“If I have the honor of serving as Attorney General, I will uphold the trust you have placed in me…by ensuring that the [Justice] Department is an instrument of our great Constitution and the servant of the American people.” –Eric Holder; January 15, 2009
Nearly one year ago, Eric Holder swore an oath to defend the Constitution in carrying out his duties as the nation’s 82nd Attorney General. As the top law enforcement officer in the land, his charge is to mete out a brand of justice that is both rooted in the rule of law and thoroughly scrubbed of political influence. During his confirmation hearings, Holder pledged to preside over a department that is, at its core, a crucial “servant of the American people.” Almost a year has passed, and it’s become increasingly evident that Holder’s solemn sounding pledge represented little more than a platitudinous collection of empty words.
In practice, Holder’s DOJ has engaged in a series of noxious, politically motivated maneuvers—all under the watchful, legally-trained, and approving eye of President Barack Obama. In the span of eleven months, it has gratuitously dipped its toes into racial politics and considerably weakened US national security.
On Election Day 2008, two nightstick-wielding, paramilitary members of the New Black Panther party stood outside a Philadelphia polling place. They hurled racial slurs at voters and poll-watchers entering the building, serving up admonishments such as, “White power don’t rule here.” Another voter faced a charming greeting: “Cracker, you about to be ruled by a black man.” Witnesses said they feared for their physical safety, as one of the men repeatedly brandished a weapon. One couldn’t dream up a more clear-cut case of voter intimidation.
Career Justice Department attorneys agreed. They pursued the case and won a default judgment in federal court against the duo, only to see the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division inexplicably swoop in and drop the complaint months later. The Washington Times reported that although department brass nixed the charges, they had courageously allowed for “appropriately tailored injunctive relief” against one of the men—barring him from “brandishing a weapon outside a polling place through November 15, 2012.” Who knew that narrow injunctions were required to prevent anyone from waving around weapons and shouting racial insults at polling places? Justice, redefined.
On the same day the two Panthers were menacing Pennsylvanians, voters in the small town of Kinston, North Carolina were also casting ballots. More than 11,000 local residents turned out, many of whom helped propel Barack Obama to victory. In addition to the federal elections, Kinstonians also voted on a local question: Whether to eliminate candidates’ political party identification on municipal election ballots. By a margin of nearly 2-to-1—including wide support from the black community—the locals chose to drop D’s and R’s from future town-wide contests. The Holder Justice Department, naturally, had to intervene.
Why? Well, the feds simply couldn’t abide the will of Kinston’s silly, ignorant populace. Without a ‘D-for-Democrat’ printed conspicuously beside a local candidate’s name on the ballot, they explained, black voters may not be able to figure out whom to support. This wasn’t the DOJ’s ulterior motivate in overturning the valid election result—it was their primary justification. They even put it in writing. An August memo spells out the racial snobbery in excruciatingly blunt language: “Removing the partisan cue in municipal elections will, in all likelihood, eliminate the single factor that allows black candidates to be elected to office.” Really.
The federal government’s most solemn responsibility is the safety and security of its citizens. Nevertheless, the Attorney has chosen to pursue gratuitous and redundant investigations of CIA officers; he has granted 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammed the extra legal protections of a civilian; and he has ordered the transfer of dozens of terrorists from the secure detention center at Guantanamo Bay to a prison in America’s heartland—needlessly endangering American lives.
Worst among Holder and Obama’s joint decisions is the initiation of an “investigation” aimed at netting American intelligence operatives. They reached this execrable conclusion—the real purpose of which is to satiate the Left’s political bloodlust—over serious public appeals from a bipartisan cadre of seven former CIA directors. The decision also turned a blind eye to previous apolitical inquiries into the very same alleged acts. Jennifer Rubin distilled the story in the Weekly Standard:
“Holder pronounced himself obligated to ‘follow the facts and the law.’ One critical fact, however, he entirely ignored: Professional prosecutors had already examined the allegations of CIA misconduct, conducted an inquiry, and made a determination--not to prosecute.”
Indeed, career DOJ attorneys probed the alleged violations years ago, prosecuted one individual for misconduct, and declined to prosecute anyone else. Holder, unmoved by these facts, seems intent on delivering the political “reckoning” his boss’ hyper-partisan base was promised during the campaign.
This tainted interpretation of the law also led Holder to put American’s lives at risk—for no acceptable reason. In awarding KSM a civilian trial, and the panoply of rights that come with it, the Attorney General has handed this monster the largest anti-American megaphone he could have ever hoped for. Muhammad, who requested to plead guilty and face execution last year, could easily have been brought to justice before a military tribunal. After all, that’s the legal fate of a fellow Jihadist who planned the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole. Instead, KSM’s proposed show trial will allow defense attorneys to put the Bush administration on trial, stirring up political passions at home and releasing sensitive information to the public, including America’s enemies.
Finally, the President has decided to place international public opinion above national security by ordering the shut down of the Guantanamo Bay terrorist prison. Despite overwhelming public opposition (64 percent, according the Gallup), Holder is forging ahead to accommodate his boss’ reckless pander. The DOJ has ordered the transfer of dozens of Islamic extremists to a prison in Thomson, Illinois. The detainees’ current home is spectacularly effective and secure, but the optics of shutting it down is of paramount importance to the administration. They argue that no one has ever escaped from a federal prison. True, but irrelevant. The fundamental problem with this decision is the mindset that inspires is. Reverting back to an ineffective law-enforcement paradigm to combat radical Islam amounts to a societal suicide pact, as Andrew McCarthy eloquently argues in his book, “Willful Blindness.” It also puts the people of Illinois at risk; a peril that is entirely avoidable. As Americans painfully learned in 1993 and 2001, Al Qaeda is obsessed with striking targets of symbolic value. Obama and Holder have painted a symbolic bulls-eye on another major American city: Chicago.
In January, Eric Holder promised that on his watch, the US Department of Justice would be an instrument of the Constitution and a servant of the American people. His subsequent actions and judgments indicate that his true priorities lie elsewhere. If anything, the Holder Justice Department has been fashioned into an instrument that rewards political allies, and acts as a servant not to the public, but to the president’s political machinations.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography