Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island has revealed that Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans have been seeking to impose extortion on Eric Holder, President Obama's nominee for attorney general.
According to Whitehouse, Republicans are seeking assurance from Holder in advance of the Judiciary Committee vote that he will agree not to proceed with legal action extending to any former Bush administration operatives regarding torture.
How many of these same Republicans supported efforts to remove Bill Clinton from the presidency for lying about an affair with a White House intern on an affidavit arising out of a civil legal action? How many of these same Republicans know about, or wish to know about, the U.S. Constitution's separation of powers?
Should Eric Holder be fully confirmed, he will then become the leading law enforcement officer in America. It is up to the attorney general to act in any cases where federal law may have been violated.
In the cases of Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and any other alleged violations of what would encompass not only U.S. law but international statutes to which this nation is a signatory, the attorney general is duty bound by his oath of office to investigate and, where the actions warrant, proceed to prosecution and trial.
Any efforts to extract a promise from Holder to abstain from such potential prosecution, or even from investigation, constitutes heinous extortion. Any effort to prevent the chief law enforcement officer in the land from carrying out duties mandated by the U.S. Constitution is an unconstitutional obstruction of justice carried out under color of performing Senate committee duties.
Ken Camp of the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate, writing in the January 26 issue of Truthout, takes a similar position, explaining with no nonsense precision:
"If Eric Holder, or any other Obama appointee subject to confirmation by he Senate, were to agree not to investigate alleged wrongdoing Bush Administration officials and forward alleged crimes for potential prosecution, it would be an egregious abdication of responsibility, not to mention an act of questionable legal ethics. It would say to future generations at a time when the Bush Administration felt it was above the law, Democrats did nothing but stand idly by and let it happen."-
The one thing that President Obama and his new administration needs to do in a firmly assertive way is to let the nation and the world know that circumstances are now different, that comprehensive change is afoot, and that the rule of law shall prevail.
(This article is also running on the Political Cortex site.)