Attorney General Eric Holder’s Record of Corruption
By Ron Kolb*
Kolb: “His reckless and foolish behavior while in the Clinton administration had put the nation at further risk, and even more importantly, every day that Mr. Holder now remains as Obama’s Attorney General further undermines our country.”
America’s Survival, Inc. 443-964-8208 http://www.usasurvival.org
When Michael Isikoff of Newsweek first reported on November 18, 2008 that Eric Holder
had accepted President-elect Barack Obama‘s offer to become his Attorney General, it was not only widely expected, but Holder was also the first person to be offered a cabinet post in the incoming administration.
Holder had first met the newly-elected Illinois senator at a dinner party in Washington in 2004, and they had bonded immediately. Four years later, after his name was mentioned for the post that Holder had so long coveted, stories and editorials focused on Holder’s controversial past, including his approval of a pardon of fugitive billionaire Marc Rich and for helping to obtain clemency for members of the Puerto Rican nationalist terrorist group known as the FALN.
The National Review noted that it was hard to imagine a worse choice for Attorney General than Holder, and also noted his untoward performance as Deputy Attorney General in the last corrupt acts of Clinton’s final hours as president, which included the Rich pardon as well as the equally noxious clemency for Weather Underground terrorists Susan Rosenberg and Linda Evans.
The Review further noted that the terrorist pardons were granted only weeks after
Arab terrorists had attacked the U.S.S. Cole, killing 17 servicemen. The editorial also made note of the 1999 commutation for the unrepentant members of the FALN, and that the offer was made just months after the 1998 African embassy bombings, which had killed over 200.
To try and give a fuller understanding of just who Eric Holder is, a look back at his actions during the Rich pardon–for which he’s most defined–gives an insight into the shallow and corrupt political opportunist that he was then and still is today.
In September of 1983, commodities trader and financier Marc Rich and his business partner Pincus Green were the targets of a 51-count indictment that included charges of evading 48 million in taxes, trading oil with Iran while they were under a U.S. embargo, and additional charges of racketeering and fraud. it was the largest tax fraud case in U.S. history.
At the time of the indictment, Rich and Green had already fled to Switzerland and were living in luxury. Extra charges were added in March of 1984, making it a 65-count indictment.
By 1999, when Rich’s newest and politically connected attorney Jack Quinn (and friend of both Bill Clinton and Al Gore) approached then Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder for help, Rich was listed on the “Interagency International Fugitive List” as: WANTED by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Customs Service and the U.S. Marshal Service.
Rich was also listed on the Justice Department’s website as an international fugitive. The listing further noted that the U.S. “will pay a reward for information that leads to the arrest of Marc David Rich.” In addition, Rich was also posted on Interpol’s “Red Alert” list.
Quinn first tried to use a more than willing Holder to obtain a deal from prosecutors for his client, but when that scheme failed in early 2000, Quinn would return to Holder later that same year for help–this time in attempting to obtain a pardon. Quinn would later state–and Holder eventually admit–that he had dangled the AG post to Holder in a potential Gore administration.
Holder would claim over the coming years that he was not familiar with who Marc Rich was (and then gain only a passing familiarity with his case) even after discussing Rich’s case with Quinn at least six times between October 1999 and January 2001.
It was also discovered–and reported by the National Review’s Andy McCarthy just prior to Holder’s planned confirmation vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee–that Holder as U.S. Attorney in Washington in 1995 had settled a multi-million dollar fraud case between
the Treasury Department and Mr. Rich.
The release of that story–along with concerns that Holder may prosecute Bush intelligence officials over terror policy–would end up causing a week’s delay in Holder’s eventual confirmation.
But during the Judiciary Committee hearings prior to the vote, Holder would make several evasive and misleading statements about both the Rich and FALN pardons.
About Marc Rich, he told Senator Arlen Specter that “I did not really acquaint myself with his record.” He told Chuck Grassley from Iowa that “I wasn’t sympathetic to the case”, and that “I didn’t do anything to try and make this pardon happen.”
But on the evening of Clinton’s departure in January of 2001 (after being pressed once again by Quinn) Holder passed the word to Mr. Clinton that he was “neutral, leaning favorable” for a pardon.
Holder also told Grassley that he should have kept the Justice Department and the New York prosecutors more involved, and “assumed that they were.” But what Holder had done was an end-around of both the U.S. Pardon Attorney and the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan.
Holder’s memory often failed him, saying repeatedly that “I have no specific recollection of that.” About the infamous (and brief) phone call from Pardon Attorney Roger Adams at 1 AM on January 20, 2001, warning Holder of a possible pardon of Rich, Holder said he thought that Clinton had already made up his mind. Holder would later tell the Washington Post that he was “distracted that night.”
During the Senate hearing, Holder was also asked about his involvement with helping to obtain clemency for members of the FALN.
A look back into Holder’s obsession with the FALN would prove to be a harbinger for his compromising and dangerous policies towards terrorism as Obama’s Attorney General.
Soon after Holder arrived as Deputy Attorney General in 1997 in Bill Clinton’s Justice Department, obtaining the release for members of the unrepentant terrorist group would soon become one of his top priorities.
The Pardon Attorney when Holder arrived was Margaret Colgate Love, and she had issued a report in 1996 recommending against clemency for both the members of the FALN (Armed Forces of National Liberation) and their closely allied group the Macheteros (machete- wielders) who were based primary in Puerto Rico.
The Macheteros had killed six in a series of shootings on the island, including an attack on a bus filled with Naval servicemen in 1979 that had killed two. In 1983, they had also pulled off a Wells Fargo robbery in Hartford that netted over 7 million dollars. At the time it was the largest armored car robbery in history.
But the FALN was even more notorious. Between 1974 and 1983, they were responsible for nearly 140 bombings around the United States. The group’s most noted early action was the bombing of the historic Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan in January of 1975. The lunchtime attack had killed four diners and injured sixty more.
The bombings continued at a furious pace, and included targets in Chicago, Newark, Miami and Washington, D.C. A series of arrests in the 1980’s essentially put the group out of business. The final toll of the FALN bombings was six dead and more than 80 injured. A police officer in Mexico was also killed in a shoot-out with FALN members.
One of the many ironies of the FALN is the lack of support for their group’s goal of independence, which historically ranks at five percent or less of the island’s residents. The FALN’s few members thought that they could maim, kill and terrorize their way into forcing both Puerto Rico and the United States into submission.
After Holder’s arrival at Justice in 1997, he soon fired Margaret Love and replaced her with Roger Adams, who had earlier worked for Holder at the Washington U.S. Attorney’s
office. During 1997 and 1998, Holder met with advocates of the FALN at least nine
times. He never chose to meet with any victims of the terrorist group, nor with any prosecutors or law enforcement who had been involved in the FALN’s capture and prosecution.
At one meeting on November 5, 1997, Holder first proposed that the terrorists express “remorse” in an effort to make any clemency seem more palatable to the public (in 1999, the terrorists would at first reject Holder’s plan, but after nearly a month would finally agree to accept it).
In mid-1998, Holder had ordered Adams to write a new report to replace the one Love had written in 1996 where she had opposed clemency. Adams could not bring himself
to recommend it either, but Holder came up with the idea of an “options memo'” to be prepared that would make no specific recommendations.
Adams completed the report, but in a separate memo, he noted that neither law enforcement nor the victims had been contacted, and that there may be a political firestorm if clemency was issued. Nevertheless, the Love report of 1996 was now history.
Holder’s efforts still languished until early 1999, when Hillary Clinton announced she was running for an open U.S. Senate seat in New York. Up until that time, the White House’s involvement with FALN advocates had been only minimal. But between March and July of 1999, many White House staff with ties to Mrs. Clinton began meeting with FALN advocates and exchanging emails with each other.
White House counsel Charles Ruff soon became involved, and in July, Clinton would also turn to Holder for an assist. The revised Holder/Adams “options memo” then went to Ruff in early August. It would later be discovered that Holder sent his own report to Clinton recommending clemency, but first Clinton (and now Obama) have still refused to make it public.
The final catalyst occurred on August 9th. According to the New Republic, Hillary met with a small group of FALN advocates, including then New York City councilman Jose Rivera, who gave Mrs. Clinton a packet that concerned clemency for the FALN, along with a letter asking her to “speak to the president about granting executive clemency.”
Less than two days later, on the morning of August 11, 1999, Clinton publicly announced the offer of clemency to 12 members of the FALN along with four Macheteros. The news of the offer struck both law enforcement and the victims of the FALN like a thunderbolt. For the family members, it brought back memories of sadness, but also a new-found sense of anger.
Among those that Clinton offered freedom to were Edwin Cortes and Alejandrina Torres, who had been caught in 1983 on FBI surveillance tape making bombs. They had also conspired (along with FALN member Alberto Rodriguez–who was also offered clemency) to help fellow member and FALN co-founder Oscar Lopez-Rivera escape from prison.
