Eric Holder: Even Worse Than You Thought
Jared Taylor, American Renaissance, January 29, 2015
John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky, Obama’s Enforcer: Eric Holder’s Justice Department, Broadside Books, 2014, 256 pp., $27.99.
Eric Holder is clearly the most racially committed member of the Obama administration–and probably the most racially committed black ever to hold a cabinet job. He is certainly far more bound up in being black than President Obama. Under Mr. Holder, the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) has become notorious for left-wing lawyers who openly apply the law in a race-conscious way.
This book, Obama’s Enforcer, shows that Mr. Holder is other things as well: unscrupulous about expanding federal power, oblivious of constitutional limits, devoted to politics over due process, and willing to lie to cover his tracks. The authors know what they are talking about. John Fund has written several books about the Justice Department and Hans von Spakovsky worked as counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.
A childhood free of racism
Eric Holder was born in the Bronx in 1951 to an American mother and a father from Barbados. He says that as a child he “never saw the reality of racism or felt the insecurity that comes with it.” He was one of only a handful of blacks who went to New York City’s Stuyvesant High School, which accepts only the top scorers on a competitive exam and does not lower standards for non-whites. In 2014, only seven of the 952 students admitted to Stuyvesant were black.
Mr. Holder reportedly began to think about race only after he read The Autobiography of Malcom X, and when he went to Columbia in 1969 he became a leader of the Student Afro-American Society. He was one of the students who occupied the Columbia ROTC building, but refuses to comment on rumors that the occupiers were armed.
In 1971, while he was still at Columbia, Mr. Holder started carrying a card in his wallet with a black-consciousness message from a Harlem preacher named Samuel Proctor, which includes this sentenced: “No matter how affluent, educated and mobile [a black person] becomes, his race defines him more particularly than anything else.” Mr. Holder reportedly transfers this card to every new wallet.
Mr. Holder went on to Columbia Law School, and interned with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. His first job after graduation was with the DOJ, where a former colleague says he was smart and hard-working, and showed little of his current anti-white animus. Mr. Holder admits that his marriage to Sharon Malone pushed him towards radicalism. She explains it this way: “[H]e experienced a kinder, gentler version of the black experience;” she helped disillusion him.
After this first stint at DOJ, Mr. Holder spent four years as a judge in DC, where he sentenced an average of 30 black men to jail every week. It was during this period that he became convinced that racial preferences are essential for blacks. (In 2012, when he was asked when affirmative action should end, he replied: “The question is not when does it end, but when does it begin . . . . When do people of color truly get the benefits to which they are entitled?”)
Mr. Holder worked as a corporate lawyer for the firm of Covington and Burling for several years before returning to DOJ as deputy attorney general under President Clinton. This is when he began to show how unethical he could be. On January 20, 2001, in the last hours of his presidency, Mr. Clinton pardoned Marc Rich and his business partner Pincus Green. Both were swindlers who had fled the country, but Rich’s ex-wife had contributed more than a million dollars to the Democratic Party and had helped raise millions more. Mr. Clinton knew that his attorney general, Janet Reno, would not rubber stamp an underhanded political pardon, so he went to Mr. Holder. The deputy attorney general wrote a favorable opinion of the pardon without mentioning it to prosecutors, who would have been livid.
Mr. Holder worked behind Janet Reno’s back in exactly the same way to further Mr. Clinton’s similar last-minute pardon of 16 jailed Puerto Rican terrorists. They had killed six people and injured hundreds in more than 130 bombings in New York, Chicago, and other places as part of a campaign for Puerto Rican independence. Their pardons were delayed because some would not agree to renounce violence as part of the deal. Why did Mr. Clinton pardon these criminals? His wife Hillary was in a tough campaign to be senator from New York, and the pardons made her popular with Puerto Rican voters. Later the House voted 311-41, and the Senate 95-2, to condemn the pardons.
