From the moment that President Elect Barack Obama announced his appointment of Eric Holder to be Attorney General, there has been a flurry of dissent about the former Clinton appointee, and the controversies that have dogged him since the Clinton administration. As his confirmation hearings begin today before the Senate Judiciary Committee, his confirmation may not be off track completely, but the Republicans, and some Democrats, are not going to give Holder an easy ride through the process.
Holder’s involvement in key problems in the Attorney General’s office during the Clinton era include:
- The controversial pardon of fugitive financier Mark Rich, and questionable contributions from Rich’s ex-wife.
- The pardons of the FLNA and some of the Weather Underground (the same group that Bill Ayers was involved with)
- the decision to seize 6-year old Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez at gunpoint from his uncle’s Miami home to return him to his father in Cuba
- ties to embattled Gov. Rod Blagojevich
Judicial Watch has actively campaigned against the confirmation of Eric Holder, contacting the Senators, and taking out a full page advertisement to urge the same.
In his opening remarks, Eric Holder used the story of Governor George Wallace’s refusal to permit Holder’s late sister-in-law admittance to college in Alabama during the civil rights movement, and then her actual admission to the University of Alabama. (If we are to rejoice in the election of Obama as a biracial President, is it not time that we cease using past history that will continue to create racial division). As the statements and the questioning has started, Holder has acknowledged some of his Clinton actions as possible mistakes, and he has also defined waterboarding as torture. (The Obama administration needs to tread lightly in that area, because our national security can be undermined with the utterance of a few misguided words).
Sen. Arlen Specter, the ranking Republican on the committee, criticized both Holder and Sen. Leahy in his opening remarks, and basically guaranteed that this process was not going to be an easy one. Quipped one member of the Obama transition team “Hope you brought your dinner!!”