Lopez would eventually turn down the offer. Even if he had accepted, he would be required to wait for release because, unbelievably, he had been convicted of three addition felonies for yet another escape attempt. He had hatched a plot with (among others) two members of the Prairie Fire terrorist group (an outgrowth of the Weather Underground).
Lopez had made up a list of material to be used in the plot. It included grenades, rifles, plastic explosives, bulletproof vests, blasting caps and armor-piercing rockets. The FBI had known of the plot since the beginning, and carried out arrests in 1986.
When many of Lopez’s compatriots were sentenced in Chicago five years earlier (after their arrests in 1980), most of them took the occasion to threaten Judge Thomas McMillen’s life.
FALN member Carmen Valentine told McMillen that, “you are lucky we cannot take you right now.”
Valentine then called the judge a terrorist, and that her shackles prevented her from killing him. Dylcia Pagan then addressed the full court. “All of you, I would advise you to watch your backs.” Ida Rodriguez then told McMillen that, “you say we have no remorse. You’re right.”
Valentine, Pagan and Rodriguez and five other FALN members sentenced that day would be among those eventually offered clemency by Bill Clinton.
Almost immediately after Clinton’s announcement in 1999, stunned victims and relatives spoke out in disbelief. They were joined by prosecutors and virtually the entire law enforcement community. To make matters worse, none of the FALN or Macheteros would accept Holder’s plan to express remorse.
The pressure from the Clinton Administration for them to accept the proposal became intense, and Mrs. Clinton’s position on the offer changed almost daily. Finally, on September 7th–and nearly a month after the offer was first made–all but Lopez and one member of the Macheteros had agreed to accept.
Three days later, 11 members of the FALN were released from numerous Federal prisons around the country. Within days, both the Senate and the House voted overwhelmingly to condemn Clinton’s action. Hearings quickly began with the intent of finding out why the clemencies had even been offered.
On September 16, Clinton issued a blanket order of executive privilege to fend them off. On October 20, Holder and Pardon Attorney Roger Adams appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Both men claimed executive privilege, and refused to speak about most issues surrounding the clemency offer.
Holder’s testimony in particular was evasive and had lacked credibility. In his opening statement, Holder expressed sympathy for victims of the FALN–except that he had never spoken with any of them during the entire process.
In responding to Senator Hatch, Holder said that “I think we could have done a better job here. I think we could have done a better job generally.”
Hatch also asked Holder if there was any attempt to obtain information from those offered clemency about some of their co-conspirators who were then still fugitives, such as Macheteros Victor Gerena and Filiberto Ojeda-Rios (both were on the FBI’s Most Wanted List) as well as FALN bomb-maker William Morales.
Holder replied that, “to my knowledge those requests were not placed.”
Hatch: You’re a former prosecutor. I mean, don’t you want to get to the bottom of these things?
Hatch: Well, then, why weren’t those questions asked?
Holder: Because it seems to me you’re talking about a group of people who did not recognize the right of the government to even—
Hatch: What’s that got to do with it? Holder: I’m only saying, Mr. Chairman…
Hatch also asked about the 1996 Love report, where the former pardon attorney had recommended against clemency. The report had accidentally been released in a document dump (it should instead have been covered by Clinton’s order).
Holder responded by saying that “the letter should not have been produced” and that it was covered by executive privilege. A dumbfounded Hatch pointed out that the Committee now had a copy of the report, but Holder still refused to discuss it.
Near the end of Holder’s tortured testimony, Senator Jeff Sessions asked Holder about a report from Holder’s boss–Attorney General Janet Reno–from just one month earlier. She had warned about the “impending” release of terrorists.
Holder responded by saying that “I think given the terms under which these folks were released, which is where they had to indicate that they had renounced violence, makes the report that you cited, it seems to me, a little inapplicable.”
At a press conference the next day–on October 21)–Holder dug himself in deeper. “What I was trying to tell the Committee yesterday was that the Attorney General’s report clearly did not refer to these people (the FALN), given the fact that they have, as a condition of release, renounced violence.”
Flash-forward to 2009 — a week prior to Holder’s Senate Judiciary confirmation hearings. On January 9, the Los Angeles Times reported in a front-page story concerning Holder’s obsession with freeing members of the FALN. The article included memos and documents as well as quotes from pardon attorneys Adams and Love.
On January 13–and just two days before the hearings–Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy (whose PAC received generous contributions from Holder) commented on the Times report, telling the Legal Times that Holder displayed ‘independent judgment” in helping to facilitate clemency for the FALN, and that debate over the issue was only a “rehash.”
When the hearings began on the bitterly cold morning of January 15, 2009, Holder had been well-prepared. The Boston Globe reported that Obama’s transition team had coached Holder to guide him through what would likely be tough questioning.
The focus of questioning from most of the Republicans on the Committee dealt with the Marc Rich pardon and the FALN clemencies.
Holder addressed terrorism in his opening statement: “I will work to strengthen the activities of the Federal government to protect the American people from terrorism. Nothing I do is more important.”
But soon, Holder had to address the FALN issue. He told Jeff Sessions that what the president did was “reasonable.”
Then John Cornyn asked him point blank: Did you recommend clemency for the FALN terrorists to President Clinton? Holder: Yes. Cornyn: Was it a mistake? Holder: No, I don’t think it was a mistake.
Holder then told Cornyn that, “I think the decision was made in a pre-9/11 context.” Holder neglected to mention that prior to 1999, there were a growing number of terrorist incidents, including the 1993 World Trade Center attack and the African twin embassy bombings in 1998.
Senator Chuck Grassley opened his time with Holder in a unique way. The hearing room was darkened and the infamous FBI surveillance tape showing FALN members Edwin Cortes and Alejandrina Torres making bombs was shown.
When the lights came back up, Holder told Grassley that, “I’ve not seen that video before.” Moments later, he told Grassley that, “I think I’ve seen it in some news accounts in the recent past, like, in the last week or so, something like that.”
He then told Grassley that he wasn’t aware of any threats to Judge McMillen by the members of the group during their sentencing in 1981.
Near the end of his testimony, Holder told Jeff Sessions that the grant of clemency was “appropriate…and that was what I conveyed to the President.”
The Committee scheduled a vote on Holder for six days later, on January 21. It was Obama’s first full day in office, and it was also Holder’s birthday.
But the publication of the National Review article by Andy McCarthy that showed Holder’s full awareness of who Marc Rich was as far back as 1995, along with concerns by Senator John Cornyn, Sen. Kit Bond and others that Holder might prosecute intelligence agents over interrogation policy, would cause a week’s delay of the vote.
In written questions with the Committee during that week, Holder said that he could not “recall” knowing about the multi-million dollar fraud case that his office settled with Marc Rich six years before the Rich pardon of 2001.
In another written question noting Holder’s confessed lack of knowledge about the bomb- making surveillance tape, as well as the fact that many of the groups members had threatened their sentencing judge, Holder still claimed that he was well-informed enough to recommend clemency.
On the eve of the rescheduled committee vote, Specter announced that he would vote for Holder’s confirmation. The already slim chance to stop Holder’s confirmation suddenly came to a halt.
In the hearing room on January 30, and just moments before the Committee voted on Holder, John Cornyn noted that a full two weeks earlier that the Judiciary Committee had requested additional info about the FALN clemencies, and that even though Mr. Clinton had waived executive privilege, the new Obama Justice Department had re-applied it, and had “failed to comply with the very reasonable request.”
That same day, Cornyn went to the Senate floor and explained the many reasons why he would be voting against Holder in the upcoming Senate debate over his confirmation. Towards the conclusion, Cornyn asked, “How can I explain to Joseph Connor, whose father was killed in the 1975 (Fraunces Tavern) bombing in lower Manhattan, that the man who never spoke to his family before championing clemency for the men responsible for his father’s murder will be the next Attorney General of the United States?”
On February 2, during the floor debate just prior to the full Senate vote on Holder, Tom Coburn noted that Holder had told the committee that he was not familiar with Marc Rich’s record at the time of the pardon, and that Coburn found that to be “unbelievable.”
Coburn then noted the 1995 settlement of the fraud case involving Rich and Holder’s office, and that Holder stating that he not aware of who Rich was “almost impossible.” Coburn also noted that Rich was a well-known fugitive and that Holder had later dealt with Rich’s attorney Jack Quinn over a 15-month period before the pardon was issued.
The final vote on Holder was 75-21. All the Democrats voted in lock-step for Holder, but just over half of the Republicans voted no. The outcome was unfortunate, but not unexpected.
When Holder’s name had first been leaked to the press the previous November, an AP report noted that in that prior week members of Obama’s team had polled the incoming Senate– which now included eight new Democratic seats–in an attempt to nail down the Attorney General post for the problematic and controversial nominee.
A Passion for Freeing the FALN
As for Holder’s passion for freeing the FALN, there was a repudiation of sorts. In the latter months of 2010, FALN co-founder and leader Oscar Lopez, who had rejected the Clinton/Holder clemency offer in 1999, was now appealing for parole.
