holderericHere is today’s column in USA Today calling for the firing of Attorney General Eric Holder (I have added a couple lines removed in editing). Holder is not the only individual who needs to leave federal office but he is the first. Equally responsible are his deputy, James Cole, and Ronald Machen Jr., the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia who played critical roles in the investigation of journalists with Associated Press and Fox News. Notably, Obama reportedly “fired” IRS Director Steve Miller (who was reportedly already leaving) over the IRS scandal though there is no indication of any knowledge on his part. In Holder’s case, he was personally involved in targeting journalists (in the Fox case) and launched an attack on the media that has been condemned by a wide array of public interest and media groups. Yet, Holder has been asked to hold a simple meeting with aggrieved media representatives by Obama.

Recently, Attorney General Eric Holder appeared before the House Judiciary Committee to answer questions about the administration’s sweeping surveillance of journalists with the Associated Press. In the greatest attack on the free press in decades, the Justice Department seized phone records for reporters and editors in at least three AP offices as well as its office in the House of Representatives. Holder, however, proceeded to claim absolute and blissful ignorance of the investigation, even failing to recall when or how he recused himself.

Yet, this was only the latest attack on the news media under Holder’s leadership. Despite his record, he expressed surprise at the hearing that the head of the Republican National Committee had called for his resignation. After all, Holder pointed out, he did nothing. That is, of course, precisely the point. Unlike the head of the RNC, I am neither a Republican nor conservative, and I believe Holder should be fired.

The ‘sin eater’

Holder’s refusal to accept responsibility for the AP investigation was something of a change for the political insider. His value to President Obama has been his absolute loyalty. Holder is what we call a “sin eater” inside the Beltway — high-ranking associates who shield presidents from responsibility for their actions. Richard Nixon had H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman. Ronald Reagan had Oliver North and Robert “Bud” McFarlane. George W. Bush had the ultimate sin eater: Dick Cheney, who seemed to have an insatiable appetite for sins to eat.

This role can be traced to 18th century Europe, when families would use a sin eater to clean the moral record of a dying person by eating bread from the person’s chest and drinking ale passed over his body. Back then, the ritual’s power was confined to removing minor sins.

For Obama, there has been no better sin eater than Holder. When the president promised CIA employees early in his first term that they would not be investigated for torture, it was the attorney general who shielded officials from prosecution. When the Obama administration decided it would expand secret and warrantless surveillance, it was Holder who justified it. When the president wanted the authority to kill any American he deemed a threat without charge or trial, it was Holder who went public to announce the “kill list” policy.

Last week, the Justice Department confirmed that it was Holder who personally approved the equally abusive search of Fox News correspondent James Rosen’s e-mail and phone records in another story involving leaked classified information. In the 2010 application for a secret warrant, the Obama administration named Rosen as “an aider and abettor and/or co-conspirator” to the leaking of classified materials. The Justice Department even investigated Rosen’s parents’ telephone number, and Holder was there to justify every attack on the news media.

Ignoble legacy

Yet, at this month’s hearing, the attorney general had had his fill. Accordingly, Holder adopted an embarrassing mantra of “I have no knowledge” and “I had no involvement” throughout the questioning. When he was not reciting the equivalent to his name, rank and serial number, he was implicating his aide, Deputy Attorney General James Cole. Cole, it appears, is Holder’s sin eater. Holder was so busy denying responsibility for today’s scandals, he began denying known facts about older scandals. For example, Holder was asked about an earlier scandal in his administration in the handling of the “Fast and Furious” program where guns were allowed to be sold to criminal gangs. Holder insisted that Ronald C. Machen Jr., the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, was not told to decline the prosecution of Holder for contempt of Congress after refusing to turn over key documents and that “[Machen] made the determination about what he was going to do on his own.” However, Holder’s deputy, Cole, wrote to Machen to inform him (before the contempt citation even reached his office) that Main Justice “has determined that the Attorney General’s response to the subpoena . . . does not constitute a crime.”

In the end, Holder was the best witness against his continuing in office. His insistence that he did nothing was a telling moment. The attorney general has done little in his tenure to protect civil liberties or the free press. Rather, Holder has supervised a comprehensive erosion of privacy rights, press freedom and due process. This ignoble legacy was made possible by Democrats who would look at their shoes whenever the Obama administration was accused of constitutional abuses.

On Thursday, Obama responded to the outcry over the AP and Fox scandals by calling for an investigation by … you guessed it … Eric Holder. He ordered Holder to meet with news media representatives to hear their “concerns” and report back to him. He sent his old sin eater for a confab with the very targets of the abusive surveillance. Such an inquiry offers no reason to trust its conclusions.

The feeble response was the ultimate proof that these are Obama’s sins despite his effort to feign ignorance. It did not matter that Holder is the sin eater who has lost his stomach or that such mortal sins are not so easily digested. Indeed, these sins should be fatal for any attorney general.

Jonathan Turley, the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, is a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors.

May 29, 2013 USA Today

182 thoughts on “FIRE ERIC HOLDER”

  1. pbh:

    I see your point.

    Although you do bring up an interesting point/thought; in Jefferson’s later life he started sounding more like Rousseau and less like Locke.