Most powerful law enforcement agency in the world
Now Eric Holder is the top man at DOJ, the largest, most powerful law enforcement agency in the world. DOJ includes the FBI, BATF (Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms), and DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), has 114,000 employees, and a budget of $27 billion. It has gained 9,000 employees during Mr. Holder’s tenure. DOJ ladles out hundreds of millions of dollars in grants to police departments, so it has great power over local law enforcement as well.
The authors of this book report that anyone familiar with the department will tell you that the most crazed part is the Civil Rights Division, which is supposed to enforce federal anti-discrimination laws. The division was established only in 1957 but now has 1,000 employees. In December 2000, after George W. Bush had won the presidential election, the division went on a hiring binge to bring in 90 radical lawyers to help weather the Republican storm. Even the director of human resources at the time said this kind of ideological packing was unprecedented and improper.
Since Mr. Holder has run the department, 56 percent of all the lawyers it has hired have come from just four lefty organizations: the ACLU, National Council of La Raza, NAACP, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights. Many of these lawyers make no secret of their view that anti-discrimination laws do not protect whites.
The division harasses and tries to sideline conservative or Republican lawyers. Robert Popper, who was the deputy head of the division and white, was repeatedly kept out of deliberations because he wanted to enforce the law in a racially neutral way. He resigned in 2013.
Christopher Coates, also white, was an experienced litigator who, in 2006, filed the first DOJ case charging blacks with suppressing the white vote (he got a conviction). He also prosecuted members of the New Black Panther Party who dressed up in uniforms, carried truncheons, and tried to scare whites away from polling stations in Philadelphia in 2008–intimidation that Democratic activist Bartle Bull called the most serious act of voter intimidation he had seen in his career. The case was headed for a near-certain conviction when the incoming Holder team called off the prosecution.
This caused a stink, and Congress asked Mr. Holder to explain the decision. He lied and said career employees rather than political appointees had halted the case. He also downplayed what the panthers had done, saying that comparing it to past voter intimidation in the South was “a great disservice to people who put their lives on the line for my people.” Even a few liberals were uncomfortable with an attorney general for whom “my people” means blacks. As for Mr. Coates, who had brought the suit, Mr. Holder met several times within DOJ to figure out how to get rid of him, and ended up making life so disagreeable for him that he resigned.
The head of the Civil Rights Division under Mr. Obama, Thomas Perez, specialized in “disparate impact” suits. These are based on the theory that a practice that is racially neutral can still be illegal if it tends to disadvantage non-whites, that is to say, has a “disparate impact” on them. Showing disparate impact is much easier than proving deliberate discrimination, and Mr. Perez forced many banks into expensive settlements because they were not willing to fight long court battles–but then insisted that a portion of their fines go to lefty organizations such as ACORN that have tormented banks for years. There is some question about the legality of forcing plaintiffs to give money to organizations that were not even parties to a suit. (Surprisingly, this book does not go into DOJ’s attempts to apply “disparate impact” to school discipline; DOJ issued guidelines on school discipline that essentially demanded punishment by racial quota.)
Mr. Perez, with encouragement from Mr. Holder, went to sordid lengths to keep the “disparate impact” argument on the books. In a 2011 deal with the city of St. Paul, he persuaded the city to withdraw a housing case that could have gone to the Supreme Court and weakened or even overturned the doctrine of disparate impact. In exchange, he offered to withdraw a different DOJ case that was on track to end in a $180 million fine for the city. This case was about a violation of the Federal False Claims Act, and was not even in Mr. Perez’s division. In other words, Mr. Perez put pressure on a different division within DOJ to give up a good chance at a conviction in exchange for St. Paul’s dropping a suit that could have jeopardized Mr. Perez’s favorite way to squeeze money out of whites. This kind of bargaining is so improper that he told his employees to hide all evidence of the deal, and he used his personal e-mail address for all correspondence about it.
In the end, Mr. Perez’s deviousness won only a few years of respite. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a different case that could scuttle disparate impact, at least as it relates to housing law.
