Meet Obama’s Cabinet: 7 Things to Know About Attorney General Eric Holder

Obama Attorney General

His bio:  “He’s got the public-service and law-and-order credentials of being the former US Attorney for the District of Columbia, and a former deputy Attorney General. Notably, he was the first African American in both those positions.  Then at the law firm, he polished his corporate credentials: Holder represented major companies like the pharmaceutical giant Merck, the National Football League, MBNA and Chiquita against various charges of fraud, discrimination and misconduct…Perhaps intentionally, Holder doesn’t seem to have taken on any controversial or high-profile pro bono cases as a private lawyer.”  (The Washington Independent)

He has the necessary “distance” from Obama:  “Here is what Holder told National Journal, on March 3, 2006, regarding the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as 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.’  It’s Holder’s independence…which very well might be his most attractive attribute.  Holder isn’t some long-time friend and associate of Barack Obama’s from Chicago.  They only met for the first time four years ago.  Unlike Alberto Gonzales and George Bush, their careers haven’t been intertwined and Holder hasn’t been dependent upon Obama for his political identity.” (Salon)

He has harshly denounced Bush-era Justice Department policies:  In June 2008, Holder said this at an American Constitution Society Conference: “I never thought I would see the day,” Holder said, “when a Justice Department would claim that only the most extreme infliction of pain and physical abuse constitutes torture and that acts that are merely cruel, inhuman and degrading are consistent with United States law and policy, that the Supreme Court would have to order the president of the United States to treat detainees in accordance with the Geneva Convention, never thought that I would see that a president would act in direct defiance of federal law by authorizing warrantless NSA surveillance of American citizens. This disrespect for the rule of law is not only wrong, it is destructive in our struggle against terrorism. . . .”  (Washington Post)

The pardon he regrets:  “The one stain on his otherwise gilded career was the role he played, as No. 2 at the Clinton Justice Department, in the pardon of fugitive commodities trader Marc Rich in the last Clinton hours. Holder didn’t give the pardon application much thought before concluding that he was ‘neutral, leaning towards favorable.’ Clinton relied in part on that advice in granting the pardon. Holder later testified before Congress that he’d made a mistake.” (Newsweek)

His war on drugs:   “Holder pushed for stiffer marijuana penalties when he was the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, and the details are strikingly at odds not only with Obama’s signals regarding marijuana but with his opposition to long sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. According to a December 1996 report in The Washington Times…Holder wanted ‘minimum sentences of 18 months for first-time convicted drug dealers, 36 months for the second time and 72 months for every conviction thereafter.’ He also wanted to ‘make the penalty for distribution and possession with intent to distribute marijuana a felony, punishable with up to a five-year sentence.’…His rhetoric on the seriousness of marijuana offenses was indistinguishable from that of the most zealous Republican drug warrior.”  (Reason)

He won’t have the NRA’s support:  “The nomination of Eric Holder for the post of attorney general of the United States sends an ‘alarming signal’ to gun owners about how the Barack Obama administration will view individual gun rights…the Second Amendment Foundation said today.  ‘Eric Holder signed an amicus brief in the Heller case that supported the District of Columbia’s handgun ban, and also argued that the Second Amendment does not protect an individual right,’ noted SAF founder Alan Gottlieb. ‘He has supported national handgun licensing and mandatory trigger locks. As deputy attorney general under Janet Reno, he lobbied Congress to pass legislation that would have curtailed legitimate gun shows.  This is not the record of a man who will come to office as the nation’s top law enforcement officer with the rights and concerns of gun owners in mind.'” (Marketwatch)

He can go one-on-one with Obama:  “The young Eric Holder attended the highly regarded Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, where he played basketball and earned a Regents scholarship…He has always had a love for basketball and fantasized about becoming a professional player like Washington Bullets star Jeff Malone, who is his wife’s nephew.”  (US News & World Report)

Posted by: Mariela

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One response to “Meet Obama’s Cabinet: 7 Things to Know About Attorney General Eric Holder

  1. sharksandsailors

    Good to know he can admit when he has made a mistake. That already sets him apart from Gonzalez and Reno.

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