Actually, it’s not even Eric Holder himself expressing foggy and self-indulgent regret over representing to a federal court that Fox News’ James Rosen was involved in espionage. The Daily Beast interviewed Holder, but the expressions of regret come from unnamed aides in what is a transparent attempt to shift blame away from the Department of Justice and onto those who demanded more aggressive investigation of leakers within the national-security bureaucracies.
Talk about passive voice. Once again we have the image of a powerful high-ranking executive within the Obama administration only discovering problems when unfolding the morning paper:
DOJ officials, realizing the issue could turn into a press feeding frenzy, went into damage-control mode. Over the weekend they scrambled to prepare their response, including readying a press statement assuring that Justice had no plans to indict Rosen.
But for Attorney General Eric Holder, the gravity of the situation didn’t fully sink in until Monday morning when he read the Post’s front-page story, sitting at his kitchen table. Quoting from the affidavit, the story detailed how agents had tracked Rosen’s movements in and out of the State Department, perused his private emails, and traced the timing of his calls to the State Department security adviser suspected of leaking to him. Then the story, quoting the stark, clinical language of the affidavit, described Rosen as “at the very least … an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator” in the crime. Holder knew that Justice would be besieged by the twin leak probes; but, according to aides, he was also beginning to feel a creeping sense of personal remorse.
Yes, only when his fatuous argument made the Post’s front page did Holder begin to “feel a creeping sense of personal remorse.” Prosecutors often see this phenomenon with defendants who manage to display the same remorse once they’ve been caught.
Note that not once — not once — in this article does the Daily Beast’s Daniel Klaidman report from Holder or his aides that the Attorney General feels remorse for lying to Congress about having no knowledge of accusing reporters of being co-conspirators to espionage, even though Holder himself signed the warrant explicitly making that argument in the Rosen case. In fact, far from feeling remorse, Holder and his aides tried blaming Congress for forcing Holder to act in such a manner:
As an explanation, if not a justification, Justice officials say that the department’s leadership had come under withering pressure to investigate leaks from both within the intelligence community and Congress. On multiple occasions, Holder fielded calls from the CIA director and other top officials demanding leak investigations. Meanwhile, Congress was also on Holder’s case to staunch the leaks in national-security cases. On December 3, 2009—just a few months before he approved the affidavit in the Fox case—Holder, FBI director Robert Mueller, and director of national intelligence Dennis Blair were hauled before a secret session of the Senate Intelligence Committee to explain why they weren’t punishing more leakers. For its part, the White House never discouraged aggressive probes to find and punish leakers.
Amazingly, they also tried pushing the shield law rather than addressing Holder’s culpability for the warrant or for lying under oath to Congress:
Perhaps the most significant structural flaw in the current system, however, is that the fox is guarding the henhouse. Prosecutors whose main interest is catching and convicting leakers call the shots on how aggressively to pursue reporters as part of their investigations. That is why, Holder believes, there is ultimately no better solution than passing a media-shield law that would place those decisions in the hands of an independent federal judge. But until then, Holder will be the judge—a little more experienced, and perhaps a little wiser.
Er, the Rosen case did go before a judge. In fact, it went before three federal judges, thanks to the DoJ’s efforts to bypass the first two, which denied Holder’s application for the warrant. The appellate court overruled the lower courts and approved the warrant based on Holder’s representation of Rosen as a co-conspirator in espionage. Klaidman doesn’t bother to mention that either, instead proving remarkably accepting of the DoJ’s spin that Holder is a victim of circumstance, few options, and Congressional pressure.
As Brian Faughnan asked, rhetorically:
Remember all those puff pieces on John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzalez? No? http://t.co/crAoyzUrE3
— Brian Faughnan (@BrianFaughnan) May 28, 2013
You’d only see the press this credulous about someone attacking the very core of their industry in a Democratic administration.