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***Update 12/2, 11:52 AM***
Glenn Greenwald of Salon examines Eric Holder, Jack Quinn and the infamous Mark Rich pardon in light of two new New York Times articles:
Two weeks ago, in a largely positive assessment about Obama's likely Attorney General nominee -- entitled "Preliminary facts and thoughts about Eric Holder" -- I wrote:
Holder's involvement in the sleazy Marc Rich pardon is definitely a blemish, though, given his peripheral role, it's a relatively minor one.
Since then, The New York Times has published two pieces -- an Op-Ed by George Lardner and this article today by Eric Lichtblau and David Johnston -- which make conclusively clear that the word "peripheral" is inaccurate. Though Holder wasn't the driving force behind the Rich pardon, the assembled facts nonetheless demonstrate that his involvement in that process was substantial, continuous, and concerted: much, much more than "peripheral..."
...What is most striking -- and revealing -- about Holder's involvement in the Rich case is that, at the time, he was the number 2 person in the Justice Department, the Deputy Attorney General. Despite that, as the NYT reports today, "Mr. Holder had more than a half-dozen contacts with Mr. Rich's lawyers over 15 months, including phone calls, e-mail and memorandums."
Wikipedia: Eric Holder
***Update 12/1, 11 AM***
At a news conference today, Obama introduced his picks of retired Marine Gen. James Jones as White House national security adviser, former Justice Department official Eric Holder as attorney general, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as secretary of homeland security, Susan Rice as UN Ambassador, Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense
Read more here.
WASHINGTON � The first black man elected U.S. president is poised to name Washington lawyer Eric Holder as the nation's first black attorney general _ a historic appointment but one with some potential political problems over a 2001 pardon.
A source close to the selection process said Wednesday that President-elect Barack Obama has "informally" offered the post to Holder, who has accepted. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement has been made and because the process of vetting the nomination is still going on.
Holder, 57, met Obama only four years ago, but the affable Bronx-born son of a Barbados immigrant quickly won a seat in the Democrat's inner circle. If he becomes the next chief U.S. law enforcement officer, Holder will try to win back the public's confidence in the Justice Department _ an agency whose fiercely independent image was tarnished by GOP political meddling during the Bush administration.
"Internally, there is a morale problem the likes of which I have never seen before," Holder said in an interview late last year. "Externally, there is a crisis of confidence that the nation has with regard to the department."
Holder's nomination is expected to be formally announced as soon as this week.
Holder helped lead the team that selected Sen. Joe Biden as Obama's running mate. Throughout his career as a judge, a prosecutor and a defense attorney for the prestigious law firm Covington & Burling, Holder's independence rarely has been questioned. But one of his final acts as President Bill Clinton's deputy attorney general in 2001 could come back to haunt him as he seeks Senate confirmation for the Justice Department's top job.
On the last day of Clinton's term, Holder told the White House he was "neutral, leaning toward favorable" regarding a presidential pardon for Marc Rich, a wealthy commodities dealer who had spent years running from tax charges. Rich's ex-wife, Denise, was a prominent Democratic Party donor.
It turned out to be a bad call. The pardon provoked howls of protests and a congressional investigation over whether it was politically motivated. Holder later publicly apologized for what he called a snap decision and said he would have advised against it had he paid more attention to the case.
Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the Senate Judiciary Committee's top Republican who will vote on Holder's nomination, said the pardon "would be a factor to consider."
"I wouldn't want to articulate it among the top items but it's worthwhile to look at," he told reporters Tuesday, adding that it is "too soon for me to say" whether Holder would be a satisfactory attorney general.
Added Sen. Jeff Sessions, a conservative Republican from Alabama: "I like him and I would hope that nothing comes up that would jeopardize his nomination if he were nominated. But he'll have to answer questions and his record will speak for itself."
With Democrats in control of the Senate, however, Holder's confirmation would be virtually assured.
Holder "would make an outstanding nominee, and should have the support of senators from both sides of the aisle if President-elect Obama were to choose him for this critical position," said Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
Since Obama's election, Holder has privately told colleagues he is concerned the Rich pardon would bloody his nomination hearings and further strain the department's credibility. Still, he is widely respected in legal circles and among Justice Department career lawyers.
In 1988, GOP President Ronald Reagan appointed Holder to the bench in Washington's Superior Court. Six years later, as U.S. attorney in Washington, Holder's office indicted then-Democratic House Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski, who ended up pleading guilty in 1996 to mail fraud. And the Senate unanimously confirmed Holder in 1997 for the Justice Department's No. 2 post.
Holder has been in private practice since 2001 and some of his cases remain before the Justice Department. He is handling civil case negotiations for the Chiquita International Brands, which claims it was forced to agree to a plea deal and $25 million fine to avoid indictment over security payments the company made to a right-wing Colombian paramilitary group that the U.S. government designated as a terrorist group.
A group suing the company said Wednesday it has raised concerns with the Senate Judiciary Committee about Holder's defense of Chiquita in lawsuits seeking payment for the families of people who were killed by the terrorists. The group _ Earth Rights International _ wants senators to question Holder's human-rights credentials because he has argued that there is no evidence linking killings in Colombia to Chiquita.