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article imageOp-Ed: In Holder, Obama Has The Right Man at Justice

By Sadiq Green     Nov 20, 2008 in Politics
President-elect Obama has asked Eric Holder, Jr., U.S. District Attorney for the District of Columbia, to be his Attorney General and he has accepted the offer. Holder is a wise choice and Americans should be confident that Mr. Holder is up to the task.
Eric Holder is a career public servant who knows Washington and has been associated with the Department of Justice since 1976 when he graduated from Columbia University Law School.
His first assignment at DOJ was in the newly formed Public Integrity Unit, a department created in the wake of the Watergate scandal. Starting his career at a time when there were doubts about the integrity of our government and when the rule of law was challenged at the highest levels of government, Holder saw firsthand the importance of a partisan free Department of Justice to the sanctity of the Constitution. While at the Justice Department Holder prosecuted several high profile cases, including former South Carolina Congressman John W. Jenrette, a figure in the infamous Abscam case that felled several Members of Congress.
1988 Holder was appointed to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia by President Ronald Reagan. Five years later President Bill Clinton would tap Holder to be the U.S. Attorney for the nation’s capital; an appointment that was supported and embraced by leadership in the District and Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton. During his tenure at the Justice Departent Holder presided over the investigation into the House of Representatives post office, a probe that targeted, among others, the then powerful chairman of the Committee on Ways & Means, Illinois Democrat Dan Rostenkowski.
There is a concern that Holder is just another one of the old guard of Bill Clinton that is making its way back into the government with the President-elect. It should be noted that while Holder was appointed by Bill Clinton, his immediate superior was Attorney General Janet Reno. It is not news that President Clinton and Janet Reno, did not enjoy a stellar relationship. The two would go months between having actual conversations with one another. Eric Holder served as a go between Justice and the White House often dealing with Rahm Emanuel. That good working relationship with Emanuel possibly led to Obama choosing Holder for his AG.
An issue that will certainly come up during confirmation hearings, is the pardon of Marc Rich that was signed off on by Holder in the last hours of Clinton's administration. While the requests of the President are usually always granted in relation to pardons, President Clinton did not follow the normal procedures for Marc Rich. Still, Holder did nothing improper in signing Rich's or any other pardon or commutation.
Holder will face a huge challenge in changing the perception of the Department of Justice. During the reign of both John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales under President Bush, the department pushed the boundaries of the law and turned a blind eye toward the protection of civil liberties and human rights, at home and abroad. Though there are many dedicated career professionals in the department, the politicization of DOJ has given the nation a black eye.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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