The chance of keeping Lopez in prison had seemed like an uphill battle. But this time, unlike 1999, there would be a difference. The victims would finally have their say. On the cold, clear Indiana morning of January 5, 2011, four of the victims of the FALN spoke out against Lopez at his parole hearing at the Terre Haute Correctional Institute.
Lopez’s lawyer, longtime FALN attorney Jan Susler, immediately tried to have the victims removed. But the parole commission examiner refused her request. After the victims finished speaking, Lopez spoke next, and accepted neither responsibility nor remorse.
And then, what could truly be considered as a miracle occurred. The examiner ruled that he going to recommend to the full four-member commission that Lopez remain in prison until 2023–his scheduled release date–with the possibility that he might serve even more of his 70- year sentence–which actually ends in 2051.
On February 18, 2011, the U.S. Parole Commission officially denied Lopez parole. They then followed that by rejecting his appeal this past May. Lopez is now scheduled to serve at least another 10 years. But Lopez’s attorney Jan Susler recently made clear to the Chicago Tribune last month that they might go directly to President Obama in an attempt to obtain executive clemency.
After the commission had rejected Lopez’s appeal, Joe Connor wrote that “we often think of the fight against radicals and terrorists as having begun on September 11, 2001. The truth is, it’s been going on for generations. There were terrorists before bin Laden and there will be more after he is gone.”
To shed some further light on Holder’s controversial and sometimes bizarre positions and statements on dealing with terrorism and national security, it’s worth looking back at some of his background as a young adult and college student in New York.
While in middle school in the 1960’s, he became enamored of the controversial civil rights leader Malcolm X. When he arrived at Columbia in 1969, he grew an Afro and participated in some of the heated protests. Two years ago, Holder reminisced that he did not take any final exams until his third year because “we were on strike.”
In 1970, Holder joined a group of what Columbia’s Black Students Organization website says were “armed black students” who had seized the abandoned ROTC lounge as well as the Dean’s office.
Holder was one the occupying negotiators, and eventually Dean Henry Coleman caved in and agreed to rename the lounge after Malcolm X. By 1976, the lounge would become the
central meeting place for the Black Students Organization, where the BSO website says that the group conducted weekly “controversial” meetings. According to the New York Times, by the early 1980’s a young student named Barack Obama would become involved with the BSO.
Holder’s involvement with the FALN would not be his only controversial involvement with terrorist groups. After he had left his checkered tenure at the Clinton Justice Department in
2001, he arrived at the Washington power law firm of Covington and Burling. The firm had a revolving door policy with Democratic administrations.
Among those who made the journey besides Holder were the late White House counsel, Charles Ruff, and the current head of the DOJ criminal division, Lanny Breuer. In what would end up being a clear conflict of interest in later years would be the fact that the firm represented 18 Guantanamo detainees pro bono.
The Chiquita Brands Controversy
But in late 2006, Holder had become the attorney of record for Chiquita Brands International, Inc., the banana company, which is headquartered in Cincinnati. A large percentage of the company’s production came from Colombia, and the company had been paying millions in protection money to numerous terrorist groups there between 1989 and 2004. The approval for the payments came straight from the top–it included the CEO and seven members of the board.
Starting in 1997, the payments focused on the paramilitary group known as the AUC (United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia).Their group was particularly vicious–they would systematically kill 4000 Colombians during the time of the seven years of Chiquita payments.
In 2001, the State Department designated the AUC a foreign terrorist group–and at that point any payments to them would be illegal. The company claimed they knew nothing of the designation until 2003, but even after that point, they had continued to make payments for another year.
The company’s lawyers kept warning that the payments should stop, so by late 2006, the members of their legal team were now potential witnesses. And that’s when Holder was retained. By March 2007, he’d cut a deal with the government that would require that the company plead guilty and pay a 25 million dollar fine–to be spread out over five years.
The eight executives in Cincinnati (as well as two in Colombia) would not be prosecuted. Chiquita was the first major American company to be convicted of financing terrorists, but because of Eric Holder’s efforts, ten people who had aided and abetted a vicious and deadly terrorist group would escape punishment.
And in an outrageous twist, when civil suits arose against Chiquita, Mr. Holder–the future Attorney General–argued for a dismissal saying that, “there is no clearly defined rule of international law prohibiting material support of terrorism.”
The Fugitives in Cuba
Since Holder has become Attorney General, his Justice Department hasn’t seemed interested in pursuing a number of high-profile terrorists that have been given asylum in Castro’s Cuba.
They also happen to be members of terrorist groups that Mr. Holder has previously shown sympathy for. Philip Peters, an analyst at the Lexington Institute, recently noted that “there is no evidence of any serious negotiations going on that addresses the fugitives.”
The highest profile fugitive is Victor Manuel Gerena, who was a member of the Macheteros, the violent Puerto Rican nationalist group. Mr. Clinton and Mr. Holder had offered freedom to four of the group’s members in the controversial clemencies of 1999.
In 1983, Gerena was involved in the infamous Wells Fargo armored car robbery in Hartford, Connecticut which netted 7.1 million dollars. He was recruited by fellow Machetero co-leaders Juan Segarra and Filiberto Rios. Segarra was considered the “brains” of the group, and Rios the “muscle” and the main recruiter.
Gerena was already employed by Brinks, and he seemed a natural candidate to be pressed into service. The two would eventually convince 14 others to help in spiriting the proceeds (and Gerena) out of the country.
One night that September, Gerena overpowered two fellow guards at gunpoint, bound and drugged them, and then transferred the 7 million dollars into a rented Buick supplied by Segarra and Rios. Gerena was then taken out of the country while he was hidden in back of Segarra’s van, and he eventually arrived as a guest of Cuba (their government would then share in some of the proceeds).
Gerena was placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted list in 1984, and his 27 years there is now a record. All of the other fugitives from the case have now been accounted for.
Filiberto-Rios was placed on the Most Wanted in 1990, after he had jumped bail on the Wells Fargo charges. He fled to Puerto Rico, and over the years continued to foment violence.
Shortly after Clinton’s controversial action in 1999, Rios exhorted that we should “take advantage of this historic moment, and battle against the reactionary offenses of the U.S. government.” In 2005, he died in a shootout with FBI agents in a pitched battle that injured three agents, one of them seriously.
Juan Segarra was offered–and accepted–Bill Clinton’s controversial deal in 1999 for his involvement in the Wells Fargo case. But besides his involvement in the robbery, Segarra had planned an attack in Puerto Rico (along with Filiberto Rios) on a bus filled with U.S. Naval personnel in 1979 which had killed two.
The next of the high-profile fugitives currently in Cuba who was also involved with one of Eric Holder’s favored terrorist groups is FALN leader and bomb-maker William Morales.
In 1978, Morales was severely injured in Queens, New York, when a bomb he was making went off prematurely. He was taken into custody, and in 1979, while receiving treatment for his injuries, escaped from Bellevue hospital.
Morales fled to Puerto Rico, but then returned to New York in 1981 to lead a new bombing campaign. In May of 1983, Morales was in Mexico plotting to kill Mexican and American politicians. Luckily, Mexican police arrested him after a shootout. But two of the officers were injured, and a third one was killed.
Morales was prosecuted and jailed in Mexico, but after his release he ended up in Cuba, where he remains a fugitive to this day.
The Chesimard Case
The last of the high profile terrorists currently in Cuba is Joanne Chesimard. She had joined the Black Panthers in 1970, and Chesimard and remnants of the Panthers would eventually become involved with Susan Rosenberg and other members of the Weather Underground. Rosenberg would eventually be freed under Holder’s tenure at the Clinton Justice Department in the final frenzy of pardons.
The Panthers had formed in the mid-sixties and their philosophy was built on black nationalism and separatism. By 1970, a more militant and violent wing had formed–the Black Liberation Army (BLA).
Chesimard had soon become disenchanted with the Panthers, and followed the path of many former Panthers and joined the BLA. Her criminal record quickly grew, including charges of robbery, kidnapping and murder. She had changed her name to Assata Shakur, and soon she had become one of the leaders of the BLA.
In the early 1970’s, members of the BLA were involved in a series of premeditated shootings and killings of police officers, and Chesimard was suspected in some of those incidents.
On May 2, 1973, Chesimard was traveling with two other BLA members on the New Jersey Turnpike when their car was stopped by two New Jersey state troopers because of a broken tail light. The male driver was asked for his ID, and when a discrepancy occurred, he was questioned behind the vehicle.
An exchange of gunfire then erupted, and Trooper Werner Foerster was shot twice in the head with his own gun and killed. The other trooper was wounded, and one of the BLA members (Malik Shakur) was killed. Chesimard and the other BLA member (Sundiata Acoli) were injured, but had quickly fled the scene. Both would soon be captured.
Acoli was convicted in 1974, and received a life sentence. Chesimard was convicted on March 25, 1977 of eight counts that included murder, robbery, assault and illegal weapons possession. The jury had deliberated for just 21 hours, and Chesimard denounced them as “racist.” She also received a life sentence.
