Saturday, December 6, 2008
Obama's Second Mistake-Eric Holder
Eric Holder testifying before Congress
Senator Fousesquawk: "I just have a couple of questions for Mr Holder....."
Cross-posted by Gary Fouse
Recently, I wrote a piece on President-elect Barack Obama's first mistake in nominating Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State. At this point, I assume Clinton will sail through the confirmation process. I am not so optimistic-if that is the right word- about Obama's choice for Attorney General, Eric Holder.
Holder was appointed to the post of Deputy Attorney General in 1997 to replace Jamie Gorelick. It was in that position that Holder had oversight over the pardon process. In that capacity, he was involved in two controversial pardons issued by former President, Bill Clinton, one in his last days in office.
First was the infamous pardon of fugitive financier, Marc Rich, who had illegally done business with Iran even as they were holding our diplomats hostage. Rich was living in luxury in Switzerland, but with an international arrest warrant hanging over his head, was restricted in which countries he could travel to.
As Clinton's 2nd term was winding down in late 2000, it was Deputy Attorney General, Eric Holder who was asked by associates of Rich if he (Holder) could recommend a good attorney for Rich. Holder recommended Jack Quinn (former White House Council under Clinton), who eventually became Rich's lawyer in attempting to secure a pardon.
From November of 2000 to January of 2001, Quinn reportedly contacted Holder several times in his attempts to get Rich's case on the President's desk. In the end, Holder gave his famous recommendation to the White House that he was, "neutral but leaning positive".
Problem was, no one bothered to get the OK from the FBI, the agency that was trying to capture Rich. No one got the OK from the US Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York, which was waiting to prosecute Rich. Seems nobody in the Department of Justice had any say so in the matter. Just little old Eric Holder and his buddy Jack Quinn giving the nod to Clinton to go ahead.
Of course, that is not even considering the role of the comely Denise Rich, Marc's ex-wife, who seemed to be hanging around Bill Clinton at various events and who arranged a big contribution to the infamous Clinton Library.
Hopefully (if there are any Republican senators around when confirmation hearings begin), they can ask Eric a few questions about the whole disgraceful pardon of Marc Rich. Maybe they can even subpoena Bill Clinton and Denise Rich to testify about how this pardon circumvented the normal pardon procedures. Jack Quinn should also be invited to the party.
While they are at it, they can also ask a few questions about the pardons of 16 Puerto Rican terrorists (FALN), who had never even asked for pardons in the first place. These lovely individuals were serving long sentences for setting off about 120 bombs around the country in the cause of independence for Puerto Rico. When the subject came up (pushed by Democratic politicians like Nydia Velasquez of Brooklyn, Luis Gutierrez of Chicago and Jose Serrano of New York), the idea was opposed by the US Attorney's Office in New York, the FBI, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
In spite of that, Eric Holder favored the pardons, which were graciously offered by the White House in 1999 even in the absence of a formal request by the prisoners. The sentences were commuted in August 1999.
In February of 2001, Holder testified before Congress. When asked about the pardons, he invoked "Executive Privilege".
So I would hope that someone on the confirmation committee will ask Holder about his role in these pardons as well. Again, Bill Clinton himself should be subpoened. In addition, how about bringing in Hillary, who was involved in her Senate race in New York? Was there any consideration and discussion about the pardons possibly helping get that big Puerto Rican vote in New York City? Maybe Nydia Velasquez or Jose Serrano can shed light on that question-under oath. At any rate, all three of the above representatives should be asked about their meetings with Holder regarding the matter.
Thanks to Barack Obama for helping bring all that old dirt from the Bill Clinton administration back into the public spotlight.
Eric Holder should not be confirmed as Attorney General.