SEN. LEAHY: I'm glad to see all of you; many familiar faces inour hearing room. I'm thinking Senator Specter and I have spent asignificant portion of our lives in this room. I look around and I'mmissing one of the senators I sat with here for over 30 years, SenatorBiden, who has now left the Senate for other duties of sorts.So I welcome all of you. Yesterday we met in the Senate CaucusRoom from 9:30 to 7:15, so that every senator, Republican andDemocratic alike, could ask Eric Holder whatever questions they had;an historic room for an historic nomination.Senator John Warner of Virginia once again showed thebipartisanship and leadership that he's shown for over 30 years in theSenate. He knows the problems facing the Department of Justice andthe country are so great that he was urging everybody to put asidepartisanship and work together. He presented and endorsed Eric Holderto be attorney general, described his outstanding qualifications,integrity and independence.Congresswoman Norton was eloquent in her statement of support forEric Holder, a former judge first nominated by President RonaldReagan, and then a prosecutor in the District of Columbia.Everybody asked the questions they wanted to. Senators of bothparties have done so. Much of the questioning was substantive thattouched on many important issues. And the senators were --technically the third round was a five-minute round, but they went 20and 25 minutes and longer for some of the senators. I waited untileverybody said they had asked all the questions they wanted.Now, having heard Mr. Holder's testimony, I'm more convinced thanever he's a person who will reinvigorate the Department of Justice,serve ably as a member of the president's national security team,pursue the Justice Department's vital missions with skill, integrity,independence, and a commitment to the rule of law. As I've saidbefore, he's a prosecutor's prosecutor.And I'm not going to use all my time because I want to get to thewitnesses, so I'll yield to Senator Specter.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.The attendance is substantially less than yesterday. I can'timagine why, considering the impressive array of seven witnesses whoare here. But I join the chairman in thanking all of you for coming.And outside witnesses are very important to give a fuller picture.As I said yesterday, I had hoped to have initially 12 and thendown to seven, and only three witnesses have been permitted here. ButI don't intend to press that point, because I know that there is greatdisdain in the American public for disagreements or bickering inWashington, D.C.So the chairman and I have had a very cordial relationship for 28years; actually before that. I met him when he was the districtattorney at Burlington. I had a smaller city, Philadelphia, thedistrict attorney. We had the national convention in Philadelphia andI met this young fellow. He was not as tall then. He had a lot morehair. And we have worked very closely together.And we have had a disagreement about the handling of thescheduling and the handling of the witnesses and a number of mattershere. And I do want to help President-elect Obama. It's veryimportant. There are enormous problems facing this country, and weall ought to do everything we can.There is the constitutional responsibility that this committeehas on advice and consent, and we're at the consent part now. Andseparation of powers is the rock bed of our republic, and independenceis very important. And I emphasized that yesterday in the questioningof Mr. Holder. So we have an important role to perform here, and weappreciate your coming in.In the interest of time, I'm going to yield back the balance ofmy two minutes and 37 seconds.
SEN. LEAHY: Thank you.The first witness -- and he was there for a good part of thehearing yesterday -- is Louis Freeh. Judge Freeh is the formerdirector of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.I read this from thenotes, Judge; I don't think there's anybody in the room that needs toknow that, but you are. Your career began in the Department ofJustice in 1975 when you became a special agent for the FBI.He has a long and distinguished career as a public servant underboth Democratic and Republican presidents. He was appointed byPresident George H.W. Bush as a federal district court judge, alifetime appointment on the Southern District of New York. He'd beena career federal prosecutor in the United States attorney's office forthe Southern District of New York, serving as chief of the organizedcrime unit.Now, he gave up that lifetime position to take appointment as thehead of the FBI. And I know -- I should note for the record, I'veknown Louis Freeh and his wife Marilyn and family for years, and I amthrilled and I feel honored that he's now a part-time resident of thestate of Vermont.And Judge, please go ahead. We'll start with you, and I'llintroduce each one. And if it's okay with you, I thought we'd just gothrough and let everybody testify and then we'll ask some questions.