    So maybe he you are right but I still find it hard to besmirch the man based on his many writings.

  2. Blouise:

    “(Why do these guys always love baseball?)”


    It’s the intellectual’s sport since the masses really don’t like it much except as a pastime. Plus you can read a book during the game and miss absolutely nothing.

  3. Blouise:

    “(Why do these guys always love baseball?)”


    It’s the intellectual’s sport since the masses really don’t like it except as a pastime. Plus you can read a book during the game.

  4. Bron 1, May 30, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    “whoops, oh my.”

    I am familiar with the speech. Some battlefield commemoration, somewhere, once upon a time. Or so I’ve heard.

    Something about my grandmother’s age . . . .

    Your point, however, that eludes me.


  5. mespo,

    ” … the rest of us confront both our triumphs and our failings” Very true, which is at the core of my love/hate relationship with Mr. Jefferson.

    I met Finkelman at a dinner party back in the late ’90’s and have read a few of his books. “Slavery and the Founders” was a worthwhile read. (Why do these guys always love baseball?)

  6. Bron 1, May 30, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    “I think Lincoln was saying that he wanted those words preserved.”

    I am not arguing with you about that.

    I think this conversation, and I could be wrong, got started when I threw out my general and specific animosity toward Jefferson and all of his acolytes. You seemed to think that Jeff was a great advocate for freedom and I countered that with specific examples of where and when his notions of freedom lapsed. And so on.

    Now, if I have any of this wrong or inside out, then I apologize.

    But, yes, I think Lincoln wanted Jefferson’s words in the DOI preserved. Moreover, I think Lincoln wanted to jam them up Jefferson’s such and so. As far as he could. Again and again. Until he liked it. Until he begged for more

    And more.

    And more.

    And I hope he is still begging.


  7. Bob, Esq. 1, May 30, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    “Then the constitution is meaningless


    Don’t blame me. I’m just reading the thing.

    Speaking of B v. G, that was clearly off-road. That said, if Congress refuses to exercise its lawful responsibility by virtue of its desire to protect its political majority (thank you Mr. Jefferson) from public scrutiny, then what are you gonna do about it?


  8. pbh:

    “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

    Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

    But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

    whoops, oh my.

  9. pbh:

    I dont think so, I think Lincoln was saying that he wanted those words preserved.

    Lincoln only believed in equality before the law.

  10. Bob, Esq. 1, May 30, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    “Speaking of Mt. Rushmore, is there enough room to include the bust of Eisenhower?”

    Too many Republicans up there already. Hows about FDR, LBJ, MLK and Fred? Maybe we need a babe or two, like SDO?


  11. Bob Esq:

    What about Patton, Bradley, Nimitz, Halsey, MacArthur, Pershing, Sherman, etc.?

    Ike had many good 2nd tier people. I guess Washington did too, the story of how cannon were moved by Henry Knox is simply amazing.

  12. Bron 1, May 30, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    “I think ole Abe was going with #3.

    You are certainly entitled to your opinion. My opinion is that Mr. Lincoln was working with all four, and then some, but most especially the “dead” thingie. W/R/T Jefferson and all that.

    But, hey, let’s go with door # 3. “protect from decay” the equal rights of all men (herein understood to include women and Negroes, not originally intended by Jefferson but fully incorporated by the man who forced through the 13th amendment). Lincoln is making Jefferson EAT HIS WORDS. Swallow them. In his grave. And you still don’t get it.

    Oh, the humanity.


  13. pbh:

    Frederick Douglas knew slavery was evil because he was on the business end of that stick. I think many former slaves used the DOI as a club when speaking and writing.

  14. Pbh; Article One, Section Eight sez: “I can do whatever the FFFF I want.”

    Then the constitution is meaningless, the separation of powers is meaningless, and all your griping about Bush v. Gore is worth shit because you’ve tossed away the entire social compact.


  15. Bron,

    Just as a General, he did as much if not more than George Washington in protecting this country. We’re talking Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces! He was the father of the nuclear deterrent that kept the Soviets from burning us to a cinder.

    Definite founding father type qualities with Ike.

  16. Bob, Esq. 1, May 30, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    “The unbounded expansion of federal power via the interstate commerce clause was the direct result of Congress and SCOTUS sacrificing the constitution in the name of the New Deal.

    “Great policy; a botched abortion legally speaking.”

    Jefferson freaked when Hamilton proposed a national bank. Mostly because Jeff was afraid that the bank would then tell him to sell his slaves to pay his debts (okay, I’m making that up, but not really).

    This is just such an old, old argument.

    And Hamilton and Marshall had it right from the get go. The proof of which is in what Jefferson did as soon as he had his hand on the wheel. Pedal to the metal, Baby!

    Article One, Section Eight sez: “I can do whatever the FFFF I want.”


  17. pbh:

    Definition of EMBALM

    1: to treat (a dead body) so as to protect from decay

    2: to fill with sweet odors : perfume

    3: to protect from decay or oblivion : preserve [embalm a hero’s memory]

    4: to fix in a static condition

    I think ole Abe was going with #3.

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