Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Holder Agonistes

Mr. Holder regrets. That is the theme of this puffery in the Daily Beast about how just awful he feels about what his own Justice Department under his leadership has done in investigating the press. Like his boss, President Obama, Holder finds out what his own department has been doing by reading the newspaper.
But for Attorney General Eric Holder, the gravity of the situation didn’t fully sink in until Monday morning when he read the Post’s front-page story, sitting at his kitchen table. Quoting from the affidavit, the story detailed how agents had tracked Rosen’s movements in and out of the State Department, perused his private emails, and traced the timing of his calls to the State Department security adviser suspected of leaking to him. Then the story, quoting the stark, clinical language of the affidavit, described Rosen as “at the very least ... an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator” in the crime. Holder knew that Justice would be besieged by the twin leak probes; but, according to aides, he was also beginning to feel a creeping sense of personal remorse.

The sweeping seizure of the AP phone records had thrown Justice on the defensive. But at least in that case Holder had some personal insulation; having been interviewed by the FBI, he’d recused himself from the investigation and, thus, had not personally signed off on the subpoenas. In the Fox case, however, Holder knew he bore a direct measure of responsibility. He had approved a search-warrant application that equated a reporter’s newsgathering activities with criminal conduct. That put Holder at the center of the brewing controversy, all while the Obama administration was being buffeted over allegations that the IRS had targeted conservative groups and by the continuing Benghazi tempest.

By week’s end, Holder knew he had to be proactive in stemming the criticism and restoring the department’s credibility with the press. He and his advisers began exploring ways to reform the Justice Department’s internal guidelines for investigating leaks to safeguard the media against overly intrusive tactics.
Isn't that sweet that it took the publishing of what his own department has been doing and what he signed off on for him to decide to reform the Justice Department's guidelines. And why is he upset? Because he did something wrong? Nope, it's all about his own self-image.
But sources close to the attorney general says he has been particularly stung by the leak controversy, in large part because his department’s—and his own—actions are at odds with his image of himself as a pragmatic lawyer with liberal instincts and a well-honed sense of balance—not unlike the president he serves. “Look, Eric sees himself fundamentally as a progressive, not some Torquemada out to silence the press,” says a friend who asked not to be identified.
So it was fine to sign off on the Rosen affidavit, but now that it's come to light, he suddenly has problems with his self-image?

And the administration's excuses that Rosen seemed suspicious because he was using an alias to talk to his source and was, heavens!, flattering that source as evidence of possible espionage.

As Jennifer Rubin points out, we know that Eric Holder lied. The only question is whether he lied when he signed off on a dishonest affidavit citing James Rosen as a possible co-conspirator, or when he denied to the House that he hasn't he has never been "involved in, heard of, or whoud think would be wise policy" to potentially prosecute the press.

Being a perjurer might not fit Eric Holder's image of himself, but it sure fits his actions.

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