MR. FREEH: (Off mike) -- Senator Specter, good morning to you.It is a pleasure to be before you. I've been in front of thiscommittee dozens and dozens of times over the years, and I'm verypleased to come here and speak in support of the nomination of EricHolder.We have presiding over the committee today not just two chairmen,Senator Specter being the former chairman of this committee, but twoprosecutors, two district attorneys who know first-hand the importanceand the challenges of protecting our laws and our society, but alsoadhering to the rule of law and being politically independent as youmake important decisions, decisions which are subject to review andcriticism.So I think the country and the Senate could not have two moreknowledgeable and experienced people to lead the inquiry. And Icommend the committee and you, Mr. Chairman, and the ranking memberfor the fairness and thoroughness of your hearing.I was confirmed twice by this committee. I spent 25 yearsserving in the United States government, mostly at the Department ofJustice.I left the FBI director's job after eight years. One of thethings I was proudest of is when I left Washington, no one in theSenate, no one in the Congress, had called for my resignation while Iwas here. No one said I was politically partisan. No one said that Iwas not independent. And for me and the FBI, that was a greatfeeling. I also left town without being further investigated, which,as you know, is a great benefit to any federal serving official.When I was a prosecutor, Attorney General Thornburgh at the timesent me down to Atlanta to work on a bombing case. It was a prettyegregious case. Someone had killed a federal judge and also the headof the NAACP in Savannah. That was my first opportunity to meetGriffin Bell. Griffin Bell, in his typical humility, called me up. Iwas in the U.S. attorney's office in Atlanta. And he said, "Mr.Freeh," he said, "if I can help you in any way, I know a few people intown here."When he was attorney general -- and you probably have heard thisstory -- he was in his conference room, the great conference roomwhere both of you have visited, and he was presiding over a meeting,and his secretary came out. He was a new attorney general. And shewas very excited and she said, "General, General, the White House ison the phone." And he looked at her and he said, in his typicalsouthern drawl, "I don't take calls from buildings."The importance of that statement, I think, is very relevant toyour enquiry here and to what I want to say about Eric Holder. Theattorney general of the United States is the chief law enforcementofficer of the United States. Beyond competence, the elements ofintegrity, the elements of leadership, and I think most importantly,political independence is critical.Attorney generals, like district attorneys, like U.S. attorneys,like FBI directors, will make decisions from time to time with whichpeople disagree, and that is an important facet of the service and anessential element of our democracy. I made many decisions when I wasan assistant U.S. attorney, when I was the deputy U.S. attorney,certainly when I was an FBI director that people disagreed with. AndEric Holder has made decisions with which I disagree, and I'll talkabout those briefly in a moment. But, it's not the decision, to me,as much as the process, and the principles, and the integrity andindependence with which that decision is made.My very strong belief with respect to Eric Holder is that he hastremendous integrity. He has great character. He's got goodjudgment. He has excellence, competence -- excellent competence as alawyer, which I'll talk about because I also worked with him in theprivate sector, as you know. But, he does have politicalindependence. He's not afraid to say no, in my view, to an attorneygeneral, and now, if he's confirmed by the Senate, the president ofthe United States. And I think if we look at those essentialcharacteristics and elements, we can put into better perspectivedecisions which he made -- and, as I said, some decisions which heyesterday told you he regretted, and with which I also disagreed.The men and women of Department of Justice -- and I can speak, Ithink, for the men and women, many of them, in the FBI -- hadtremendous respect for Eric Holder as U.S. attorney. And, as youknow, when