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Tag: Eric Holder

First-Amendment Lawyer: AG Eric Holder Has Some Wrongs to Correct Before Leaving

By David A. Schulz
For Washington Post

As Eric Holder reflects on his six years as attorney general, one disturbing aspect of his legacy should give him significant pause. On Holder’s watch, legal protections traditionally afforded to communications between reporters and sources have been torn down, potentially damaging for years to come the media’s ability to uncover and report on government missteps. The attorney general should acknowledge the problems and address them before leaving office.

Holder has faced harsh criticism for pursuing two related strategies that undermined reporter-source communications. The first denied that any “reporter’s privilege” exists — and just this year the Supreme Court let stand an appellate court ruling adopting Holder’s position.

That ruling came in response to a prosecutor’s demand that Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter James Risen disclose his source for a report on the CIA’s effort to subvert Iran’s nuclear program. Although a reporter’s privilege has been recognized for decades in other contexts, a divided court of appealsaccepted the Justice Department’s argument that no evidentiary privilege allowed Risen to refuse to identify his source in a criminal prosecution. Under this ruling, the question of whether to require a reporter to reveal a source rests with the prosecutor alone.

The ruling is an unflinching rejection of a reporter’s right to make a binding promise of confidentiality in exchange for information. It is a direct assault on the foundation of trust needed for effective investigative reporting and threatens to limit severely disclosures by government whistleblowers. That Holder’s Justice Department fought for just this ruling caused some media lawyers to label this administration “worse than Nixon” for the free press.

The impact of this ruling is compounded by a second Holder strategy: relaxing regulations limiting prosecutors’ surreptitious surveillance of reporters’ communications.
To read more click here.

Attorney General Eric Holder Tells Thousands of Cops That Many Departments Need to Address Community Tension and Trust

Attorney General Eric Holder in Orlando

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

ORLANDO, Fla. — Eric Holder delivered his last speech as Attorney General on Monday before the annual International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference in Orlando. He’s stepping down from the job.

During his speech before thousands of law enforcement folks, Holder mentioned Ferguson, Mo., and the need for police to address the issues of tension and mistrust between the community and the police departments.

“As our nation’s Attorney General, I have always been proud – and steadfast – in my support for law enforcement personnel and their families, who make tremendous and often unheralded sacrifices every single day to keep us safe.

“These sacrifices are too often overlooked. And I believe we do ourselves, our communities, and our nation a grave disservice if we ignore these difficulties – just as we do ourselves a disservice if we dismiss, or fail to address, the conditions and lingering tensions that exist just beneath the surface in so many places across the country – and that were brought to the surface, and raised to the urgent attention of this group and others, by this summer’s events in Ferguson, Missouri. ”

“As law enforcement leaders, it is incumbent upon each of us to take constructive, inclusive steps to rebuild trust and instill respect for the rule of law in all of the communities where these tensions are uncovered.”

Holder was touching on a sensitive subject. While cops understand the tensions in the community, they often feel misunderstood, and  that the challenges they face in policing are glossed over when it comes to addressing such issues.

Holder, who didn’t deliver the speech with a lot of passion, is also seen as a surrogate for President Obama. And frankly, a fair amount of folks in law enforcement aren’t in love with the president.  I had a former federal agent tell me that the following day.

In fact, a video message from President Obama was played Monday before thousands of law enforcement officers. Obama said he was grateful for the jobs they do and the sacrifices they make.

When the video ended, there was polite applause, but it was clear the clapping was not done with a lot of love.

It’s an important issue Holder talked about. And addressing that issue can help the community and police departments.

Hopefully, some of the cops can appreciate the message and not worry about who delivered it.

 

Top-Level Vacancies in Justice Department Are Significant Challenge, Opportunity for President Obama

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Obama is faced with a significant challenge and opportunity.

The top three jobs at the Justice Department will soon be vacant, and just four of Obama’s 11 choices for assistant attorney generals have been confirmed, CBS News reports.

The vacancies leave a power vacuum at an agency that has been very active in law enforcement issues.

“It’s always a challenge because the senior-level positions require Senate confirmation, and it can be difficult to move these nominees through a confirmation vote,” Thomas Dupree, who served as deputy assistant attorney general during the George W. Bush administration, told CBS News. At the same time, he said, “It’s an opportunity for [the president] to identify new people who will bring new energy and new ideas into the administration.”

