Rachel Maddow on Holder’s First Year as Attorney General
By Ryan J. Reilly | February 18, 2010 2:50 pm

Rachel Maddow (MSNBC photo).

In an interview with Main Justice on Thursday, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow said she has mixed feelings about the first year of the Justice Department under President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder.

“I think that Eric Holder was a strong choice for Attorney General and I think that the president’s overt declarations about the independence of Eric Holder’s decision-making, his prosecutorial decision making — the pains that the president has taken to make clear that Justice is not a political agency, that Justice is independent and needs to be insulated from political concerns — I think is good for the country and I’m glad that the president has done that.”

Maddow, the liberal host of a five-day a week political news and commentary show on cable television,  was in D.C. and stopped by the Conservative Political Action Conference, which runs through Saturday.

“In terms of decisions made on justice matters since the president was inaugurated, I mean there are definitely things that I disagree with: I disagree with indefinite detention, I disagree with this weird idea that there’s this fifth category of detainees that’s extra-constitutional. I think that’s a continuation, and even in some ways, an expansion, of the Bush doctrine about detainees that I have a lot of problems with,” said Maddow.

“I’m also troubled by the decision to allow torture to go unprosecuted because I think that we have treaty obligations that require us to treat that otherwise.”

“So there have been things about which I’ve been disappointed, but the overall depoliticization of the Justice Department, stopping treating the Civil Rights Division, the Voting [section] as arms of the partisan Republican Party as they were doing during the Bush administration are steps in the right direction. I’m glad they didn’t decide, for example, to make them Democratic-crusading voting rights and Civil Right divisions but rather to bring them back to the proper position of neutrality that we all benefit from,” said Maddow.

“I think they could have rolled that out in a politically better way. I think the decision to try KSM in civilian court is the obvious decision, I think in security terms or in legal terms. I think in terms of handling the political roll-out of it, they should have anticipated that opponents of the president would try to make an issue out of it, and they should have been better at it.”

“The OPR [Office of Professional Responsibility] report [on the actions of former Justice Department lawyers who wrote the so-called "torture memos"], we keep anticipating, it’s supposed to come out, we keep expecting — even internally on my show we’ve had a number of times pre-produced segments on it, been ready to book guests, and had people on standby, and it still hasn’t come out. So I’m sort of reserving judgment until we actually see it. I think that if John Yoo is left as a lawyer in this country in good standing after what he demonstrably did about torture, and if Jay Bybee is left on the bench, it’s a troubling conclusion,” said Maddow.

Main Justice previously wrote about liberal dissatisfaction with the Justice Department.

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