Chesimard was transferred to numerous prisons over the next year, until her arrival at the Clinton (NJ) Correctional Facility for Women in April 1978. But her “life sentence” would end up lasting just 2 1/2 years.
On November 2, 1979 at the Clinton facility, three black male “visitors” arrived, who were actually BLA members, including the group’s leader Mutulu Shakur–who was also Chesimard’s brother. They pulled out weapons, took a guard hostage, and ordered him to drive a prison van to the area where Chesimard was held.
They then ordered a second guard to bring Chesimard, and at that point, the three BLA members, along with Chesimard and the two guards now as hostages, drove to a nearby location where another van was waiting, driven by Marilyn Buck. She was a former member of the Weather Underground, but was now the only white member of the BLA.
Chesimard would eventually arrive in Cuba, where she remains to this day. But a number of BLA and former Weather Underground members would be charged in the escape, and one of them was Susan Rosenberg.
The Weather Underground
To look into the Clinton/Holder pardons of Rosenberg as well as fellow Weather Underground member Linda Evans in 2001, a look back at the creation of their group by Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers may give a fuller understanding on how a small group of peace activists would eventually be transformed into becoming robbers, terrorists and murderers.
The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was a student activist movement that began in the early 1960’s whose views focused on civil rights and criticized the cold war and the capitalist system. At first, the goal was to achieve their ambitions through peaceful means within the electoral system.
As the 60’s progressed, many of their members pushed for a more confrontational approach, and tensions further arose with the escalation of the Vietnam war. By the time of their convention in Chicago in the summer of 1969, the factions were at war with each other, and the more militant faction, led by Bernadine Dohrn, essentially took control.
The SDS, while still active, would never remain the same. The largest faction of the more militant members would soon call itself the Weathermen, and eventually rename itself the Weather Underground (WUO). Bill Ayers was elected “Education Secretary.”
In October 1969, their group, led by Ayers and Dohrn, participated in the “Days of Rage” protest in Chicago. The week began with a bomb destroying the Haymarket Police Memorial statue on October 5. Three days later on the 8th, thousands had been expected, but only a few hundred showed up.
They moved through an affluent area of Chicago and smashed windows, cars and businesses. The riot ended after about a half-hour, and six Weatherman and 28 policeman were injured. 68 Weatherman had also been arrested.
On the ninth, Bernadine Dohrn led an unsuccessful effort to raid a draft board office, and Dohrn was charged with assault. On the 11th, they regrouped and rampaged through the Loop, but the police arrested most of the group.
The demonstrations weren’t considered a success, but by early 1970, the WUO would turn to an even more militant–and dangerous–direction. On March 6, 1970, a bomb that was being constructed at a townhouse in Greenwich Village that was to be used at a serviceman’s dance in Fort Dix, New Jersey exploded prematurely, killing three members of the Underground, including Bill Ayer’s lover, Diana Oughton.
Two other members of the group were able to flee the house, including Kathy Boudin, who years later would be a key player in the infamous Brinks robbery.
Between 1970 and 1975, the group would claim credit for 25 bombings from coast to coast– and even a corporate office in Italy. The list included: the U.S. Capitol in 1971, the Pentagon in 1972, and the State Department in 1975. Other targets included various state government facilities, courthouses, corporations, banks, and the New York City police headquarters in June of 1970.
Just four months earlier, on February 16, 1970, a bomb exploded at the Park Station branch of the San Francisco Police Department, killing Sgt. Brian McDonnell and injuring several other officers. No group ever claimed credit, but FBI undercover informant Larry Grathwohl was told by Bill Ayers that Bernardine Dohrn had placed the bomb in an attempt to give the members of their terrorist group an inspiration.
The flood of the group’s claimed bombings started soon after the attack, but that bombing has never been officially solved. Grathwohl says the law enforcement task force investigating the bombing is being dismantled under Obama/Holder.
Also in 1970, a Grand Jury in Detroit indicted 13 WUO members on bombing conspiracy charges, including Ayers and Dorhn. But after the Supreme Court made a ruling against allowing the use of illegal wiretaps, most of the charges were dropped. Illinois state charges, however, would remain active against Dohrn for the next few years.
By 1974, the Weather Underground had begun to splinter. One faction–that included Ayers and Dohrn–favored an approach that included openly recruiting through the public. Ayers ended up being the primary force in creating the Prairie Fire Collective (years later two Prairie Fire members would become involved in the unsuccessful plot to free FALN leader Oscar Lopez from Leavenworth).
The other faction took a more militant approach, and allied forces with the Black Liberation Army. They now called themselves the May 19 Coalition, naming the group after the birthdates of both Malcolm X and North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh.
In 1979, as the May 19th group was preparing to take it’s most violent actions, the Justice Department dropped federal warrants against six Underground members including Dorhn. In late 1980, Ayers and Dohrn turned themselves in. Ayers had remained a fugitive, even though he knew he no longer faced criminal charges.
Dohrn worked out a plea agreement to settle Illinois state charges from the Days of
Rage protests. But less than a year later, she would become enmeshed in violent activity once again, this time with former WUO compatriots who were now members of the May 19 Coalition.
Soon after they had freed Joanne Chesimard from prison in 1979, the coalition of May 19th and BLA members would embark on a new and potentially deadly tactic. BLA member Mutulu Shakur (Jeral Williams) who had led the successful attempt to free his sister Joanne Chesimard, would now mastermind a series of successful and attempted armored car robberies in 1980 and 1981.
The infamous Brinks robbery in Nanuet, New York in October of 1981 was not the first deadly theft the May 19th/BLA coalition was involved in. On June 2, 1981, a Brinks truck was robbed of $300,000 in the Bronx, and one of the guards was killed and another seriously wounded.
The shooters were BLA members who had emerged from a van, and they had begun shooting with no warning. It was later discovered that the van had been rented by May 19th (and former Underground member) David Gilbert.
The robbery on October 20 in suburban Nanuet was a virtual rerun of the Bronx robbery, but it would end in disaster. The Brinks truck that day was making it’s final pickup of 1.6 million dollars from the Nanuet National Bank on the second floor of the Nanuet Mall.
One Brink’s guard remained in the truck while guards Peter Paige and Joe Trombino returned, and Trombino began loading the bags onto the lift on the back of the truck while Paige stood guard. A red van that was parked nearby suddenly moved closer and then when the doors swung open, five BLA members began shooting.
Brinks guard Paige–a Navy veteran with three children–died instantly. One of the BLA gunman ran to the front of the truck and fired twice at the driver behind the security windshield. The driver was unhurt, but remained inside the cab.
Trombino was able to get off a shot before he was hit several times. His left arm had
nearly been severed (in a tragic footnote, Trombino, who would recover after several surgeries, returned to work for Brinks, but unbelievably, was killed near his Brinks truck during the 9/11 attacks of 2001).
The van quickly left the Nanuet Mall and arrived at a nearby Korvette’s parking lot, where a U- Haul rented by Gilbert, along with a Honda and a Buick, were waiting to transfer the cash and the occupants. A woman living nearby called the police, and roadblocks were set up, including one on the New York State Thruway in nearby Nyack, New York where four police officers were waiting
The U-Haul approached, and Sergeant Ed O’Grady, a Marine Vietnam veteran and father of three, including a six-month old, ordered Gilbert and Boudin out of the cab. Once outside, Boudin kept pleading innocence. The officers began to relax–they had been looking for several black males.
But Detective Artie Keenan went to the back of the U-Haul and tried to open the gate. Suddenly the door came open, and a half-dozen black men emerged, guns firing. Officer Waverly “Chipper” Brown, a Korean war vet, and the only black member of the 22-man Nyack squad, died instantly after multiple gunshot wounds.
O’Grady was struck, but still managed to injure one of gunmen. While he was reloading, he was hit several times, and died two hours later. Keenan was injured but would survive. The fourth officer, Brian Lennon, was trapped in his car by the weight of O’Grady’s body against the door, but as the U-Haul sped towards him, he unloaded several rounds into it, and the
truck struck the squad car and was quickly abandoned by the robbers.
Meanwhile, two vehicles that had stopped at the roadblock were carjacked. At the same time, Kathy Boudin decided to run away at full speed along the freeway. An off-duty cop saw her and chased her down. South Nyack/Grandview Chief Alan Colsey–who had been at another roadblock–raced to the scene just in time to see the Honda and Buick racing though the area.
Colsey gave chase, and the Honda crashed into a wall, severely damaged. Colsey then held the driver, Judith Clark, along with fellow May 19 members David Gilbert and Sam Brown at bay until back-up arrived.
Before long, all $1.6 million from the robbery had been recovered.
The small suburban towns of Nanuet and Nyack were rocked by the events, and the incident received intense media coverage, especially in the New York metro area. The New York Times ran five consecutive days of front-page stories, and the fifth day included extensive coverage of the funerals for the three victims.
Thousands of police officers from around the country attended the funeral service for O’Grady and Brown. They lined up four and five deep for blocks. The Times would run 16 articles over seven consecutive days, and all but the initial report had noted that members of the Weather Underground had been involved.