The vacancies also offer a good opportunity for the administration “to look at the whole matrix” of skills and experience that fit the needs of the country, said Robert Raben, an assistant attorney general in the Clinton administration.

Justice Department Wants to End Profiling Based Ethnicity, Religion, Sexual Orientation

By Steve Neavling

tickethewire.com

The days of profiling may be over for federal law enforcement, according to a report obtained by the Washington Post.

The ban on profiling would apply to people based on their ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation.

One impact of the policy, for example, would be prohibiting surveillance of mosques without proof of wrongdoing.

No exemption will be given for national security investigations either, the Post reports.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said his upcoming retirement from the position won’t stop him from pursuing this.

“There remains a great deal to be done,” he said. “I have no intention of letting up or slowing down.”

From Good to Great: AG Eric Holder Championed for Civil Rights Like No One Before Him

By Jamelle Bouie
Slate

On Thursday the families of Michael Brown and Eric Garner joined with the NAACP, the National Urban League, the National Action Network, the National Bar Association, and the Black Women’s Roundtable to call for a full federal investigation in the police killings of the two young men.

The Rev. Al Sharpton was part of the event, and he was about to take questions from those assembled when the news broke that Attorney General Eric Holder intended to resign from the administration. Naturally, Sharpton had a few words for the occasion.

“There is no attorney general who has shown a commitment to civil rights like Eric Holder,” said Sharpton, “If he is resigning, the civil rights community is losing the most effective civil rights attorney general in American history.”

That is high praise, but it’s hard to say it’s unreasonable or unjustified. When President Obama entered office, the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department was in shambles, neglected by President Bush and staffed with a coterie of partisan operatives. Long-serving lawyers left the office, case files were closed with little explanation, political appointees sought to block liberals from career positions, and anti-discrimination efforts were few and far between.

At his confirmation hearing at the beginning of Obama’s term, Holder made the Civil Rights Division his priority.

To that end, Holder took aggressive steps to repair the damage of the previous administration and restore the traditional priorities of the Civil Rights Division. On voting rights, Holder was a strong advocate against voter identification laws, attacking the 2012 Texas law as a “political pretext to disenfranchise American citizens of their most precious right” and comparing some practices to Jim Crow laws. “Many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them—and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them. We call those poll taxes,” he said.

To read more click here.

Other Stories of Interest

Breaking: Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. to Resign

Attorney General/DOJ file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who had been rumored for a while now to be getting ready to step down, is resigning, the New York Times reports.

The Justice Department made the announcement and said Holder will remain in office until a successor is confirmed.

Holder became the first African-American attorney general, and was considered a liberal voice. He stuck around after President Barack Obama’s first term, long after others in the administration had left.

Names that have surfaced as possible replacements, according to the New York Times, include:

Kathryn Ruemmler, the former White House counsel; Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts; Donald B. Verrilli Jr., the former solicitor general; former Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm of Michigan; Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island; and Loretta E. Lynch, the United States attorney in Brooklyn.

To read more, click here.

Federal Prison Population Drops for First Time in Decades Under AG Holder

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

For the first time in several decades, the federal inmate population has decreased, the Associated Press reports.

The Justice Department revealed that roughly 4,800 fewer inmates were incarcerated last year than the year before.

Attorney General Eric Holder said he anticipates the inmate population to be about 250,000 next week, which is the end of the budget cycle.

“This is nothing less than historic,” Holder said, addressing a conference at the New York University School of Law that was hosted by the Brennan Center for Justice. “To put these numbers in perspective, 10,000 inmates is the rough equivalent of the combined populations of six federal prisons, each filled to capacity.”

Holder has been working to reduce the prison population, saying its costly and contains too many nonviolent offenders.

Fresh DOJ loss in ‘Fast and Furious’ Docs Fight

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder/doj photo

By JOSH GERSTEIN
Politico

WASHINGTON — A federal judge has rejected Attorney General Eric Holder’s attempt to keep the courts from wading into the “Fast and Furious” documents dispute that led to him being held in contempt by the House last year.

In a ruling Monday night, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson turned down the Justice Department’s request to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee after President Barack Obama asserted executive privilege to prevent some records about the administration’s response to the “Operation Fast and Furious” gunrunning scandal from being turned over to Congress.

To read more click here.