Sunday, January 11, 2009

Stop Eric Holder

Barack Obama’s appointments are filling out. It is a list of Clinton retreads, such as former Clinton Chief of Staff Leon Panetta to head the CIA; political payoffs like appointing the former First Lady Secretary of State despite no expertise in the foreign policy arena; or fundraising payoff to New Mexico’s Hispanic governor Bill Richardson, who withdrew his nomination to be Commerce Secretary following his investigation by a federal grand jury.

Most of these appointments are not expected. Many seem unqualified for their positions, but the system is strong enough to survive most incompetents.

However, one appointment stands out as downright dangerous to the republic. That appointment is Eric Holder to be the nation’s top cop as attorney general.

A close examination of Holder’s record is horrifying. A disciple of the “living Constitution” concept, he has shown contempt for Constitutional rights with which he disagrees.

For example, he calls for what he terms “reasonable” restrictions on Web speech despite the near-blanket prohibition of prior restraint on speech and publication this country enjoys. Holder never really defines what constitutes reasonable restrictions on First Amendment rights, nor does he explain who will determine what is reasonable or unreasonable.

He is famous (or infamous) for his contempt of the Second Amendment. Long a holder of the discredited “collective rights” theory of gun ownership (a theory repudiated by both the U.S. Supreme Court and various legal scholars, including liberal law professor Laurence Tribe), he was one of 13 former Justice Department officials to sign an amicus brief on behalf of the D.C. government in the Heller case supporting a virtual ban on handgun ownership by citizens.

But it was his conduct as deputy attorney general under Janet Reno in the Clinton Administration that really merits close examination.

For example, what was his role in 1996 in dissuading Reno from investigating the illegal fundraising activities of the Vice President Al Gore?

Then there was the case of Elian Gonzales, the Cuban boy whose mother died while escaping from Castro’s tyranny. Reno ordered him returned to Cuba and had armed agents invade the Miami home in a pre-dawn raid where the boy was staying with relatives. The child was seized at gunpoint.

Law professor Tribe criticized the action as unconstitutional in an April 25, 2000, article in the New York Times, where he wrote, “Under the Constitution, it is axiomatic that the executive branch has no unilateral authority to enter people's homes forcibly to remove innocent individuals without taking the time to seek a warrant or other order from a judge or magistrate.”

Holder was disingenuous about the entire incident. Two weeks before the raid, the late journalist Tim Russert asked Holder, "You wouldn't send a SWAT team in the dark of night to kidnap the child, in effect?" Holder answered, "No, we don't expect anything like that to happen." When Russert challenged Holder the day after the raid, the deputy attorney general defended it by saying, "We waited 'til five in the morning, just before dawn."

Then there were the Clinton pardons in which Holder played a huge role. He was instrumental in obtaining a pardon for fugitive financier Marc Rich despite opposition of his own Justice Department. He also helped obtain pardons or commutations for 15 Puerto Rican terrorists, over the objections of the FBI. His affinity for extending clemency to terrorists included Weather Underground bombers Susan Rosenberg and Linda Evans, cronies of Obama’s notorious associates Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn.

Holder’s record is clear — this man is not just unqualified to be the nation’s attorney general, he is dangerous.

Senate Republicans have promised to look closely at Holder during confirmation hearings. They must do more. Senate Republicans must block Holder’s appointment, even if it means holding a filibuster.

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