Eric Holder: A Rebuke Of Bush-League Justice

holder.jpgThe New York Times reports today that President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team “signaled to Eric H. Holder Jr., a senior official in the Justice Department in the Clinton administration, that he will be chosen as attorney general.” While the Obama transition team denied that Holder has been selected, many progressives see Holder as a strong rebuke of the Bush Justice Department.

Glenn Greenwald — a consistent and vocal critic of the Bush Justice Department — writes that Holder’s views seem “rather unconstrained for Washington, suggestive of actual passion and conviction on these matters.” Digby writes similarly, “If [Holder] follows through…it would be good news.”

ThinkProgress has compiled Holder’s stated views on critical issues confronting the next Attorney General, including the Bush administration’s politicization of the Justice Department and the War on Terror:

On Role Of Attorney General: “The attorney general is the one Cabinet member who’s different from all the rest. The attorney general serves first the people, but also serves the president. There has to be a closeness at the same time there needs to be distance.” [National Journal, 3/3/06]

On Torture: “The notion that the Department of Justice would in essence sanction the use of torture as part of the President’s plenary power over military operations is as wrong as it is shortsighted. This position flies in the face of the entire history of American law, helping to create a climate in which unnecessarily abusive conduct can somehow be considered legitimate.” [Remarks to ACS Conference, 6/19/04]

“We must declare without qualification that it is the law, policy, and practice of the United States government that we do not torture people and we do not subject people to cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment.” [ACS Conference, 6/14/08]

On Closing Guantanamo: “Guantanamo Bay is an international embarassment. Some of our closest allies see this prison as a symbol of what America has become. We should close Guantanamo Bay, transfer the remaining prisoners to military prisons in the United States.” [ACS Conference, 6/14/08]

On Extraordinary Rendition: “We must end all U.S. government practice and programs, covert or otherwise, that transfer individuals involuntarily to other countries that are known to engage in torture.” [ACS Conference, 6/14/08]

On Indefinite Detentions Of Non-U.S. Citizen Terror Suspects: “It seems to me you can think of these people as combatants and we are in the middle of a war, and it seems to me that you could probably say, looking at precedent, that you are going to detain these people until war is over, if that is ultimately what we wanted to do.” [CNN, 1/02]

On Warentless Wiretapping: “I never thought I would see that a President would act in direct defiance of Federal law by authorizing warentless NSA surveillance of American citizens. This disrespect for the rule of law is not only wrong it destructive in our struggle against terrorism.” [ACS Conference, 6/14/08]

On U.S. Attorney Scandal: “‘Internally, there is a morale problem the likes of which I have never seen before,’ Holder said. ‘Externally, there is a crisis of confidence that the nation has with regard to the department.'” [Washington Post, 11/10/07]

On Politicization Of Justice Department: “Holder said [Attorney General Michael] Mukasey ‘has to move swiftly and tangibly in order to restore faith in the integrity of the decision making at Justice. He has to show that he, not political operatives at the White House, is making the calls at Justice.'” [AP, 11/9/07]

On Scooter Libby Sentencing: “[T]he sentence Libby got, it was a little farther than I would have gone.” [Bloomberg News, 6/27/07]


On MSNBC today, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) said that he wouldn’t hold up Holder’s confirmation over the pardon of Marc Rich, but that “it is an issue that has to be inquired into.”

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