While calls for U.S. Attorney General Eric "Stonewall" Holder's resignation grow and the House GOP gears up for a contempt vote next week, it's worth remembering how we got into this mess. In two words: feckless bipartisanship.
"I like Barack Obama and want to help him if I can." That was Utah GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch in January 2009, just weeks before the Senate voted on President Obama's attorney general nominee, Eric Holder. Right out of the gate, upon Obama's election in November 2008, Hatch signaled that he would greenlight the administration's top law enforcer.
"I start with the premise that the president deserves the benefit of the doubt," the six-term incumbent Hatch told The Hill newspaper. "I don't think politics should be played with the attorney general."
Utah voters, mark those words. Bending to bipartisanship for bipartisanship's sake -- and ignoring the obvious consequences -- is playing politics.
And, conservatives, please remember the actions of all 19 Republican senators who ignored Holder's abominable career as a political fixer and confirmed him. "I found Mr. Holder to be a good listener, which is an important prerequisite for any good leader," Missouri GOP Sen. Kit Bond explained in support of the nomination. "I believe him when he says that he's willing to take good ideas from wherever they come."
In addition to Hatch and Bond, the other 17 Senate Republicans who helped put Holder in place at the Justice Department were: Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Bob Bennett, R-Utah, Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Bob Corker, R-Tenn., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Judd Gregg, R-N.H., Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Richard Lugar, R-Ind., John McCain, R-Ariz., Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and George Voinovich, R-Ohio.
It's not like these GOP enablers weren't warned over and over about Holder's shady judgment and questionable ethics. The 2002 House Committee on Government Reform's report on the Clinton-era Marc Rich pardon scandal spelled out Holder's willingness to put political ambition above the rule of law. Then-Deputy Attorney General Holder and former White House counsel Jack Quinn, who was representing the fugitive financier Rich, worked together to cut the Justice Department out of the process.
The duo ensured "that the Justice Department, especially the prosecutors of the Southern District of New York, did not have an opportunity to express an opinion on the Rich pardon before it was granted." The report noted further that "Holder failed to inform the prosecutors under him that the Rich pardon was under consideration, despite the fact that he was aware of the pardon effort for almost two months before it was granted."
Holder admitted that he allowed his judgment to be overridden by crony political considerations. He told GOP senators he had learned from his "mistake" and that it would make him a better attorney general. But it wasn't just one "mistake."
Holder pandered to leftist special interests in engineering clemency for 16 members of the violent terrorist groups Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional (FALN) and Los Macheteros -- linked by the FBI to more than 130 bombings and six murders. He gave the terrorists unprecedented access to phone calls and consultations as they negotiated their freedom. He hid behind executive privilege covers when asked by victims' families to explain the decision process. And as a partner at Covington and Burling, the powerhouse D.C.- and N.Y.-based law firm infamous for representing Gitmo detainees, Holder's opposition to the jihadi detention center raised bright red conflict-of-interest flags.
Is it any wonder that such a serial conniver would now be embroiled in multiple scandals involving the endangerment of national security? And that he would name old pals to run interference for him in his time of need?
To investigate his department's bloody malfeasance in the Fast and Furious gunwalking scandal, Holder appointed acting DOJ Inspector General Cynthia A. Schnedar. She worked under Holder in the 1990s and had co-filed several legal briefs with him. Schnedar is in hot water for having released secret Fast and Furious audiotapes to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Phoenix before reviewing them. The tapes somehow found their way into the hands of the local ATF office. Both are targets of congressional probes.
To investigate self-aggrandizing White House leaks on jihadi kill lists and computer viruses targeting Iran's nuclear facilities, Holder named two political appointees. One is Ronald Machen, an Obama donor, a transition team leader and a U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C., who formerly worked under Holder.
Blind Democrats are outraged at questions about the independence of Holder's appointees. Johnny-come-lately Republicans are demanding special prosecutors and balking at Holder's arrogance, obstructionism and wanton disregard for American security and safety. Note: Two of the loudest voices belong to Sens. McCain and Graham, who both approved Holder's nomination.
Joseph Connor, son of FALN murder victim Frank Connor, was right. In January 2009, he spoke from pain-filled experience: "Holder clearly does not have the judgment, character or values to be attorney general." GOP surrender-ism cost more innocent lives. For the sake of the victims, let this be a lesson learned -- and not repeated again.