POLITICS

Jeff Sessions Warns Janet Napolitano That KSM Trial Decision Has Made Her "Mission More Difficult"

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Daphne Eviatar reports that in today's Department of Homeland Security oversight hearing, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) fired a shot at Attorney General Eric Holder and a dash of obtuse fearmongering.

At issue was Holder's decision to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his various henchies to New York City to stand trial in Federal court. Sessions said that this decision would make Department of Homeland Security head Janet Napolitano's "mission more difficult." He added that Holder "seemed unaware of the consequences" of his decision, one of which was KSM and company "being released into the United States."

I have no idea what "being released into the United States" means, exactly -- maybe KSM will open a bodega and finance the destruction of America through sales of one-hitters or something? This does not seem plausible. And that's because it's not plausible. I refer you to Adam Serwer, of the American Prospect, who's already explored the possibility that KSM might be acquitted and released as a free man and determined those chances to be, "No. Not ever."

"They have three sources of authority that would allow him to detain [KSM], one of which is the [Authorization to Use Military Force], because it directly cites the 9/11 attacks in its language -- the people who planned the 9/11 attacks are combatants and are detainable under the AUMF," explains Ken Gude, a human-rights expert at the Center for American Progress. "Under the .000001 chance that they are acquitted, they will have that authority to detain them."

The attorney general could detain him as an "international terrorist" indefinitely, in renewable six-month periods, based on a provision in the PATRIOT Act. And if things really get desperate, they could detain him as someone who is in the United States illegally, pending deportation. Since no country is going to take a mass murdering terrorist, that detention will essentially be indefinite.

On the prospect of KSM being released, Gude shrugs, "It isn't even in the realm of possibility."

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