Eric Holder is a liability to President Obama and our country

06/08/2013 5:00 PM

06/08/2013 5:24 PM

It’s time for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to resign.

If you think this is a far-right drumbeat, directed by Fox News, think again. His potential ouster has gone mainstream.

The headline on the front page of last Sunday’s New York Times says it all: “As Holder Faces Latest Uproar, Speculation About His Future.”

And as The Times intimated in the article, it is not only conservatives who want him to go.

“some in the West Wing privately wish he would step down, viewing him as politically maladroit,” said The Times.

The Times went on to say, “Over the course of four and a half years, no other member of President Obama’s cabinet has been at the center of so many polarizing episodes or the target of so much fire.”

Indeed, polls show that 42 percent of Americans think Holder should resign. It’s hardly a crackpot idea.

But I didn’t need The New York Times or a poll to draw my own conclusion. Holder is a liability to the Obama administration and a liability to our country.

He showed his true colors early on when he pushed to reopen an investigation of the Central Intelligence Agency interrogators of terror suspects. They had already been exonerated by an independent investigation. Holder wasn’t satisfied. He wanted an indictment, which fortunately went nowhere.

Holder’s next misstep was attempting to try 9/11 alleged terrorists, such as mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, in a civilian court in Manhattan. What poor judgment. These virulent enemies of the United States could easily be found innocent on some sort of technicality in a civilian court, only to return to their homelands to wreak more destruction on the U.S., which they despise.

Of course, there also was “Fast and Furious,” a botched gun-trafficking plot from 2006-2011 by federal agents in Arizona to sell firearms to leaders of Mexican drug cartels, a plan which badly backfired. It was on Holder’s watch that this fiasco occurred, although it was undoubtedly a rogue operation that Holder knew nothing about. However, Holder’s refusal to turn over key information relating to this effort earned him a “Contempt of Congress” citation, with a House vote of 255-67, including 17 Democrats.

All those episodes together, however, do not add up to a fraction of the harm Holder’s Justice Department has done by the secret tracking of the phone records of writers and editors for The Associated Press and Fox reporter James Rosen.

To uncover the source of leaks, the top law enforcement agency in the United States violated the First Amendment in a most grotesque fashion.

They went after whistle-blowers under the Espionage Act.

Rosen, whose search warrant was signed off on by Holder, was treated as a common criminal. Indeed, James Goodale, a First Amendment lawyer, who was chief counsel for The New York Times during the Pentagon Papers, said, “Holder should resign for his role in the James Rosen case.”

But Holder testified before the House Judiciary Committee he knew nothing about it. The House is beckoning Holder to return and address this apparent discrepancy.

For the time being, the Obama administration is circling the wagons to protect its attorney general under siege.

But Holder’s controversies are distracting a nation, which should be focusing on key issues, such as the economy, health care and immigration.

More important, his actions — particularly in his spying on reporters’ records — do grave damage to our system of justice in this country, as well as to a free press.

Holder is now trying to mollify the press with off-the-record discussions, as well as tightening regulations in the Justice Department to protect journalists. But it is too little, too late.

Holder would be doing his president and the nation a great favor by tendering his resignation sooner, rather than later.

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