And that pretty much sums up the legacy of Eric Holder’s AG leadership…
AMY GOODMAN: Assessments of Eric Holder’s legacy as attorney general have been mixed. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund hailed Holder as one of the finest attorneys general in United States history, in part for his role in transforming the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department and his leadership on voting rights.
Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union criticized Holder’s record on national security issues. The ACLU notes, during Holder’s time in office, the Justice Department approved the drone killing of an American in Yemen, approved the NSA’s mass surveillance programs, failed to prosecute any Bush administration officials for torture, and presided over more leak prosecutions than all previous Justice Departments combined.
AMY GOODMAN: On Thursday, President Obama applauded Eric Holder for his work combating financial fraud.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: He’s helped safeguard our markets from manipulation and consumers from financial fraud. Since 2009, the Justice Department has brought more than 60 cases against financial institutions and won some of the largest settlements in history for practices related to the financial crisis, recovering $85 billion, much of it returned to ordinary Americans who were badly hurt.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s President Obama hailing the record of Eric Holder, who announced his resignation yesterday, though it might well be a long time before he leaves, because a replacement will have to be approved. Rob Weissman of Public Citizen, your response?
ROBERT WEISSMAN: Well, I think that Eric Holder’s record in the area of financial fraud and holding corporate criminals accountable is really radically different than his record in the area of civil rights and voting rights. In this area, he has failed utterly. No one has been held accountable for the Wall Street crash, none of the Wall Street executives, none of the Wall Street firms, for widespread financial misdeeds that led to the worst recession we’ve faced in 70 years, tens of millions of people being thrown out of work, millions of people being thrown out of their homes. There was basically immunity. And in fact, when the Department of Justice under Eric Holder found evidence of large financial firms engaging in epic-level money laundering on behalf of narcotraffickers and countries the U.S. government considers to be enemies, it still decided not to criminally prosecute them, on the grounds that they were too big to fail, or, as it became known, too big to jail. Essentially, a decision was taken that if you are a financial institution and you become big enough and powerful enough, you are above the criminal law. And unfortunately, that, too, is going to be a major part of Eric Holder’s legacy.