Why is Eric Holder’s Justice Department spending time (and tax money) on John Edwards, but dragging its feet on John Ensign? And what about those torture guys?
Let’s face it, there hasn’t been a truly great Attorney General in a long, long time. You have to go back to the great Ramsey Clark, who supervised the integration of schools during the Johnson administration, or Robert F. Kennedy, to find one. Even name recognition among past A.G.’s is hard to come by, unless you count Ed Meese (Reagan) or Dick Thornburgh.
Bill Clinton’s historic first woman A.G. pick, Janet Reno, made the mistake of letting the Whitewater non-story mushroom into Lewinskygate by handing it over to a special prosecutor who was quickly subsumed by the political process.
Alberto Gonzales, George W. Bush’s torture-justifying, sycophant, U.S-attorney purging, possibly perjurious White House counsel-turned-A.G. was a low water mark for this country. In fact, Bush had a trio of fails, including John “throw the tarp over the naked statue” Ashcroft (whose one heroic moment was refusing to sign off on warrantless wiretapping from his sick bed when then-counsel/quisling Gonzales dispatched the goon squad to his hospital room) and Bush’s third try, the undistinguished Michael Mukasey (who still thinks torture, not hard work by military and intelligence professionals, nabbed Osama bin Laden.)
[Sidebar: I personally think Ashcroft's then-deputy, James Comey, would have made a terrific bipartisan pick for A.G. by President Obama.]
Holder is having his ups and downs. He let himself get rolled, apparently, by the White House, including then chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, on torture prosecutions, and is now so clearly not prosecuting Bush-era torture, the former vice president, president and their flunkies have taken to boasting about torturing KSM and other prisoners on TV.’
He appears to have been undermined by Emanuel and others inside the White House political wing again when it came to civilian trials for Gitmo terror suspects, and wound up having to reverse himself in the face of almost universal, bipartisan opposition (and outright sabotage of the White House policy) in Congress.
Justice may or may not move forward on CIA torture cases, but at this rate, with John Yoo and Jay Bybee free to pursue academia and … gulp… try others as a judge … who knows.
He’s moved forward on leveling the penalties for cocaine and crack cocaine convictions, which is a good thing, but Justice has been awfully slow when it comes to medical marijuana.
He forcefuly, and quite righteously flicked away the stupid, racist drivel that was the right’s obsession with two New Black Panther guys with beard braids, and he apparently likes “The Wire,” which I hear is a really good show.
And the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division is once again functioning as a civil rights division, and not as a ideological roadshow for the display of conservatives’ phony obsession with “reverse discrimination” and “voter fraud.”
But in one of the biggest “you’ve got to be kidding me” moment in his tenure so far, the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Division is moving forward with an indictment of former Democratic Senator John Edwards, essentially criminalizing both a sexual affair and the existence of a generous family friend who helped bankroll the mistress, months after the same division took a pass on disgraced Republican ex-Senator John Ensign, who appears to have directly funded the breaking of U.S. lobbying laws (and bungled the Ted Stevens prosecution.)
Justice may — I repeat “may” — reopen the Ensign case, perhaps out of sheer embarrassment that a Senate committee was able to do a more thorough investigation than they did. And it appears that Edwards’ own serial stupidity may have force Justice’s hand — he hired former White House Counsel Graig Craig as his chief counsel, and then dispatched him to try and negotiate with the Public Integrity Division, all but guaranteeing an indictment of him self if for no other reason than the appearance of insider favoritism if they didn’t.
The case is novel, to say the least. Nothing like this has ever been prosecuted before. Edwards is a jerk, to be sure, and has had the opprobrium of the world heaped upon him. But should the now single father of two young children be thrown in prison for getting a rich friend to hook up his mistress? If that’s a crime, how is getting one’s parents to hook up the husband and son of one’s mistress, and then helping your cuckolded friend find illegal lobbying gigs not a crime?
Bottom line: if Edwards goes down and Ensign goes free, it’s going to look like a glaring, gaping double standard. Coming on top of the failure to go after former Bush officials who ordered people tortured, and the failure to mount significant prosecutions of Wall Street banksters who looted this country and nearly brought it to its knees, failing to go after Ensign the way Justice is going after Edwards would look, frankly, like the U.S. Department of Justice is giving Republicans a pass.