Saturday, January 8, 2011

Why I'll have Attorney General Eric Holder's back

Recently the New York Times ran an article about how the House Republicans are likely to go after Attorney General Eric Holder:

"When the Obama administration wakes up next month to a divided capital, no cabinet member will be facing a more miserable prospect of oversight hearings and subpoenas than Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr."

Of course, anyone who has read items from the progressive blogosphere knows that its not just the right who love to go after Holder. He's also a frequent target for the frustrati due to the fact that there haven't been any prosecutions of the Bush administration for torture. While I can understand their concerns, I think the whole issue is much more complex than they tend to acknowledge. But we'll save that discussion for another day.

The first thing we have to recognize about Holder is the enormous job he was handed in re-shaping a department that had perhaps been more abused than any other by the Bush administration. You can read a bit about how that played out in DOJ's Civil Rights Division here.

So the task of restoring "law and order" to the DOJ has been a big job that Holder has had to grapple with. One would wonder just how long it would take to get meaningful action from such a huge department that was in need of so much repair.

But it didn't take Holder long. Lets review a summary of some of the things he's managed to accomplish in just 2 years.

First of all, in keeping with the theme of cleaning up messes left by the Bush administration, lets talk about the shootings that occurred on the Danziger Bridge in the aftermath of Katrina. The Civil Rights Division of DOJ has secured the indictment of six New Orleans police officers in connection to that case and one of them was just convicted last month.

A second mess that DOJ has been busy cleaning up is the prosecution of financial fraud that contributed to the collapse of our economy in 2008. First of all, there is Operation Stolen Dreams that targets mortgage fraud.

From industry insiders to straw buyers, nearly 500 people have been arrested in a nationwide mortgage fraud takedown that reflects the coordinated efforts of law enforcement to address the growing problem of crime in the housing industry.

“Mortgage fraud ruins lives, destroys families, and devastates whole communities,” Attorney General Eric Holder said this morning at a press conference to announce the results of “Operation Stolen Dreams.” Launched on March 1, 2010, the multi-agency initiative has led to a total of 485 arrests. More than 330 convictions have been obtained, and nearly $11 million has been recovered. Losses from a variety of fraud schemes are estimated to exceed $2 billion.

And just this week, DOJ announced the results of Operation Broken Trust that targets investment fraud.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced today the results of Operation Broken Trust, a nationwide operation organized by the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to target investment fraud. To date, the operation has involved enforcement actions against 310 criminal defendants and 189 civil defendants for fraud schemes that harmed more than 120,000 victims throughout the country. The operation’s criminal cases involved approximately $8.3 billion in estimated losses and the civil cases involved estimated losses of more than $2.1 billion. Operation Broken Trust is the first national operation of its kind to target a broad array of investment fraud schemes that directly prey upon the investing public.*

Speaking of fraud, I recently noted DOJ's work on Medicare fraud. is an extension of HEAT. HEAT is currently hard at work in South Florida, Houston, Detroit and Los Angeles. In 2008, the multi-agency enforcement groups known as Medicare Fraud Strike Forces secured 588 criminal convictions; obtained 337 civil administrative actions against individuals and organizations who were committing Medicare fraud, and recovered more than a $1 billion in health care fraud monies under the False Claims Act. To date, in fiscal year 2009, The Department of Justice has already recovered nearly a billion dollars in health care fraud monies and recorded 300 convictions.

In addition, throughout the last couple of years the DOJ has:

Challenged Arizona's immigration law in court,

Sued Arizona's Sheriff Joe Arpaio on charges related to the civil rights violation of Hispanics,

Brought a civil lawsuit against BP and others in the aftermath of the Gulf oil spill,

Working with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, reached a settlement in the Pigford II case with African American farmers, and

Completed the Guantanamo Review Task Force.

And finally, in connection with a couple of things that are near and dear to my heart, the Attorney General has convened a Cabinet level Re-entry Council.

Attorney General Eric Holder today convened the inaugural meeting of the Cabinet-level "Reentry Council" in Washington to identify and to advance effective public safety and prisoner reentry strategies.

And he has launched the Defending Childhood Initiative.

Defending Childhood is an initiative of Attorney General Eric Holder that strives to harness resources from across the Department of Justice to:

* Prevent children’s exposure to violence;
* Mitigate the negative impact of children’s exposure to violence when it does occur, and;
* Develop knowledge and spread awareness about children’s exposure to violence.

Whew! If you got through all of that then perhaps you'll understand why, if folks want to go after Attorney General Eric Holder, I'll have his back. I suspect that I've probably left some important stuff out. If so, fill me in.

1 comment:

  1. Great Article - thanks for the info.

    (I'm going to link it.)


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