The Increasing Heat on Eric Holder

There are many predictable calls for Attorney General Eric Holder's resignation. Until the recent disclosure of mass and indiscriminate electronic surveillance of telecom records, most have been partisan attacks. There are signs that is changing.

Will Eric Holder resign? Matthew Cooper, writing in The Atlantic, has an interesting article today, What Happened to Eric Holder? It chronicles his career, past and current, and makes this observation:

Holder was never going to stay through both terms. (Reno is the only attorney general in the country's history to stay that long.) And they say he'll be gone when Susan Rice and Samantha Power get settled in with John Kerry and Chuck Hagel and after James Comey is confirmed as the new FBI Director.


Cooper then writes:

There are not a lot of signs, though, that Holder will be able to finish on a high note.

In terms of public perception, that may be correct. He's pretty much cornered himself into a box. While attempting to disassociate himself from the subpoenas for journalist's phone records, he's now faced with demands from agencies like the NSA to initiate criminal investigations into who leaked the secret FISA Court Order to the Guardian and Glenn Greenwald.

We now know that leaks are investigated, rightly or wrongly, with seizure of records of the reporters who dealt with the leakers. Holder insists journalists aren't the target, but what difference does that make, when they are the vehicle used to get the goods on the leaker. They may only be a secondary target, and there may be no present intent to charge the leakee (person who received the information from the leaker), but that doesn't make Greenwald or Rosen any less a "target."

When the Patriot Act was passed, I used to write that Congress is trying to instill the fear of terrorism in the heart of every American. If you've ever had a computer or mobile phone stolen, or your house broken into, think how violated that made you feel. I suspect that's the same feeling one gets when told that the Government has obtained all his or her phone records, social media account postings, contact list and interactions, and locations visited, online and in person. It's a feeling that makes you feel physically violated and sick to your stomach.

For people like Rosen and Greenwald, who are in the middle of leaks investigations targeting others, a criminal investigation means they will have to live with knowing that their most private thoughts, exchanged by email and telephone with sources and friends, have been combed through by Government agents who just had to sign off on a subpoena or apply for a rubber-stamped FISA warrant. All done with a stamp of approval from the Powers that Be in Congress.

The worst part is that the intelligence groups and FBI who obtain this information are sharing it with every Tom, Dick and Harry local police agency and every federal law enforcement agency.

This is why we had a wall between intelligence and law enforcement when it came to information obtained by one and not the other. The wall was a good thing for us, the people. It's gone now, obliterated by the Patriot Act and a host of other federal and state laws that lawmakers got sucked into believing will lead to discovering the terrorists among us.

President Obama says we should be prepared to make trade-offs of our civil liberties in exchange for greater assurances of being safer. But there's little evidence that these over-the-top surveillance measures or information sharing agreements make us safer. They just make us less free. Every time we compromise our principles under the guise of being safer from terrorists, the terrorists win. They have knocked another brick out of the foundation of our society and most fundamental values.

That's why it's hard to have sympathy with Eric Holder today. He seems to be in lock-step with President Obama, who has clearly lost his way in telling us we must make tough choices when it comes to our civil liberties. Data-mining the records of all Americans will not lead to finding the next Undie Bomber or Boston terrorist in time to prevent a planned attack. What it will do is infringe on the rights of millions of Americans who have always believed this kind of spying on our own can't happen here. It belittles our Constitution.

That said, Eric Holder is probably at the bottom of the blame chain. I doubt he sits around (like some others in Government) trying to figure out ways to spy on every American. But he didn't have enough of a backbone to put a lid on it, and now it's come to bite him in the as*.

Holder will leave on his own terms, and while his legacy may be tarnished, he'll still have a number of corporations and big law firms bidding for his services. He'll end up with a very lucrative career in the private sector. He'll have a good life and more time for his family.

As for the rest of us, until our Government does a major mind shift and puts back the wall between intelligence and law enforcement, our privacy rights are only to going to erode further. If Intelligence is looking for leads and connections among suspected foreign terrorists, there's no need to share their info with everyone from the FBI to local police in Poughkeepsie.

The FBI should go back to prosecuting bank robbers, high rolling hucksters, and corporate fraud, and keep its databases to itself. Only if intelligence stumbles on an imminent or active criminal plot, should it be allowed to share its information with law enforcement. Their functions need to be separate. Law enforcement is bound by the Fourth Amendment. Intelligence agents, who are looking for patterns and trying to prevent or predict terror attacks, and get orders from FISA, generally are not. The Patriot Act was nothing but an end-run around the Fourth Amendment. And unless a crime has occurred that specifically affects the Poughkeepsies of America, we should remove their access to the information. There's no reason for local cops to receive the intelligence data collected on law-abiding U.S. citzens thousands of miles from their jurisdiction.