you were district attorneys, if someone wanted to reallyfind out about what kind of a job you were doing, they would ask yourassistants, they would ask the assistant district attorneys who workedfor you, your chiefs. And they would give a pretty honest and prettyaccurate view as to your qualities as a leader -- whether or not youwere strong, whether you were politically independent, whether you hadthe courage, the moral courage to take on difficult cases and makedifficult decisions.And with respect to Eric Holder, beyond the backgroundinvestigations -- which the FBI, of course, performed with respect tohim, the agents who worked with him, particularly when he was a lineassistant, have told me time and time again that he was smart; he washonest; he was fair; he was not afraid; he exercised his officewithout fear or favor, whether he was looking at a very powerfulpolitical subject of an investigation -- as you know, he did prosecuteone as U.S. attorney, and he didn't pull his punches when it came tofair and thorough investigations.That reputational evidence, to me, is quite essential. TheFederal Rules of Evidence allow reputational evidence to be heard by ajury because our experience has found that it's very reliable. Hisreputation as a good prosecutor, an honest prosecutor, and anindependent prosecutor, are very, very established. I've never heardanything to dispute that. And I think that that's an essentialevaluation for you to conduct.The letters that you read yesterday, Mr. Chairman, you know,those endorsements are not come by very easy, in my experience. TheInternational Association of Chiefs of Police -- I'm on one of theirboards, they don't casually or routinely endorse people. It's not acoincidence that you have all those endorsements. You have thembecause his reputation and the experience of the men and women whohave worked with him on the line, and worked with him in theDepartment of Justice, see him and have experienced him as a good,honest, tough and independent prosecutor.And I have another note here, Mr. Chairman, which I would submitfor the record, from Ron Noble, who, as you know, is the directorgeneral in Interpol.And assistant U.S. attorney -- Senator Specter,in Philadelphia, protege of Ed Dennis -- he said he would fly overhere if anybody wanted to speak to him. But he says that Eric Holderis exactly the kind of attorney that we should trust as our attorneygeneral.You know, I worked with Eric Holder probably more than anybody inthis room. I saw him on a daily basis sometimes when he was deputy.We disagreed a lot. We argued over things. He would overrule me fromtime to time. I would challenge him occasionally -- maybe more thanoccasionally on things. And we came out sometimes on different endsof a point or a position. But, in all of those dealings, what I sawwas a smart, intelligent, skillful attorney; a great public servant;somebody with humility; and somebody with independence who was notafraid to say no and call something as he thought it had to be called.And for me, that's very essential.Let me talk just two minutes for -- not two minutes, but brieflyabout the Marc Rich and the FALN matter. You know, on the Marc Richmatter, I was the deputy U.S. attorney in the Southern District of NewYork. That was a Southern District of New York case. One of thethings I did while I was deputy U.S. attorney is I went over toSwitzerland. I actually negotiated with the Swiss to get a warrant ofextradition served on Marc Rich. The pardon of Marc Rich was acorrupt act. There is no other way that I could describe it. Andcommittees here have looked at it. They've evaluated it. It was acorrupt act. But, it was not an act by Eric Holder.Let me give you just a quick picture of what was going on at theend of the Clinton administration when this pardon took place. Nobodyin the Department of Justice, nobody in the FBI had a clue about whowas on the pardon list. The White House staff and its leadership --whoever was working this process, actively conspired to ensure thatnobody knew what they were doing.On the morning of Inauguration Day -- the morning of InaugurationDay, I sent two FBI agents to stand at the west gate of the WhiteHouse so they could read the list of pardoned officials when it waspublished, because they wouldn't tell us who was being