Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger
About one year into Barack Obama’s first term as President I began calling the White House demanding that Attorney General Eric Holder should be fired. I was disturbed by the lack of prosecutions and by the trend towards stricter enforcement of the Drug Laws. Clearly this was not the change I envisioned from a Constitutional Law professor, or his Attorney General. I guess my support in the election wasn’t important enough to get The President to hear my plea to rid himself and us, of both Holder and Geithner. Here we are now more than four years later and both of these bozos are still on the job and doing harm to our Constitution and our economy. With the Associated Press eavesdropping scandal we have just the latest contretemps committed by the Justice Department and its hapless leader. Having lived through Attorney General’s John Mitchell and Ed Meese, I understand full well the importance of the position and how if it is filled with the wrong man mischief will arise. Eric Holder is in the tradition of both these men since he too seems nonplussed when it comes to upholding the constitution. This article was in reaction to reading about Holder signing off on the AP probe in Thursday’s Huffington Post, I give credit to them for this story and I will provide links. Here are six instances of Holder’s using his office to achieve what I see as disastrously wrong actions.
I. Eric Holder Signed Off on Search Warrant For James Rosen’s E Mails
“Attorney General Eric Holder personally signed off on the warrant that allowed the Justice Department to search Fox News reporter James Rosen’s personal email, NBC News’ Michael Isikoff reported Thursday.
The report places Holder at the center one of the most controversial clashes between the press and the government in recent memory. The warrant he approved named Rosen as a “co-conspirator” in a leak investigation, causing many to warn that the Justice Department was potentially criminalizing journalism. The warrant also approved the tracking of Rosen’s movements in and out of the State Department, as well as his communications with his source, Stephen Kim.
The Justice Department later said that it did not intend to press any charges against Rosen.”
“The revelation came hours after President Obama said in a speech that he was concerned about the potential implications of the Fox News and AP investigations. Obama said that Holder would be reviewing the department’s rules for investigations that involve reporters.”
Shouldn’t we all be sick and tired about the way “National Security” is bandied about to justify intrusions into all areas of society? Wasn’t this supposed to be a “transparent” administration? Finally, in an era where the news media barely reports any real news, doesn’t this go a long way towards ending the concept of freedom of the press? Were this the only failing of Eric Holder it certainly would be reason enough to dismiss him.
2.To Big to Jail Dogs Obama’s Justice Department As Government Documents Raise Questions
“Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress in March that some banks were “too large,” impeding attempts to bring criminal prosecutions. Holder’s comment is perhaps the most explicit public admission of concern by a senior Obama administration official regarding big banks.
Though Holder has since attempted to walk back those comments, at the time he said that the size of large financial institutions “has an inhibiting influence — impact on our ability to bring resolutions that I think would be more appropriate.” He further told lawmakers: “And I think that is something that we — you all — need to consider.”
DOJ officials have previously defended the lack of criminal charges against banks suspected of wrongdoing in large part by pointing to the so-called “collateral consequences” associated with filing a criminal indictment against a leading financial institution.
Two examples occurred in December, when HSBC, the U.K. banking giant, settled allegations that it violated U.S. sanctions and facilitated the movement across the U.S. financial system of tainted money by Mexican drug cartels, and UBS, the Swiss bank, settled claims it manipulated world interest rates.”
How can one have any respect for our criminal justice system if there are people and institutions that won’t be prosecuted because of their size? The leaders of the U.S. Investment Banking system have not only failed us, but demonstrably committed criminal acts in doing so. It makes me feel sympathy for Bernie Madoff and for Martha Stewart, who were actually arrested, tried and sentenced because they weren’t “big enough to fail”.
3. Fed Say Peace Activists Who Trespassed Onto Nuclear Facility Are A National Security Threat
In another case of possible overreach by federal prosecutors, an 82-year-old nun and two anti-nuclear activists face long prison terms after being convicted of “sabotage against the U.S. government” and other serious felonies. In truth, the three trespassed onto a nuclear facility, and damaged and vandalized some government property. Their most serious offense may have been to expose lapses in federal security at a nuclear weapons production facility.
