Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Ethics of Eric Holder

American Thinker
When Attorney General Eric Holder recently testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about his role in the Fast and Furious operation, where 2,000 rifles were deliberately "walked" from the United States into Mexico, his answers at times seemed incredible and stretched the limits of believability.

A few months earlier, on May the third, Holder had testified before the House that he had only recently learned of the deadly and disastrous operation.

But a series of memos  was uncovered by CBS News last October showing that during 2010, Holder had received at least five different notices concerning Fast and Furious from Michael Walther, the director of the National Drug Intelligence Center. He also received another memo from Assistant Attorney General (and long-time associate) Lanny Breuer.

But at the recent hearing, Holder stated three times that he had learned of Fast and Furious only earlier this year, after the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in Arizona. Five times Holder testified that he never saw any of the damning memos.

Senator John Cornyn from Texas queried Holder. "Those are memos with your name on it, addressed to you, referring to the Fast and Furious operation. Are you just saying you didn't read them?"

"I didn't receive them," answered Holder. "They are reviewed by my staff and a determination made as to what ought to be brought to my attention."

Cornyn then asked Holder if he had apologized to Brian Terry's family. The exchange that followed showed a coldness and lack of sensitivity that was truly stunning.

Holder: I have not apologized to them, but I certainly regret what happened.

Cornyn: Have you even talked to them?

Holder: I have not.

But Holder continued. "It is not fair, however, to assume that the mistakes that led to Fast and Furious directly led to the death of Agent Terry."

The day following the hearings, the Terry family responded to Holder with a terse and angry statement. "Mr. Holder needs to own Fast and Furious ... the Attorney General should accept responsibility immediately. It is without question, the right thing to do."

That very same day, in an apparent attempt at damage control, Holder responded with a letter addressed to Terry's parents which he immediately leaked to the press before both parents had the opportunity to read it.

None of these events should be surprising considering Mr. Holder's controversial history.

The two events that Eric Holder is most defined by before becoming attorney general were his key roles while in the Clinton administration in obtaining freedom for members of the Puerto Rican nationalist terrorist group known as the FALN (also known as the Armed Forces of National Liberation). Holder would later follow that by facilitating a pardon for fugitive billionaire Marc Rich.

In looking back at both of those controversies, the similarities to Fast and Furious now seem eerie. Holder had proclaimed sympathy for the FALN victims, but only after the terrorists had been released. He also proclaimed ignorance of both Mr. Rich and the case against him, even though the facts clearly suggest otherwise.

The FALN had conducted a deadly bombing campaign in numerous cities around America during the 1970s and '80s, setting off nearly 140 bombs that killed six and injured more than 80. Their most notorious act was the bombing of Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan in 1975, which killed four and injured 60 others, some of them seriously.

What slowed the FALN's reign of terror was the arrest and incarceration of nearly all of the group's members during the early eighties. When Eric Holder arrived as deputy attorney general in Janet Reno's Justice Department in 1997, he quickly took up the cause of freeing the FALN, and it became a near-obsession.

Holder met with advocates for the FALN's clemency at least nine times over the next two years, but he deliberately kept the victims of the deadly and unrepentant terrorist group out of the process. He also never spoke with any prosecutors or law enforcement who had been involved with the FALN's capture and prosecution.

In December of 1996, in the months before Holder's arrival, then-pardon attorney Margaret Love had issued a report recommending against clemency for the FALN and their closely allied group, the Macheteros (machete-wielders). The latter group was primarily based in Puerto Rico and had killed six there in a number of armed attacks.

Mr. Holder was sworn in as deputy attorney general on Friday, July 18, 1997. In Holder's first full working day the following Monday, pardon attorney staffer Susan Kuzma -- who had previously served in the Public Integrity office with Holder during the 1980s -- sent Love a memo questioning her 1996 report that had rejected clemency.

By November, Holder had fired Love and replaced her with Roger Adams, who was then a member of Holder's staff. That same month, Holder and Adams began meeting with advocates of clemency for the terrorist group.

Years later, in 2009 (and just prior to Mr. Holder's confirmation hearings before the Senate), the Los Angeles Times uncovered the fact that Holder ordered Adams to rewrite the Love report and change it to a recommendation favoring clemency.

Adams still had misgivings, so he sent a report to Holder that the terrorists should still be denied clemency. Undeterred, Holder ordered Adams to revise it. On August 31, 1998, Adams finally sent Holder the revised report, but he warned Holder's chief of staff, Kevin Ohlson, in a separate memo that if the report became public, it "would be disastrous."

In the report that Adams sent to Holder, he wrote that "I continue to have concerns," including about the fact that the victims had not been notified and that clemency could also undermine investigations and prosecutions of co-conspirators among the two allied terrorist groups.

Holder quickly came up with the idea of an "options memo," to be prepared and sent to Bill Clinton, that contained no specific recommendations. Acting on Ohlson's orders, Adams complied.

But Holder's efforts still languished until early 1999, when Hillary Clinton announced that she was running for an open Senate seat in New York.

Between March and July of 1999, White House staff with ties to Mrs. Clinton began frequent meetings with FALN advocates, and soon White House Counsel Charles Ruff became involved. In July, Mr. Holder was turned to for an assist, and the Holder/Adams "options memo" went to Ruff on the 8th.

And in a move that would remain hidden until 2009, Holder had sent Mr. Clinton his own personal recommendation for clemency. That memo was acknowledged by Holder, but Mr. Clinton (and now President Obama) refused to make it public.

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