considered.Eric Holder made some terrible mistakes -- which he told you aboutyesterday, in allowing himself to be used and co-opted with respect tothe facilitation of that pardon. But, he did not understand, he didnot authorize, he certainly did not execute this pardon. And he'slearned a lot from that, I think as Senator John Warner told us. Wecan be sure, from that experience, that he will never allow himselfagain to be put in that position.The FALN pardon, you know, I wrote the letter to the Departmentof Justice vehemently opposed to that. The FBI took a very strongposition. We were continuing FALN investigations at the time of thatpardon. But, the pardon process functions as a quasi-judicialprocess, both the pardon attorney who prepares the materials for thedeputy and, ultimately, the president of the United States function ina quasi-judicial manner.I did not agree, I do not agree with the decision with respect tothat pardon. I opposed it personally, I opposed it as director, and Idon't think it was a reasonable act to be done. But, there are many,many judicial decisions -- some of which I made, briefly when I was ajudge, with which people disagreed. The process, however, that wasfollowed was the process prescribed in the department and by thepresident.And I don't think it's fair, or a good index of thecharacter, judgment and independence of Eric Holder to look at thatwithout the context of 26 years of dedicated, independent and braveleadership.Briefly, in private practice -- you know, I hired Eric Holderwhen I was general counsel at NB&A Bank of America. I had a verycomplex piece of litigation in Texas and I hired him to handle it. Icould've hired any lawyer in America -- and a lot of my colleagues inthe 7th District were wondering why I didn't hire them.I didn't know Eric Holder in a social frame -- I still don't knowhim in a social frame. I hired him for that case, because his legalskills, his integrity and his willingness to tell me independentlywhether or not the case was one that should be tried or settled in avery complicated scheme was someone who I trusted.He litigated the case. He did a superb job. The judge ended upsanctioning the plaintiff's lawyers, which as you know, rarely happensin federal court. And by everybody's estimate -- both my lawyers inthe bank and co-counsel and the judge -- he did an absolutelyoutstanding job.Let me just finish by, you know, echoing what John Warner said --and I agree with you, Mr. Chairman -- I mean, it was such a pleasureto see him and hear him yesterday. He nominated our oldest son to theNaval Academy. He was my senator for eight years and just thetemplate of what we want for public service in government. Butremember what he said. He said, you know, the theme and the phrase Ikeep hearing with respect to this man is "He's a good man". And beinga good man in the attorney generalship of the United States iscritical.And beyond good, as I said, I think he has superb lawyeringskills. I mean, where do we find for our attorney general somebodywho's had the trial and prosecutorial experience of someone like EricHolder?He's a man of integrity; he's a man of the law. And I think andI know he will exercise political independence. This committee willmake sure that he does that. The media will make sure that he doesthat. The people in the FBI will make sure that he does that. And ifhe doesn't, you're going to hear about it. I don't think you will,because I don't think he will be anything except independent.But you have a great candidate here and I really urge you toapprove him for confirmation.Thank you, very much.
SEN. LEAHY: Thank you very much, (Mr. Freeh ?).And our next witness, Chuck Canterbury, is the National Presidentof the Fraternal Order of Police, one of the nation's largest and mostprominent voices for law enforcement officers.He's served in numerous capacities in that organization --national vice president, national secretary -- of course, now he'spresident; 25 years of experience in law enforcement; police officerin South Carolina -- it was in Horry County, wasn't it? He's alsobeen appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on the Medal ofValor Board. He serves on our nation's Homeland Security Council.He's certainly no stranger to this committee.And Mr. Canterbury, please go ahead, sir.
