NBC News and Newsweek are reporting that Barack Obama’s senior legal advisor Eric Holder has been offered and accepted the position of United States Attorney General, so who is Eric Holder, and what can we expect out his Justice Department?
Eric Holder has spent much of his career in the Justice Department as a prosecutor. Holder spent 1976-1988 as trial attorney for the Justice. He next was appointed by President Reagan to serve as Associate Justice for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Holder was appointed as US Attorney to the District of Columbia by Bill Clinton in 1993. Clinton also appointed him as Deputy Attorney General in 1997. Holder served a brief time as Attorney General for a month at the end of the Clinton administration after Janet Reno left.
Holder is expected to be approved by the Senate, which means that he will be the first African American to head up the Justice Department. Holder is most recently well known as being the leader of Obama’s vice presidential search team along with Caroline Kennedy. Holder already had been the highest ranking black person in law enforcement in American history.
So what can we expect from Attorney General Holder? He has been a loud critic of the Bush administration’s conduct of the war on terror. In a speech this summer to the American Constitution Society, Holder said, “The notion that the Department of Justice would in essence sanction the use of torture as part of the President’s plenary power over military operations is as wrong as it is shortsighted. This position flies in the face of the entire history of American law, helping to create a climate in which unnecessarily abusive conduct can somehow be considered legitimate.”
Holder has also called GITMO an embarrassment that must be closed. Holder definitely is a progressive who believes in equal rights, “The nation must be reminded that the word liberal is more than a conservative slur. The nation must be reminded that it was the progressive, liberal tradition that brought about the social and economic changes that were necessary many years ago. The nation must be convinced that it is a progressive future that holds the greatest promise for equality and the continuation of those policies that serve to support the greatest number of our people.”
Holder caught a bit of heat for his involvement in President Clinton’s pardoning of Marc Rich, but he should fly through the confirmation process. Holder is a no brainer. He is a close friend of Obama’s, and has two decades of experience at the Justice Department. There is a trend here with these early Obama appointments. Obama is picking experienced people who are close to him. This selection along with Rham Emanuel shows that unlike Bush, Obama is looking for experienced people, not just loyal friends. Holder is a fine choice, who will be solid at Justice. He is another solid pick for Obama.