Mr. Perez, who has since left the department, could find discrimination anywhere. He repeatedly told police and fire departments that if women or non-whites can’t meet physical fitness standards, the tests are biased and illegal. In 2013, the Civil Rights Division sent out letters to universities saying that it expected them to punish “any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature,” which could include asking for a date and being turned down. Polls show that voters of every race like voter ID laws, but the division charges every state that passes one with racial discrimination. Mr. Perez also tried to sue the Mohawk Central School District in upstate New York for preventing boys from wearing girls clothes and makeup, claiming this was sex discrimination. The department also threatened to sue Lesley University in Massachusetts for not having enough gluten free options in its cafeteria, which was alleged to violate the Americans with Disabilities Act–even though courts have found that food allergies are not a disability under this law.
In Kinston, North Carolina, 65 percent of the registered voters are black. In 2009, the city voted overwhelmingly to switch from partisan to non-partisan city elections. The Civil Rights Division brought a suit claiming, in effect, that this discriminated against black voters because without the Democratic label they wouldn’t know how to vote in their own interest. DOJ withdrew the suit when it became clear that Kinston was prepared to fight in court.
Another “civil rights” scandal has been the Pigford raid on treasury. In 1997, a black farmer named Timothy Pigford claimed he did not get a Department of Agriculture loan because he was black. This was doubtful case from the start, but a crazy federal judge turned it into a class-action suit that the Clinton administration cravenly settled. Black claimants could get $50,000 just for filling out a form, saying they had tried to farm and couldn’t make a go of it.
In 2007, after more than $1 billion had been paid out, then-senator Barack Obama sponsored a new bill to extend the filing deadline to 2008, and set aside another $1.25 billion for handouts–but Congress approved only an additional $100 million. Once he was president, Mr. Obama instructed Mr. Holder to settle what became known as Pigford II for $1.25 billion, and managed to persuade Congress to appropriate the money. There have now been more than 100,000 black claimants even though the 1997 census found only 18,500 black farmers in the whole country.
In 2010, Mr. Holder met with Hispanics who felt left out of the bonanza, and agreed to turn over an additional $1 billion to them, to women, and to American Indians under the same fill-in-a-form conditions. In the end, there was $400 million left over that had been earmarked for Indian farmers that nobody claimed. Instead of returning it to the treasury, the Obama administration handed it out to Indian non-profit groups.
Pigford is one of the most shameful capitulations in all of American race relations. Billions have now been splashed out on what amounts to outright fraud. American Renaissance was the first publication to write about Pigford in detail–back in 2001–and even the New York Times eventually described something of the extent of the scandal in 2013. To this day, no one has been punished for pushing so much tax money out the door. Mr. Obama and Mr. Holder clearly consider the money well spent.
Eric Holder’s antics in Ferguson, Missouri, came too late to be included in this book, but just as with George Zimmerman, his department spent thousands of man-hours looking for “racism” before deciding not to accuse Officer Darren Wilson of depriving Michael Brown of his civil rights. DOJ looks the other way when the perps are black. Last August, a group of black men shouted racial slurs and beat a 32-year-old white man into a coma, reportedly in retaliation for the shooting death of Michael Brown. Five months later, DOJ still can’t decide if this was a hate crime.
Obama’s Enforcer does not go into Mr. Holder’s immigration policies in any detail, but like Mr. Obama, he clearly believes that the Executive Branch can choose which laws it wants to enforce. DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is a policy of not enforcing immigration laws against illegal immigrants who were brought to America as minors. Mr. Obama’s latest executive amnesty similarly suspends law enforcement against illegals who are the parents of US citizens.
Mr. Holder claims this is simply prosecutorial discretion–the recognized right to refrain from prosecution in exceptional cases. As the authors of this book point out, that right applies only to individual cases, not to whole classes of offenders. By amnestying millions of criminals by executive order, Mr. Obama–with Mr. Holder’s active cooperation–is essentially vetoing a law he doesn’t like after it was passed by Congress and signed into law. This is a shameless violation of the separation of powers that would send liberals into a frenzy if Republicans tried it.
