Washington (CNN) -- Attorney General Eric Holder promised an audience of progressives and liberals Thursday that he will not abandon the fight to steer accused terrorists to civilian court trials rather than military tribunals.
Holder lashed out at Congress for forcing him to recently surrender on the issue, and to place accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other co-conspirators before military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
He did not directly respond to a call this week by Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell to move two terrorism suspects arrested in Kentucky to the Guantanamo Bay prison.
But Holder said he would do whatever was within his power to have suspected terrorists tried in civilian courts.
"We continue to see overheated rhetoric that is detached from history and from the facts," Holder said at a convention of the American Constitution Society in Washington.
"We see crucial national security tools, once again, being put at risk by those who disparage the American criminal justice system, and misguidedly claim that terror suspects cannot be tried safely in our civilian courts," Holder said.
"We must speak out. And we must set the record straight. In this work, I pledge my own best efforts and tonight I ask for yours."