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A Backroom Deal?

Eric Holder, who came under fire for his role in controversial Clinton era pardons, waltzed through the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 17-2 vote. That’s a bit mystifying until you read this report:

President Obama’s choice to run the Justice Department has assured senior Republican senators that he won’t prosecute intelligence officers or political appointees who were involved in the Bush administration’s policy of “enhanced interrogations.”

Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond, a Republican from Missouri and the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in an interview with The Washington Times that he will support Eric H. Holder Jr.’s nomination for Attorney General because Mr. Holder assured him privately that Mr. Obama’s Justice Department will not prosecute former Bush officials involved in the interrogations program.

Mr. Holder’s promise apparently was key to moving his nomination forward. Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 17-2 to favorably recommend Holder for the post. He is likely to be confirmed by the Senate soon.

The ACLU and others on the Left will be apoplectic. They will be denied their witch hunt. But in one sense you can’t blame them for their ire. This is how the Obama team announces a controversial and major policy decision — in a hush-hush conversation with Senate Republicans?

As for the Republicans, they are, quite frankly, foolish if they voted for Holder on this basis. Did they really imagine that President Obama would take a different course with another nominee? If the President decided to forgo the political firestorm, and the ugly precedent entailed in criminally investigating the previous administration, you can bet he would reach the same conclusion regardless of who was heading the Justice Department.

As for Holder, the Republicans never pressed him on his misleading and arguably false testimony regarding his familiarity with Marc Rich. He never recognized the horrendous judgment in the decision to pardon 16 FALN terrorists. If that isn’t lowering the bar for future attorneys general, I don’t know what is. And Alberto Gonzales deserves one heck of an apology if the “real” standard for truth telling and politicization of the Justice Department is quite a bit more lenient than the one to which he was subjected.


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