Brief of the Week November 24

WILL RIGHT GET BOLDER WITH HOLDER? Just as leftist groups fought George W. Bush’s nomination of John Ashcroft to be attorney general in 2001, pundits and pols in Washington are increasingly speculating  that conservatives will strongly gear up to battle Barack Obama’s expected nomination of Eric Holder to head the Justice Department. Pro-family groups noted that as deputy attorney general in the Clinton Administration, Holder was a key player in the forced return of six-year-old Elian Gonzalez to Castro’s Cuba in 2000. Two weeks before the seizing of Elian, moderator Tim Russert asked Holder on “Meet the Press”: “You wouldn’t send a SWAT team in the dark of night to kidnap the child, in effect?” Holder replied flatly: “No, we don’t expect anything like that to happen.” After the SWAT-team seizure occurred and pictures of it were seen around the world, Russert asked Holder: “Why such a dramatic change in position?” — to which the No.2 man at the Justice Department said: “I’m not sure I’d call it a dramatic change. We waited ‘til five in the morning, just before dawn.” Holder also played a role in securing Clinton’s last-minute pardon of expatriate criminal Marc Rich, who had fled to Switzerland after being indicted on 65 counts of fraud, $48 million tax evasion, and illegally trading oil with Iran. Rich faced 325 years in prison. Holder had been in regular contact with Rich’s lawyer John Quinn, according to American Lawyer magazine. Holder was also involved in supporting the 1999 commutation of the sentences of 16 conspirators with the Armed Forces for National Liberation (FALN) who were responsible for more than 130 bombings and attacks on Puerto Rico throughout the U.S. Gun-rights groups are already pointing out that the expected Obama nominee to Justice signed an amicus brief in the Heller case that supported the District of Columbia’s handgun ban. Because of Holder’s extremely controversial record, there is also speculation that, in the end, Obama may crumble and withdraw his offer to nominate Holder.