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Eric Holder's 'Made-Up' Defense

Imagine how quickly the whole matter would go away if the Department confessed error. You’d never hear about the mess again. But a racialist ideology is a nasty and sticky thing, not easily escaped or excused by those who adopt it.

Congress also deserves answers regarding why Holder’s staff didn’t tell the truth in House and Senate Judiciary oversight proceedings, including in written responses.

Senators John Cornyn and Jeff Sessions have done a spectacular job holding Holder’s Justice Department accountable on a wide range of issues. With increased Republican numbers in Congress, Holder would do well to stop listening to his staff and figure out the truth on his own.

Some credit is due Charlie Savage of the New York Times for even pressing the attorney general on the New Black Panther dismissal. Bob Schieffer can’t say as much. Savage could bolster his credibility by making the same inquiries of this Justice Department as he did to the Bush DOJ. For starters, he could examine the preposterous hiring practices in the Civil Rights Division since Obama’s inauguration. The more time that passes without an inquiry from Savage and the New York Times, the more partisan his badgering of the Bush DOJ appears.

Holder, who claims to spend long nights at his kitchen table reviewing death penalty certifications, would do well to spend some time also reviewing the New Black Panther case files before he embarrasses himself again.

Holder might also inquire why congressmen threw King and Rosenbaum out of their offices during Black Panther briefings. The most important thing Holder might ponder at his kitchen table is why two successful and award-winning DOJ attorneys stuck their necks out to describe a culture of hostility to race neutral enforcement of civil rights laws. Even worse, numerous current DOJ attorneys corroborated the testimony to the Washington Post.

If Eric Holder wants to be taken seriously these last two years of the term, he would do well to find ways to engage in reasonable discourse and jettison the campaign-style rhetoric. More and more facts are going to emerge through congressional oversight about the DOJ’s rotted approach to enforcement of civil rights laws, and Holder will not be able to divert attention to these details with bluster.

Instead of circling partisan wagons, Holder would serve his own interests by boring deeper into the truth of the New Black Panther case. Instead of spouting spin crafted by underlings, he should learn the truth, especially when the underlings drafting his talking points are the same people who bungled the dismissal, like Steven Rosenbaum.

Rosenbaum has drafted error-filled responses to Congress, and others, even though his fingerprints are all over the mess. The role of Rosenbaum, King, and Karen Stevens (another partisan staffer) in developing false responses to Congress should be one additional line of inquiry by oversight committees. It will be hard for Holder to spend his dwindling political capital to defend the factual errors of these three.

Credible operations compartmentalize such things. The Bush DOJ didn’t have Monica Goodling drafting responses to Congress. The Holder DOJ has delegated the job of preparing talking points for the attorney general and drafting responses for Congress to the very people who caused the scandal in the first place. Add Holder’s New York Times interview to the list of examples where it seems amateurs are running the federal government.