Monday, January 19, 2009

Eric Holder AG Hearings Part Deux

Grilled On Marc Rich and FALN Pardons

I talked on Friday about the Eric Holder confirmation hearings focusing on his spoken definition of torture. My hope is that in the back rooms of Washington, out of the cameras eye where most of the real decisions are made, when push comes to shove and innocent American lives, or innocent lives around the world may be at stake, the actual decision will be different. That actions necessary to obtain critical information will be taken.

Other Issues Faced

As the last sentence of my blog Friday morning I said that there were other issues that would be faced by Holder that could affect his ability to be confirmed. Namely these were the pardons of convicted felon, fugitive and Clinton donor Marc Rich as well as members of the terrorist group FALN in jail for murder. His testimony on Friday that mistakes were made, and that he will be a better Attorney General because of those mistakes, does not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling. Is he political, or is he going to be the chief law enforcement official in the country?

I don't typically include long excerpts but these are very interesting. Stay tuned.

Re: Marc Rich (Source:

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: Some senators, following—including commentators like Karl Rove, have spoken extensively about your role in the pardon of fugitive Marc Rich at the end of President Clinton’s second term. How do you respond to those who say the Marc Rich pardon shows you do not have the character to be an independent attorney general? What did you learn from that experience?
ERIC HOLDER: Well, as I indicated in my opening statement, I made mistakes. That was and remains the most intense, most searing experience I’ve ever had as a lawyer. There were questions raised about me that I was not used to hearing. I’ve learned from that experience. I think that, as perverse as this might sound, I will be a better attorney general, should I be confirmed, having had the Marc Rich experience.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER: Given the background of this man, it’s hard to brush it off, it seems to me, as a mistake. The guy had a reprehensible record. The guy was a fugitive. The indicators are—a House finding—that you were very heavily involved, and yet, you testified you were only casually involved. Question of candor on that comment. And then you had a president who obviously wanted to grant a pardon.
ERIC HOLDER: Well, I don’t mean to minimize what I did by calling it a mistake or mistakes. In fact, I take what I did seriously, and I’ve expressed regret for what I did consistently.

Re: FALN (Source:

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS: You did indicate you thought the President’s decision on the FALN was reasonable. And I was United States attorney for twelve years, assistant United States attorney for two-and-a-half, attorney general for two. In my opinion, it’s not reasonable. It is not close. I mean, that’s all I can tell you. And I don’t believe it was a close question, and it worries me that you say that was a reasonable decision.
ERIC HOLDER: I looked at the situation, took into account the fact that these people were not directly involved in incidents that led to death or injuries.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS: Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed weren’t directly involved in the murders; there were conspirators to that. And they probably and morally are more accountable, in my view, and equally accountable as those who actually carried out the attacks in the United States, wouldn’t you agree?
ERIC HOLDER: I would. But the FALN people are not in the same category as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or bin Laden, in that they were not the heads of the organization. That is not my understanding of the people who were with the—the pardons were granted. Again, I want to emphasize, these people were criminals. They were terrorists. I was not giving them a pass; they served substantial amounts of time. And I don’t want anybody—
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS: You recommended against the law enforcement people that they not serve the full time they were sentenced, and they wouldn’t even file papers—I don’t think any of them actually even asked for a pardon.

Postscript: A Senate Judiciary Committee vote could come by Wednesday, and if it is to recommend his confirmation a full Senate vote could come by Friday. My guess is he will be confirmed.


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