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Friday, January 16, 2009

Who is Eric Himpton Holder, Jr



Who is Eric Himpton Holder, Jr.? He is a former Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, United States Attorney and Deputy Attorney General of the United States. He is currently a senior legal advisor to President Barack Obama, a position he also held in Obama's campaign. He was one of three members of Obama's vice-presidential selection committee.
On December 1, 2008, Obama announced that Holder would be his nominee for Attorney General in the incoming administration. If confirmed, he will be the first African-American Attorney General of the United States.

Eric H. Holder, Jr. was born January 21, 1951, in the The Bronx borough of New York City,[1] to parents with roots in Barbados;[2] Holder's father, Eric Himpton Holder, Sr. (1905 – 1970)[3] was born in Saint Joseph, Barbados, arrived in the United States at the age of 11.[4] He later became a real estate broker. His mother, Miriam, was born in New Jersey, while his maternal grandparents were immigrants from Saint Philip, Barbados.[4] Holder grew up in East Elmhurst, Queens and attended public school until the age of 10. When entering the 4th grade he was selected to participate in a program for intellectually-gifted students.[5] He went on to attend Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan[6] and attended Columbia University, where he played freshman basketball and was co-captain of his team and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in American history in 1973. Holder received his Juris Doctor (J.D.) from Columbia Law School, graduating in 1976. He worked for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund during his first summer and the United States Attorney during his second summer.[5]

After graduating from law school, Holder joined the U.S. Justice Department's new Public Integrity Section during an interval lasting from 1976 to 1988. During his time there, he assisted in the prosecution of Democratic Congressman John Jenrette for bribery discovered in the Abscam sting operation.[7] In 1988, President Ronald Reagan appointed Holder to serve on the Bench as a Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.[8] Holder stepped down from the bench in 1993 to accept an appointment for U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia from President Bill Clinton. He was the first African-American U.S. Attorney in that office.[5] At the beginning of his tenure, he oversaw the conclusion of the corruption case against Dan Rostenkowski, part of the Congressional Post Office Scandal.[7] He was a U.S. Attorney until his elevation to Deputy Attorney General in 1997.

In 1997, upon the spring retirement of Jamie Gorelick, Clinton nominated Holder to be the next Deputy Attorney General under Janet Reno. Holder was confirmed several months later in the Senate by a unanimous vote.[9] During his confirmation hearing, Holder's opposition to the death penalty was questioned, but he pledged his intention to cooperate with the current laws and Attorney General Janet Reno, saying, "I am not a proponent of the death penalty, but I will enforce the law as this Congress gives it to us."[10] Holder was the first African-American to serve in that position.[5] Holder briefly served as Acting Attorney General under President George W. Bush, until the Senate confirmed Bush's nominee, John Ashcroft.[11]

Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder opened an Interagency Working Group meeting of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders hosted by the Department of Justice on October 18, 2000.
As Deputy Attorney General, Holder advised Reno about how far to go in the Justice Department's use of the Independent Counsel statute. Ultimately, Reno made the fateful decision to permit Kenneth Starr to expand his investigation into the Lewinsky affair, indirectly leading to Clinton's impeachment.[5]
In his final days with the Clinton administration, Holder was involved with Clinton's last-minute pardon of fugitive and Democratic contributor Marc Rich. Between November 2000 and January 2001, Jack Quinn, Rich's lawyer and former White House Counsel from 1995-96, had been contacting Holder, testing the waters for the political viability of a presidential pardon. After presenting his case to Holder in a November phone call and a last minute January 17th letter, Quinn arranged a phone call between the White House and Holder, asking the Deputy Attorney General to share his opinion on the Rich pardon. Ultimately, Holder gave Clinton a "neutral, leaning towards favorable" opinion of the pardon.[5]
During his February testimonies before the House Government Reform Committee[12] and Senate Judiciary Committee, Holder argued his phone call was not intended as a formal Justice Department blessing of the pardon, saying, "my interaction with the White House, I did not view as a recommendation. Because... I didn't have the ability to look at all the materials that had been vetted through the way we normally vet materials." He also did not believe his opinion would be interpreted as a go-ahead for the pardon. "What I said to the White House counsel ultimately was that I was neutral on this because I didn't have a factual basis to make a determination as to whether or not Mr. Quinn's contentions were in fact accurate, whether or not there had been a change in the law, a change in the applicable Justice Department regulations, and whether or not that was something that would justify the extraordinary grant of a pardon."[13] An investigation championed by Republican House Government Reform Committee chairman Rep. Dan Burton concluded, in a 2003 report covering 177 Clinton pardons, that Holder had played a significant role in facilitating the Rich pardon, first by recommending the well-connected Jack Quinn to legal representatives of Marc Rich, by failing to fully inform prosecutors of the pending pardon, and by eventually delivering a "neutral leaning favorable" opinion of the twilight pardon to the President from a position of authority.[14] Holder has expressed some regret over his handling of the Rich pardon, stating "I wish I had done some things differently with regard to the Marc Rich matter. Specifically, I wish that I had ensured that the Department of Justice was more fully informed and involved in this pardon process" [15]


