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Posted at 2:20 PM ET, 01/ 2/2011

Is Eric Holder playing dumb on a Justice Department scandal?

By Jennifer Rubin

With Attorney General Eric Holder, one never is certain whether he is disingenuous or simply badly informed. He counseled the president that there was no choice but to disclose detainee abuse photos. The advice was wrong, and the recommendation was countermanded after a firestorm of criticism. He told the country that a civilian trial for 9/11 terrorists would offer a greater chance of conviction than a military tribunal. He memorably stumbled before the Senate Judiciary Committee in trying to defend that unfounded assertion. There, too, his advice seems destined to be ignored.

Then there is the New Black Panther Party scandal, a case about egregious voter intimidation brought by the Bush administration and dismissed by Obama political appointees after a default judgment had been obtained. As The Post and I have detailed, there is ample evidence from former Justice Department employees and from documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act that the administration concealed evidence of political appointees' role in dismissing a blatant case of voter intimidation and that in the department's voting section career employees and political appointees adhere to the view that voting rights laws should not be enforced against non-White defendants. And then there is Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Thomas Perez's misleading testimony under oath.

But Holder asserted in a New York Times interview that all of this is much to do about nothing:

"We've already seen this administration dismiss one case against a political ally -- the New Black Panther Party -- for no apparent reason," Mr. Issa and Mr. Smith wrote. "We remain concerned that politicization at the Justice Department once again may result in the administration's political friends getting a free pass."

Asked about the prospect of oversight hearings and subpoenas involving the New Black Panther case, Mr. Holder said, "there is no 'there' there."

"The notion that this made-up controversy leads to a belief that this Justice Department is not color-blind in enforcement of civil rights laws is simply not supported by the facts," he said. "All I have on my side with regard to that is the facts and the law."

Does he actually believe this to be the case, having been sheltered from testimony, news reports, and a report by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights? Or, does he imagine that he can simply bluster his way through the next two years without addressing the mound of evidence against his department? After all, his own Justice Department is conducting two internal investigations -- one by the Office of Professional Responsibility and one by the Inspector General. If there is nothing here, then certainly Holder's own employees would have long ago closed the books on their inquiries.

Well, it is time, finally, for Holder and Perez to be examined under oath.Similarly, the political appointee Julie Fernandes, who instructed Department attorneys not to pursue cases against African American defendants, should be summoned to give her account of events. The new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), has been trying to get to the bottom of the controversy for over 18 months. Now he has the power to convene hearings and subpoena witnesses and evidence. At some point soon, Holder will be asked why he is unaware or unwilling to address the appearance of serious wrongdoing in the Justice Department, which he promised to rid of corruption and politicization when he took office.

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 2, 2011; 2:20 PM ET
Categories:  law  
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"Is Eric Holder playing dumb..."
Um, no, that's no act.

Posted by: Noah_Pology | January 2, 2011 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Holder has been a major disappointment as AG. He has repeatedly failed to act like the number one LE official in the nation, but instead like a staff adviser to the President.

The nadir was the Koran burning episode where he publicly prejudged a case that may have later come befor him in an official capacity.

He should be replaced, but won't be.

Posted by: 54465446 | January 2, 2011 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Noah_Pology posts:

"Is Eric Holder playing dumb..."
Um, no, that's no act.

You got that right.

My favorite item authenticating Holder’s native stupidity was his having to admit that he had not read the ten page Arizona immigration law SB 1070, before criticizing it in front of a congressional committee.

Posted by: nvjma | January 2, 2011 4:57 PM | Report abuse

"He should be replaced, but won't be."

54465446, I'm not so sure. If Issa & Co shed some light on how politically motivated Holder is, and his treatment of the Black Panther case gets some quality time in the media, I could see the political pressure forcing Obama to send Holder packing - or Holder deciding to resign. More likely though someone like Fernandes will take the fall.

I think Holder is a disgrace and would love to see his career go down in flames. For the head of the Justice Dept to play favorites based on race is despicable.

Posted by: RitchieEmmons | January 2, 2011 8:57 PM | Report abuse

It's no act. I'd suggest comparing Holder to South Africa's first non-figurehead president, Thabo Mbeki.

Mbeki thought he was a polymath, far superior intellectually to any he dealt with. The politically correct and cowed press of South Africa and the progressive western press did all they could to support his ridiculous self image. Of course, long before his term in office ended it was clear to all but the most PC that the emperor had no clothes.

Holder too has a grossly inflated opinion of himself and it is one that is supported by the mainstream media. PC rule 1 in the US - never point out that a black man is not as smart as he claims to be. Otherwise you will suffer the ultimate insult - you will be called a racist and ostracized from polite society.

As attorney general, the man is a joke. Just don't dare to tell anyone.

Posted by: ronStrong | January 2, 2011 9:21 PM | Report abuse

I want to know what makes the new black panthers "a political ally", per Issa?? Rubin do you know?? I want proof that the AG or the president is connected with them politically or otherwise.