In June of last year, peace activists Sister Megan Rice, 82, Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, and Michael Walli, 63, were able to access the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, Tenn., simply by cutting through a series of chain-link fences. The three then unfurled banners, spray-painted on the building, sang hymns and prayed until security finally arrived to arrest them.
As the activist site Common Dreams reports, over the next several months federal prosecutors applied increasingly serious charges to the activists, and this month ultimately convicted them of serious felonies that could carry long prison sentences. The three were convicted of “crimes of violence,” and will remain incarcerated until their sentencing in September, though the group didn’t harm anyone and carried with them messages of peace and nonviolence.
The severity of the charges may be more of a response to the public embarrassment the break-in caused for the Obama administration than to actual criminal culpability. In reporting on the case last August, for example, The New York Times reported that nuclear experts were calling the protest “the biggest security breach in the history of the nation’s atomic complex.” The paper called the fiasco a “huge embarrassment for President Obama,” and said that the three protesters had “made nuclear theft seem only a little more challenging than a romp in the Tennessee woods.”
We again see what has been a consistent pattern of the Holder Justice Department, which is to overcharge on cases of protest and make an innocent protest into a national security issue. The “damage” done by these protesters was minimal, but the embarrassment to the government was the real problem. What sort of “real security” existed at this facility, if all it took to enter it illegally was cutting through chain link fences? The DOJ under Holder in effect has a pattern of “squashing bugs with a hammer” of national security charges that simply are laughable when one sees the nature of the crime. While in one sense this particular issue doesn’t rise to the level of major importance in the midst of our current national malaise, it illustrates the willingness of the DOJ to intimidate people via the law. This type of intimidation, apparently with Holder’s blessings and support, is more indicative of a police state than of the bastion of freedom America pretends to be. This was a misdemeanor trespass at best, rather than a felony “crime of violence”.
4. Eric Holder: Aaron Swartz Case “A Good Use of Prosecutorial Discretion http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/06/eric-holder-aaron-swartz_n_2819161.html
“The Justice Department never intended for Internet activist Aaron Swartz to go to jail “for longer than a three, four, potentially five-month range,” Attorney General Eric Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee during an oversight hearing on Wednesday.
Calling Swartz’s January suicide “a tragedy,” Holder defended the Justice Department’s handling of the case, stating that looking at Swartz’s conduct and fashioning a potential sentence based on that conduct was “a good use of prosecutorial discretion.”
Professor Turley did many blogs on Aaron Swartz. On one of them about the early attempt to hide the name of the prosecutors on this case after the suicide: http://jonathanturley.org/2013/04/04/justice-department-seeks-to-keep-secret-the-names-of-prosecutors-of-aaron-swartz/#more-62494 Otteray Scribe made this comment:
“The wall of silence that hides wrongdoers is becoming more pervasive. I have been trying to find out the identity of the officer who nearly killed Iraq war vet and protester, Scott Olsen, by hitting him in the head with a tear gas grenade. Then when people came to assist him, the same officer thew a “flash-bang” grenade at them. The authorities have been anything but forthcoming in that incident, but sleuthing by an Oakland investigative reporter indicates it was Oakland Police Officer Robert Roche. who has already allegedly killed three people. I have been unable to find any follow up story about Roche being investigated, much less fired, suspended or prosecuted. I won’t hold my breath. Source:http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/cop-identified-in-scott-olsen-incident/Content?oid=3131933
Darren Smith made this comment:
“How about “do no wrong” first and not have to worry about covering anything up. It’s much easier even in the most sociopathic of political minds. Nobody will make Holder go in the present administration. Crooks protect crooks because they mutually have enough dirt on the other for blackmail purposes.”
And I made this comment:
“Funny how times have changed. A fraud like Rudy Giuliani becomes an American Idol by the use of spectacular public prosecutions, like the TV arrest of a stockbroker, only to consistently lose at trial. Ms. Ortiz hounds a good young man to death and suddenly her striving for prosecutorial glory blows up in her face. Mr. Holder, the failed Attorney General, lacking the courage to take on real criminal conduct, now wants to shield his resume building publicity seekers from the consequences of their vile behavior. Payback is a bitch and we have an Attorney General who would do Ed Meese proud. The American Justice System, so proud in conception, has become a cruel hoax played upon the people.”
I’m hardly naive and I know that this kind of improper prosecutorial zeal has existed for years in this country. Certainly the Bush Administration was doing similar things. However, one of the reasons that Obama got elected was the assumption that he wouldn’t continue these policies and it seems they are not only continued but they have increased.
5. Eric Schneiderman Challenges Administration Over Mortgage Settlement
“New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has privately criticized the Obama administration and the Department of Justice for not aggressively investigating dodgy mortgage deals that helped trigger the financial crisis, according to senators and congressional aides who met with him this month.
New York’s top prosecutor is co-chair of the administration’s year-old Residential Mortgage Backed Securities Working Group, an initiative that President Barack Obama called for in his State of the Union address last year. In a sign of Schneiderman’s importance to the group, the White House seated him behind Michelle Obama during the speech.
Schneiderman, a Democrat who has attempted to investigate Wall Street, expressed his frustrations with the administration earlier this month during private meetings with Democratic senators on Capitol Hill, arguing that he was “naive” when he first entered into the partnership with the Justice Department, lawmakers and their aides said.”
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been a fearless prosecutor of Wall Street and the Banking Industry. His record prior to that in the New York State Senate was also spotless. There is no doubt why he was chosen to head the working group; it was because his record lent this “working group” gravitas. However, the working group was only as effective as the evidence gathered by the DOJ. The record of Eric Holder’s DOJ when it comes to dealing with Wall Street and with banks has proven to be lax and deferential.
“Schneiderman has recently directed his attention to working with lawmakers and outside groups to pressure the administration to toughen its approach. He traveled to Washington for meetings with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), among others, according to people who attended the meetings. The four senators have been among the loudest critics of the Obama administration’s efforts to hold the financial industry accountable for alleged wrongdoing, charging they have not gone far enough.
Examples of criticized settlements include the Justice Department’s decision not to file criminal charges against financial companies accused of manipulating benchmark interest rates, as well as banks alleged to have helped drug cartels launder money through the U.S. financial system. Government panels like the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and the Levin-chaired Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations that referred cases for potential prosecution have seen their recommendations cast aside.
Schneiderman excoriated Justice Department officials for their approach in targeting wrongdoing by financial institutions in private meetings with lawmakers.”
The obvious pattern emerging when we see the prior issues mentioned above is of a Department of Justice that is deferential to the powerful and preys upon the vulnerable. The practices of the banking industry in the entire seamy mortgage affair have been deplorable, including illegal foreclosure and sale of property to which banks weren’t entitled. Yet the DOJ has let the banks escape with little penalty, while it has even caused the suicide of someone against whom the charges were relatively minor.
6. Who Occupied the Occupy Movement?
From our own Lawrence Rafferty came this guest blog which clearly delineates the subject.
“If you are like me, you remember the violent response by the FBI, DHS and local police forces to the many “Occupy” movement protests last Fall. In those protests, the police used incredible force and firepower to break up peaceful protests and make a mockery of the First Amendment. The police responses always seemed to be coordinated from city to city and there were allegations that the FBI and other governmental agencies were aiding the local authorities in stamping down the First Amendment rights of the Occupy protestors. Now, a treasure trove of documents was released pursuant to a Freedom of Information request by a group called The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund. Those documents expose a level of governmental intrusion into the privacy of protestors and governmental and private bank partnerships designed to crack down on legal protestors.
“It was more sophisticated than we had imagined: new documents show that the violent crackdown on Occupy last fall – so mystifying at the time – was not just coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police. The crackdown, which involved, as you may recall, violent arrests, group disruption, canister missiles to the skulls of protesters, people held in handcuffs so tight they were injured, people held in bondage till they were forced to wet or soil themselves –was coordinated with the big banks themselves.
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, in a groundbreaking scoop that should once more shame major US media outlets (why are nonprofits now some of the only entities in America left breaking major civil liberties news?), filed this request. The document – reproduced here in an easily searchable format – shows a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council. And it reveals this merged entity to have one centrally planned, locally executed mission. The documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens.” Guardian
When we have discussed how the banks and the wealthy have purchased politicians in order to obtain friendly tax treatment for their companies and themselves we may have lost sight of just how much these “too big to jail” banks are also in bed with the Government and various police agencies. When the Citizens United decision gave the corporations and wealthy carte blanche authority to pour huge sums of money into the election process, we may have missed other strings that some of those same corporations are pulling.
