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Holder’s Lonely Perch
By Christopher M. Matthews | July 5, 2022 2:58 pm

Attorney General Eric Holder’s late-night national security vigil was described in the Washington Post’s vivid profile of the round-the-clock efforts of President Barack Obama’s national security team.

Among the other top officials profiled were: CIA Director Leon Panetta; national security adviser James L. Jones; Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates; Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano; National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael Leiter; and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen.

The article captures Holder as he poured through national security documents in his kitchen shortly after midnight:

Holder now sits down at the kitchen table. He spreads legal papers across the round, granite surface and puts his legs up. At his Justice Department office, he plays Tupac and Jay-Z. Not here. He keeps it so quiet, he notices when the refrigerator motor clicks off.

All day, voices bombard Holder, advocating discordant legal remedies for terrorism. “So much of national security has been politicized,” he says. “There’s a lot of noise.”

Only at night can he contemplate: “What’s best for the case? What’s best for the nation?” Here, he makes his most difficult, controversial decisions. At 1 a.m., eating Chips Ahoys, Holder determined that 9/11 detainees should stand trial in New York and that terrorist suspects should be tried in federal court. The conflicting demands filled him with tension: “That tension to be independent, yet part of the administration.”

Of all the nighthawks, Holder occupies the loneliest perch. He is the president’s friend, yet as the government’s chief law enforcer, he has to stand aloof. White House aides roll their eyes behind his back; Hill critics roll their eyes to his face. His predecessors understand: “There’s an AG’s club. Former Republican AGs call and say, ‘Hang in there!’ “

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