All they have in common is they all 3 happen to be black. This does not make someone "a political ally"
Quite interesting the people the wingers want investigated are all black or Hispanic....Acorn, black panthers,Pigford settlement, etc. At least the Dems will have good turnout for 2012 after white Republicans persecute brown people for 2 years!

Posted by: carolerae48 | January 2, 2011 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Holder is there as AG and will remain there because Obama trusts him to guard his flank.

The AG position is too dangerous to be left to someone intelligent AND independent (e.g. ethical) in thinking.

Posted by: Otiose1 | January 2, 2011 10:03 PM | Report abuse

"[...] in things racial [America has] always been and continue[s] to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards." -- Barack Obama's scintillating choice for Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder, bravely running his mouth in 2009, not terribly long after said nation of racial cowards elected a man of Kenyan and Scotish ancestry President of the United States, despite his weekly attendance for over two decades at an ultra-racist (against whites) "Christian" church in Chicago.

Saps, maybe. But cowards? No.

Posted by: johnnyramone | January 2, 2011 10:06 PM | Report abuse

I was really surprised to find out Izza was going down this line of inquiry. This is nothing but another right wing effort to de-legitimize the President and drum up the racial resentment for their base. It is pathetic and sad commentary on our times.

Some facts...

Posted by: Alex3 | January 3, 2011 12:41 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Alex3 | January 3, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Jen you have to stop peddling lies. If you want a real story to write about, how about the House's resident car thief's pending wish list of expensive witch hunts against the administration? I smell a Pulitzer in that if you can uncover the truth.

Posted by: oldguy9 | January 3, 2011 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Since you seem to hate America so much why don't you go back to Israel you smelly cunt

Posted by: fredhiattblows | January 3, 2011 6:29 PM | Report abuse

It amazes me how people will lie and Rubin is no exception. The Bush Administration dismissed the Black Panther Party case (the situation did happen while Bush was president). The Obama Administration brought it up again and got a judgment but there was no voter intimidation because there was no witnesses. No one stepped forward. It's sad really because the New Black Panther Party case will probably shape up to be Obama's "Whitewater."

Posted by: charlekenghis | January 3, 2011 7:21 PM | Report abuse

You really shouldn't use "playing dumb" in the title of a post with so many incredibly big factual errors. Same for calling someone like Holder "disingenuous or badly misinformed."

How long before actual conservatives insist that Rubin here is a liberal plant designed to make them all look like reactionary know-nothings?

Posted by: ottoman88 | January 3, 2011 8:46 PM | Report abuse

How are the New Black Panthers a "political ally" of Obama?

They called him "the next slavemaster" and a "puppet on a string" and were trying to intimidate black voters into voting AGAINST him.

But in Issa and Rubin's world, Obama and the NBPP must be on the same side because ... gosh, why exactly?

Keep scratching your heads wondering why so many nonwhites think you're all racists, GOP. It's a real mystery.

Posted by: ottoman88 | January 3, 2011 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Lenin liked useful idiots like Rubin.

Two guys, escorted off by police when GOP poll watchers reported them. No complaints by actual voters, mind you, but the Bushies file a complaint based on a viral YouTube video.

Yep. Scandal ALERT!!! Call Chris Ruddy! Call Andrew Breitbart!

This drivel is almost as good as running cocaine out of Mena, Arkansas or Hillary murdering Vince Foster.

To paraphrase a movie that is much smarter than the author of this blog: "Young, Dumb and Republican is no way to go through life."

Posted by: gregroa | January 3, 2011 9:57 PM | Report abuse

I'm curious...

If one black man holding a stick and talking to no one was intimidating voters (even though no voters complained), enough to justify a Congressional investigation...
Will Issa also investigate the THREE white men, one armed with a gun, who actually got into the faces of Hispanic voters in Tucson back in 2006, demanding to know if they spoke English? A case where many people DID complain they were being intimidated. Yet one the Bush DOJ declined to even investigate...

Seems like Issa believes one quiet black man with a stick is more intimidating than three white men with guns!

Posted by: Zoomie1 | January 3, 2011 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Rubin quotes:

"We've already seen this administration dismiss one case against a political ally -- the New Black Panther Party -- for no apparent reason," Mr. Issa and Mr. Smith wrote.


Rubin parrots this absurdity ("a political ally") as if gospel and then asks if *Holder* is playing dumb?

Lord have mercy. What has become of the Washington Post?

Posted by: chaos1 | January 4, 2011 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Rubin must be chomping the bit on getting a Murdoch contract....She's putting out right wing nut rantz and acting like she is saying things that have import.

Clue to (clueless) Jennifer - it was the Bush43 Justice Dept that decided the New Black Panther Party didn't rate an investigation.

Posted by: kindness1 | January 4, 2011 11:18 AM | Report abuse

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