigration. He wants to know why we let sanctuary cities get away with flaunting federal laws. Holder deflects the specific question and blathers about the need to solve immigration issues as a larger question. He says he’ll do his job of enforcing all the laws but then adds a “but”.
1:10:00 – Zoe Lofgren starts out by saying sanctuary cities are not violating the law, but wants to know how Holder is going after terrible criminals like Sheriff Joe in AZ. Then she starts criticizing John Ashcroft, Michael Mukasey, and asks about the Wilberforce Act.
1:17:30 – Steve King wants to know why Holder hasn’t replied to two Sessions letters about releasing the Uighurs. Holder won’t say whether they or anyone else at Gitmo may be released in the US. King asks when Holder will say how many of the 241 detainees he’d call terrorists. Holder tap dances, not wanting to talk about “labels”. Ridiculous. Then he asks about going after ACORN and wants to know if the DOJ is going after them and will help keep them out of the census process. More tap dancing ensues.
1:23:30 – Bill Delahunt goes on and on about how the Uighurs. He says they were mistreated by the Chinese and maybe aren’t a threat to us. He says he hasn’t been allowed to interview the Uighurs himself to make that determination, but gripes that Bush allowed Chinese security agents to interview them. He whines that Newt said we should return them to China, which would lead to their torture and death. Holder says all that comes into consideration, and five other Uighurs were released in Albania.
1:31:00 – Randy Forbes asks whether, if we have someone who can’t be tried for whatever reason and whom no other country will take, they will be released in the US if they are considered a threat. Holder says they fall into a “third category” of people who will not be released. This fits Obama’s earlier flip-flop on the sort of indefinite detention that he decried as a candidate. next Forbes asks if there has been any study as to dangers involved with holding detainees in the US. Holder says they haven’t had time to do that yet, as they are still studying the 241. Forbes is a bit incredulous since Gitmo is supposed to close in 8 months.
1:37:30 – Maxine Waters gushingly thanks Holder for his work on lowering crack cocaine penalties by reading a statement. Surprisingly, she also lauds him for tossing the Stevens case due to prosecutorial misconduct. Then she wants to know why we don’t hear more about happens with police misconduct cases. Holder gives a pat answer. Next she asks about mortgage fraud and whether the DOJ will help city attorneys deal with fighting it. Holder says stay tuned for some things they’ll be announcing soon. Then she gets back to the crack issue and tells him to look at recommending pardons for people who got stiff crack sentences. Lastly she gripes about US attorneys not all immediately resigning after the inauguration. It was okay for Clinton and Obama to replace them, but Bush should be waterboarded for firing a few apparently.
1:45:00 – Dan Lungren opens up questioning after another recess. After some small talk, he gets back to releasing Gitmo detainees. He says if we bring them here they’ll have more Constitutional protections, and wouldn’t we be stuck if a judge orders some of them to be released? Holder won’t even admit that the detainees would have more rights once in a jail in the US. Next Lungren gets into the flip-flop on the release of photos and whether Holder will share with Congress some internal info about how the original decision was made. Holder says he’d be “reluctant” to do so. Then there is a GREAT exchange over whether waterboarding is technically torture.
1:53:00 – Steve “hell no you can’t join the Congressional Black Caucus, cracker” Cohen takes over from the Chair. Perhaps Conyers has finally fallen asleep. He starts asking about race-related issues. He asks why we have “deferred prosecution” that allows a company to keep operating while an individual would “get sent to the gulag.” He gets in a slap at Ashcroft along the way. A long discussion about monitors of deferred prosecutions ensues. Lastly he asks whether the new hate crimes law or any hate crimes law could lead to a minister getting charged for speaking out against homosexuality. Holder says he can’t see that happening.
2:01:00 – Louie Gohmert picks up on the hate crimes issue and questions whether Holder really believes preachers couldn’t be arrested for “inducing” hate. Holder says it’s “hard to imagine” such a case but won’t say it can’t happen. Then he gets into a GREAT exchange over how intent applies in determining whether torture took place. Holder gets out his hat and cane for the tap dancing that ensues.
2:10:30 – Mike Quigley wants assault weapons bans in place ASAP.
