The Campaign Spot

Holder’s Confirmation Shouldn’t Be a Done Deal

In response to reports that Obama “transition strategists are now satisfied that Eric Holder will be confirmed as attorney general”, Jen Rubin offers good questions for Eric Holder. As important as questions about Marc Rich are, I would urge senators to broaden the scope of their queries, into areas like this…

1. After a 1998 hearing on federal hate crimes statutes, you filed a written response to questions to Sen. Arlen Specter asking whether you had encountered any cases in which state authorities had, for inappropriate reasons, decide not to pursue the prosecution of a hate crime. You listed three cases where state authorities failed to bring charges. However, under all three federal prosecutions, the defendants were acquitted. Now, ten years later, do you have any specific instances where the states have failed to prosecute hate crimes? If there are no examples, does this not call into question the need for federal legislation?

2. When Ken Starr went to you asking for FBI assistance to conduct an internal probe of alleged leaks of grand jury testimony, you talked him out of it, and gave Starr the impression that you did not think much of the accusation. Much later he learned that despite what you said to him, you called the presiding judge in the case and offered the Justice Department’s help in looking into the charges against Starr. Why did you lie to Ken Starr? In light of situations like this, why should anyone trust you?

3. On June 29, 1998, you met with representatives of several Arab-American groups including the Arab American Institute, telling them that of 24 pending secret evidence trials — where an individual was accused of plotting terrorism or supporting terrorism, in circumstances where much of the evidence gathered to indict and convict the person is classified — all but one or two were against Arabs or Muslims. Do you think this representation constituted racial profiling? You have accused law enforcement agencies of racial profiling in the past, but if, as in the case of Arab and Muslims in secret evidence trials, one ethnic or religious group may be overrepresented in the perpetrators of one type of crime, why isn’t it possible that another ethnic or religious group may be overrepresented in the perpetrators of another type of crime?

4. You wrote after September 11 an op-ed in the Washington Post, decrying the threat of “firearms purchased in this country falls into the hands of a terrorist.” How many members of al-Qaeda have purchased a firearm in the United States? How many individuals have been convicted of supplying arms to terrorists through purchases at gun shows? Does it trouble you that of the two examples you cited in that op-ed, one was acquitted of charges of charges of attempting to supply arms to terrorists? Do you feel any regret that in the aftermath of two terrifying terror attacks — one involving boxcutters and hijacked planes, the other involving anthrax — your first instinct was to make it harder for Americans to purchase a gun?

5.  President Clinton convened a White House meeting in 1999 to, in the words of one participant “to prepare an all-out offensive on guns in the coming year”? Did you feel that “an all-out offensive on guns” is an appropriate act for a President? Is that “all out offensive” consistent with the Second Amendment? Will you pursue “an all-out offensive on guns” if you are confirmed as Attorney General?

6.  Why did you claim, the morning after the raid on the family of Elian Gonzalez, that the child “was not taken at gunpoint”? Were you uninformed of the image we all remember, and commenting on matters you did not have knowledge of, or were you aware of it and hoping to persuade the public not to believe their lying eyes?

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