One might wonder if a young student at Columbia named Barack Obama had noticed any of the stories. He had arrived in New York just two months earlier, and had begun attending classes the next month. During the 2008 presidential campaign, he said that
he would get “cranky” if he didn’t have time to read the Times, and added that he had sold subscriptions for the newspaper while attending Columbia.
One may also wonder if he noticed stories concerning Bernardine Dohrn and the robbery that ran in the Times in 1982. Dohrn had been working at an area clothing store, and used info from a customer’s drivers license to rent a vehicle used in another armored car robbery.
In a follow-up story two days later, the Times reported that Dohrn was held in contempt and sent to prison, leaving her children behind. One of the children was Chesa Boudin, whose parents were David Gilbert and Kathy Boudin. After the two were arrested, Ayers and Dohrn adopted their one-year old, who was named after Joanne Chesimard.
An AP story also noted that Dohrn had known the whereabouts of Marilyn Buck, who would later be harbored by May 19th (and former Underground) member Linda Evans. The latter would eventually be pardoned by Clinton in 2001.
In January 1983, the Times reported that Dohrn had been released from prison after serving seven months. Stories about the robbery had continuef to appear as other members of the conspiracy were arrested and charged.
The stories escalated in the spring of 1983 as the first trial approached. This time frame happened to coincide with Obama’s final months at Columbia. Stories would continue to appear on a regular basis until 1986. Obama had left New York only a few months earlier.
The last Brinks trial occurred in 1988 of Mutulu Shakur and Marilyn Buck. Shakur had been on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List until his arrest in 1986. Buck had been arrested with Linda Evans in 1985.
Shakur and Buck were convicted in not only the October 1981 Brinks robbery in Nanuet, but also for the deadly Brinks robbery in the Bronx four months earlier. Both were also convicted for aiding the escape of Joanne Chesimard in 1979.
When Bill Clinton pardoned Susan Rosenberg and Linda Evans on his last day in office, there was some media coverage about the negative reaction to the dubious pardons, but it was soon muted by the media’s preoccupation with the Marc Rich pardon.
But to understand how ludicrous the pardons were, which also included the enabling behavior of Eric Holder, it’s worth taking a look at the extensive criminal behavior of the two former members of the Weather Underground.
The pardon of Susan Rosenberg had received more notoriety than that of Ms. Evans, and with good reason. As heinous as Evans’ crimes were, the nature of Rosenberg’s were of a more high profile nature.
And Rosenberg and her support team had conducted a high-profile (and sometimes fraudulent) campaign in the hope of obtaining her release.
Rosenberg was first indicted in 1982 on charges of being involved in the botched Brinks robbery and in a number of other successful and failed robberies. She was also charged with being involved in the 1979 prison escape of Chesimard.
Even though trial testimony had placed her at the Brinks robbery, a question arose about whether she was one of the getaway car drivers. Boudin was driving the U-Haul, Clark the Honda, but there is some question of who had driven the Buick.
Some think that it was Marilyn Buck, but even if that were true, Buck had been disabled after she had accidentally shot herself in the leg during the robbery, and ended up being treated by a sympathetic doctor (she reportedly continued to walk with a limp until her death from cancer last year).
Rosenberg’s days as a fugitive finally ended on November 29, 1984 when she and fellow May 19th member Tim Blunk were arrested in the Philadelphia suburb of Cherry Hill, NJ,
while moving over 700 pounds of explosives and weapons into a storage facility.there.
At her trial, she continually mocked the judge, and ended up receiving the maximum sentence of 58 years. U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani made the decision not to prosecute for the Brinks or Chesimard charges, thinking she would remain incarcerated for decades.
At the time Rosenberg was arrested, she was also involved with Marilyn Buck, Linda Evans, Tim Blunk and three other members of the May 19th group in an ongoing bombing campaign that had included targets in New York and Washington.
The most notable attack was at the U.S. Capitol on the evening of November 7th, 1983, which had damaged the office of Robert Byrd as well as the Republican cloakroom. This was the second attack on the capitol since Ayers, Dohrn and other members of the Weather Underground had set of a bomb there in 1971.
The second attack would cause tightened security measures at the capitol that are still in place today.
On May 12, 1988 the Justice Department released the 23-page indictment detailing the attacks. On September 7, 1990, three of the seven pleaded guilty, including Evans and Buck.
The Rosenberg Case
But prosecutors also announced that the charges against Rosenberg and Blunk would be dismissed because they feared that their previous convictions in the New Jersey case would lead to a dismissal on grounds of double jeopardy.
So Rosenberg, who faced multiple charges on several separate instances during her time as a fugitive, would only be tried and convicted once. And by the end of the 1990’s, the tough-
talking unrepentant terrorist would use that issue, as well as attempt to falsely soften her image.
In November of 1999, the New York Times did a sympathetic piece that indirectly attacked the U.S. Parole Commission for considering her involvement in the Brinks robbery in denying her parole.
She also got a helping hand from New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who was a close political ally of the Clintons. Well-known leftists Noam Chomsky and William Kunstler threw in their support as well.
In December of 1999, she was interviewed in a sympathetic segment for 60 Minutes. She denied being involved in the Brinks robbery, and the bombings of the previous decade as well as the Chesimard escape were never discussed.
Days later, she was the subject of a sympathetic and widely-circulated article in the Providence Journal. Andy McCarthy, then a Assistant U.S. Attorney, had been assigned the Rosenberg case, and passed on his office’s recommendation against Rosenberg.
On January 22, 2001, two days after she was pardoned, the New York Times reported the outrage of not just Giuliani, but liberal Sen. Chuck Schumer and members of law enforcement as well. Others had expressed their opposition, including U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White as well as victims of Rosenberg’s actions.
As for Eric Holder, his friend and unofficial spokesman, former Clinton adviser Lanny Davis, told ABC News prior to Holder’s confirmation hearings that Holder “had no role at all in the Weather Underground decisions.”
However, in his written answers to the Judiciary Committee in the week following his testimony, Holder told Jeff Sessions that the Justice Department had given negative recommendations for both Evans and Rosenberg.
He added that he had forwarded the negative recommendation for Rosenberg to the White House without his signature. He then quickly added that he sent the negative recommendation for Linda Evans to the White House–this time including his signature.
But in a follow-up written answer to Arlen Specter, he confused the issue by saying that he may have forwarded both of the negative recommendations to the White House without his signature.
Holder had once again failed his responsibilities. Instead of actively supporting the Justice Department’s recommendations against both Rosenberg and Evans, he turned a blind eye and helped to set them free.
Earlier this year, Rosenberg published her memoirs in a book entitled, “An American Radical: Political Prisoner in My Own Country.”
She still expresses contempt for America, and also attacks the nation’s prison system. While incarcerated, she met Debra Denise Brown and expressed sympathy for her. Brown and her boyfriend, Alton Coleman, had gone on a killing spree in the midwest in the 1980’s, killing nine.
Three of the victims were children and who were raped, beaten and tortured by both Coleman and Brown before their murders. At a trial in Ohio for one of her victims before sentencing, she told the Judge that, “I killed the bitch and I don’t give a damn. I had fun out of it.”
Rosenberg also wrote of meeting FALN terrorist Alejandrina Torres, calling her “a true heroine”, and that they considered each other “compadres”, and that meeting her was a “relief beyond measure.” Rosenberg added that the FALN were not criminals or terrorists.
In an earlier example of the solidarity between the FALN and Weather Underground, a 1995 Houston Chronicle reported that Assistant Philadelphia U.S. Attorney Ron Levine had said that a 1000 pound batch of explosives had been stolen from an Austin, Texas construction site by members of the Underground.
He added that some of it was used by the FALN on New Years Eve 1982, when three members of the NYPD had suffered severe injuries.
Before he departed, Clinton had gone the extra step and added Rosenberg’s compatriot Linda Evans to his list of dubious pardons.
Evans had been involved with the Underground since the beginning. She was charged in both the Days of Rage riots in 1969 and in the bombing campaign of the 1970’s, but the charges were dropped because of illegal government surveillance.
She had harbored Marilyn Buck and they were arrested together in 1985 at the time of their 80’s bombing spree. She was charged with harboring Buck, but the charges were dropped in favor of facing charges in Louisiana for illegally obtaining guns.
Evans was convicted of those charges, as well as her involvement in the bombings, and she was sentenced to a combined 45-year sentence. She had 24 years left to go before Clinton had freed her.
Later that year, writer David Horowitz went to a gathering at a leftist bookstore where Evans railed against the “oppressed in prison and the oppressed in America”, and praised, among others, fellow Weather Underground terrorist Kathy Boudin as well as Philadelphia cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal. Rosenberg had written a sympathetic poem to him as well.
Two years before her release in 1999, during a labor dispute at a listener-funded leftist radio station in Berkeley, Evans was involved in sending a statement of support for the stations employees.
