FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Terrible Tenure of Eric Holder

by

Good riddance!

Eric Holder has announced that he is leaving his post of Attorney General, which he has sullied and degraded for six years.

A corporate lawyer with the Wall Street law firm Covington & Burling, Holder will be remembered for his timid defense of civil rights, his overseeing. and even encouragement of the massive militarization of the nation’s police forces, his anti-First Amendment efforts to pursue not just whistleblowers but the journalists who use them, threatening both with jail and in fact jailing a number of them (particularly in the case of whistleblower extraordinaire Edward Snowden, and Wikileaks journalist Julian Assange, both of whom reportedly face US treason charges), and his weak enforcement of environmental protection laws.

But Holder, who came into his position as the nation’s top law enforcement officer in early 2009 at the start of the Obama administration and at the height of the financial crisis, will be best remembered for his overt announcement that there would be no attempt to prosecute the criminals at the top of the nation’s biggest so-called “too-big-to-fail” banks, whose brazen crimes of theft, deceit, fraud and perjury during the Bush/Cheney years and beyond sank not just the US but the global economy into a crisis which is still with us.

Holder not only did not make any effort to put Wall Street’s banking titans behind bars for their epic crimes; he did not even make them step down from their exalted and absurdly highly compensated executive positions when his office reached negotiated settlements with the banks in civil cases involving those crimes — civil cases that in almost all cases allowed the banks to settle without even having to admit their guilt. (His ludicrous excuse: punishing these criminal executive might jeopardize the banks’ stocks and hurt “innocent” shareholders!) Nor was this legal benevalence limited to purely financial crimes. Banks like Citicorp and HSBC, which were found to have knowingly laundered millions — even billions — of dollars in drug money for drug cartels, were also allowed by Holder to escape with petty fines, and no prosecution of a single bank executive.

It is being suggested that Holder may opt to go back to his old post as a partner at Covington & Burling, which would be the final, though hardly surprising, insult to the American people, providing a particularly galling example of Washington’s revolving door between government regulators and enforcers and the industries that they were supposed to be regulating or keeping honest.

God, how far we have fallen from the days when Ramsey Clark was attorney general, and left to become a leading critic of Washington’s imperial government at home and abroad!

At this point the Obama Administration is little more than a place holder until the next presidential election in 2016. President Obama, who campaigned as a fire-breathing liberal who would restore constitutional government, end the Bush/Cheney wars, re-open the government so that transparency instead of secrecy would be the default position, and take decisive action against climate change, has abandoned all those false promises.

The illegal and unconstitutional wars continue in Iraq and Afghanistan, and are now being expanded into Africa and Syria and, at least by proxy, but most dangerously, to Ukraine. Civil liberties are under attack at least as severely as they were back in the McCarthy period, with whistleblowers being jailed, with the president asserting the unfettered right to order the killing without trial of American citizens, and with a spying system in place run by the National Security Agency that is monitoring and storing, by its own admission, virtually all electronic communications of the American people. The government is also as closed and secret in its operation as it has been since 1974, when it was broadened following the Watergate and Cointelpro scandals, and is certainly less transparent and open than it was even under Bush/Cheney. The Obama administration has also done little to nothing about tackling carbon emissions despite the president’s lies to the contrary in his address to the UN.

In all of this extraordinary list of treachery and cowardice, Holder has played his sycophantic role as a defender of corporate America, of white privilege, and of Washington power. He has been both the John Ashcroft and the Alberto Gonzalez of the Obama administration. (Actually, that comparison is unfair to John Ashcroft, who at least was a man of conviction — repellent as some of those convictions may have been. In Holder’s case, we have a man not of principle, but who is simply a corporate lawyer, ready to do his clients’ bidding, however sordid and corrupt.)

Given the depths of unpopularity to which President Obama has sunk after six years of selling out his own electoral base and catering to the interests of the rich and powerful, the military establishment and neo-con right-wing of the Washington policy elite, it is safe to say that Holder’s replacement, still unknown, will be no better, though given Holder’s tenure it’s also hard to imagine his successor being much worse either.

So good riddance to Holder. But it will be worth while, and indeed important, to watch carefully this departing Obama official’s behavior back in the private sector, from under which rock he emerged to be attorney general six years ago.

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

More articles by:

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
July 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Kevin Zeese
Green Party Growing Pains; Our Own Crisis of Democracy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Red State, Blue State; Green State, Deep State
Paul Street
“Inclusive Capitalism,” Nancy Pelosi, and the Dying Planet
Anthony DiMaggio
Higher Education Fallacies: What’s Behind Rising Conservative Distrust of Learning?
Andrew Levine
Why Republicans Won’t Dump Trump Anytime Soon
Michael Colby
Ben & Jerry’s Has No Clothes
Bruce Dixon
White Liberal Guilt, Black Opportunism and the Green Party
Edward Hunt
Killing Civilians in Iraq and Syria
Matthew Kovac
Is the Flint Water Crisis a Crime Against Humanity?
Mark Harris
The Revolutionary Imagination: Rosa for Our Times
David Rosen
America’s Five Sex Panics
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia: the Kingdom Whose Name We Dare Not Speak At All
Jack Heyman
Class War on the Waterfront: Longshore Workers Under Attack
Kim C. Domenico
Marginalize This:  Turning the Tables on Neoliberal Triumphalism
Brian Cloughley
Trying to Negotiate With the United States
John Laforge
Activists Challenge US Nukes in Germany; Occupy Bunker Deep Inside Nuclear Weapons Base
Jonathan Latham
The Biotech Industry is Taking Over the Regulation of GMOs From the Inside
Russell Mokhiber
DC Disciplinary Counsel Hamilton Fox Won’t Let Whistleblower Lawyer Lynne Bernabei Go
Ramzy Baroud
The Story Behind the Jerusalem Attack: How Trump and Netanyahu Pushed Palestinians to A Corner
Farzana Versey
The Murder of Muslims
Kathy Kelly
At Every Door
David W. Pear
Venezuela Under Siege by U.S. Empire
Maria Paez Victor
Venezuelan Opposition Now Opposes the People
Uri Avnery
Soros’ Sorrows
Joseph Natoli
The Mythos Meme of Choice
Clark T. Scott
High Confidence and Low Methods
Missy Comley Beattie
Glioblastoma As Metaphor
Ann Garrison
Organizing Pennsylvania’s 197: Cheri Honkala on Frontline Communities
Ted Rall
What Happened When I Represented Myself as My Own Lawyer
Colin Todhunter
Codex Alimentarius and Monsanto’s Toxic Relations
Graham Peebles
Europe’s Shameful Refugee Policy
Louis Proyect
Reversals of Imperial Fortune: From the Comanche to Vietnam
Stephen Cooper
Gov. Kasich: “Amazing Grace” Starts With You! 
Jeffrey Wilson
Demolish! The Story of One Detroit Resident’s Home
REZA FIYOUZAT
Billionaire In Panic Over Dems’ Self-Destruct
David Penner
The Barbarism of Privatized Health Care
Yves Engler
Canada in Zambia
Ludwig Watzal
What Israel is Really All About
Randy Shields
Matters of National Insecurity
Vacy Vlanza
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness: Through Eyes of an Activist for Palestine
Cesar Chelala
Dr. Schweitzer’s Lost Message
Masturah Alatas
Becoming Italian
Martin Billheimer
Lessons Paid in Full
Charles R. Larson
Review: James Q. Whitman’s “Hitler’s American Model”
David Yearsley
The Brilliance of Velasquez
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail