Attorney General Eric Holder departed for Poland on Wednesday to meet with European leaders at the G6 Conference in Krakow.
Holder and others at the conference will explore ways to combat terrorism, transnational organized crime, cyber crime and other national security issues.
He will return to Washington on Friday.
Garland called his decision to return to private practice “bittersweet,” but said it was difficult to maintain the pace of his Justice Department job with his three young children.
“In this job, the schedule is so crisis driven, so emergency driven, you don’t have the ability in a real practical sense to plan your life, to plan your day,” Garland told the NLJ. “The pace of this job is like nothing I’ve ever known. It’s not sustainable for the long run with a family. The person who gets that most of all is the attorney general. He was supportive of my decision.”
Holder praised Garland’s work, pointing to his efforts on financial fraud, antitrust and intellectual property law.
Garland has been “instrumental in helping to reinvigorate the department’s core missions and re-establish its reputation for independence,” Holder said. “I’m grateful for his wise counsel, as well as his friendship, his sense of humor, and his tremendous respect for the work he’s helped to advance. Jim has served the Department of Justice—and his country—well, and we will truly miss him.”
In an interview with the newspaper last week, Garland described his time at the Justice Department as “an incredible life experience.”
Garland was born in Columbus, Ohio and graduated from Columbus Academy before heading to Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. After graduation, he took a job with Price Waterhouse (now PricewaterhouseCoopers). After two years, Garland enrolled at the University of Virginia School of Law.
He worked as a summer associate at Covington during law school and later clerked for Appeals Judge R. Guy Cole of the 6th Circuit. When he returned to Covington in 2001, Garland worked as a litigator on commercial cases, antitrust issues and white-collar criminal defense, often working directly with Holder, then a partner at Covington.
Because his job did not require Senate confirmation, Garland was part of the so-called “Day One Group” at the Justice Department, according to WhoRunsGov.com. After President Barack Obama took his oath of office, Garland and a handful of other political appointees also took their oaths and started work.
At the Justice Department, Garland handled antitrust issues, state and local law enforcement, and all criminal matters not related to national security. He served as the Attorney General’s point man for the department response to the economic crisis and advised Holder about when the federal government should seek the death penalty.
Garland is not the first top Holder aide to announce his departure; national security adviser Amy Jeffress is also leaving her position to become the Justice Department’s attaché at the U.S. Embassy in London.
Read the full interview with The National Law Journal here.
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Newsweek Managing Editor Daniel Klaidman is among a handful of journalists who has covered Eric Holder so long that his access to the Attorney General can only be described as extraordinary.
It’s not unheard of for the Attorney General to call Klaidman directly to talk about what’s on his mind. (Shortly after he took the job, in fact, Holder called Klaidman — only to be put on hold for two minutes when the reporter’s assistant didn’t realize who was on the line.)
Now, the former Legal Times senior reporter is writing his first book, in which Holder is set to be a key figure.
The book, temporarily named “The Arc of Justice: Obama, Terrorism, and the Struggle over American Ideals,” is slated for publication by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in the spring of 2012. It will probe the Obama administration’s shaping of national security policy and counter-terrorism efforts in the wake of the controversies of the George W. Bush administration.
“The Justice Department is obviously a significant part of this story, and Holder therefore is an important character,” Klaidman said in an interview. “But I’m as focused on other advisers to the president as I am on the Attorney General.”
Klaidman said the book “will chronicle in narrative fashion the goals and desire of rolling back some of the controversial policies from the previous administration and how big a challenge that is, how really difficult that turns out to be for a variety of reasons.”
Holder is aware he is working on the book but has not yet sat down for a formal interview, Klaidman said.
Klaidman began covering Holder for Legal Times in the late 1980s, when Holder was a District of Columbia Superior Court judge. He continued to follow Holder during his tenure from 1993 to 1997 as U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and when he served as Deputy Attorney General from 1997 until the end of the Clinton administration.
Klaidman joined Newsweek in 1996. He was a key member of the investigative team whose coverage of the Monica Lewinsky scandal earned a National Magazine Award. He also served as Jerusalem bureau chief, was named Washington Bureau Chief in 2000 and managing editor in 2006.
In July 2009, after a long interview at Holder’s kitchen table in his Northwest Washington home, Klaidman broke the news that Holder was leaning towards appointing a special prosecutor to conduct a preliminary review of whether CIA officers had gone beyond the guidance from the Office of Legal Counsel when interrogating terrorism suspects. (Last month, Holder told law students that Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham of the District of Connecticut is close to a decision). Holder gave Klaidman and Newsweek another interview in December.
Obama, like Holder, is “trying to navigate between the left and the right here to try to come up with sensible, prudent, tough and just policies in an extremely difficult, extremely polarized environment, so I want to try to tell that story,” Klaidman said.
Holder and the Obama administration’s handling national security issues hasn’t gone as planned. The administration has yet to make a final decision on where to hold the trial of alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed . Holder announced last year that KSM would face a civilian trial in New York City, but the plan faced significant political opposition.
The administration also took flack for reading Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called “underpants bomber,” his Miranda rights and placing him in the civilian justice system. Efforts to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay also have stalled because of congressional opposition. Those issues have caused strain between the White House, most notably Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, and the Justice Department.
Klaidman said there’s no question that Justice Department officials are frustrated with the extent to which politics have hampered their efforts.
“These are people who’ve obviously served in the government before and are not Pollyanna-ish about the impact that politics has in carrying out your agenda,” Klaidman said. “But on the other hand, I think that there’s a sense that things have gotten to a point where it’s just very frustrating, very difficult to do the things that people in this administration think are the right things to do.”
Holder Wants To ‘Stick It Out’ For At Least First Term
While some D.C. observers previously thought Holder’s job was in peril, Klaidman said he gets the impression that the Attorney General “certainly wants to stick it out” for the first term of the Obama administration.
“These jobs are huge grinds. Whether or not he wants to serve out two terms, I don’t know. But I wouldn’t be surprised that, assuming Barack Obama is re-elected, he goes back into private practice or does something else. On the other hand, I’ve been surprised before. It may be that he would serve a second term if he had the opportunity,” Klaidman said.
Ultimately, said Klaidman, the Attorney General and his top national security officials in the Justice Department are pragmatic.
“I think that he’ll bide his time and look for him moments. I think he understands that the perfect is the enemy of the good and hope to get as much as he can,” Klaidman said.
Although Holder expected to be dealing with terrorism and national security issues for much of his tenure as Attorney General, he was still surprised by how much of his time was dominated by those issues, Klaidman said. Holder told his aides that something like 70 percent of his time is spent on national security, according to Klaidman.
While Holder has faced criticism from some at the White House for being too independent — one administration official told Klaidman for a previous piece that Holder had “overlearned the lessons of Marc Rich” — he has also taken criticism from some for being too close to the President.
“I think he’s got a good relationship with the President; he’s got some good chemistry. Eric Holder is not as close to this President, or as close as might be troubling, in terms of how close relationships between AGs and Presidents have been,” Klaidman said.
Historically, former Attorneys General have been some of the president’s closest political advisers, even running their political campaigns, Klaidman said.
“That’s when you have to start worrying… when an Attorney General has a dual role [of] watching out for the president’s politics on a daily basis while trying to carry out the responsibilities of being the country’s top lawyer, where you have to exercise a certain amount of independence,” Klaidman said.
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Attorney General Eric Holder signed a memorandum of understanding with Spain on Thursday aimed at strengthening cooperation between the two countries on combating terrorism and international crime.
Holder met on Thursday with Spanish Prosecutor General Cándido Conde-Pumpido to sign the agreement and will meet with Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Minister of Justice Francisco Caamano and Minster of Interior Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, later today.
Under the agreement, Spain and the United States will be “exchanging information on criminal trends; exchanging information on each country’s legal system and legislation, legislative activities, and specific law enforcement measures in the areas of authority of the two agencies; formalizing the cooperation of the Joint Task Force that was established informally in 2005 to collaborate in the fight against terrorism and organized crime; and, enhancing visits by experts from our two agencies to facilitate the exchange of knowledge, intelligence and expertise,” Holder said.
He also thanked Spain for accepting a detainee released from the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and said the country will accept four more detainees as part of the U.S. effort to close the facility.
Holder’s statement is below.
Attorney General Eric Holder Signs Agreement to Strengthen U.S.-Spanish Cooperation, Pushes for Terrorist Financing Tracking Program Agreement
Madrid ~ Thursday, April 8, 2010
Earlier today I met with Prosecutor General Conde-Pumpido to discuss the many ways in which the United States and Spain can continue the excellent partnership we have established on a range of issues. Whether it is in counterterrorism, counter-narcotics, money laundering, smuggling or combating international organized crime, Spain has long been and will continue to be a strong partner for the United States.
On behalf of the United States, I thanked the Prosecutor General for Spain’s commitment to that partnership. And in a sign of how we can deepen our relationship, Prosecutor General Conde-Pumpido and I just today signed a new Memorandum of Understanding between our two agencies. Under the terms of this agreement, we will enhance cooperation in the fight against terrorism and international crime by:
* Exchanging information on criminal trends;
* Exchanging information on each country’s legal system and legislation, legislative activities, and specific law enforcement measures in the areas of authority of the two agencies;
* Formalizing the cooperation of the Joint Task Force that was established informally in 2005 to collaborate in the fight against terrorism and organized crime; and,
* Enhancing visits by experts from our two agencies to facilitate the exchange of knowledge, intelligence and expertise.
Our two countries have forged a tremendous partnership in recent years, and this agreement will strengthen the ability of law enforcement officials in the United States and Spain to protect the security of both our nations.
Later today, I will also meet with Prime Minister Zapatero, Minister of Justice Francisco Caamano and Minster of Interior Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, before the beginning tomorrow of the European Union Ministerial Conference.
One of the important issues we will address at this conference is the Terrorist Financing Tracking Program, or TFTP. The European Commission has now formally proposed a new negotiation with the United States on this important program, and we are hopeful that this will set the stage for the United States and European Union to move forward quickly toward a long-term agreement on the TFTP.
We believe this program is essential to the security of both the United States and Europe. In the years since it was launched, the TFTP has supplied more than 1500 reports and countless leads to counter-terrorism investigators in Europe alone, as well as to other countries around the world. It has played a key role in many investigations, including the disrupted Al-Qaeda plot to attack flights between the EU and the United States. Three members of Al Qaeda were convicted in Great Britain last year for their role in that plot and are now serving sentences in excess of thirty years.
We recognize there have been questions raised about this program in Europe, and one of our goals during these meetings will be to outline the extensive privacy safeguards that we have put in place to govern the TFTP. The Obama Administration is deeply committed to protecting the privacy of individuals’ data, and the safeguards contained in the program are rooted both in that commitment and in the strongest traditions of European civil liberties. The TFTP contains multiple legal, technological and practical safeguards that prevent anyone from reviewing the records of ordinary citizens unconnected to terrorism suspects, and we will be steadfast in maintaining those important protections.
The Terrorist Finance Tracking Program helps our nations protect our citizens from terrorism, and it does so consistent with our laws, our values and our commitment to individual privacy. Spain has been an important advocate for this program, and I will thank the Prime Minister today for his government’s work to secure a durable framework that ensures we do not lose this important counterterrorism tool.
I will also thank the Prime Minister for his help in our ongoing work to close the Detention Facility at Guantanamo Bay. Spain has already accepted one detainee, and has agreed to resettle four others. The cooperation of our allies is crucial to closing this facility, which has served as a recruiting tool for terrorists, and the United States greatly appreciates Spain’s assistance.
Our two nations have worked together closely on this and many other measures, and through the work we do this week, I hope we can strengthen that bond.
Former U.S. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey on Sunday called last week’s shooting at Fort Hood “the worst terrorist act carried out on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001.”
Mukasey made his remarks in a little noticed speech to military families at a Veterans Day ceremony in central Pennsylvania. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is suspected of opening fire at the Texas military base last Thursday in an attack that killed 13 and wounded 30.
The former Attorney General criticized the New York Times and government officials for appearing to rule out the possibility that Hasan’s shooting spree was directed or inspired by any terrorist group. Mukasey told the military families that al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden has sought to create a “leaderless jihad” that promotes solo attacks, according to The Patriot-News newspaper.
“In that respect, there certainly are very close links to terrorism,” Mukasey said in the Sunday speech. “In that respect, this is, in fact, the worst terrorist act carried out on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001.”
Mukasey, who is now a partner at the Debevoise & Plimpton law firm in New York, wasn’t available for comment on Monday.
