Critiquing Holder for Attorney General

Looseheadprop, a former federal prosecutor who writes at Firedoglake, makes a last-ditch effort to derail the nomination of Eric Holder for Attorney General.

I agree Obama should have picked someone different, but for for much different reasons -- his position on drug offenses, his Biden-like endorsement of draconian crime bills and his closeness to Obama (a weaker but still troublesome comparison can be made to Bush and Alberto Gonzales) but I think Obama is so beholden to Holder for his work on his campaign, from the Veep Selection Committee on down, that it's hopeless. He sailed through his 1997 confirmation hearing for Deputy Attorney General. As I wrote here and here, [More...]

As for who should be Attorney General, I hope it is not Eric Holder or Janet Napolitano or any high-level official of the Obama campaign. One cannot serve two masters. The Attorney General must represent the people and when he or she is too close to the President, we get into trouble. Think, Alberto Gonzales or John Mitchell.

As Eric Holder himself said in 2006:

"The attorney general is the one Cabinet member who's different from all the rest," said Eric Holder, who was a deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration. "The attorney general serves first the people, but also serves the president. There has to be a closeness at the same time there needs to be distance."

There isn't enough distance between Obama and Holder to foster an independent Justice Department. But, it will still be better than a Republican Justice Department.

A critical choice will be Deputy Attorney General. While Holder will lead the department, it will be the Deputy Attorney General who runs it. Let's see who that will be.

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    Several reason for Holder not to be AG (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by koshembos on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 04:13:15 PM EST
    I absolutely accept Jeralyn's point. The criminal system in the country is criminal; if you have 2.5 million individuals in jail, there is something wrong with us.

    I actually don't accept the endless lamentation of the Marc Rich pardon and assessing blame to anyone in the shadows of the case. Innocent people don't need pardons; criminals do. There was tremendous pressure to pardon Marc Rich, even the Israeli prime minister thought that it is his right to ask for the pardon. Marc Rich was pardoned; he never killed anyone; Bush killed hundred of thousands. End of story.

    The Ciquita company may be an issue, but also not litmus test.

    Holder is a Washington insiders insider, he said about Bush that he runs the government efficiently like the MBA he is. We don't need a Village member at the AG. We better not have him there.

    Probably a done deal (none / 0) (#1)
    by oldpro on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:24:19 PM EST
    but disappointing.

    Should make for interesting confirmation hearings if the Rs go all out and the Ds don't all fall in line.

    and you're convinced of this how? (none / 0) (#2)
    by cpinva on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 01:45:57 PM EST
    But, it will still be better than a Republican Justice Department.

    based on mr. holder's stated positions on various issues, i remain unconvinced that DOJ will be better run under him, than mr. gonzalez.

    neither operate under the premise of any actual scientific evidence that their positions are the most efficatious means of accomplishing an end. as a consequence, the moral standing of their positions has none. as well, they don't even do a decent job of reaching the different goals strived for.

    different name, same ineptitude.

    but hey, i could be wrong.

    The voting rights section of the DOJ (none / 0) (#8)
    by andgarden on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:47:58 PM EST
    should be much improved.

    I wasn't talking about whether DOJ is (none / 0) (#11)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 05:34:56 PM EST
    better run but about whether it will be a better Justice Department for those accused of crime. Sorry for the confusion. As a defense lawyer, I have little interest in the internal workings of the Justice Department. I care about its policies and attempts to influence legislation. I think from that standpoint, whoever Obama nominates will be better than a Republican.

    That was a really interesting read, thank you. (none / 0) (#3)
    by jerry on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:02:40 PM EST
    Sometimes blog posts can teach you more about a topic in 3-6 paragraphs than almost any other medium.  And that was such a link, and the critique of Holder (or any prosecutor like him) for letting down the shareholder was really informative.

    Thanks for that link.

    AG not Good News, but There's Bigger Fish to Fry (none / 0) (#4)
    by Brownell on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:17:43 PM EST
    Eric Holder does not qualify as belonging in the much-vaunted "Team of Giants".  The media ignores whatever does not fit its current narrative, hardly a new revelation.  If he cleans up the messes in the Bush US Attorney, civil rights and other bureaus, then, agreeing with Jeralyn, I guess we should be satisfied.  

    More troubling is what the Holder appointment might reveal about Obama's future judicial appointments and policy decisions on civil liberties issues.  The Obama campaign made the right noises about bad Bush actions -  Guantanamo, torture and rendition - but without spelling out positive steps forward in civil rights and civil liberties.  Although I saw frequent references to teaching constitutional law at UChicago, I don't recall ever seeing him use the word "habeas corpus."  

    So what should progressive voices be shouting out from the crowd around the new President?  Niggling over "centrist" Democrats does not inspire me, nor knocking off an occasional torture-loving intelligence officer.  I would prefer to see the democratic wing of the Democratic party coalesce around the kind of judicial appointments we would most love to see.  Example: Sen. Russell Feingold for first Supreme Court opening.  Progressive, substantive, a primary commitment to civil liberties, and confirmable.  Let's make it happen.

    Do we know that Finegold (none / 0) (#6)
    by oldpro on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:41:24 PM EST
    wants to be a justice?

    BTW...any relation to Herb Brownell?


    I discussed the Holder nom. with Russ a week ago. (none / 0) (#10)
    by Ben Masel on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 04:55:21 PM EST
    My impression, he's leaning towards confirmation, but intends to ask Holder the hard questions.

    Well....OK....but what about (none / 0) (#12)
    by oldpro on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 06:49:00 PM EST
    the question I asked (of anyone but particularly of those who want to get him out of legislating and onto the supreme court)?  Does anyone know if Russ Finegold wants to or would even consider making that change?

    While I've known Russ 36 years, (none / 0) (#13)
    by Ben Masel on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 07:00:30 PM EST
    I can only guess. My guess, eventually, but not until he's played out the role of consience of Obama's Senate.

    Well...that would be reason enough (none / 0) (#14)
    by oldpro on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 09:31:45 AM EST
    to appoint him, I suppose.

    No one likes their conscience going public!


    Holder and me (none / 0) (#5)
    by Ben Masel on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:35:45 PM EST
    In 1998, i was cited by the US Forest Service for the misdemeanor offense of too many people for dinner around the campfire, and eventually convicted in a bench trial.

    Then US Attorney Peg Lautenshlager later told me she'd initially refused the Forest Service request to prosecute, ("I asked them why they were wasting my time.") but then received a direct written order from the Deputy Attorney General. Just now occurs to me that the DAG at the time was... Eric Holder, Obama's nominee for AHG.

    Link (none / 0) (#7)
    by Ben Masel on Sat Nov 29, 2008 at 02:41:41 PM EST