DOJ insiders recognize that the second-craziest division is the Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD), which acts more or less like an extension of Greenpeace. It seems to believe that the government should be able to take private without compensation if it is for “green” purposes such as hiking trails. ENRD has lost case after case–using the same empty arguments–but often gets its way simply by filing suit and scaring people into settling.
In one notorious case it sued the Gibson guitar company for allegedly illegally importing exotic wood for guitar fretboards. Gibson’s rival, Martin guitars, imported the same wood but ENRD left it alone. Gibson supports Republicans while Martin supports Democrats. Gibson now sells the “Government Series II Les Paul” guitar, which uses wood that was seized in one of the government’s frivolous raids.
The most pernicious thing ENRD does is called “sue and settle.” It gets a lefty environmental organization to bring a suit claiming that an environmental regulation is too lax. The Justice Department then refuses to defend the suit and settles on terms that make the regulations stricter. Between 2009 and 2012 the department did this more than 60 times. Collusive litigation of this kind rewrites environmental regulations without going through the usual of procedure of notifying the public, seeking comments, and working out compromises. These are backroom deals that completely freeze out the public–in particular, the companies being regulated.
Mr. Obama came into office promising unprecedented transparency. What the country got instead was what the veteran New York Times Washington correspondent David Sanger calls “the most closed, control-freak administration I’ve ever covered.” The administration is obsessed with secrecy, and Mr. Obama’s Justice Department has started more investigations of government leaks than every other administration combined.
The best-known case was against Fox News reporter James Rosen. Mr. Rosen persuaded a State Department contractor to give him information that he included in a 2009 article about how US intelligence agencies thought the North Koreans would react to UN condemnation of its nuclear program. Mr. Holder approved covert monitoring of Mr. Rosen as a “criminal co-conspirator,” and then denied he had done so. The contractor went to jail for passing along the information–his prosecution was seen as outrageous overreach by many–but Mr. Rosen was universally seen as merely doing his job as a reporter. Even the very liberal Jill Abramson, who used to run the New York Times, said the administration “has moved beyond protecting government secrets to threatening fundamental freedoms of the press to gather news.”
At the same time, the administration deliberately leaked information it thought would show it in a good light. It slipped secrets to journalists about the Stuxnet virus it sent to Iran to sabotage attempts to enrich uranium, in the hope that this would defuse criticism that Mr. Obama was not standing up to the Iranians. DOJ conveniently looked the other way.
The department threatened to prosecute a former SEAL for his first-hand account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, but leaked confidential details about the raid to the people making the movie Zero Dark Thirty. Incorrigibly lefty commentator Maureen Dowd had to conclude that these leaks were to “give a home-stretch boost” to Obama’s tough 2012 reelection campaign.
The Office of Legal Counsel within the Justice Department is supposed to give objective legal advice to the attorney general, but Mr. Holder has turned it into a cheerleader for whatever policies he wants to pursue. For example, he packed it with yes-men who said Congress could legally pass a law to give the District of Columbia a voting representative in Congress.
The standard view has always been that only states can send representative to Congress, and since DC is not a state, this would require a constitutional amendment. Such an amendment was actually passed by Congress in 1977 but was not ratified by enough states. Mr. Holder’s Office of Legal Counsel astonished observers by giving their legal blessing to a proposed law that would have given DC a representative (who would certainly have been a Democrat). The bill passed the Senate in 2009 but died in the House.
The Supreme Court has repeatedly slapped down Mr. Holder’s power grabs. In most administrations, the department wins about 70 percent of the cases before the Supreme Court; Mr. Holder’s department has a losing record and has lost at least nine cases 9-0–even with Obama appointees Elena Kagen and Sonia Sotomayor on the court. In one such case, Mr. Holder wanted the right to accuse churches of religious discrimination if they required that employees–including ministers–be of a particular religion. In another case, he wanted the right to put a GPS tracker on any private car, at any time, for any reason, without a warrant. Another 9-0 loss was an attempt to abolish the statute of limitations for certain crimes. In all these cases, Mr. Holder was seeking illegitimate federal power.