2:14:00 – Ted Poe asks if any states have requested they receive detainees. Nope. Have any said they don’t any? He’s heard there might be some. Then he asks Holder how he defines “terrorist”. Holder says it’s an “interesting question” and tosses out some description. Poe asks about KSM apparently talking after being waterboarded about terrorist attacks upcoming in NY and CA. Holder won’t answer the question. They get into an argument when Holder keeps trying to restate Poe’s question and Poe won’t stand for it. Holder refuses to answer what Poe is asking, tapdancing instead. Holder claims not waterboarding Gitmo inmates equates to George Washington’s handling of British prisoners at Trenton.
2:21:30 – Anthony Weiner asks about getting more cops on the street via federal funds, saying it looks like they are shooting for 1,500 instead of 50,000 as Congress authorized. Next he wants to know why the feds aren’t getting more DNA labs up faster to keep up with the data. Lastly he asks if Holder supports getting DNA from all federal arrestees, and Holder says it should be considered.
2:28:00 – Jason Chaffetz returns to Gitmo and asks what benefit we have by bringing the terrorists to America. Holder says the focus is on closing Gitmo, eliminating a recruiting tool for terrorists and making our allies happy. Chaffetz asks if it’s just a PR effort and Holder tap dances. Then he goes back to the question of terrorists being released here, and wants to know if it minimizes risk to keep them off our soil. Holder as usual tries to change the focus of the question.
2:33:00 – Sheila Jackson Lee lauds “Mr. General” for the administration’s help in the recent Iranian hostage release. She says it shows a good use of the bully pulpit. Huh? Then she goes into waterboarding and asks if it’s recognized internationally as torture. Holder says he doesn’t know about that, but HE considers it torture. She then asks Holder to promise that they’ll go back to Congress before ever doing anything with detainees outside the Army field manual. He agrees. Then she asks that if there is any case where he believes a release would be be dangerous whether he’ll solve that by holding a briefing with Congress. Huh? Then she asks about some local Houston police investigation. Cohen has been cutting off the Rs but lets her go on endlessly. She closes with a softball about drugs and eventually gets in a slam about the Jena Six.
2:41:30 – Trent Franks asks about “lawfare” and wants to know what Holder meant when he said in the past that we need to go much further than the Boumediene decision. Holder says Franks didn’t understand the context of his comment. Franks keeps on, asking whether the closure of Gitmo is a victory for the Al Quida terrorist manual that instructs to claim torture at every opportunity. Holder says instead it’s a victory for the American people and our allies to close Gitmo.
2:47:30 – Adam Schiff opens by criticizing Republicans who’d rather see Gitmo stay open and do nothing but offer comments that are not constructive. Then he gets into DNA and says he was promised last year that some additional money (which was granted) would close the backlog of testing. After four minutes, he finally asks a question about testing of rape kits.
2:53:00 – Tom Rooney asks how we can meet the time frame Obama has set. Holder says he doesn’t know the number of the 241 who’ve been reviewed, but that they are on target to meet Obama’s date. Rooney asks what happens to people we capture in the future. Holder says Obama has a task force looking at that. Rooney asks if Gitmo could be used as a prison for holding people AFTER they have gone through due process in the US. Holder says that hasn’t been discussed, but more or less rules it out because of the “stigma” attached to it.
2:58:30 – Brad Sherman gets into softball questions over whether Holder would go after people he sees who break the law. The five-minute rule that applies to Republican members doesn’t apply here either.
3:05:00 – Jim Jordan wants to know if Holder will defend DOMA, which passed overwhelmingly and was signed by President Clinton. Holder does a lot of dancing and says he can’t answer the question.
3:07:30 – After a break, Debbie Wasserman Schultz gushes from the chair about how Holder is bringing DOJ “back from ruin and politicization.” She wants to know why we aren’t doing more to go after child pornographers based on the law that she and “former [sic] Senator Lieberman” wrote. She goes on more than three minutes before letting Holder speak. He says child porno is “a priority” so he’ll take action eventually. She comments that it’s nice that as chair she can give herself more time and drones on forever.
3:15:30 – Dan Maffei also gushes about Holder bringing back “accountability and veracity” to the DOJ before griping about ICE agents conducting raids, targeting people who appear to be Hispanic. He’s got what must be the toughest question of the day – if he hears of more ICE outrages, should he contact Holder or Napolitano or both? GAG
3:19:30 – Cohen apparently has kicked Debbie W-S out of the chair and closes the session.