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    First of all, we're not being asked; (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by Anne on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 07:21:39 AM EST
    what's being done was done without our permission.  Obama's trying to make it sound better by characterizing it as a trade, but that would imply that we, with full knowledge - and by "full knowledge" I don't mean the little bread crumbs we've gotten that are meant to substitute for actual information - made a conscious decision to participate in an exchange: privacy surrendered for security.

    And while many may be accepting the appropriation of privacy and calling it a trade, what it is, really, is outright theft: our privacy has been stolen, and the thieves are trying to make us feel better about it, after the fact.

    You were right to point out that Holder isn't at the top of this burglary ring, but I think to characterize Obama as having "lost his way" is to avoid having to look at the totality of his record, and the authoritarian thread that runs through it.

    This isn't one of those things that's going to be solved by, in this case, Eric Holder leaving his position, because the problem didn't start with Holder, but with the president who chose him - when Holder leaves, someone willing to carry out the same kinds of policies will be nominated.

    Once upon a time, we used to look to the Congress to exert the oversight responsibilities of its branch of government, but its been rubber-stamping these policies for so long now that I don't think it will ever be the independent body it's supposed to be, as much as it will be a cooperative and complicit arm of the executive branch.  

    I'd just like someone to answer one thing for me: now that we know that those who are supposed to guard our rights are the ones who have stolen them from us, where do we go and what do we do to hang onto the ones we still have left?

    Not the point (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by gaf on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:07:34 AM EST
    But there's little evidence that these over-the-top surveillance measures or information sharing agreements make us safer

    I don't think that this is relevant. A police state is always safer than the alternative, but do we want to be safer at the cost of having a police state?

    We are falling into a trap if we start asking for evidence that these things are making us safer. It implies the position that this is OK if it makes us safer.

    Benjamin Franklin (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by Zorba on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:30:51 AM EST
    Is rolling over in his grave, as are the other founding fathers.  With the possible exception of John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and the other Federalists.  The Patriot Act might very well have been right up Adams' alley.

    You are right about Holder... (none / 0) (#2)
    by bmaz on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 07:44:51 AM EST
    He is not really the problem, but he sure as heck has failed at being much of a solution either. I was never a big fan of Holder, and still am not. However, I find it hard to believe any successor would be any better, and almost certainly will be worse. The next AG is going to look like Preet Bharara, Lisa Monaco or Neil MacBride. Flawed as he is, I'll take Holder over that look any day.

    He never was supposed to be a solution (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by scribe on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 08:21:20 AM EST
    Rather, he was intended to keep the status quo created under Bush/Cheney.

    If one wants to isolate only one catastrophe on his watch, look at the mortgage/foreclosure fraud debacle.

    Massive, institutionalized forgery rings got a free pass.  The President even came out saying "it was all perfectly legal", even after he himself had signatures forged on his mortgage (refi).  The few, isolated prosecutions were all of borrowers, not lenders.  No banker's bottom line got seriously hit.

    I agree wholeheartedly that none of the putative successors to Holder would "improve" on his performance, but I am wholly satisifed with his remaining in office and a bleeding wound on this Administration.  He and his DoJ ratified the conduct at Guantanamo where, per the OpEd written by an inmate, the objective was to make the inmates die as slowly as possible.  He and his DoJ regularized the illegality and immorality of Stellar Wind (and who knows what other programs we have not yet heard about).  He and his DoJ fought harder than ever to keep Scott Bloch out of jail - an act of blatant self-interest on their part, b/c it sets the precedent that DoJ officials lying under oath do not go to jail.

    As I've been saying since 2009 or so, the fundamental principle of Obama's presidency has been "Nobody gets hurt.  (BTW, you're nobody.)"  Holder's carried that out in spades.


    freedom? (none / 0) (#6)
    by koshembos on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 12:00:18 PM EST
    A country controlled by big banks, abused by health insurance companies, companies consider super citizens and vicious Internet spying through cookies and why not hasn't seen freedom for over a decade.

    The screams now are way late. Not too many demanded Holder's resignation when he failed to indict even one big big bank for financial crimes. After all, we elected two rookie presidents since 2000 only later to find out that neither of them gives a hoot about us.

    In case you haven't noticed (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by CoralGables on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 12:40:15 PM EST
    We've elected about 38 rookie Presidents. Unless you have an issue with the Constitution, the terms of the 22md Amendment demand it on a regular basis.