“The documents, released after long delay in the week between Christmas and New Year, show a nationwide meta-plot unfolding in city after city in an Orwellian world: six American universities are sites where campus police funneled information about students involved with OWS to the FBI, with the administrations’ knowledge (p51); banks sat down with FBI officials to pool information about OWS protesters harvested by private security; plans to crush Occupy events, planned for a month down the road, were made by the FBI – and offered to the representatives of the same organizations that the protests would target; and even threats of the assassination of OWS leaders by sniper fire – by whom? Where? – now remain redacted and undisclosed to those American citizens in danger, contrary to standard FBI practice to inform the person concerned when there is a threat against a political leader (p61).
As Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the PCJF, put it, the documents show that from the start, the FBI – though it acknowledges Occupy movement as being, in fact, a peaceful organization – nonetheless designated OWS repeatedly as a “terrorist threat”..” Guardian
Does it surprise you that the portions of the documents where alleged threats of assassinations of OWS leaders were discussed were redacted and the leaders who were “targeted” are left in the dark as to who is targeting them? Will this hint of sniper threats actually act as a deterrent to free speech and peaceful assembly? Was that redaction and the alleged deterrent intentional on the part of the government?
When anyone opines about the huge amount of personal information that banks hold and control and the problems associated with that, I wonder if anyone ever imagined that this information could be used to curtail our First Amendment rights? It is no longer a tin foil hat conspiracy theory that the government is in bed with corporations. These documents prove that the government actually coordinated the police response to the peaceful protests with information from the corporations and their private security organizations.
Naomi Wolff, the author of the Guardian article linked above claims that is now clear that all of the militarizing of police forces was meant to stop all of us from finding out just how the Big Banks and corporations are breaking the law. “Why the huge push for counterterrorism “fusion centers”, the DHS militarizing of police departments, and so on? It was never really about “the terrorists”. It was not even about civil unrest. It was always about this moment, when vast crimes might be uncovered by citizens – it was always, that is to say, meant to be about you.”
They are coming to get you and “they” are a government/corporation partnership that is designed to protect their assets and prevent any citizen from blowing the whistle on their evil entanglement. After reading these damning documents, how can anyone be surprised that the wealthy are ready to hold the country’s economic health hostage to protect their tax breaks? The tax rate issue just may just be the tip of the iceberg. They are after much, much more than just a few percentage points in a tax rate. If the Occupy Movement can be considered double secret terrorists, none of us are safe. Do you feel safe?
As you can tell I have quoted Larry’s entire blog. This is because for even those who previously read it back in December 2012, it is worth reading again, simply because it summarize in the macrocosm all that I am detailing here. Eric Holder has been as bad as any Attorney General in U.S. history when it comes to guarding our Constitution and protecting the American people. He must go and go immediately. Now because I obviously have a history here of supporting Obama’s election and re-election, there will be those who will choose to write they told me so about Obama. A look at my comments here regarding Obama’s re-election and my comments after he took office in 2009, will disclose that I am not a fan of the President. This guest blog that I did in January will explain my thinking: http://jonathanturley.org/2013/01/12/president-obama-disappoints-why-the-surprise/#more-59130 I also contend that the same kind of anti-constitutional, anti-people course would have been followed by McCain, or Romney. The truth is that both parties are corporate tools and national security freaks, whose main ambition is power and money.
Eric Holder needs to go, but as Otteray Scribe was quoted as saying above, his removal is doubtful. The enemies of the American people and our constitution are truly those who have turned this once promising country into a Corporate, Military/Industrial Satrap of a multinational elite who owe no allegiance to anything other than the lust for power and wealth that drives them. This Administration, contrary to what had been implied in its political campaigns has supported this worldwide oligarchy. Eric Holder has done his part by leading the way towards making our country a police state, where only an elite have rights. His removal will at least send a signal that we the people won’t tolerate these incursions into the Rule of Law. Do We the People still have the power to effect this removal?
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger