While Attorney General Eric Holder is legitimately taking the heat for his scorched Earth policy toward journalists and whistleblowers. His deputy, Jim Coles, is also being criticized for signing off on the investigation of the Associated Press. However, a third prosecutor has largely escaped attention in the scandal and is equally worthy of immediate termination for his role in this scandal. He is Ronald Machen Jr., the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. As with Holder, Machen was a friend and campaign contributor to Obama when he was selected to serve as U.S. Attorney. He proceeded to discard any concern for the freedom of the press in his investigation, particularly his pursuit of sources for Fox reporter James Rosen. He was also involved in the refusal to prosecute Holder for contempt of Congress in refusing to turn over critical documents in the “Fast and Furious” scandal.
Machen was recommended for the job by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.). He was however an obvious choice of Obama.
Machen has called Obama a “legend” from their time at Harvard.
Notably, Holder selected Machen as one of the leaders in an overall investigation of leakers in the Administration. Obama has proven truly Nixonian in his crackdown on whistleblowers and leakers. Machen unleashed an abusive investigation of Rosen’s telephone calls and emails as part of the Obama Administration’s crackdown on whistleblowers. Machen even seized calls of Rosen’s parents and, as the basis for the seizure, Rosen was called a possible criminal “co-conspirator” in the leak. Recently, however, he expressed concern over threats to the media — despite years of public criticism of his administration on that very issue.
Machen’s office insists that they did not actually wiretap the calls in seizing the record — a distinction rejected by civil libertarians and free press advocates. His targeting of Rosen was facially abusive and an attack on the free press. He needs to be held accountable. However, Obama now has two of his closest friends at the heart of a scandal. It is a scandal of his own making. He dismissed objections for years over his Administration’s attacks on reporters and whistleblowers. Now he is calling for a review but he knows where responsibility lies (beyond at his own desk): with his two friends Holder and Machen.