    Yeah but.. (none / 0) (#33)
    by jondee on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 01:48:06 PM EST
    "Freedom" has also meant, and still means, to many people, not interfering in any way with the business practices and petitioning of the government by big banks and health insurence companies..

    These corporate citizens, these corporate "persons"..

    Even the ACLU now thinks they're people and that thier money is constitutionally guaranteed "speech".


    State of the Art Encryption (none / 0) (#7)
    by squeaky on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 12:26:26 PM EST
    For people like Rosen and Greenwald, who are in the middle of leaks investigations targeting others, a criminal investigation means they will have to live with knowing that their most private thoughts, exchanged by email and telephone with sources and friends, have been combed through by Government agents....

    Not to make light of the position that Greenwald or anyone in the crosshairs of Big Brother.. but Greenwald is proactive and has taken precautions in order to protect himself:

    Mr. Greenwald said he has had to get up to speed in the security precautions that are expected from a reporter covering national security matters, including installing encrypted instant chat and e-mail programs.

    "I am borderline illiterate on these matters, but I had somebody who is really well-regarded actually come and physically do my whole computer," he said.

    That computer is in Brazil, where Mr. Greenwald spends most of his time and lives with his partner, who cannot emigrate to the United States because the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriages as a basis for residency applications.


    he has a lot of speaking (none / 0) (#12)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 01:06:40 PM EST
    engagements and TV appearances in the U.S. They'll be watching him. And probably those he communicates with.

    Isn't every President a rookie? (none / 0) (#8)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 12:36:05 PM EST
    And didn't we know what both of them were we they were elected to a second term?

    I voted for Bush because I didn't trust Al Gore. I then voted for Bush because I didn't trust Kerry.

    I voted for McCain because I didn't trust Obama. And every time I pointed that out in 2008 I was called a bigot or racist or ignorant or a dozen other names.

    I voted for Romney because I disliked many things Obama had done and didn't trust him to change.  And every time I pointed that out in 2012 I was called a bigot or racist or ignorant or a dozen other names.

    I think my actions have been rational and based on study of all the information I could obtain.

    Many voted for Obama in 2008 because he preached hope and change. He was going to fix the economy, end the war, close GITMO, stop the government spying, and be the most transparent administration in history.

    Outside of believing that many voted for Obama in 2012 because they were fearful of loosing their "benefits" and had no knowledge, or care about what was going on, I just can't understand why anyone voted for him in 2012.

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

    Obama may not be personally responsible for the LV parties..He may not be personally responsible for Benghazi..He may not be personally responsible for what the NSA is doing....He may not be personally responsible for what the IRS has done....

    But he is responsible for setting the tone. He is responsible for hiring.

    A fish rots from the head down.

    "A fish rots from the head down" (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by CoralGables on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 12:48:05 PM EST
    If that's your feeling, why would you vote for a rotted fish in each of the last four elections? Is it the rationality that fish that rot together stick together?

    Heh - "I voted Repub ... (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Yman on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 02:59:06 PM EST
    ... because I didn't trust the other guy."

    You never really voted for the Republican candidate, so you can't be blamed - unlike those dupes who voted for Obama.  Hey - after all - if you make the mistake of voting for somebody, you might have to take some responsibility for your vote, instead of just pretending "the other guy would have been worse!".  Not to mention all those imaginary cries of "Racist!".

    Funny how conservatives are always preaching about personal responsibility ...


    And Jim (none / 0) (#11)
    by CoralGables on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 01:02:49 PM EST
    turning a well-worn phrase is silly when it's wrong. In reality, anyone that has spent a lot of time on the water knows a fish rots from the guts out.

    Silly?? In your mind, a mind of an Obama (none / 0) (#15)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 03:20:35 PM EST
    voter, I'm sure it is.

    And a fish's eyes go first. And they are located.???

    But the point remains. I voted based on what I could find out. Obama voters voted for a dream in 2008.... and heaven only knows, beyond getting stuff and not being concerned, they voted in 2012..


    You voted according to your right wing, (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by shoephone on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 03:28:53 PM EST
    confederate philosophy of life, as you always have, as you always will.

    shoephone, you again (1.00 / 1) (#20)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 09:12:27 PM EST
    demonstrate that you are incapable of having a conversation.

    Why is that?

    Are you just stupid or are you suffering from an inferiority complex?

    Heck, it may well be that you are the former and not the latter... complex that is.



    The day you quit lying about your politics (5.00 / 4) (#27)
    by shoephone on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:02:54 PM EST
    is the day the rest of us cease needing to call you on your bulsh*t.

    Tell us again why you voted for Bush.


    jim...you don't know jack about fish... (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by fishcamp on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:26:18 PM EST
    I knew you'd be around for this one eventually :) (none / 0) (#30)
    by CoralGables on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:48:08 PM EST
    correctamundo CG (none / 0) (#23)
    by fishcamp on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 09:52:22 PM EST
    I guess (none / 0) (#13)
    by Ga6thDem on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 01:46:31 PM EST
    people voted for Obama in 2012 for the same reason you voted for Bush in 2004.

    You know GA, Bush didn't change (1.00 / 2) (#16)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 03:22:46 PM EST
    from 2000 to 2004. Like him or not he was what he was.

    Obama's lies are classic and the things that legends are made of...

    The question now is.... Will you keep blindly following or will you attack him for doing MORE than Bush did and NONE of the things he promised???



    Another stupid comment from Jimbo (5.00 / 3) (#17)
    by shoephone on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 03:26:39 PM EST
    When has Ga6th EVER blindly followed Obama, on anything??? She has made clear -- for years -- that she is not a "follower" of Obama at all, and she continually seeks to hold him accountable.

    Jim, you are dumber than the dumbest rat.  


    shoephone, you haven't the (1.00 / 3) (#21)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 09:15:52 PM EST
    vaguest idea about what GA has or has not done.

    And in either case she has demonstrated that she is fully capable of speaking for herself.

    Now, slither off before someone stuffs something in that crack under the door and you are imprisoned  in the real world.



    Actually, Jim, I have a very good idea of what (5.00 / 5) (#25)
    by shoephone on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 09:58:04 PM EST
    Ga6th has done and how she has voted -- considering that she has made her politics clear to those of us on TL through both of the last two elections. Do you ever pay attention to anything here? Or do you plan to just keep repeating the same insane nonsense over and over and over, in the desperate hope that, at some point, someone will think you have anything of value to contribute to these threads?

    Bush (5.00 / 6) (#19)
    by Ga6thDem on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 04:13:04 PM EST
    who sneered at "nation building" in 2000 but embarked on the largest "nation building" project the country has even seen? The guy who said everything changed after 9/11 including himself. Jim, you really do live in a fantasy world. The Obama today is the same Obama I saw back in 2008.

    You obviously have NEVER read my posts if you think I blindly follow Obama. Pointing out the idiocy of the GOP does not mean I follow Obama.

    Oh, Obama is doing a lot of what he promised unfortunately. He promised health care reform and did that. He voted for FISA back in 2008 Jim. I guess you were not paying attention but I sure was.


    Might you have some references (none / 0) (#22)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 09:17:15 PM EST
    for that claim about Bush??

    Do you blindly do what??

    You voted for him twice and will a third if given a chance.


    Here ya go (5.00 / 5) (#28)
    by Ga6thDem on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:10:49 PM EST

    You obviously never paid attention in 2000 nor most other elections it would seem since you don't even appear to know what the candidates are saying.

    You seem to be a case study in the failure of Fox News.  


    I guess this means you blindly (5.00 / 3) (#31)
    by Anne on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 06:49:01 AM EST
    follow the Republicans you vote for, right?  And that you'll keep voting for them, too?

    I mean, you tag anyone and everyone who voted Democratic as "blindly" following those Democrats, and use assumptions of their past votes as a predictor for the future.

    What do you say to people like me, a Democrat who didn't cast any ballot for president in 2008, and voted for Jill Stein in 2012?  You assumed I had voted for Obama, too - even though I had made no bones about the fact that I had never cast a vote for him.

    The simple truth is that a lot of people voted for the person they believed was the lesser of the two evil choices - isn't that the reason you voted for Romney, not because you were willing to blindly follow him, but because you believed he had to be better than Obama?  

    Maybe before you play this schoolyard game of taunting and finger-pointing, you ought to make sure you're not guilty of the things you're accusing others of, because from where I sit, you might be the last person who has room to question how other people vote.


    Funny.. (none / 0) (#32)
    by jondee on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 12:56:54 PM EST
    I thought you voted for all those guys because, as you often used to allege here, the Democratic Party was permanently "taken over" by the radical left in the sixties..



    jim...you've lost all your marbles... (none / 0) (#24)
    by fishcamp on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 09:57:52 PM EST

    He never had any marbles to begin with (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by shoephone on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:00:18 PM EST
    Only rocks in his head.