Tales from the Trail

Attorney General Holder escapes DC snow for Florida, defends decisions

After the federal government closed for four days following two major blizzards, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder escaped to the warmer climes of Tampa, Florida, where he defended decisions on terrorism-related cases that have come under fire.

FINANCIAL-COMMISSION/Republicans have harshly criticized Holder for deciding to prosecute the five men accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, including the self-professed mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, in traditional criminal courts rather than military tribunals.

He has also drawn bipartisan fire for planning to hold the trials blocks from the site where the World Trade Center twin towers stood amid new concerns about security and costs.

Additionally, the attorney general has been lambasted for how the Obama administration has dealt with the accused underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who was arrested on Christmas Day for trying to explode a device aboard a Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

The suspect was interviewed for about an hour before he underwent surgery for his injuries. He stopped cooperating and was  read his legal rights and subsequently charged in a criminal court.  That all drew harsh criticism from Senator Kit Bond, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, among others.

Senators escape being pinned down on bill full of earmarks

FINANCIAL/Much has been made in Washington over the last week in the U.S. Senate about which Democrats and Republicans would vote for the $410 billion bill to fund government operations because it includes thousands of lawmakers’ pet projects.

Some senators like Republican John McCain have excoriated the expenditures, roughly $7.7 billion according to a count by the independent group Taxpayers for Common Sense, as unnecessary spending or destined for projects that should have been properly vetted through regular congressional review.

Others like Democratic Senator Tom Harkin have defended their projects, arguing that they have worthy goals or are needed to address a problem.