Thursday, January 15, 2009

Holder: "Learned" From "Mistakes"

Attorney General-nominee Eric Holder Jr. believes not only that his "experience" qualifies him for U.S. Attorney General, but also his "mistakes" or, more specifically, the "mistakes" he made with respect to Bill Clinton's pardon of fugitive Marc Rich. Holder believes he will actually be a "better" U.S. Attorney General having "learned" from the "experience." Those familiar with the case of Amadou Diallo (the unarmed immigrant who was shot 41 times by 4 police officers) may recall Holder's trite observation that we must "learn" from the "troubling incident." It would stand to reason that this mindset would find the pardon of FALN terrorists "reasonable."

At any rate, with respect to the Marc Rich pardon, Holder outlines his "mistakes" as follows:

1. He should have studied the proposed pardon more before discussing it with President Bill Clinton. Holder claimed he simply knew it was a "substantial tax fraud" case and Rich was a fugitive.
2. He should have consulted with prosecutors
3. He should have "studied" the "issue" more closely before making a statement.

In fact, Holder worked with Jack Quinn in 1999 in an attempt to get prosecutors to sit down at the bargaining table with Mr. Rich, who was a fugitive at the time. Holder thought the prosecutors were being "ridiculous" for their hesitancy to do so. So, when Quinn called Holder with the news that a pardon might be near, Holder said he had "no strong opposition" to such a pardon. He noted, however, that "law enforcement in New York would strongly oppose it" and prosecutors in the Southern District would "howl."

What on earth was there to "study?" What else was there to know?

In addition, it is important to note that Holder did not simply fail to "consult" with prosecutors by "mistake." His failing - if that is the right word - was much, much greater than that. Knowing the views of prosecutors (which Holder also directed as deputy attorney general), he ignored those views, circumvented them, did nothing to keep them informed about the pardon application (thus affording them no opportunity to formally object) and summarily dismissed their work. Merely "consulting" with prosecutors would have accomplished little or nothing if Holder had the disposition and the will to do all of that. Recall, Clinton claimed to have "consulted" all manner of law enforcement personnel regarding the FALN terrorist pardons. But he ignored their almost unanimous opinion and did what he wanted to do.

As expected, Holder has also taken the position of "victim," describing himself as having been "seared" by the pardon. The Rich pardon was not something he facilitated and concealed as deputy attorney general, in charge of the pardon program. It was something he "experienced."

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