Holder was also involved in Clinton's decision to reduce the sentences of 16 members of the Boricua Popular Army, an organization that has been categorized by the FBI as a terrorist organization. The clemency request was initially opposed in 1996 by U.S. Pardons Attorney Margaret Love. When Holder was elevated to Deputy Attorney General in 1997, he was asked to reexamine the issue by 3 members of Congress. In July 1999, Holder recommended clemency to President Clinton with a report from then U.S. Pardons Attorney Roger Adams that neither supported nor opposed clemency. A month later, the clemency was granted by Clinton. According to The Hartford Courant, the clemency was unusual because it was opposed by the FBI, the federal prosecutor and the victims. According to the newspaper, it was also unusual because, before the commutations, the Boricua Popular Army members were not required to repudiate their actions, and they were not asked to provide any information concerning the whereabouts of Victor Manuel Gerena, a co-conspirator and one of the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives, or the millions of dollars stolen by the group in a 1983 robbery of Wells Fargo in West Hartford, Connecticut.[16]


Since 2001, Holder has worked as an attorney at Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C.,[5] representing clients such as Merck and the National Football League.[1] He represented the NFL during its dog fighting investigation against Michael Vick.[17]
In 2004, Holder helped negotiate an agreement with the Justice Department for Chiquita Brands International in a case that involved Chiquita's payment of "protection money" to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, a group on the U.S. government's list of terrorist organizations.[18][19] In the agreement, Chiquita's officials pleaded guilty and paid a fine of $25 million. Holder represented Chiquita in the civil action that grew out of this criminal case.[19]
In March of 2004 Holder and Covington & Burling were hired by Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich to act as a special investigator to the Illinois Gaming Board. The Gaming Board had voted 4-1 earlier that month to allow a casino to be built in Rosemont, Illinois. That vote defied the recommendation of the board's staff, which had raised concerns about alleged organized-crime links to the Rosemont casino's developer. The move had also raised concerns that the governor had named his close friend and fund-raiser, Christopher Kelly, as a "special government agent" to be involved in official state negotiations about the casino. Holder's legal work for the State of Illinois never materialized when the board reversed its decision and refused to hire Kelly. The investigation was subsequently canceled on May 18, 2004.[20]
While D.C. v. Heller was being heard by the Supreme Court in 2008, Holder joined the Reno-led amicus brief, which urged the Supreme Court to uphold Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban and said the position of the Department of Justice, from Franklin Roosevelt through Bill Clinton, was that the Second Amendment does not protect an individual right to keep and bear arms for purposes unrelated to a State’s operation of a well-regulated militia.[21] Holder said that overturning the 1976 law "opens the door to more people having more access to guns and putting guns on the streets."[22]


In late 2007, Holder joined then-United States Senator Barack Obama's presidential campaign as a senior legal advisor. He served on Obama's vice presidential selection committee.[8]
Holder favors closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp,[23] although he has said that the detainees are not technically entitled to Geneva convention protections.[24] He is opposed to the Bush administration's implementation of the Patriot Act, saying it is "bad ultimately for law enforcement and will cost us the support of the American people."[25][26] He has been critical of US torture policy and the NSA warrantless surveillance program, accusing the Bush administration of a "disrespect for the rule of law... [that is] not only wrong, it is destructive in our struggle against terrorism."[27]



On December 1, 2008, Obama announced that Holder would be his nominee for Attorney General.[28][29] He was formally nominated on January 20, 2009.[30] If the Senate confirms him, he will be the first African-American Attorney General. Starting January 20, Mark Filip is serving as Acting Attorney General.
During his confirmation hearings in the Senate, Holder agreed with Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, that a technique used by U.S. interrogators under the Bush administration known as waterboarding was torture.[31]

Holder is married to Sharon Malone, an obstetrician; the couple have three children.[32] Malone's sister was Vivian Malone Jones, famous for her part in integrating the University of Alabama.[33]

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