It was signed by:
Puerto Rican Prisoners of War Dylcia Pagan, Alicia Rodriguez, Ida Luz Rodriguez, Carmen Valentine
Anti-Imperialist Political Prisoners Marilyn Buck, Linda Evans and Laura Whitehorn
The letter was sent just four weeks before Clinton (with the advice and consent of Eric Holder) had offered clemency to the FALN, including the four women noted above. Eighteen months later Linda Evans would also be free.
On December 1, 2008 President Obama officially announced that Eric Holder was his nominee to become Attorney General. He stated that Holder had the “talent and commitment” to succeed as Attorney General, and that he had a combination of “toughness and independence” that would protect the people and uphold the public trust.
Mr. Obama could not have been more wrong. Holder’s performance in office has shown a shallowness bordering on pettiness on a variety of issues. In recent months, Holder
has refused to cooperate in the investigation of the disastrous Project Gunrunner, a creation of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which has led to the flow of hundreds of weapons to Mexico. It has apparently not only led to violent crimes there, but to the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
His failure to prosecute the blatant New Black Panther voter intimidation case, his desire to prosecute members of the intelligence community over terror interrogations (which could literally tear the country apart) and his refusal to accept both the will of the public and the Congress to keep the Guantanamo detention center open have not only further damaged his already dubious reputation, but the image of the Justice Department.
His reckless and foolish behavior while in the Clinton administration had put the nation at further risk, and even more importantly, every day that Mr. Holder now remains as Obama’s Attorney General further undermines our country. ________________________
* Ron Kolb is a freelance writer from Corpus Christi, Texas, and has written articles on the FALN for the American Spectator and Real Clear Politics.
In this blockbuster report, Attorney General Eric Holder’s Record of Corruption, investigative journalist Ron Kolb reveals the following:
On the Puerto Rican terrorist FALN:
1. After Holder became Deputy Attorney General in 1997, he fired then current Pardon Attorney Margaret Colgate Love, who had issued a report in 1996 recommending against clemency for the FALN and Macheteros.
2. Holder installed Roger Adams (who had been a former assistant to Holder at the US Attorney’s office) as the new Pardon Attorney. During 1997 and 1998 Holder met at least nine times with advocates for clemency–never meeting with victims of the FALN’s actions.
3. In a meeting on November 5, 1997 Holder came up with the idea that the terrorists should express “remorse” for their actions, in an apparent attempt to make clemency seem more palatable to the public (this alternative was later rejected by the terrorists in 1999).
4. Holder continued to pressure Roger Adams to issue a report recommending clemency. Adams refused to do so because: the prosecutors and the FBI would object; it would hamper investigations into co-conspirators who were still at large; victims of the FALN had not been notified; and the issuance of clemency could cause a public uproar.
5. A compromise was reached, where an “options report” was issued by Adams that made no specific recommendation. This accomplished the following: the new report did not technically override the Love report from 1996; Roger Adams would not be required to recommend clemency; and the existence of the new report would pave the way for President Clinton to issue clemency.
6. In early 1999, after Hillary Clinton expressed interest in seeking the U.S. Senate seat from the state of New York (where 1.3 million Puerto Rican voters reside), White House staff began movement on the pardons.
7. Holder and Adams forwarded the “options report” to the White House on July 8, 1999. On August 9, Mrs. Clinton met with advocates for clemency. Jose Rivera, a New York City councilman gave Mrs. Clinton documents relating to clemency, and asked that they be given to her husband. On August 11, Mr. Clinton offered clemency to 16 members of the FALN and Macheteros. One month later, 11 FALN were released from various Federal prisons.
8. During subsequent Senate testimony, Holder refused to answer most questions, claiming executive privilege. He refused to discuss the Love report from 1996, and also stated that a September 1999 report from Janet Reno recommending against the “impending release” of Puerto Rican terrorists was not referring to the 16 who were offered clemency.
9. During Holder’s Senate testimony in 2009, he admitted that he had recommended clemency for the FALN to Mr. Clinton. He also claimed to not know that many of the groups members had threatened their trial judge just prior to sentencing, and was unaware that two FALN members were caught on tape making bombs. he also claimed that he knew enough about the group to recommend clemency.
On the Weather Underground:
1. In Holder’s written answers to Senator Sessions, Holder said that the DOJ had recommended against clemency for both Susan Rosenberg and Linda Evans. Holder added that he forwarded the negative finding on Rosenberg to the White House without his signature.
2. He added that he did sign the negative finding on Linda Evans before forwarding it to the White House.
3. In his written answers to Senator Specter though, he said that he may have forwarded both findings to the White House without his signature.
On Marc Rich:
1. Holder was first approached by Jack Quinn (Marc Rich’s attorney) in October 1999 and had several contacts with Quinn about the case until January of 2001–a period of 15 months. Holder would later state at least three times before Congress that he had only a passing familiarity with the case.
2. During the period of October of 1999 to March 2000, Holder tried to broker a deal with Federal prosecutors that would cause the charges against Mr. Rich to be dropped. Holder also received a memo on February 28 from Quinn on why the charges against Rich should be dismissed. The prosecutors issued a total rejection of any deal.
3. In November of 2000, Holder was approached again by Quinn, this time in an attempt to obtain a pardon. Holder advised Quinn to contact the White House, and that they should contact him (Holder). This was against the normal procedure, and bypassed the prosecutors (who had previously rejected any deal) and also bypassed the Pardon Attorney’s office.
4. On January 19, 2001, Holder told the White House that he was “neutral, leaning favorable” toward a pardon for Rich, even after later admitting that he knew that Rich was a fugitive–and had assumed that a pardon would be rejected. He said he based his recommendation on a statement of support from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak–after hearing of it third-hand from Quinn only moments before.
5. Later that evening, Roger Adams learned that both Rich and his business partner Pincus Green were fugitives, and early on the morning of January 20 tracked down Holder at his home to “alert” him of the impending pardons. Holder informed Adams that he was aware of that fact and the conversation quickly ended.
6. After the pardons were issued by Mr. Clinton, Quinn contacted then acting Attorney General Holder on the 22nd. After complimenting Quinn on being able to obtain the pardons, Holder advised Quinn on how deal with the media over the issue, and ran down a laundry list for making life easier for Mr. Rich. This included taking actions to have the Interpol Red Alert lifted and contacting the court in Manhattan to have the charges removed.
7. Holder then asked Quinn if he could fax resumes for two of his deputies to Quinn’s law office (which he subsequently did). He later admitted to Congress that he had earlier spoken to Quinn about becoming Attorney General in a potential Gore administration. Holder had also told the Washington Post that he hoped Quinn might help him in that effort.
8. During his Senate testimony in 2009, his memory often failed him. He would also make statements about his involvement that are contradicted by the known record. He still claimed that he had been unfamiliar with Rich and Rich’s case even after the Clarendon settlement with Rich in 1995 had been revealed, and after being petitioned repeatedly by Jack Quinn between 1999 and 2001.
On the Clarendon Limited settlement:
The Clarendon settlement involved an agreement between that company and the U.S. government to pay 1.2 million dollars in fines for 22 contracts they had received totaling 45 million dollars between 1988 and 1991. Clarendon had been contracted by the Treasury to supply coinage metals to the U.S. Mint, and they had neglected to mention that Marc
Rich owned half the company.
Mr. Rich was a federal fugitive at the time, and was barred from receiving federal contracts. The government threatened to prosecute the company and Holder’s office negotiated the settlement. The Wall Street Journal quoted then DC U.S. Attorney Holder announcing the agreement in an article on April 13, 1995.
The agreement had been announced on April 12, and the settlement included Holder’s signature in three different places, and also included an affidavit from Marc Rich that he had signed in St. Moritz on April 6. The affidavit included a raised notary stamp, and in addition, the settlement also described Rich’s indictment in 1983 and noted that he was then currently a fugitive.
The Assistant U.S. Attorney, Barbara Van Gelder also signed the document. She would eventually say that she signed the document for Holder, had spoken to others about the case in Holder’s office, but could not “recall” speaking with Holder.
However, it appears that there are no similarities between the two signatures. It should also be noted that this case was a significant one, and had been ongoing since the government discovered the fraudulent contracts in 1990, and that the case involved 45 million in fraud charges and a settlement of over a million dollars.
It should further be noted that Van Gelder is a political ally of Holder; both have donated to many of the same politicians and causes, including the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. She also contacted the AP last November to endorse Holder the same day that his name first leaked.
It should also be noted that during Holder’s recent testimony, he said of Rich that, “I did not acquaint myself with his record. I knew that the matter involved–it was a tax fraud case–it was a substantial tax fraud case, and I knew he was a fugitive.” Holder’s statement shows that he was fully aware of the Clarendon case.
Holder stated at least six times before Congress in 2001 that he was unfamiliar with Mr. Rich when he was first approached by Jack Quinn. It should be noted that if Mr. Holder was unfamiliar with Rich in 1999, he certainly knew the details of Rich’s 1983 indictment after repeated discussions over a 15-month period with Quinn–and he denied being familiar with the case in his testimony.
