Eric Holder's politics of contempt

Should the House hold him in contempt, Mr. Holder would be left with three choices: standing by as a U.S. attorney begins prosecuting him; directing the U.S. attorney not to prosecute him; or invoking executive privilege to justify not releasing the documents Congress seeks. …

Perhaps after a few years and gazillions of tax dollars, a special prosecutor would give his results. What purpose, however, is served by keeping those answers to a prosecutor instead of to the American people? The proper vehicle for getting answers is Congress, using its oversight powers to conduct hearings and get the appropriate officials on the record and under oath.

The best outcome would be for Mr. Holder to reach an accommodation with the House Oversight Committee’s Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) that would avoid a contempt vote altogether. Unfortunately for the attorney general, he enters the conversation with a highly politicized record—here investigating CIA interrogators whose intel would later help his president hunt down bin Laden, there declining to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, there again declining to prosecute Black Panthers for voter intimidation.