Thursday, December 04, 2008

Change has not come to America's AG office

Before that, however, Mr. Holder will have to win Senate confirmation, and Members might want to ask about the politicization that took place during his watch at Justice. The first question revolves around Mr. Holder's role in Bill Clinton's pardon of fugitive financiers Marc Rich and Pincus Green, a pardon that even Jimmy Carter denounced as "disgraceful" and "attributable to large gifts." Mr. Rich's former wife, Denise Rich, had donated to the Clinton Presidential Library.
That's not the only dubious pardon in which Mr. Holder was involved. In 1999, President Clinton offered clemency to 16 Puerto Rican members of the terrorist FALN, despite a previous warning from Attorney General Janet Reno that the group posed an "ongoing threat" to U.S. security. Here again, Mr. Holder's role seems to have been larger than he has let on. A 1999 New York Times report notes that Mr. Holder and Justice Department pardon attorney Roger Adams met in November 1997 with Democratic House Members to discuss the Puerto Rican case.

Then there is Mr. Holder's role, as U.S. Attorney, in the case of Hillary Clinton health czar Ira Magaziner. Mr. Magaziner, recall, had filed an affidavit insisting that "only federal government employees served as members" of Mrs. Clinton's health-reform task force, a claim later demonstrated as untrue. In November 1994, federal Judge Royce Lamberth described Mr. Magaziner's affidavit as "misleading, at best," and he asked Mr. Holder to investigate Mr. Magaziner for perjury. In August 1995 Mr. Holder announced he would not do so, and even insisted on Mr. Magaziner's innocence in an 18-page letter, despite acknowledging that Mr. Magaziner's statements left him "open to charges that portions were inaccurate." Two years later, Mr. Holder was sworn in as deputy AG.

No doubt reporting this history will seem rude amid Washington's postelection elation. But it certainly is relevant to a President-elect who told voters he wouldn't represent a third Clinton term yet now seems to be populating his Administration with Clinton retreads. For a politicized Justice Department, none can compare to the Clinton Administration's, and the role that Mr. Holder played in it deserves the fullest airing before he is given the opportunity to return.

Previous Eric Holder post here.

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