Attorney General Eric Holder denied on Tuesday that the U.S. is at war, mere days after President Obama asked Congress to authorize the use of military force against ISIS, and as the U.S. continues a bombing campaign against the terror group which began in August.
Holder made the comment at the National Press Club in response to a reporter’s question about the Justice Department’s prosecution of reporters.
“I will use an extreme example, perhaps unfair. In World War II, if a reporter had found out about the existence of the Manhattan Project, is that something that should have been disclosed?” Holder said.
“Now, we’re not at a time of war, I understand, and I said it’s an extreme example,” he added.
The Authorized Use of Military Force proposal Obama submitted to Congress last week will, if approved, allow the U.S. military to use ground troops, expand air operations and conduct a war without geographic boundaries.
Holder’s comment — while seemingly off-the-cuff — puts him at odds with Secretary of State John Kerry, who was forced to admit last year that the U.S. is at war with both ISIS and al-Qaida.
“In terms of al Qaeda, which we have used the word ‘war’ with, yeah…we are at war with al Qaeda and it’s affiliates,” Kerry told “Face the Nation” in September. “And in the same context if you want to use it, yes, we are at war with ISIL in that sense,” Kerry said. “But I think it’s waste of time to focus on that. Frankly, lets consider what we have to do to degrade and defeat ISIL.”
Kerry acknowledged the U.S.’s war status after he received criticism for downplaying the fight against ISIS.
“If somebody wants to think about it as being a war with [ISIS], they can do so, but the fact is that it’s a major counterterrorism operation that will have many different moving parts,” Kerry had previously told CNN.
“I don’t think people need to get into war fever on this,” he also told CBS.
In other remarks on Tuesday, Holder mocked Fox News for hammering the Obama administration for its refusal to use the term “radical Islam” to describe recent terror attacks. (RELATED: Eric Holder Blames Fox News For Concern Over ‘Radical Islam’)
“If Fox didn’t talk about this, they would have nothing else to talk about, it seems to me,” Holder said. “Radical Islam, Islamic extremism; I’m not sure an awful lot is gained by saying that.”
[h/t The Daily Beast]