Nothing, however, has gotten Mr. Holder in as much trouble as the absurd blunder known as Fast and Furious. Ever since the Clinton administration, Democrats have been trying to persuade us that most of the guns used in Mexican drug violence are smuggled in from the United States; this would be another argument for gun control. The authors of Obama’s Enforcer say that only 17 percent of illegal guns in Mexico come from the US, with the rest come from Central America and from corrupt Mexican military sources.
Whatever the case, the idea behind Fast and Furious was to “walk guns:” deliberately permit straw purchases by people who would smuggle guns into Mexico. The ATF told several big Arizona retailers that even if they suspected people were gun runners they should sell then guns anyway. The plan was to track the serial numbers and build up gun-crime cases against kingpins. It’s not clear how this could work even in theory, since the ATF did not tell the Mexican authorities about the plan.
Guns started “walking” into Mexico in November 2009, for an eventual total of about 2,000 weapons, including a few .50 caliber sniper rifles. The only reason we know about Fast and Furious is because a whistle blower in the ATF got sick of seeing guns go south. The scandal really blew up in December 2010 when a border patrol officer named Brian Terry was killed with a Fast and Furious weapon.
Congress launched an investigation, but DOJ did everything possible to keep the facts secret. At one point it sent a letter to Congress flatly denying any guns had been “walked,” but had to retract that falsehood. In a hearing before Congress, Mr. Holder lied about when he learned about Fast and Furious, and refused to turn over DOJ documents. Barack Obama stepped in and claimed executive privilege over the documents; this was the only time he ever made such a claim. In the summer of 2012, the House, including 17 Democrats, voted to hold Mr. Holder in contempt of Congress, a first for a sitting cabinet member. Mr. Holder would not budge, and by the end of 2012, 130 Republican congressmen demanded that he resign.
Both Mr. Obama’s claim of executive privilege and the contempt charge against Mr. Holder are the subject of continuing litigation. In November 2014, after Obama’s Enforcer went to press, DOJ dumped 64,000 pages of Fast and Furious documents into Congress’s lap in what–depending on their content–could end the litigation if not the scandal. A first pass through them confirms that one of the aims of the program indeed was to supply a pretext for gun-control legislation by “proving” that American weapons kill Mexicans. “Walked” guns continue to show up at Mexican murder scenes, and they have not helped convict a single kingpin.
Obama’s Enforcer is full of other examples of Mr. Holder’s misbehavior, much of which he has gotten away with, but some of which has been stopped by federal judges. A few have written scathing opinions. One wrote that DOJ’s trumped-up charges against anti-abortion activist Angel Dillard were “fatally flawed” and “speculation piled on top of speculation.” Judge Richard Leon said the department’s behavior in a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act case had been “sharp practices that have no place in a federal courtroom.”
In a civil rights case against police officers who had shot at blacks after Hurricane Katrina, Judge Kurt Engelhardt threw out the convictions, accusing DOJ of “grotesque prosecutorial abuse,” “skullduggery,” and “perfidy.” The judge also said that the department had used “shockingly coercive tactics against defense witnesses.” Eric Holder himself had announced the case with much fanfare but was mum about the final outcome.
These checks on Mr. Holder’s unscrupulousness and duplicity have come from the branch of government that still occasionally shows some respect for the rule of law, but for how much longer? Corrupt judges can find legal justification for virtually anything, and as Mr. Obama loads the bench with non-white toadies, we can expect creative jurisprudence.
Mercifully, Mr. Holder is on his way out. His replacement is likely to be Loretta Lynch, another Ivy-League black lawyer, who has already earned the ire of anyone who cares about the separation of powers by announcing that she thinks Mr. Obama’s executive amnesty is within the law. However, her earlier career as a federal prosecutor does not appear to have been marked by the kind of deceit and corner-cutting so typical of the current attorney general.
Mr. Holder is an example of where–at the margins–Republicans are actually distinguishable from Democrats. This is not to say that Republicans take principled positions against illegal power grabs, subversion of the Constitution, or trampling the law for political gain. When they have power they are about as likely to abuse it as Democrats, but at least they are less likely to subject whites to outright racial plunder.