The Corner

Judiciary Committee Approves Holder Nomination

To recap: 

ITEM:  When Eric Holder was the number 2 official in the Clinton Justice Department, he engineered the pardons of FALN terrorists, a precedent that laid the ground work the next year for President Clinton’s pardons of two Weather Underground terrorists — commutations that took place in the wake of the terrorist attacks against, respectively, U.S. embassies in eastern Africa and the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen.

ITEM:  Holder further greased the works for the Mark Rich pardon, after unsuccessfully pressuring prosecutors to meet with the most-wanted fugitive’s lawyers, who he knew were trying to get the case against Rich dismissed without jail time.  Rich had been sought for the better part of two decades on charges of massive tax evasion, fraud, racketeering and trading with the enemy (Iran, during the hostage crisis).  A congressional investigation found Holder’s conduct “unconscionable” and his testimony at times implausible.  That testimony included claims of not being familiar even with Rich’s name when he was approached for help in 1999 — notwithstanding that when Holder had been the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia in 1995, his office sued one of Rich’s companies, filed a complaint detailing Rich’s background, and even accepted an affidavit from Rich (then a fugitive) during the plea negotiations.

ITEM:  During his confirmation hearing, Holder flatly said that waterboarding is torture, creating increased peril for intelligence officers who may have employed it and Bush administration officials who may have authorized it.  On that score, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture is now arguing that the new administration is obligated, under the UN Convention Against Torture, to file charges against President Bush and former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld.

ITEM:  In a June 2008 speech, as an adviser to the Obama campaign, Holder declared that there should be a “reckoning” — wherein a new Obama administration would investigate and call to account Bush administration officials who, according to Holder, were guilty of various crimes in what he depicted as an overly aggressive response to the September 11th attacks.  According to Holder, the “needlessly abusive and unlawful practices” included the following:

Our government authorized the use of torture, approved of secret electronic surveillance against American citizens, secretly detained American citizens without due process of law, denied the writ of habeas corpus to hundreds of accused enemy combatants and authorized the use of procedures that violate both international law and the United States Constitution.

ITEM:  Regarding the Supreme Court’s decision last July in Boumediene, which — contradicting precedent and tradition — gave American constitutional rights to alien enemy combatants held outside the United States, Holder said in the same speech that this ruling was “an important first step, but we must go much further.”  (At his confirmation hearing, when Sen. Jeff Sessions asked him what he meant by much further, Holder responded, “Well, I’m not sure what I had in mind there” other than being “consistent with our values.”)

ITEM:  Holder’s firm has provided its services to 18 of the enemy combatants being held at Guantanamo Bay for making war against the United States.  (By contrast, consider how Democrats have treated the membership of conservative lawyers in the Federalist Society.)

With all that and more, Holder’s nomination to be the next Attorney General of the United States was passed on to the full Senate today with the overwhelming approval of the Senate Judiciary Committee — the committee that has routinely harrassed, blocked, and/or voted down impeccably credentialed Republican judicial and Justice Department nominees. The vote was 17-2. All eleven of the committee’s Democrats voted in favor. So did six of the eight committee Republicans. The only “no” votes were cast by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).

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