Eric Holder illustrates the dangers of ambition married to weak character. His subservience to the interests of Bill Clinton in approving the corrupt pardon of Marc Rich and the indefensible pardons of the FALN terrorists was a disgrace. His role in these pardons should disqualify him for higher office.
Holder himself does not defend his role in the Rich pardon. He concedes it was a mistake. He claims somewhat paradoxically that he learned so much from his mistake that he will be a better Attorney General. Holder makes no such concession or claim in the case of the FALN terrorists. Joseph Connor is the son of one of their victims. He testified against Holder in the confirmation hearing yesterday. In “Terrorists killed my father,” Connor writes:
At the time of the [FALN] pardons, Eric H. Holder Jr. was deputy attorney general. In considering his department’s recommendation on clemency, he met with supporters of the terrorists but ignored their victims. He pushed staff members to drop their strong opposition to a presidential pardon for the FALN members and alter a report they had prepared for the president recommending against clemency. Today, although two turned down their pardons because they were unwilling to renounce violence, many of the convicted FALN members walk free. And a man who was instrumental in their release may become the highest law enforcer in the land.
Holder said at his confirmation hearing Thursday that he thought Clinton’s decision to pardon the FALN members was “reasonable.” But they were bad people. During their Chicago trial, some of them threatened the life of Judge Thomas McMillen, who was hearing the case. Carmen Valentin, one of those later pardoned by Clinton, told the judge, “You are lucky that we cannot take you right now,” and she told other officers of the court, “You will be walking with canes and wheelchairs. … Revolutionary justice can be fierce.” She also declared war against the United States. Dylcia Pagan, another recipient of Clinton’s gift, warned the courtroom: “All of you, I would advise you to watch your backs.” McMillen was convinced the defendants would continue being terrorists as long as they lived. “If there was a death penalty,” he said at their sentencing, “I’d impose the penalty on you without hesitation.”
In its editorial today supporting the confirmation of Eric Holder as Attorney General, the Washginton Post adopts Holder’s defense of the FALN pardons:
Mr. Holder defended his support for Mr. Clinton’s commutation of the sentences of 16 members of a Puerto Rican terrorist group based on the facts that none of the 16 had been convicted of murder and that most had served almost 20 years in prison. There is still much to dislike in the commutations themselves. But no new evidence emerged to challenge Mr. Holder’s assertion that the recommendation was based on his best judgment.
This defense of the FALN terrorists lacks a certain logic. Whether or not the FALN terrorists were convicted of murder, they wantonly perpetrated it. Does Holder dispute that? Morevoer, if the recommendation was based on Holder’s best judgment, Holder shouldn’t be a partner at a prominent Washington law firm, let alone the Attorney General of the United States.
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