Osama bin Laden will never be captured alive, Attorney General Eric Holder told lawmakers on Tuesday.
“The possibility of capturing him alive is infinitesimal,” Holder said. “He will be killed by us, or he will be killed by his own people so that he is not captured by us. We know that. … The possibility simply does not exist.”
That assessment, which Holder said was based on “all the intelligence I have had to review,” came during an often-heated hearing of a House Appropriations subcommittee.
Republicans pressed Holder over recent decisions to prosecute terrorism suspects in civilian courts, and they suggested he intends to treat terrorism suspects as “common criminals.”
Holder said such suggestions tend to “get my blood boiling,” calling them “anything but the truth.”
He said the “apt” comparison is to mass murderers like Charles Manson, who is currently serving a life sentence for orchestrating a killing spree in the 1960s.
Trying to explain the analogy, Holder said mass murderers like Manson still reserve the right to go before a jury and have the charges against them proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
Holder was asked whether that means Usama bin Laden, if captured, would be tried in a civilian court and afforded the same rights as Charles Manson.
“In some ways I think they're comparable people, in some ways,” Holder said.