New Era at Justice

By Dan Froomkin
11:49 AM ET, 02/ 3/2009

Eric Holder was sworn in this morning as the nation's new attorney general and declared a "new day" for the Justice Department. "There shall be no place for political favoritism, no reason to be timid in enforcing the laws that protect our rights, our environment and our principles, as long as I have the opportunity to lead this great department.

"This may be a break from the immediate past, but it is consistent with the long history of the Department of Justice.

"I call on every employee of this department, from this moment on, to return to the practices that are the foundation of this entity. It is time, once again, to base our actions on policies that are rooted in fairness and in a desire to ensure a more just America."

Carrie Johnson wrote in this morning's Washington Post: "The Senate confirmed Eric H. Holder Jr. as the nation's first African American attorney general by a vote of 75 to 21 yesterday, opening a new chapter for a Justice Department that had suffered under allegations of improper political influence and policy disputes over wiretapping and harsh interrogation practices....

"The need for new leadership at the Department of Justice is as critical today as it's ever been,' said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.). 'This confirmation is going to do a great deal to restore the morale and the purpose throughout the department.'"

Larry Margasak writes for the Associated Press that Holder will "have little time to consider his role in history as he decides which Bush administration counterterrorism policies to reverse....

"For starters, the new attorney general will learn the secrets of the Office of Legal Counsel, whose lawyers justified the use of controversial interrogation tactics and even declined to provide Bush administration documents to internal Justice Department investigators."

Also see my Nov. 19 column, The Attorney General of Rollback.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company