By Michael Sheridan
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
The protest orchestrated by a fire-and-brimstone Florida pastor was called "idiotic and dangerous" by the U.S. Attorney General on Tuesday, according to reports.
It's the latest in a slew of criticisms and warnings delivered to Rev. Terry Jones, who has said for months that he aims to ignite copies of the Muslim holy book to commemorate September 11 in an event he calls, "International Burn-a-Koran Day."
Eric Holder's blunt remark was reportedly made during a meeting closed to reporters, but a Justice Department official confirmed the barb to MSNBC.
The Attorney General also plans to speak publically about the protest, the official said.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also came out to sear the Florida preacher.
"I am heartened by the clear, unequivocal condemnation of this disrespectful, disgraceful act that has come from American religious leaders of all faiths," she said on Tuesday.
The comment follows warnings from Gen. Petraeus, who fears the incendiary act will spark more attacks on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.
"It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort in Afghanistan," he said. "Were the actual burning to take place, the safety of our soldiers and civilians would be put in jeopardy and accomplishment of the mission would be made more difficult."
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs echoed this concern on Tuesday, noting that anything "that puts our troops in harm's way would be a concern to this administration."
Jones' planned book-burning has already ignited angry protests in Afghanistan, where hundreds chanted "Death to America," while earlier thousands gathered outside the U.S. embassy in Jakatra, Indonesia.
"Our message is a message of warning to the radical element of Islam," the 58-year-old preacher said of his plans.
Despite the criticisms, the head of the Dove World Outreach Church in Gainesville intends to go forward with his Saturday protest.
"We have firmly made up our mind," Jones told CNN on Tuesday.
Although pressure is mounting to cancel the Koran-burning, Mayor Bloomberg insists the pastor should be allowed to do what he wants.
"In a strange way, I'm here to defend his right to do that," he said on Tuesday. "I happen to think that it is distasteful... [but] the First Amendment protects everybody, and you can't say that we're going to apply the First Amendment to only those cases where we are in agreement."
The city's top cop, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, argued Tuesday night that the protest was "extremely unwise."