Hasan was vocal about his opposition as a Muslim to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and had once worshiped at a Northern Virginia mosque with ties to radical Islam. But The New York Times on Nov. 7 published an article with the headline, “Little Evidence of Terror Plot in Base Killings.”
Instead, the Times and other news organizations have focused on the psychological strains associated with military service, depicting Hasan, an Army psychiatrist about to be deployed to Afghanistan, as having snapped under pressure. Today, however, The Associated Press and The Washington Post reported that federal authorities are looking into Hasan’s ties to an al-Qaeda linked imam.
Anwar al-Aulaqi, a former preacher at the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Va., praised Hasan on his personal blog today as a “hero” for opening fire on U.S. service members. Hasan worshiped at the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in 2001, when Aulaqi was its spiritual leader. Aulaqi, who now lives in Yemen, also counseled two of the Sept. 11, 2001 attackers in the months before they hijacked airplanes and crashed them into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Federal authorities have said they suspect Aulaqi has been involved in plotting al-Qaeda attacks.
Mukasey, a former federal judge, presided over the 1995 trial of the “blind sheik” Omar Abdel Rahman, who led a precursor organization to al-Qaeda in Brooklyn in the 1990s. Rahman was tied to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and later convicted of a plot to blow up New York City landmarks.
On Sunday he told the military families that Hasan didn’t need to have formal ties to a foreign terrorist organization to have carried out a terrorist attack. ”To tell us to believe that someone has to have a membership card in al-Qaida or any other organization in order for them to act as a terrorist, and in order for us to call what he does an act of terrorism, is to tell us to refuse to look facts in the face, and to refuse to believe what we see and hear with our own eyes and ears,” Mukasey said, according to The Patriot-News.
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The Attorney General can add another honor to his growing list.
Sadly, Holder is only the third most powerful mustachioed politico, behind Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who shares the 11th spot with bearded Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.), and President Obama’s adviser David Axelrod at the 6th spot on the list.
GQ credited Holder for his independence from the president, noting:
Holder has pushed back against the wishes of his own team, fighting CIA director Leon Panetta’s attempts to quash the release of the interrogation records and going forward with an investigation, against Obama’s wishes, into the alleged torture that took place during the Bush years. While critics on the left say he’s not going far enough, it’s nice to have a DOJ paying attention to the rule of law again.
The men’s magazine compiled the list to commemorate just how different things in Washington appear to be nine months into the Obama administration. “A whole new power structure has emerged,” the magazine says.
Holder comes in behind super-lobbyists Karen Ignagni (America’s Health Insurance Plans) and Billy Tauzin, (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America), who jointly occupy the 12th spot, and ahead of House Finance Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), at the 14th spot.
Holder was not the only Justice Department luminary on the list. FBI Director Robert Mueller took the 19th spot, for his efforts to “build a more nimble intelligence division.”
Robert Barnett, attorney at Williams and Connolly LLP, took the 44th spot. Barnett has represented a veritable who’s-who of DC luminaries as they leave office to write their book, earning seven-figure advances for Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush and Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Who’s at the top of the heap? The cleanshaven Rahm Emanuel, of course.
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Attorney General Eric Holder’s trip to Birmingham, Ala., last month for the swearing-in of Northern District of Alabama U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance was freighted with symbolism.
Vance was taking over an office that had been in some turmoil during the tenure of her predecessor, Alice Martin, who’d been accused by Democrats of pursuing politically motivated prosecutions. (Martin has denied the allegations). Holder’s presence at Vance’s investiture was seen as a quiet rebuke of the Martin era.
Moreover, Birmingham was the scene of important civil rights battles in the 1960s. And Holder, the first African-American to lead the Justice Department, has made enforcement of anti-discrimination laws against minorities a priority, after it was downplayed during the Bush administration. Vance is the daughter-in-law of an appellate judge who was killed by a nail bomb mailed to his home by a man who’d also targeted the NAACP.
So, maybe it’s a little snarky to ask … you know … how much it all cost. Fortunately, The Birmingham News did the deed for us. In a blog item posted earlier today, The News revealed the taxpayer’s tab for Holder’s Aug. 27 trip was $17,038.
Holder was in Birmingham from 10:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., The News reported. He flew on a government airplane and was accompanied by his counselor, Monty Wilkinson, and a press aide, Hannah August. An advance man, Vin Fazio, flew commercial.