On the Chiquita Brands scandal:
Holder, as a member of the Covington and Burling law firm, obtained a plea deal in 2007 for Chiquita Brands International–and helped ten executives and employees escape prosecution for paying “protection” money to the Colombian paramilitary group AUC (United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia).
The AUC is also known as Colombia’s “death squad” and Chiquita’s payments totaled 1.7 million between 1997 and 2004. During those years, the AUC killed 4000 people, and there are no confirmed reports that any Chiquita employees had been directly targeted, as Chiquita implied.
By choosing to take that case, Holder helped ten people who had aided and abetted a terrorist group that had killed thousands avoid prosecution. The company pleaded guilty and received a 25 million dollar fine.
Holder would later argue in a civil settlement that there’s no law against material support of terrorism, or even of the definition of terrorism
Eric Holder/Senate Judiciary Committee Highlights of FALN Testimony–1/15/09
From Holder’s opening statement: “I will work to strengthen the activities of the Federal government to protect the American people from terrorism. Nothing I do is more
To Sessions: “I think that…what the president did was reasonable.” To Cornyn: “I think…that decision was made in a pre–9/11 context.”
Cornyn: Did you recommend clemency for the FALN terrorists to President Clinton?. Holder: Yes.
Cornyn: Was it a mistake?
Holder: No, I don’t think it was a mistake.
To Cornyn: (post–9/11) “I would not have ended up, I think, in the same place that I was when that happened.”
To Coburn: “You had two United States attorneys who weighed in against it. Law enforcement was against it. There are obviously the feelings the victims had…I took those into account and balanced that against the people who were advocating for it.”
To Grassley: (On Edwin Cortez/Alejandrina Torres bomb-making video): “I don’t know the names of the people who were among that group of 15, I guess.”
To Grassley: “I’ve not seen that video before…I think I’ve seen it in some news accounts in the recent past, like, over the last week or so, something like that.”
To Grassley: “I’m not sure I ever described them as non-violent…it’s a difference between– let’s hypothetically say–murder and attempted murder.”
To Specter: “All I asked Roger Adams to do was his job…what I asked him to do was to draft a memo that went from me…you look at it. It says from the Deputy Attorney
General to the President.”
To Specter: (on a memo to Adams): “That is a document that belongs to the Justice Department. It is not, from my understanding, mine to give.” Specter asks: “Well, I think I’ll ask the Justice Department for it. Would you ask them to?” (Leahy cuts him off)
To Sessions: “It seemed to me that the clemency grant given, taking all that into consideration, was appropriate. And that was what I conveyed to the President.”
Grassley–Do you have any regrets about you actions in the FALN terrorist case?
Holder–I do not think my actions in the FALN case were a mistake given all the factors at the time. However, as I testified, I think I would view this clemency request differently today in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks.
Grassley–Can you please explain…why the clemencies were reasonable? Holder–None of them were convicted of killing or injuring anyone.
Grassley–Could you please explain why you did not contact the families of the FALN victims in your decision-making process? Did you not think it was important to hear their views?
Holder–The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago was asked to contact the victims.
Note: There is no record that anyone was asked to contact the victims (and none were).
To Grassley–(asked about ’93 WTC, Kenya, Tanzania, Cole and 9/11 attacks): While I may have come to a different decision regarding the FALN clemency requests in a post-9/11 world, the commitment of the Department of Justice to fighting terrorism remained strong.
Cornyn–One of their (FALN) supporters, the Reverend Paul Sherry, responded that they “would not change their beliefs.”
Holder–As a condition of release each one of the prisoners receiving clemency were required to renounce violence.
To Cornyn–(on clarifying Cardinal O’Connor’s “support”): I do not recall if I knew about Cardinal O’Connor’s clarification. I apparently erred in citing him as a supporter of clemency.
To Cornyn–(on Machetero Juan Segarra linked to a US Navy bus attack which killed two): Mr. Segarra-Palmer was not indicted or convicted of any crime that involved injury to anyone.
Cornyn–You testified that…clemency recipients were not “the heads of the organization”.
Holder–Roberto Maldonado (Machetero leader), Juan Segarra (Machetero leader) and Oscar Lopez (FALN leader) were not indicted or convicted of any crime that involved injury to anyone, which is the basis for my statement.
Written question from Senator Specter–after noting that Holder testified that he did not know FALN members made threats to their trial judge at sentencing; were caught on film making bombs; and that some who were offered clemency included leaders of the group, Specter asked the following:
Specter: Given this apparent lack of knowledge about the terrorists, do you still believe you were well-enough informed to recommend releasing the terrorists?
Note: From the written testimony of former FBI agent Richard Hahn: Luis Rosa (FALN member upon sentencing) boasted “there will be many more Fraunces Taverns and many more Sabana Secas.” (the last reference is to an attack in Puerto Rico which killed two Naval servicemen)
Eric Holder/Senate Judiciary Committee From Oral Testimony on FALN-1/15/09 Misstatements in CAPS
1. To Cornyn- I thought that the President’s determination was a reasonable one…given the fact that the nature of the offenses of which they were convicted, THEY DID NOT DIRECTLY HARM ANYONE.
2. To Coburn- There are obviously feelings that the victims had and WE TOOK THOSE INTO–I TOOK THOSE INTO, let’s talk about me, I TOOK THOSE INTO ACCOUNT.
3. To Grassley- (after viewing two FALN members on bomb-making videotape) I DON’T KNOW THE NAMES OF THE PEOPLE WHO WERE AMONG THE GROUP OF 15, I guess. I DON”T KNOW THE ANSWER TO THAT.
4. To Grassley- NO. I HAVE NOT SEEN THAT VIDEO BEFORE.
5. To Grassley- I THINK I’VE SEEN IT IN SOME NEWS ACCOUNTS IN THE RECENT PAST, LIKE OVER THE LAST WEEK OR SO, SOMETHING LIKE THAT.
Note: Please note the contradiction with the previous statement.
6. To Grassley- (on threats made to judge during sentencing) I’M NOT AWARE OF THAT.
7. To Grassley- (on Cortes/Torres bomb-making video) I DON’T KNOW IF THESE TWO ARE THE INDIVIDUALS ARE PART OF THAT 15 OF THAT GROUP.
8. To Grassley- With regard to the group of 15, NONE OF THEM HAD THEMSELVES BEEN …DIRECTLY LINKED TO A CRIME THAT INVOLVED AN INJURY TO SOMEBODY.
9. To Sessions- I..took into account THE FACT THAT THESE PEOPLE WERE NOT DIRECTLY INVOLVED IN INCIDENTS THAT LED TO DEATHS OR INJURIES.
10. Written Answer to Specter- (on AG Reno’s 1999 report warning of the “impending ” release of Puerto Rican terrorists) The report WAS TALKING ABOUT MEMBERS OF FALN
WHO WERE SCHEDULED TO GET OUT OF PRISON OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS DUE TO COMPLETING THEIR SENTENCES.
It should also be noted that Holder made several evasive statements to Cornyn’s written questions.
In both the first and second rounds, Cornyn asked Holder to list and describe communications with a various assortment of people and organizations concerning the clemency issue.
At least ten times, Holder side-stepped the question by answering with a very similar response. “I do not have documents memorializing communications that I may have had concerning FALN and/or Los Macheteros commutations, other than what may be in the public domain, nor can I recall each one.”
In round two, Cornyn asked Holder about his knowledge of the leadership positions of Lopez, Segarra and Maldonado. Holder’s response, “It is my understanding that information about…these three men was included in their respective presentence reports.”
Cornyn also asked if Holder was aware of Juan Segarra’s alleged involvement in a bus attack on the island that killed two U.S. Naval servicemen. Holder replied that,”The information about Mr. Segarra-Palmer’s alleged involvement in the attack at Sabana Seca was included in his presentence report.”
Further note on statements one and nine: Of the 29 FALN bombings in the Chicago area between 1975 and 1979 (and before the arrest of 11 FALN members in 1980), nine people were injured–some of them seriously.
Eric Holder/Senate Judiciary Committee From Oral Testimony on Marc Rich-1/15/09 Misstatements in CAPS
1. To Specter- (on whether Quinn should avoid DOJ and go straight to the White House) I DON’T REMEMBER THAT CONVERSATION, but I’ve never disputed that I might have said that to Mr. Quinn.
2. To Specter- (on Quinn email that quotes Holder saying “go straight to WH”) It’s difficult for me to explain that, I NEVER TOLD QUINN TO GO STRAIGHT TO THE WHITE HOUSE.
3. To Specter- I DON’T KNOW WHAT MR.QUINN–WHERE HE GOT THAT FROM.
4. To Specter- I NEVER TOLD HIM TO GO STRAIGHT TO THE WHITE HOUSE WITH THAT PARDON APPLICATION.
5. Specter: (on Rich) Were you aware of what kind of record this man had?
Holder: NO, I WAS NOT…I DID NOT REALLY ACQUAINT MYSELF WITH HIS RECORD. I knew the matter involved–it was a tax fraud case; it was a substantial tax fraud case.
