I've said earlier that I think a president, any president, is entitled to his own team. The exception to that would be cases where the individual has taken actions which conclusively demonstrates that he so lacks in character, judgment, or temperament that he should be disqualified.
Eric Holder, former Deputy Attorney General under Bill Clinton, will begin confirmation hearings on or about January 15 to be Attorney General in the Obama adminstration. Eric Holder should be rejected by the Senate because he has demonstrated repeatedly that he is the epitome of the "yes man" and has no problem in using the full weight of the federal government to push whatever agenda he is told to push.
The Los Angeles Times today reports on Eric Holder's involvement in the commutation of prison sentences granted to convicted terrorists
The 16 members of the FALN (the Spanish acronym for Armed Forces of National Liberation) and Los Macheteros had been convicted in Chicago and Hartford variously of bank robbery, possession of explosives and participating in a seditious conspiracy. Overall, the two groups had been linked by the FBI to more than 130 bombings, several armed robberies, six slayings and hundreds of injuries.
None of the 16 whose sentences were commuted had been convicted of murder, and most had already served lengthy prison terms.
The spin from the Obama transition team was not less nauseating for its predictability.
Eric Holder carefully reviewed the FALN clemency request, weighed the positions of both sides, including law enforcement, and concluded that the sentences of up to 90 years imposed on these prisoners was disproportionate to other federal and state sentences. After reaching that conclusion, he directed his subordinates at the department to draft a memo outlining several options, including how such a commutation could be structured to reflect the seriousness of these crimes and to take account of the lengthy time the prisoners had already served.
This commutation was opposed by the FBI, by local police, and by the families of the victims. But the LA Times is telling only a small part of the story. A fuller, contemporaneous version can be found here.
The truth is that the terrorist were freed at the request of three Puerto Rican members of congress, Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), José Serrano (D-NY), and Luis Gutierrez (D-IL). According to the AP in 1999 (by way of Free Republic)
Critics accused the president of extending the clemency to boost the standing of his wife's Senate candidacy in New York, which is home to about 1.3 million Puerto Ricans. Subpoenas from Burton's committee then unearthed a March memo from Jeffrey Farrow, co-chairman of the president's interagency group on Puerto Rico, which surmised that the prisoners release could benefit Vice President Al Gore in his bid for the presidency.
In short, the Puerto Rican terrorists were freed as a political sop to two NY members of congress whose support Hillary Clinton would need to make a run for the senate. (And wherever there is a whiff of corruption, you'll find a Chicago pol, hence Luis Gutierrez cameo appearance.)
Were this an anomaly, a single instance of Holder simply shutting up and doing what he was told, it wouldn't necessarily be a disqualifier. We can completely understand how the Obama adminstration is unconcerned about the freeing of avowed and unrepentant terrorists considering Bill Ayers's relationship to The One. However, Holder was also the guy who approved the pardon applications for Marc Rich, Susan McDougall, and 138 other felons on Clinton's last day in office. There were more terrorists on this list, too, but there is no reason to belabor the point.
But wait, there's more.
Eric Holder was deputy AG when Elian Gonzalez was forcibly returned to Cuba. He was the deputy AG who kept in place the disastrous policy of his predecessor, Jamie Gorelick, in creating a "wall" between intelligence and law enforcement agents, which policy worked out so wonderfully back in 2001.
Though Holder has been making noises about opposing Guantanamo and "torture," it is worth noting that our policy of extraordinary rendition started while Holder was Deputy AG and occurred throughout his tenure. While I, personally, think sending terrorists to countries who will probably make their lives Hobbesian in the sense it will be "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" is a great idea and one of the few things Clinton did that I applaud, I only bring the issue up to point out, as in the above cases, Eric Holder does exactly what he is told to do.
He is hostile to firearms ownership as we currently understand the idea, he filed an amicus brief against the Heller plaintiffs and criticized the Supreme Court's decision to treat the 2d Amendment as part of the Constituion.
If he enthusiastically does what he's told in cases, like rendition, where he doesn't agree then one can only prepare to be amazed when he is personally invested in the boss's decision.
An example of that comes from 1999 when Holder demonstrated that he's not willing to let that silly little 6th Amendment get in the way of a perfectly good headline-making prosecution. In short, he said that companies pending indictment would receive credit for assisting with an investigation if they stopped providing legal counsel for employees who were under investigation. This directive was overturned by a federal appeals court.
We hold that KPMG’s adoption and enforcement of a policy under which it conditioned, capped and ultimately ceased advancing legal fees to defendants followed as a direct consequence of the government’s overwhelming influence, and that KPMG’s conduct therefore amounted to state action. We further hold that the government thus unjustifiably interfered with defendants’ relationship with counsel and their ability to mount a defense, in violation of the Sixth Amendment, and that the government did not cure the violation.
The whole picture is one of a very smart and energetic man, perhaps a nice and well meaning guy, who is a fairly doctrinaire lefty. More importantly we see a man devoid of moral courage and without any core set of beliefs to control his actions other than making the boss happy.
There could be no more dangerous combination than this in the office of the Attorney General.