Holder Senate testimony postponed; delay raises questions 

Attorney General Eric Holder was scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee today. But less than 24 hours before the appearance, committee Democrats sent out word that Holder's long-awaited testimony has been rescheduled for April 14, after the Easter recess.

Why? Word is that it's because of the signing ceremony for the national health care bill, but well-informed Republicans suspect the occasion may also have given Democrats an opportunity to put off what could turn into another embarrassing performance by the attorney general.

Holder's recent appearance before a House Appropriations subcommittee was a "disaster," says one Republican. The attorney general's insistence that Osama bin Laden will never be taken alive and his odd statement about Mirandizing bin Laden's corpse; his comparison of bin Laden to Charles Manson; his assertion that the 50 minutes spent questioning Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was a "fairly long period of time" -- those and other statements amounted to a blooper reel from just one Holder appearance. In addition, Holder's testimony made clear that there is still indecision and confusion inside the Obama administration about what to do with 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed; postponing Holder's committee appearance until mid-April gives Team Obama three more weeks to figure out what to do with KSM. "This is about keeping Holder from digging another hole for the administration in a forum where the questioners are better prepared," says one source.

Holder last appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on November 18, 2009. That was before the Christmas Day bombing attempt and the Justice Department's handling of Abdulmutallab; before revelations of Department lawyers who had represented Guantanamo detainees; before the reversal of the decision to try KSM in New York City; and before revelations that Holder had failed to inform the committee of his amicus brief participation in the defense of accused dirty bomber Jose Padilla, as well as in other Supreme Court cases. There will be a lot to talk about.

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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