Testimony of Eric H. Holder, Jr Attorney General nominee part 2 of 2

In part one of this post I covered the Jan 15th Senate Judiciary Committee interview of Attorney General nominee Eric Holder. That report focused on his responses to the Media Shield Bill and the Fairness Doctrine. This final report will cover his responses on GITMO, Covert Operations/Bin Laden, FALN, Marc Rich and the Second Amendment.

Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions opened a dialogue regarding the nominee’s stance on GITMO and our efforts to capture Osama Bin Laden. In his final third round of questioning the Senator referenced a speech by the nominee which can be viewed on the following link.

Note: Having just watched this July 2008 (20 minute) presentation before the American Constitution Society, ACS, I will provide a recap of the video below.  The video link of his presentation is as indicated. http://acslaw.org/node/6720

In one of our Cutting Edge-a talk show interviews we discussed the roadblocks presented by DOJ attorney’s as CIA operatives in Afghanistan were chasing Bin Laden. Senator Sessions verified what we learned a few years ago in his questioning of Mr. Holder.  Back in 1998 the DOJ refused to support covert operations to kill Bin Laden. Mr Holder responded saying that an exception could be made if it fell within a self defense confrontation. He went on to say that “I am not very comfortable talking about that issue in this forum.” We have to be aggressive and only use lethal force in the course of an arrest. At this point chairman Leahy interrupted Senator Sessions cautioning him that we are getting into classified material. Again it was stated that he was not comfortable discussing covert operations that required highest clearance.

The senator added that Bin Laden was in our sights….we were prepared to act. The CIA was blocked.  OLC, (Office of Legal Council) provided unambiguous direction by lawyers not to proceed inhibiting those in the field.

The next area questioned by Senator Session was former Deputy Attorney General Holder’s role in the pardons issued by president Clinton to members of FALN. In his response Mr. Holder said he felt the clemency in this matter “was reasonable…not a close question.” He later admitted that they were terrorists yet added “the conspirators were not directly involved in the killings.” Later in his response he responded “I think clemency was appropriate” considering their time served (between 16 and 19 years).

Senator Sessions stated that “they killed six people.” Rather than adding my own comments let me share some history from American Thinker blog which describes the role of former Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder in the FALN pardons.

Rick Moran

This article by John Perazzo in today’s FrontPage.com is absolutely devastating in its portrayal of Attorney General designate Eric Holder’s complicity in the pardons of 16 Puerto Rican terrorists.

In his role as Deputy Attorney General, all clemency and pardon requests came through his office. You may already have read about Holder’s role in the pardoning of fugitive financier Marc Rich (whose wife subsequently made a large contribution to the Clinton library). Well that’s small potatoes compared to what he did to help the clemency process for 16 FALN terrorists.

FALN is a Puerto Rican separatist group that was active in the US during the 70’s and 80’s, setting off 150 bombs targeting government installations. Arrested in the early 80’s, the 16 terrorists refused to take part in their own trial, calling the US government “illegitimate.”

In the 90’s, a group calling itself “Ofensiva ’92” began to petition the government for clemency. They didn’t get very far until Holder met with them in 1997, telling them it would help their case if the terrorists wrote letter to the Justice Department expressing remorse for their crimes.

Eventually, the letters arrived – each one exactly the same as the next. This transparent ploy evidently impressed Holder who began to shepard the clemency request through the Justice Department:

Then on April 8, 1998, Holder again met with FALN supporters. This time, they finally delivered statements from the prisoners as Holder had advised in November. Once again, however, there was a problem: all their statements were identical, indicating that not one of the prisoners had made the effort to craft his own personal expression of repentance. Undeterred, Holder asked whether the prisoners might at least agree to renounce future violence in exchange for clemency. One of the prisoners’ backers, Reverend Paul Sherry, made it clear that they surely “would not change their beliefs”—presumably about the issue of Puerto Rican independence—but was vague as to whether they would eschew violence altogether.

Over the next few weeks, Holder and the Justice Department continued to meet with clemency advocates. Holder was the point man for these negotiations. As Brian Blomquist wrote in the New York Post, “A list of FALN documents withheld from Congress shows that many memos on the FALN clemency decision went directly to Holder, while Reno’s role was minimal.” Similarly, New York Daily News reporter Edward Lewine wrote that Holder was “the Justice Department official most involved with this issue.”

It was unfortunate that America had an opportunity to witness partisanship in this key Judiciary Committee hearing where a candidate, eventually holding the second most powerful post in the Obama administration, was being scrutinized. As Republican Senator Sessions said the Marc Rich pardon tainted the legacy of former president Clinton he was interrupted by Democratic Senator Leahy who had to interject something which had zero to do with Mr. Holder’s interview. Mr. Leahy shifted the discussion attacking president Bush coming into office with a surplus and departing with a huge deficit. Can someone educate me as to what relevance that remark has to the Holder interview other than to deflect attention from a terrible White House decision in granting the Rich pardon?

Note: I believe I heard Mr. Holder admit that the Rich pardon was a mistake.

As I am not watching today’s coverage let me share comments on the Marc Rich pardon from CNN. WASHINGTON (CNN) — Former FBI Director Louis Freeh said Friday that Attorney General-designate Eric Holder allowed himself “to be used” by the Clinton White House in the pardon process for then-fugitive financier Marc Rich in January 2001. director Louis Freeh calls Attorney General-designate Eric Holder man of “tremendous integrity.”
But Freeh told senators at Holder’s confirmation that Holder was nevertheless a man of “tremendous integrity” who “will never allow himself again to be put in that position.””The pardon of Marc Rich was a corrupt act,” Freeh said, but was not Holder’s responsibility. Freeh asserted that President Bill Clinton’s White House staff kept the FBI and Justice Department “in the dark” and “actively conspired” to ensure that nobody knew what pardons were being considered shortly before Clinton left office.”The [Clinton] White House went to extraordinary lengths to deceive the attorney general, myself, the Department of Justice and everyone about who was on the secret pardon list. … I don’t think it’s fair to put that blame totally on Eric Holder,” Freeh said. “He takes responsibility, and he will never make that mistake again.”

The final question related to the Second Amendment regarding states rights in the 40 “right to carry” states and the Heller decision. While he admitted that they have “things they want to do regarding crime prevention” he was rather vague in responding with a simple yes or no reply as requested. The question was rather simple. Will this administration take away our Second Amendment rights? Will he defend us?
The Attorney General nominee closed saying it is not on their agenda.

Gilbert comments. In his ACS presentation Attorney General Holder nominee exposes the pending impact of “change” where he opens saying “the notion of progressive America is about to happen.” As you listen and watch you will hear him repeat that we are a nation founded on the “rule of law” and have “let fear take precedent over our values.”

In the past six years we have lost too much of the moral high ground. We are “less safer than more safe.” After saying “we must close our detention center in Guantanamo Bay” there is a loud applause by the conference attendees. He follows saying “a great nation should not detain people, military or civilian. Guantanamo is an international embarrassment. We should close Guantanamo Bay and transfer the prisoners to military prisons in the United States.”

Towards the end of his presentation Mr. Holder says “we must utilize and enhance our intelligence collection capability to identify and root out terrorists but we must also comply with the law and we must also comply with FISA” (FISA, the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act).

About Larry Gilbert