6. To Grassley- I should have been more informed about Marc Rich and his case. I WAS NOT.
7. To Grassley- (on the Justice Department and the New York prosecutors) I should have kept them involved, I ASSUMED THAT THEY WERE.
8. To Grassley- (on Rich) I WASN’T SYMPATHETIC TO THE CASE.
9. To Grassley- (on brokering a deal in 2000) The lawyers (prosecutors) in the Southern District of New York refused to do that AND THAT WAS THE END OF IT.
10. To Grassley- (on pardon) I WASN’T PARTICULARLY SYMPATHETIC.
11. To Grassley- (on pardon) I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING TO TRY AND MAKE THIS PARDON HAPPEN.
12. To Grassley- (on pardon) I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING AFFIRMATIVELY TO TRY AND MAKE THE PARDON HAPPEN.
13. To Grassley- (on pardon) I SHOULD HAVE MADE SURE THAT I WAS BETTER INFORMED, THAT I KNEW MORE ABOUT THE UNDERLYING FACTS OF THE CASE ABOUT THE HISTORY OF MR. RICH.
14. Specter: (noting that Holder met or spoke with Quinn at least six times before the pardon) Do you stand by that (2001) testimony that you were not intimately involved and only had a passing familiarity with this matter?
Holder: Yes… I NEVER HAD A DETAILED CONVERSATION WITH MR. QUINN ABOUT THE FACTS OF THE CASE.
15. To Specter- (on Roger Adams 1 a.m. call on 1/20/01 alerting Holder of possible Rich pardon) I THOUGHT WE WERE DEALING WITH A FAIT ACCOMPLI, THAT THE PRESIDENT…HAD MADE UP HIS MIND AND THAT THE DECISION WAS A FINAL ONE. Note: Holder said in 2001 that he took no action because he was “distracted that night.”
16. Grassley: (Do) you remember the comment about the howl from the Southern District?
Holder: At this point, Senator, I mean, we’re talking about something that happened, what, 2001? So, that’s eight years ago, I DON’T REMEMBER THAT.
17. To Grassley- (on whether Quinn should avoid DOJ and go straight to the White House) I KNOW I DID NOT SAY THAT. MAYBE HE (Quinn) MISINTERPRETED THINGS. BUT THAT ONE, I KNOW I DID NOT SAY. THIS I SIMPLY DON”T REMEMBER.
18. To Grassley- (on avoiding DOJ and going straight to WH) Again, I DON’T REMEMBER SAYING THAT. But, if in fact I said that, I THINK THAT ACTUALLY POINTS THE OTHER WAY. IT SHOWS THAT THERE’S AN EXPECTATION–AN ASSUMPTION ON MY PART THAT THE PEOPLE IN THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT IN FACT, KNOW ABOUT THIS.
19. To Grassley- (on if he told Quinn that he spoke to US Attorney Mary Jo White) I DO NOT HAVE A SPECIFIC RECOLLECTION OF THAT CONVERSATION, BUT I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT I SPOKE WITH MARY JO WHITE.
Note: In the next four questions from Grassley, Holder had no specific recollection of events in brokering a deal, but then would add a long convoluted explanation that they “may” have happened. I’ll only include the false part of each statement.
20. To Grassley- (on whether White was reviewing Rich’s case) I DO NOT HAVE A SPECIFIC RECOLLECTION OF THAT CONVERSATION.
21. To Grassley- (on whether he told Quinn that he would do what he could with White) I DO NOT HAVE A SPECIFIC RECOLLECTION OF THAT CONVERSATION.
22. To Grassley- (on whether he told Quinn he was sympathetic) I DO NOT HAVE A SPECIFIC RECOLLECTION OF THAT CONVERSATION.
23. To Grassley- (on whether he told Quinn that “equities” were on his side) I DO NOT HAVE A SPECIFIC RECOLLECTION OF THAT CONVERSATION.
24. Grassley: (on pardon discussions in late 2000) Did you tell Quinn something to the effect that the timing was good?
25. Grassley: Did you tell Quinn something to the effect that he should get the petition in soon?
26. To Grassley- (if Holder had contacted the New York prosecutors) No. I ASSUMED, MISTAKENLY THAT, as in other cases, COMMUNICATIONS BELOW MY LEVEL WERE OCCURRING BETWEEN THE INVOLVED OFFICES AND MAIN JUSTICE.
27. To Grassley- (on Holder’s lengthy list of advice to Quinn concerning Rich two days after the pardon) I DO NOT HAVE AN INDEPENDENT RECOLLECTION OF TELLING HIM ABOUT THAT ADVICE.
28. To Grassley- (on whether he advised Quinn on how to handle the press) NO.
29. To Grassley- (on advising Quinn on how to have the indictment dismissed) NO…I DO NOT HAVE A SPECIFIC RECOLLECTION OF THAT CONVERSATION.
30. To Grassley- (on advising Quinn on lifting travel restrictions for Rich) I DO NOT HAVE A SPECIFIC RECOLLECTION OF THAT CONVERSATION, but I believe…I responded to his inquiry.
31. To Grassley- (on whether he congratulated Quinn) I DO NOT HAVE A SPECIFIC RECOLLECTION OF THAT CONVERSATION but…it was only an acknowledgment that he had done something that I considered to have been very difficult and unexpected.
32 and 33. To Grassley- (on whether Holder had resumes for two of his staff sent to Quinn) I DO NOT HAVE A SPECIFIC RECOLLECTION OF THAT CONVERSATION, but…I may have asked Quinn to consider the resumes of two people in my office. THIS HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE RICH MATTER.
34. To Grassley- (on Rich case) I WAS NOT SUFFICIENTLY FAMILIAR WITH THE FACTS OF THE CASE AND MISTAKENLY ASSUMED THAT COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN THE WHITE HOUSE AND JUSTICE DEPARTMENT WERE OCCURRING.
35. To Grassley- (on whether Holder was involved in the 1995 Clarendon/Rich tax fraud case) I WAS NOT PERSONALLY AWARE OF THE RICH MATTER IN 1996 (95). I WAS NOT PERSONALLY INVOLVED IN THE CLARENDON CASE. I did not personally sign the agreement..it was signed on my behalf by the Assistant US Attorney Barbara Van Gelder.
Please note: Holder said in his oral testimony that he was aware of a “substantial tax fraud case” during the time frame of the Rich pardon.
36. To Grassley- (on whether Holder said he was “sympathetic” about Rich’s problem in March 2000) I DO NOT HAVE A SPECIFIC RECOLLECTION OF THAT CONVERSATION.
37. To Grassley- (on pattern of evidence that shows Holder assisted with Rich case) I DID NOT DO ANYTHING TO TRY AND MAKE THIS PARDON HAPPEN.
Written Questions–Round Two
38. To Specter- (on 1995 Clarendon case and how Holder could be “unfamiliar” with Rich in 2001) I HAVE NO RECOLLECTION OF BEING PERSONALLY INVOLVED IN THE CLARENDON LIMITED CASE. I did not personally sign the Clarendon Limited settlement agreement.
39. To Specter- (on Clarendon case) The April 13, 1995 Wall Street Journal article DOES NOT CONTAIN ANY QUOTE FROM ME.
Note: The article states that “US Attorney Eric Holder said the agreement ends an investigation into the company’s contracts.”
40. To Specter- (on Holder saying in 1999 that it was “ridiculous” that Mary Jo White was refusing to discuss the Rich case) I DO NOT HAVE A SPECIFIC RECOLLECTION OF THAT CONVERSATION, but… I would have expressed my view that meetings…are worthwhile.
41. To Specter- (on Holder stating that he was sympathetic and that “equities” are on Rich’s side) I DO NOT HAVE A SPECIFIC RECOLLECTION OF THAT CONVERSATION but…it would have been only to Mr. Quinn’s desire to meet with the Southern District prosecutors.
From the conclusion of Ron Kolb’s devastating report on Obama Attorney General Eric Holder:
On December 1, 2008 President Obama officially announced that Eric Holder was his nominee to become Attorney General. He stated that Holder had the “talent and commitment” to succeed as Attorney General, and that he had a combination of “toughness and independence” that would protect the people and uphold the public trust.
Mr. Obama could not have been more wrong. Holder’s performance in office has shown a shallowness bordering on pettiness on a variety of issues. In recent months, Holder has refused to cooperate in the investigation of the disastrous Project Gunrunner, a creation of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which has led to the flow of hundreds of weapons to Mexico. It has apparently not only led to violent crimes there, but to the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
His failure to prosecute the blatant New Black Panther voter intimidation case, his desire to prosecute members of the intelligence community over terror interrogations (which could literally tear the country apart) and his refusal to accept both the will of the public and the Congress to keep the Guantanamo detention center open have not only further damaged his already dubious reputation, but the image of the Justice Department.
His reckless and foolish behavior while in the Clinton administration had put the nation at further risk, and even more importantly, every day that Mr. Holder now remains as Obama’s Attorney General further undermines our country.