Put a Hold on Holder
By Isaac MacMillen
Eric Holder, President Barack Obama's nominee for Attorney General, has a long and dubious record as a supporter of strong governmental intervention, questionable pardons, and onerous gun control. Throughout his history of government employment, he has continually put the broad interests of the American people on the back burner in deference to a narrow spectrum of special interest groups.
Eric H. Holder, Jr., has worked for the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section, as a DC judge; as U.S. Attorney for DC; and finally as deputy Attorney General under Janet Reno. For the past 8 years, he has remained out of public scrutiny in his work as a private attorney. But his nomination brings his past back into the spotlight. And that light reveals an enduring darkness.
• Many Americans remember the Elian Gonzalez incident in 2000, in which heavily-armed federal agents forcibly seized a 6-year old Cuban boy and returned him to Castro's Cuba. Mr. Holder helped initiate the action, and was embarrassed when he was shown on national TV stating that agents had not taken the boy by force—while the shocking image associated with the raid appeared on-screen and infuriated Americans.
• Mr. Holder was in his role in the Justice Department during many of the controversial pardons issued at the end of the Clinton era. And that includes the pardon of two members of the Weather Underground terrorist group, both of whom were involved in the violent actions which characterized the 1960s group.
One of them, Susan Rosenberg, had been sentenced to 58 years in prison for possession of 700lbs of explosives and other illegal weaponry. She had also participated in a triple-homicide Brinks robbery. Upon hearing of her pardon, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) voiced his opposition, calling it a “terrible injustice.”
The other terrorist, Linda Evans, had sentenced to 40 years for her involvement in the robbery. Five more years were added to her sentence for her role in several bombings, including that of the U.S. Capitol.
Of particular note is the fact that Barack Obama himself brought up Bill Clinton's pardon of the two Weather Underground members when he defended his relationship with Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers in a Democratic primary debate.
• The infamous pardon of Marc Rich also fell under Holder's purview. While his apologists claim that he did not have enough time to fully evaluate Mr. Rich before approving the pardon, the fact remains that Mr. Holder's signature of approval was upon the document handed to then-President Bill Clinton. Additionally, he appears to have been swayed by influence and power in deciding to support Rich.
At the time of the Holder-approved pardon, Marc Rich, was living in luxury as a fugitive from charges of tax evasion and illegal deal-making with Iran during the Iranian hostage crisis. His pardon came after his wife contributed large sums to the Clinton library and Democratic Party, causing many Republicans—and Democrats—to cry foul. Senators Charles Schumer and Russel Feingold joined then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle in voicing concern that the politics of money had played a role.
Mr. Holder's supporters would like to claim that his involvement in many of these controversial last-minute pardons was minimal. But part of Mr. Holder's job was to oversee pardons. At best, this makes him inept; at worst, complicit. Even the liberal site Salon.com is forced to admit that “[t]hough Holder wasn't the driving force behind the Rich pardon, the assembled facts nonetheless demonstrate that his involvement in that process was substantial, continuous, and concerted.”
But Eric Holder's pardon problems are not confined to the midnight-before-inauguration. The former assistant AG also drew fire for his role in granting clemency to FALN terrorists. The 16 members of the Armed Forces of National Liberation, a Marxist-Leninist Puerto Rican terrorist group, that set off over a hundred bombs in American cities, resulting in American fatalities.
A report by the House Committee on Government Reform raked the Clinton Administration over the coals for its decision to free FALN terrorists, citing numerous highly-questionable elements of the whole procedure—including the fact that the FBI and other government agencies joined victims in opposing clemency. Mr. Holder coldly ignored their pleas.
Leaving the Justice Department didn't improve Mr. Holder's performance. After his departure in 2001, he made millions of dollars defending the questionable actions of dubious corporations. He performed private work for a company under threat of investigation for paying off terrorists, and later defended a massive drug company against the Justice Department. Mr. Holder also gave advice to Global Crossing, “in connection with legislative and regulatory issues arising from a potential sale to an Asian purchaser as Global Crossing emerged from bankruptcy.” He did so on the heels of a government report accusing Global Crossing and Enron of having “used a complex deal brokered by a third company to sidestep accounting rules.”
He was also offered a $300,000 job working for the now-disgraced Governor Blagojevich of Illinois. But then canceled it—and conveniently omitted it from the Senate's AG questionnaire, raising the ire of some Senate Republicans.
Senator Arlen Specter and former Attorney Generation Edwin Meese III penned an article slamming Eric Holder for his role in the “Holder Memorandum,” which effectively denied white-collar employees their constitutional rights against self-incrimination and for counsel. The memo allows federal prosecutors to force a company to waive its right to counsel in exchange for investigation “cooperation” credit. The measure, which they label as “draconian,” has been adapted by other agencies, forcing Congress to attempt to intervene.
As bad a job as Mr. Holder has done in the past, the worst may be yet to come. Despite President Obama's insistence that he supported the 2nd Amendment, his nominee for attorney general has a history of extreme opposition to gun ownership—or at least when it isn't heavily regulated.
After the 9/11 attacks, Mr. Holder penned an Op-Ed in the Washington Post arguing for gun control, lest terrorists get their hands on them. More recently, he signed an amicus brief in the Heller vs. DC case—which was based on arguments that even the liberal Supreme Court justices thoroughly rejected.
Also disturbing for gun owners is the fact that, during Mr. Holder's tenure at the Justice Department, the “background check” system repeatedly “broke down.” This hurt the gun market, as sellers were obligated to perform background checks before completing sales. And it deprived gun buyers of their Second Amendment rights.
Gun opposition, questionable legal jobs, approval of downright-controversial pardons, politicization—members of the Senate on both sides of the aisle believe is not the kind of track record America needs in its next attorney general. An attorney general who routinely puts politics above principle and personal gain above the public weal is not someone to be entrusted with the pivotal duties of upholding the law of the land.
Isaac MacMillen is a contributing editor of ALG News Bureau.