An Attorney General for All Seasons
posted at 9:54 am on August 31, 2009 by Howard Portnoy
Okay, class, can you guess which of the following two statements was made by Attorney General Eric Holder?
(1) One of the things we clearly want to do with these prisoners is to have an ability to interrogate them and find out what their future plans might be, where other cells are located; under the Geneva Convention that you are really limited in the amount of information that you can elicit from people. […] It seems to me that given the way in which they have conducted themselves, however, that they are not, in fact, people entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention.
(2) I never thought I would see the day when … the Supreme Court would have to order the president of the United States to treat detainees in accordance with the Geneva Convention … This disrespect for the rule of law is not only wrong, it is destructive in our struggle against terrorism.
To be fair, the statements were made six years apart — the first soon after Sept. 11, 2001, the second last December. During that interval, with no additional attacks on U.S. soil to help keep the raw memories of 9/11 fresh, is it not understandable that even a legal scholar might change his mind?
Not if that “scholar” is a tool like Eric Holder. This is the man who brokered Bill Clinton’s 11th-hour pardon of criminal Marc Rich, then on the FBI’s list of Ten Most Wanted Fugitives. Since being named U.S. Attorney General by Barack Obama, Holder has dropped charges of voter intimidation against a member of the New Black Panthers and Democrat operative named Jerry Jackson whose hobbies, according to his own MySpace page, include “killin crakkkas.”
Almost in the instant that AG Holder came to the bizarre conclusion that he had no case against Jackson, he was readying himself to reopen the case against CIA employees and contractors who had carried out enhanced interrogation methods during the presidency of George W. Bush. Never mind that each of these cases was already exhaustively reviewed, starting in 2005, by career prosecutors under the supervision of the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. Never mind that no new evidence has arisen suggesting that any of the cases should be reopened. Never mind that after the Justice Department declined to prosecute five years ago, all cases were sent back to the CIA, which has since take internal disciplinary actiono in cases of misconduct. And never mind that the U.S. Attorney General serves at the pleasure of the President, who is the nation’s chief justice officer and who can direct the AG to pursue or not pursue any case.
Holder has made it clear he intends to go forward with the investigation with all deliberate speed, and Obama claims he is powerless to stop him.
Several legal scholars who do not happen to be named Eric Holder have observed that the AG’s actions in this instance violate the legal principle of estoppel. This is a bar on making an allegation or that contradicts what one has previously stated as the truth. This fact, along with the others noted earlier, has not deterred Holder or Obama — himself a legal scholar — from ordering Holder to desist.
Clearly the motivation for Holder’s action are purely political. The consequences of them could be quite grave.
Cross-posted at Zombie Contentions