Attorney General Eric Holder's lies and half-truths in the "Fast and Furious" aftermath are nothing new. A look at the past shows a long history of dishonesty and disdain for the truth and the law
By Dave Kopel
Is Attorney General Eric Holder telling the truth about "Operation Fast and Furious"?
While the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was spending a year and a half supplying weapons to Mexican drug cartels, did he really have no idea what was going on?
Although documentary evidence strongly indicates that Holder’s Department of Justice has engaged in a cover-up of “Fast and Furious” in order to protect Holder/Obama appointees, is Holder actually innocent?
Any time you have to judge a person’s veracity, it is important to take into account that person’s prior record of honesty or dishonesty. That a person has often lied in the past does not necessarily mean he is lying today. But considering Eric Holder’s established record of dishonesty and dissimulation, there is absolutely no reason to take him at his word on “Fast and Furious” today.
A “Forgetful” Nature
Holder has recently claimed that racism is one reason he is being criticized for “Operation Fast and Furious.” While there is no evidence to support his claim, there is plentiful evidence that Holder himself perverts law enforcement for racist and other purposes.
Prior to serving as attorney general for President Barack Obama, Holder served as deputy attorney general for President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno. In that capacity, he helped lead what the White House called its “all-out offensive on guns” in 2000.
He had other duties as well, among them responsibility for making recommendations for presidential pardons. Among the most notorious was for the fugitive plutocrat Marc Rich.
Beginning in the 1980s, the U.S. Department of Justice began 15 years of attempting to dismantle Marc Rich’s criminal empire. Among Rich’s crimes was illegally violating the U.S. embargo against Iran, funneling money to the Iranian tyrants while they were holding Americans hostage.
In 1983, Rich was indicted for violating the Iran embargo and for $48 million in tax evasion. At the time it was the biggest federal tax fraud indictment ever. He was in Switzerland at the time, and refused to return to the United States to face charges. He promptly earned a spot on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list.
In 1995, Holder was the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, in charge of all federal civil and criminal cases being brought in the District. Holder sued a company, Clarendon Ltd., whose previous name had been “Marc Rich & Company International.” Being controlled by a fugitive, the company was ineligible for government contracts, but Rich’s involvement was concealed so that Clarendon could win federal contracts to provide metal to the U.S. Mint.
After being sued by Holder’s office, Clarendon agreed in April 1995 to pay the government $1.2 million. The company admitted that it should have disclosed “Rich’s substantial indirect ownership.”
Holder’s office immediately sent out press releases bragging about Holder’s big victory against Marc Rich. As reported in the Wall Street Journal on April 13, 1995, “U.S. Attorney Eric Holder said the agreement ends an investigation into the company’s contracts to supply $45 million in coinage metal to the U.S. Mint.”
In the meantime, while Marc Rich was living in Europe as a fugitive from justice, his ex-wife, Denise Rich, was donating lavishly to the Clinton presidential library, the Hillary Clinton Senate campaign and to other Democrats.
Denise Rich made the brilliant move of hiring Jack Quinn to lobby for Marc Rich. Quinn, formerly Clinton’s White House counsel, happened to be very close to Vice President Al Gore. It was also common knowledge that Holder wanted to be attorney general if Gore won the 2000 election.
So in 1999, Quinn approached Holder on behalf of Rich. Two years later, when Congress made Holder testify under oath about the Rich pardon, Holder said that when Quinn asked Holder to help Rich, “Mr. Rich’s name was unfamiliar to me.”
Of course, those words are very hard to believe in light of Holder’s efforts a few years before in touting himself for his lawsuit that exposed Rich’s secret control of Clarendon.
Supposedly not knowing anything about Marc Rich, Deputy Attorney General Holder contacted the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York City and attempted to get them to settle their criminal case against Rich for a deal that would involve no prison time. The New York office refused.
The next approach was to try to get a presidential pardon for Rich. Normally, a pardon for Rich would have been impossible. The U.S. Department of Justice has a long-established rule that it will not consider pardon requests for fugitives.
Normally, when a convict requests a pardon, the Department of Justice headquarters in D.C. solicits input from the U.S. Attorney’s Office that handled the prosecution. In the Rich criminal case, that was the Office for the Southern District of New York. The New York office was fiercely opposed to a pardon for Rich, and could have provided the D.C. headquarters with a thorough explanation of the scope and magnitude of Rich’s misdeeds.
Telling Quinn that the New York prosecutors would “howl” if they found out that Rich was seeking a pardon, Holder told Quinn to submit the pardon request directly to the White House, thereby keeping the New York prosecutors unaware. As a House committee later found, Holder was a “willing participant in the plan to keep the Justice Department from knowing about and opposing” the pardon.
Holder’s written memo to President Clinton about the Rich pardon was based almost entirely on information provided by Rich’s own lawyer.
President Clinton waited until his last day in office to announce all his pardons. The Rich pardon immediately became a public controversy, and so in February 2011 the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee conducted an investigative hearing. The House Government Operations Committee also called Holder to testify under oath.
As with Holder’s 2010-2011 testimony on “Fast and Furious,” the core of his defense was that he had little, if any, idea what was going on.
He told Congress that at the time when he pushed the pardon, and circumvented the New York prosecutors, he had “gained only a passing familiarity with the underlying facts of the Rich case.”
The U.S. House Government Operations Committee presumed that Holder was telling the truth under oath. Thus, the committee reported that the “sum total” of Holder’s “knowledge about Rich came from a page of talking points provided to him by Jack Quinn in 2000.” The committee declared Holder’s conduct “unconscionable.”
