AG Tells Military Audience Terror Fighters Didn't Always Act Legally

WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) - Attorney General Eric Holder told a
mostly military audience Wednesday that some of those engaged in
the battle against terrorism did not always follow the law.

Holder did not mention torture or name the target of his
criticism, leveled in a speech for a law conference at the U.S.
Military Academy. However, he praised military lawyers in the Judge
Advocate General Corps for their work representing terror
detainees.

"In our current struggle against international terrorism, when
others surrendered faithful obedience to the law to the
circumstances of the time, it was the brave men and women of the
JAG corps who stood up against the tides, many times risking their
careers to do so," Holder said.

The speech came a day before a court deadline for the Obama
administration to release all or parts of key Bush administration
memos detailing which tough interrogation techniques were
acceptable against terror suspects. Critics of the Bush
administration say those tough techniques amounted to torture.

Holder insisted that even when the government must act in
secrecy for national security reasons, "we must be most vigilant
in relying on the rule of law to govern our conduct."

"A need to act behind closed doors does not grant a license to
pursue policies, and to take actions, that cannot withstand the
disinfecting power of sunlight," the attorney general said.

His remarks stood in sharp contrast to criticism last month from
former Vice President Dick Cheney, who charged that the Obama
administration was making the country less safe by dismantling some
Bush-era anti-terror programs.

Holder told his audience, "We will not sacrifice our values or
trample on our Constitution under the false premise that it is the
only way to protect our national security."

The gathering of about 150 included military and civilian
lawyers and law professors as well as Army cadets and their
colleagues from the Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard academies.
Holder was given a standing ovation at the end of his speech.

The attorney general acknowledged that the hardest part of his
job so far is emptying the Guantanamo Bay detention facility of
terror suspects by early next year. Some will be released or sent
to other countries, and others will face prosecution in U.S.
federal courts. Officials still don't know what to do about the
third category of detainees.

"If a detainee is too dangerous to release, yet there are
insurmountable obstacles to prosecuting him in federal court, what
shall we do?" Holder said. "Though we do not know yet the answer,
I pledge that the ultimate solution will be one that is grounded in
our Constitution."


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