Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey slammed his successor on Tuesday morning, declaring it "amateur hour" at the Justice Department and labeling current Attorney General Eric Holder weak for his handling of terrorist trials.
Appearing on "Fox and Friends", Mukasey dispensed with any of the formalities that guide how previous administrations discuss the current one. Asked about DOJ's apparent indecision over whether to try 9/11-plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a New York City criminal court, he unloaded.
"It makes it look like amateur night down there," he said. "Yes, it makes us look weak. It is weakness. And I can't understand the reason for the vacillation. I can't understand the choice to bring it to New York in the first place other than showboating."
The Justice Department did not immediately return requests for comment.
Throughout the process of bringing KSM to trial, Obama administration officials have repeatedly noted that the Bush White House secured only a few convictions using military commissions. It's also been noted -- more than a few times -- that the Bush Justice Department brought several high-profile terrorists to trial in criminal court settings -- with both success and praise from fellow Republicans. Mukasey, who was president George W. Bush's final attorney general, was asked only about the latter point.
"[Zacarias] Moussaoui didn't go to trial," he said about one of those criminal court cases. "He pleaded guilty. And his sentencing took a year. And he turned it into a circus. So I wouldn't put Zacarias Moussaoui out as an advertisement for trying terrorists."
"Richard Reid was arrested three months after 9/11," Mukasey added, in reference to the infamous shoe bomber. "We didn't have military commissions in place at the time that he was brought in. So he couldn't be tried before a military commission."
Mukasey concluded by arguing that the trial of KSM should take place at Guantanamo Bay, the facility that has come to represent some of the worst civil rights abuses in the war on terror.
"Gitmo has been custom-built to deal with cases precisely like this," Mukasey said. "There's a courtroom that can deal with classified information, store it safely and electronically. There's a detention facility that can hold these people in a remote, secure and humane location. it was built specifically for these kinds of trials. Secondly, New York poses a tremendous, the biggest, security threat. And as well, it is a mockery of the rule of law to take people who are charged with violating all the rules of war and put them in a situation that's better than the one they would have been in if they had followed the rules of war."
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