Attorney General Eric Holder went in front of Senate Judiciary Committee lawmakers on Wednesday in a heated debate that touched on several issues that have earned the attorney general criticism. Holder stood up under the onslaught of questions, but the list of controversies maintains traction.
The following are disputes involving Eric Holder while he has been serving as attorney general:
- Usama bin Laden comments
Last month, Holder stirred controversy by saying he does not expect the U.S. to capture bin Laden alive.
"If bin Laden is found, he'll be killed," Holder told House members.
On Wednesday, Holder said he was referring to the fact that bin Laden has standing orders to his followers to kill him if U.S. forces get near him.
"Our hope would be to capture him and to interrogate him to get useful intelligence from him about the structure of Al Qaeda, about Al Qaeda's plans," he said. "What I said was that, with regard to that possibility, both in our attempts to capture him and from what we know about instructions that has given to the people who surround him, his security forces, I see it's highly unlikely that he will be taken alive. But our goal -- our goal is to either capture Usama bin Laden or to kill him."
- Closing Guantanamo and terror trials
On Wednesday, Holder kept the debate going on his attempt to find a venue to prosecute Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"New York is not off the table for where they would be tried, but we have to take into considerations that have been raised by local officials" and community groups, he told the Senate panel.
Holder also said the administration still intends to close Guantanamo, because it serves as a recruiting tool for terrorists.
"We will close Guantanamo as quickly as we can, as soon as we can," he siad.
- Releasing interrogation memos
Last month, seven former CIA directors sent Holder a letter warning his decision to release Bush-era interrogation memos could "help al Qaeda elude U.S. intelligence and plan future operations."
The Justice Department in February cleared John Yoo and Jay Bybee -- the two Bush administration attorneys who gave legal justification for the use of brutal interrogation tactics for terrorism suspects -- of professional misconduct.
- Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
Holder came under stinging criticism for having the Christmas Day bombing suspect read his Miranda rights after only 50 minutes of interrogation. Critics say Abdulmutallab should have been declared an illegal enemy combatant, held in military detention and interrogated. Abdulmutallab, however, has been cooperating with authorities since his arrest.
"Although, I cannot obviously discuss the intelligence that he has provided, I can tell you that it has not just been valuable, it has been actionable," Holder said Wednesday of the Abdulmutallab interrogation.
- Sheriff Joe Arpaio probe
Holder faced criticism last month for saying his department's investigation into allegations of racial profiling and abuse of power by Arpaio "will produce results." Arpaio said Holder shouldn't be guaranteeing results before the probe is over.
- Failure to disclose signing Jose Padilla legal brief
Holder raised suspicions when he failed during his confirmation process to disclose that he had signed a 2004 legal brief in the Jose Padilla case, a brief that opposed Padilla's detention as an enemy combatant. Republicans found it hard to believe that Holder forgot about his role in the famous case, however, the question did not come up on Wednesday.
- Former law firm represented Guantanamo detainees
Holder's former law firm, Covington & Burling, represented 16 Guantanamo detainees. Holder left the firm in December 2008 to become attorney general.
- Lobbyist listing
Holder was listed as a lobbyist for Global Crossing Ltd., Large Scale Biology Corp., and Defendants in Resident Physician Antitrust Litigation. President Obama vowed on the campaign trail to crack down on lobbyists' influence on the White House.
- Assault weapons ban
During his confirmation hearings, Holder sparked fear among Second Amendment enthusiasts when he hinted at reinstating the ban on the sale of assault weapons.
- Recording every firearm sale
Holder's past also fueled gun control fears when he penned a Washington Post opinion article after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks arguing that a new law should give "the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms a record of every firearm sale."
- Second Amendment
During his confirmation hearings, Holder gave gun rights supporters more ammunition when he said he supported making the assault weapons ban permanent.
- Nation of cowards comment
In February of 2009, Holder ignited a racially charged controversy when he said the U.S. was "a nation of cowards" on matters of race, with most Americans avoiding frank discussions of racial issues.
- CIA interrogation prosecutions
During his confirmation hearings, Holder stoked the debate on the techniques the Bush-era CIA used on terror suspects when he declared waterboarding was torture.