Attorney General Eric Holder: If the President Does It, It’s Legal
by John W. Whitehead
by John W. Whitehead: The
War Against Bradley Manning – A War Against All Who Speak Out Against Injustice
early days of our republic, the Attorney General (AG) of the United
States has served as the chief lawyer for the government, entrusted
with ensuring that the nation's laws are faithfully carried out
and holding government officials accountable to abiding by their
oaths of office to "uphold and defend the Constitution."
far from holding government officials accountable to abiding by
the rule of law, the attorneys general of each successive administration
have increasingly aided and abetted the Executive Branch in skirting
and, more often than not, flouting the law altogether, justifying
all manner of civil liberties and human rights violations and trampling
the Constitution in the process, particularly the Fourth Amendment.
example is there of the perversion of the office of the AG than
its current occupant Eric Holder, who was appointed by President
Obama in 2009. Hailed by civil liberties and watchdog groups alike
for his pledge to "reverse the disastrous course that we have
been on over the past few years" and usher in a new era of
civil liberties under Obama, Holder has instead carried on the sorry
tradition of his predecessors, going to great lengths to "justify"
egregious government actions that can only be described as immoral,
unjust and illegal.
are just some of the highlights of the dangerous philosophies embraced
and advanced by Holder and his Justice Department.
can detain anyone, including American citizens, it deems a threat
to the country. Not only has the DOJ persisted in defending
a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act that sanctions
indefinite detentions of Americans, but it has also blasted the
federal judge who ruled the NDAA to be vague and chilling as overstepping
the court's authority and infringing on Obama's power to act as
Commander in Chief.
kill lists and drone killings are fine as long as the president
thinks someone might have terrorist connections. Holder
has gone to great lengths to defend Obama's use of drones to target
and kill American citizens, even on U.S. soil, as legally justifiable.
In fact, a leaked DOJ memo suggests that the President has the power
to murder any American citizen the world over, so long as he has
a feeling that they might, at some point in the future,
pose a threat to the United States.
government has the right to seize the private property cash,
real estate, cars and other assets of those suspected of
being "connected" to criminal activity, whether or not
the suspect is actually guilty. The government actually collects
billions of dollars every year through this asset-forfeiture system,
which it frequently divvies up with local law enforcement officials,
a practice fully supported by the DOJ.
electronic surveillance of Americans' telephone, email and Facebook
accounts is not only permissible but legal. According to court
documents, more Americans have had their electronic communications
spied on as a result of DOJ orders for phone, email and Internet
information 40,000 people alone in 2011 and that doesn't
even begin to take into account agencies outside Holder's purview,
terrorism investigations or requests by state and local law enforcement
and judicial process are not the same. In one of his earliest
attempts to justify targeted assassinations of American citizens
by the president, Holder declared in a March 5, 2012 speech at the
Northwestern University School of Law that "The Constitution
guarantees due process, not judicial process." What Holder
was attempting to suggest is that the Fifth Amendment's assurance
that "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property
without due process of law" does not necessarily involve having
one's day in court and all that that entails it simply means
that someone, the president for example, should review and be satisfied
by the facts before ordering someone's death.
whistleblowers will be bankrupted, blacklisted, blackballed and
in some cases banished. As AG, Holder has reportedly prosecuted
more government officials for alleged leaks than all his predecessors
combined. Relying on the World War I-era Espionage Act, the DOJ
has launched an all-out campaign to roust out, prosecute, and imprison
government whistleblowers for exposing government corruption, incompetence,
transparency is important unless government officials are busy,
can stonewall, redact, obfuscate or lie about the details, are able
to make the case that they are exempt from disclosure or that it
interferes with national security. As Slate reports,
"President Obama promised transparency and open government.
He failed miserably." Not only has Holder proven to be far
less transparent than any of his predecessors, however, but his
DOJ has done everything in its power to block access to information.
comes to Wall Street, justice is not blind. As revealed in
a PBS Frontline report, the Obama administration has driven
federal prosecutions of financial crimes down to a two-decade low,
buoyed in its blindness to corporate corruption by campaign donations
from Wall Street banks (whom Holder has determined are too big to
prosecute anyhow) and staffers whose lucrative financial portfolios
came about as a result of chummy relationships with financiers.
suspects should have the right to remain silent. In 2010, Holder
began floating the idea that Miranda rights which require
that a suspect be informed of his right to remain silent
should be modified depending on the circumstances. Curiously, the
Supreme Court is presently reviewing a case addressing a similar
question, namely whether a suspect's silence equates to an admission
not the Constitution that Eric Holder is safeguarding but the power
of the presidency. Without a doubt, Holder has taken as his mantra
Nixon's mantra that "When the President does it, that means
it is not illegal." It may be that the time has come to create
a "non-political" and "independent" Attorney
General, one who would serve the interests of the public by upholding
the rule of law rather than justifying the whims of the President.
attorney and author John W. Whitehead [send
him mail] is founder and president of The
Rutherford Institute. He is the author of The
Change Manifesto (Sourcebooks).
© 2013 The Rutherford Institute
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