And its not even Mr. Holder’s improprieties in connection with fugitive fraud artist Mark Rich. But they are plenty bad. Here was a man accused of big-time crimes including millions in fraud, tax evasion, and trading with America enemies. Mr. Rich was a fugitive for two decades, which is a felony in itself. But Mr. Holder improperly took the Rich pardon out of U.S. Justice Department channels, violating the laws and procedures he was sworn to uphold, but also dealt with someone who was committing a serious federal crime by representing Mr. Rich in the pardon process.
A lawyer who served in the Justice Department and was familiar first-hand with some of Mr. Holder’s pardon improprieties, Andrew C. McCarthy of National Review Online, wrote as follows: “The Marc Rich pardon was one of the most disgraceful chapters in the history of the Justice Department. Not the modern history, the entire history.” (And as we shall see, that disgrace was only an opening act, for what is far worse.)
There’s more on the Rich matter, and it incredibly keeps getting worse: First, Mr. Holder apparently engineered the pardon to gain the favor of Rich’s attorney, a former White House Attorney, who had close ties to Al Gore. Mr. Holder was apparently maneuvering to become Attorney General in the Gore Administration (Mr. Gore was a candidate for president when this process started). Mr. Holder provided invaluable help to Mr. Rich’s attorney by overcoming White House objections to this disgraceful pardon.
Yes, and it keeps getting worse: “And the cherry on top. The scenario in which Mr. Holder’s sell-out of Justice Department principles took place was scummy in every particular; multi-millionaire Mr. Rich’s ex-wife and staunchest supporter, Denise Rich, was making mega-bucks donations to the Clinton causes (according to Time, $400,000 to the Clinton Library Fund, $10,000 to the Clinton Legal Defense Fund, and more than $1 million to Democrat campaigns during the Clinton era — including $70,000 for the 2000 senate campaign of Hillary Clinton, now pick for secretary of state).
As bad as that is, it gets far worse. Mr. Holder was instrumental in pardoning 18 terrorists, up to their eyeballs in the blood of innocents and with nothing to justify any clemency and other consideration. Mr. Holder was not only instrumental in arranging their pardons, but also used improper means and went outside of the standard protective procedures of the Justice Department to get the pardons. It was technically a commutation, giving them freedom on the basis of time already served.
First, there is the pardon of Weather Underground terrorists, Susan Rosenberg and Linda Sue Evans. The author of the article so damning to Mr. Holder was written for the National Review Online by Andrew C. McCarthy who handled the Rosenberg case, as a Federal prosecutor in the Southern Division of New Jersey.
Mr. McCarthy’s office had indicted Ms. Rosenberg for the infamous Brinks robbery, in which the Weather Underground and the Black Liberation Army, killed two New York state troopers and a security guard. She wasn’t tried, as she became a fugitive from justice. When she was finally captured, she was in possession of a small arsenal and was plotting to blow up more government offices and kill more innocent people.
As an aside, Mr. Obama’s friends and associates, William Ayres and Bernadyn Dohrn, were both terrorist leaders of the Weather Underground. At her trial, Ms. Rosenberg tried to turn it into a circus. She claimed she was a political prisoner and urged her supporters to continue the war against the U.S. She expressed no remorse. Her brazen barbarism moved the federal judge to sentence her to a 58-year term and to recommend against parole. The Brinks murders weren’t prosecuted, as Ms.Rosenberg was thought to already be put away for 58 years.
Despite all this, her barbaric record as an unrepentant terrorist and murderer of law enforcement personnel, Mr. Clinton commuted Ms. Rosenberg’s sentence to time served so she was freed. He also commuted the 40-year sentence of Ms. Rosenberg’s co-conspirator, Linda Sue Evans, who at the time of her arrest was plotting to bomb the U.S. Capitol. The pardon of these two terrorists was made possible by Mr. Holder’s encouragement, to cut the Justice Department out of the consideration as well as federal attorney. Those most familiar with the cases opposed the pardons.
And the pardon of terrorists gets worse. Mr. Clinton, with Mr. Holder’s support, commuted the sentences of 16 terrorists from the FALN. Mr. McCarthy writes, “The pardons violated the most basic Justice Department guidelines. This savage Puerto Rican separatist group had carried out over 130 bombings against American targets, murdering six people and wounding numerous others. As one operative brayed to her sentencing judge, ‘You say we have no remorse. You’re right … Your jails and your long sentences will not frighten us.’ FALN terrorists were not simply devoid of regret, they had not even sought clemency — the rudimentary demonstration of contrition that DOJ regulations require before clemency may even be considered.”
Despite the record, Mr. Holder processed the application and ignored their victims, including Joseph Connor, whose father was eating lunch in Frauces Tavern when he was killed by FALN explosives. The FBI, including FBI Director Louis Freeh, and the involved prosecutors opposed any clemency for the FALN terrorists. But Mr. Holder still supported clemency for the terrorists and that gave Mr. Clinton cover to commute their sentences and free them.
What are the lessons of this disgraceful chapter in Messrs. Clinton and Holder history? First, if you have enough money, you can buy your way out of anything. Second, even 18 terrorists who slaughter innocent Americans take notice — we’ll play ball with you if there is political advantage for us. At the time Mrs. Clinton was running for the Senate, and the FALN clemency was thought to buy her votes of Puerto Ricans.
So in the period when Americans were still being slaughtered by terrorists — e.g., 17 American sailors murdered by al-Qaeda during their bombing of the U.S.S. Cole and hundreds were killed at the bombing of U.S. embassies in Africa — Messrs. Clinton and Holder were granting clemency to unrepentant terrorists who had American blood all over their hands. Making it even worse, Messrs. Clinton and Holder used, what Mr. McCarthy calls, “a private emissary detour around Justice Department protocols that Eric Holder knew about and, far from objecting to, supported.”
Mr. Holder, for reasons documented in this column, (and other reasons as well) is not fit to be the top law enforcement officer of the U.S. We don’t need an Attorney General who facilities the freeing of terrorists who have murdered hundreds of innocents. And our Senators should vigorously oppose this nomination. Start writing, calling and e-mailing them. We don’t want a friend and facilitator of terrorists as our chief law enforcement officer. And if President Obama wants to do as he says, “Restore trust in government,” this is a bad start.
Herb Denenberg is a former Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commissioner, and professor at the Wharton School. He is a longtime Philadelphia journalist and consumer advocate. He is also a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of the Sciences. His column appears daily in The Bulletin. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.