Thursday, January 22, 2009

Eric Holder... some questions remain

I am not necessarily enthralled with Mr. Holder. He is an improvement over Gonzalesl.
Mr. Holder says that the detainees are not entitled to Geneva convention protections.
(*This is wrong) He has other rather wishy-washy views when it comes to constitutional
issues and the rule of law. If he is to succeed as the next attorney general, he will need
to provide better answers to what are critical and foundational questions.

*"In 2006, the position espoused by Holder, Rumsfeld and the Bush administration
was rejected by the Supreme Court in Hamdan, when it ruled that even Al Qaeda
detainees are entitled to the minimum protections afforded to all detainees by
Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention."

Further, as has been noted, Mr. Holder, shortly after the USA Patriot Act was signed into law
and at a point when the Bush administration was proposing to further erode barriers to governmental abuses, argued that dissenters should not be tolerated. He also called for
the firing of any "petty bureaucrat" who might suggest that proper procedures be followed
and that the separation of powers be respected.

While I am concerned with Holder for legitimate constitutional reasons, it unfair to play the race card... Those on the right who want to stall his confirmation may be wrong about his peripheral involvement with the Rich pardon or the efficacy of representing a variety of clients, but there are some serious concerns about his loyalty. The job requires that he be loyal to the constitution first and the president second. He does not seem to firmly grasp this concept. Although, as yet, nobody has recently asked him these essential questions. I hope they do.

Here is an interesting piece from The Nation, which puts these counterpoints in focus...

"Our needlessly abusive and unlawful practices in the ‘War on Terror' have diminished our standing in the world community and made us less, rather than more, safe," Holder said, correctly. "For the sake of our safety and security, and because it is the right thing to do, the next president must move immediately to reclaim America's standing in the world as a nation that cherishes and protects individual freedom and basic human rights."

That's a good message, to be sure.

But it must be juxtaposed against past statements made by Holder, such as this one: "The Attorney General is the one Cabinet member who's different from all the rest. The Attorney General serves first the people, but also serves the president. There has to be a closeness at the same time there needs to be distance."

What we need to know is this: How close will Holder, as attorney general, get to obeying his oath to defend the Constitution?

The place for that to happen is in a very serious, very aggressive confirmation process that should not simply presume that Holder will "get it" when questions about the Constitution arise.

I agree with this position. Given that Ashcroft and Gonzales both helped to subvert our constitutional protections... we must make certain that Holder will not follow in their footsteps.
The concerns that I have, are not with the vapid, shallow, and relatively meaningless rhetorical posturings of the right... but with the efficacy of confirming another Attorney General who seems
to feel that the Constitution may not quite be the supreme law of the land.

My position may be a bit conservative in this regard, but I feel no need to apologize for conserving constitutional integrity. This is the very crux of the issue. Either we restore the rule of law... or not.

So... let the questioning begin... and if Mr. Holder can sort out his apparent confusion and provide appropriate answers, I hope that he has the Integrity and finds the courage and political will to defend and enforce constitutional law in America. And after the past eight years, we have a right and a duty to demand as much.


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