Saturday, March 10, 2012

THE NEW ERIC HOLDER

Law school students are trained to argue both sides of a case. Often, in moot court competitions, contestants don’t know which side of an issue they will have to present and defend until moments before their case is called.

Knowing the most effective way to present a client’s case is an important part of the lawyer’s skill. Representing a client vigorously within the boundaries of professional ethics is the high calling of the ancient and honorable profession of law.

The down side is that clients don’t like to hear bad news and lawyers are often constrained to cook up legal opinions that satisfy the client, but don’t exactly square up with what they really believe.

It’s a kind of intellectual and professional prostitution.

Attorney General Eric Holder is a fine lawyer. Spotted as intellectually gifted in the fourth grade, he was educated in the Bronx on a fast track that lead to Columbia University for both undergraduate and law school.

After graduating, he went right to Washington and joined the Justice Department.

He has been there off and on ever since. Ronald Reagan appointed him Judge of the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. Bill Clinton appointed him United States Attorney for the District of Columbia and later made him Assistant U.S. Attorney General.

In the Bush years, he was associated with the prestigious D.C. law firm of Covington and Burling.

Shortly after his appointment as 82nd U.S. Attorney General by President Obama, Holder announced that Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks, and several other alleged co-conspirators would be tried in Federal Court in Manhattan.

Then the stuff hit the fan.

Two years later he announced that the trials would take place in a military court at the Guantanamo Naval Base. That still hasn’t happened.

In 2010, being interviewed by Jane Mayer of New Yorker magazine, Holder has this to say:

“This macho bravado—that’s the kind of thing that leads you into wars that should not be fought, that history is not kind to. The quest for justice, despite what your contemporaries might think, that’s toughness. The ability to subject yourself to the kind of criticism I’m getting now, for something I think is right? That’s tough.
“This is something that can get a rise out of me, the notion that somehow Eric Holder and Barack Obama, this Administration, is not tough. We have the welfare of the American people in our minds all the time. We’ll fight our enemies, and we’ll do that which is necessary, and we won’t turn our backs on the values and traditions that have made this country great. That is what is tough”

Fast forward to 2012. Northwestern University Law School.

Here’s what the new Eric Holder, the one primarily concerned about the re-election of his boss, had to say: “In this hour of danger, we simply cannot wait until deadly plans are carried out. And we will not.”

Holder told an audience of 800 law students and professors that the President has the legal authority to target and kill anyone – including American citizens-- who he thinks pose an imminent threat to our country.

No judge. No warrant. No proof that anyone has a chance to see. Because, as Holder said, only the executive department has the expertise and immediate access to information necessary to target someone for killing.

Holder says his office gave the President a legal opinion to that effect.

But, of course, that legal opinion is secret.

No press conference at Northwestern. No questions from the audience. 800 people who teach and study the constitution of the United States and no questions?

Judge Andrew Napolitano, a Fox News commentator, thinks Obama should be impeached for authorizing hits on American citizens. You’d think the issue is at least debatable.

Not a peep out of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Candidate Obama reaches out to all the good old boys in swing states like Ohio and Kentucky, whose solution to terrorism is to “kill all them bastards.”

And his Attorney General gives him a green light.

I wonder what they are saying at Northwestern University Law School these days.

1 comment:

  1. It may be that given the John Guise criminal complaint history will record his comments at Northwestern as simply a prelude. While the AG may be interpreted as intending what is described, there can be no question that his decision, if that is what he determines, that the government can ignore or outright veto the direct text of the Constitution, will be what the Obama administration will be remember for.

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