Playing The Race Card
At least Holder did not claim that people who criticized his conduct in the Rich pardon were racist. Yet he did recently make that charge against people who criticize him for “Operation Fast and Furious.”
In a December 2011 interview with The New York Times, Holder said that the “more extreme segment” of his current critics are against him because he is black: “This is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him. Both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American.”
Unfortunately, The New York Times did not ask any follow-up questions to Holder’s outrageous assertions. More than any other major newspaper, The New York Times treated the Holder DOJ’s malfeasance, including “Fast and Furious,” as if the newspaper were a public relations firm for Holder.
A more serious interviewer might have asked some follow-up questions, such as, “Who, specifically, do you think is criticizing you because of your race?” Or, “The National Rifle Association has criticized you and has previously criticized President Clinton’s attorney general, Janet Reno, who is white. Does this suggest that your most influential critics are not motivated by race?”
The odd thing about Holder playing the race card is that Holder himself, as attorney general, has established a record of race-based law enforcement.
Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in his confirmation hearing, Holder said, “I think in some ways you can measure the success of an attorney general’s tenure by how the Civil Rights Division has done.”
The racism and dishonesty of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division under Eric Holder’s control prompted civil rights attorney Christian Adams to go public and quit. His new book, Injustice: Exposing the Racial Agenda of the Obama Justice Department, blows the whistle on how Holder’s Civil Rights Division is opposed to equal and fair enforcement of the law, and rather tolerant of election fraud—as long as the right people are doing the fraud. Another former Civil Rights Division attorney, Hans von Spakovsky, who is now a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, has also written extensively about malfeasance at the Holder DOJ.
On Election Day 2008, some members of a racist group called the New Black Panther Party showed up at polls in Philadelphia, frightening white voters and poll watchers. Among the thugs was King Samir Shabazz, brandishing a nightstick.
Over strong objections from DOJ prosecutors, Holder’s team at DOJ ordered that the New Black Panther cases be dismissed, after the prosecutors had already won convictions.
Trying to justify the dismissals, on July 13, 2009, Assistant Attorney General Ron Weich sent a letter to Congress about the New Black Panther case. The letter said that the case against one of the Panthers was dismissed because he “was a resident of the apartment building where the polling place was located.” To the contrary, the man did not live there. He was not hanging around the polling place because he just happened to be in his own building.
Weich, incidentally, sent another false letter to Congress in February 2011, insisting that the government had never permitted “gun walking.” (That’s the term for guns being acquired and transported by known criminals who were not kept under surveillance, as in “Fast and Furious.”)
Like the gun-walking letter, the Weich letter about the Panther case was later retracted when its falsehood was exposed.
When Congress and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights opened investigations of the New Black Panther dismissals, Holder blocked DOJ employees from complying with subpoenas to testify.
Fraud At The Polls
One part of the Civil Rights Division is the Voting Rights Section, whose job is to enforce federal laws that protect the right to vote and that prevent voting fraud. Among those laws is Section 8 of the Motor Voter Act—the law requires that states remove from the voting rolls dead people, felons who are ineligible to vote and people who have moved away.
The importance of Section 8 is obvious. The votes of genuine voters are diluted when impersonators illegally vote under the name of a dead person or of a person who no longer lives in the area. In a close election, impersonators can change the result.
In some places the problem is quite serious. For example, in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, the number of people on the voter rolls is 18 percent greater than the number of adult citizens who live in the parish. Four other Louisiana parishes have similar problems. (A parish in Louisiana is equivalent to a county.)
Yet in November 2009, then-Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes held a luncheon at which she announced to the Voting Rights Section that the Holder DOJ had “no interest” in enforcing Section 8. As she put it, “We are only interested in laws which increase turnout.”
During 2009, the head of the Voting Rights Section, Chris Coates, attempted to initiate investigations in eight states that apparently were violating Section 8 by keeping large numbers of ineligible persons on the voting rolls. Every one of those potential investigations was squashed by Obama/Holder appointees in the DOJ.
Holder’s team also told Coates that when he was interviewing DOJ job applicants, he could not ask them if they would enforce laws fairly, without regard to the victim’s race.
Appropriately, the Holder DOJ has investigated some cases of voter fraud, such as falsified absentee ballots—when the fraud is alleged to take place in white majority counties. In black majority counties, the Holder DOJ appears more reluctant to enforce the law. Even when Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman sent the DOJ proof of ongoing vote fraud in Hale County, Ala., Holder ignored her plea to send federal election monitors.
Another very low priority in the Holder DOJ is enforcing the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, which protects the voting rights of military personnel. The 2009 law requires that states send absentee ballots to military voters at least 45 days before an election and that every military installation have a voter registration office. The DOJ did not even get around to telling military installations about this requirement until after the 2010 election was over.
As Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, wrote, “Leading up to the 2010 mid-terms, we could see that DOJ enforcement was not what Congress intended—and not what our troops deserved. … If DOJ spent as much time and effort enforcing the … Act as they did trying to get convicted felons back on the voter rolls, thousands of military voters might have gotten their ballots on time.”
In the upcoming 2012 election, the Supreme Court, and therefore the Second Amendment, hangs in the balance. With a billion dollars of campaign funds, President Obama will be a formidable candidate.
Should the election come down to a few close states, it is possible that the election could be determined by a few hundred or a few thousand votes. With the Holder Department of Justice so obviously tolerant of voter fraud, election participation by pro-Constitution activists will be all the more important—so that the margin of victory for pro-rights candidates is greater than the amount of fraudulent “votes” that may be recorded for the anti-rights ones.
To read more articles from the March issue of America's 1st Freedom, click here.