since 2004

Who Is Eric Holder?

In activism, elections, governance, information policy, library profession, social movements on December 7, 2008 at 6:35 pm

Eric Holder’s confirmation process for Attorney General should be rigorous. It’s on us to make it so. And by us I mean individual librarians, our associations, policy advocates, and U.S.-based social movements.

This week I spoke with Library Law‘s Mary Minow about the need for renewed advocacy around the USA PATRIOT Act (Section 215 governing FISA Warrants and Section 206 related to Roving Wiretaps both sunset in December 2009, while attempts are also being made to set a sunset on current NSL rules under Section 505). Mary contends, and I agree, “Our best use of focused efforts should be asking senators at Eric Holder’s confirmation hearings to ask the right questions about the expiration.”

I would add: these questions should not focus on patching over the act through more weak revisions. As John Nichols wrote in The Nation, we need “a very serious, very aggressive confirmation process that should not simply presume that Holder will ‘get it’ when questions about the Constitution arise.”

Before we get there, we should all know a bit more about Holder. He is, after all, one of the legal architects for the reauthorized PATRIOT Act (passed in 2006), and he’s had some pretty conflicting things to say surrounding human rights (re: Guantanamo detainees he said in 2002, “…they are not, in fact, people entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention.” But last June, he called Guantanamo an “international embarrassment”). That’s some progress.

The standard we hold Holder to should be one of international concern, of human rights and global justice — not mere constitutionality.

So here are some places to start getting to know Holder:

See also Democracy Now:

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  1. […] One aspect of yesterday’s confirmation hearings for Attorney General nominee Eric Holder has gone unreported by the news media. In the morning session of hearings, Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona asked Holder whether as Attorney General he would support the reauthorization of Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Section 215 is the section of the Patriot Act which permits federal agents to secretly obtain information on your reading habits, web browsing history or “any tangible things” from libraries, bookstores, universities and other businesses without the warrant required by the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It expires as law in December 2009. […]

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