MR. CANTERBURY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Ranking MemberSpecter. We're very pleased to be here and graciously accepted theinvitation.As the spokesperson of the largest law enforcement organizationin the nation not only in the country, but obviously, in the state ofPennsylvania -- and hopefully one day in the state of Vermont, Senator-- we're very pleased to be here to offer our strong support for thiscandidate to be the next attorney general of the United States.Also very fortunate to have both of you gentlemen, and theleadership that you provide for the law enforcement community acrossthis country is greatly appreciated by my peers in law enforcement.Upon hearing the news that President-elect Obama intended to tapMr. Holder for this Cabinet position, we directed our legislativestaff to probably conduct the most exhaustive examination of acandidate's record for anybody that we've ever endorsed for positionof attorney general.We looked at his record. It was 12 years at the Department ofJustice in the Public Integrity Section; his role as the deputyattorney general; and at the time he spent in the judicial branch as ajudge.It was an extremely thorough review.His positions, his policy work in the official acts wereconsistent with the goals of the FOP and we have every reason tobelieve that he will be an exemplary U.S. attorney general, with whomwe will have a very productive relationship.I think the FOP brings a unique perspective to this nomination,because of our familiarity with his record in the courtroom and as ajudge and as a U.S. attorney. As part of this review process, wetalked to the rank-and-file officers in the District of Columbia --one of our largest groups -- and talked to them about his time inSuperior Court as a judge. To a man, every individual that we talkedto reported that he was fair and tough and they spoke favorably aboutU.S. Attorney Holder, describing him as able and aggressive as aprosecutor. And from the perspective of the line officers who work onreal cases, those are the adjectives that you want to hear as a policeofficer.The FOP has a better sense and a complete picture, because of theinterviews that we conducted with our members, with the men on thestreet that actually worked cases with Eric Holder.I'd also like to add that we talked to a lot of our careeremployees -- members of our organization who work for the Departmentof Justice. The best of the best -- and many of them are members ofour organization -- and they were anxious for us to endorse EricHolder for this position as one that they felt was one of their ownwho could take the helm of the department and restore the integritythat they felt the department needed.The FOP was also privileged to have the opportunity to discusswith Mr. Holder a number of different issues -- including his visionfor the Department of Justice -- and the ability to have input andtalk to him about the crime-fighting strategies and the policies thataffect our members -- the rank-and-file, the boots on the street.I believe that the president-elect has made a great choice inEric Holder to be the next attorney general of the United States. Wewant to emphasize that all the major law enforcement organizationshave announced their support. I believe it's unprecedented that youhave the chiefs, the rank-and-file, the sheriffs -- all organizationsstanding together on this.I urge the committee to complete their review of this nominee inas quickly a fashion as possible and favorably report this to theSenate floor. As you examine his record, I believe you'll find himnot only well qualified, but possessed of the requisite character,knowledge and skills to do this job and be an extremely effectiveleader for the department.And again, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Ranking Member, we thank you for theinvitation and we urge you to move this along as quickly as possible.We believe that he'll be a fine attorney general.Thank you, sir.
SEN. LEAHY: Thank you, Mr. Canterbury. And I thank you for yourorganization -- for all the time you have spent up here before thiscommittee, the help you've given Mr. Pasco, who's here often oncritical law enforcement matters that we have before us and Iappreciate that.Our next witness is John Payton. He became director-counsel andpresident of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund last March -- this is aftera very long and distinguished career in private practice. He's thesixth person to lead the Legal Defense Fund in its 67-year history --after being started by Thurgood Marshall.Mr. Payton is recognized as one of the premier litigators in thiscountry. His civil rights experience include Supreme Court argumentsdefending the use of race-based remedies in the University ofMichigan's admission criteria. He worked in private practice here inWashington, D.C. for the law firm of WilmerHale; he was corporationcounsel for the District of Columbia; he served as president of theDistrict of Columbia Bar; he's taught at Harvard, Georgetown andHoward law schools. Again, he's no stranger to this committee.And Mr. Payton, thank you very much for being here.
MR. PAYTON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.It is a pleasure to be here, especially on the occasion of thenomination of Eric Holder. I'm here to support enthusiastically hisnomination to be attorney general of the United States.The Legal Defense Fund views it as a national imperative that theDepartment of Justice live up to its name by delivering justice andequality for all people in the United States.The harsh reality today -- and it's a very harsh reality today --is that the Department of Justice is in shambles. Mr. Holder, if heis confirmed, will inherit a department with its very credibility inquestion. The entire department has been decimated by scandal andcontroversy from the firings of the U.S. attorneys to the use of anideological test for the Justice Department's honors program, to theassault on the Civil Rights Division.The task at hand is nothing less than to reclaim the soul of theDepartment of Justice. As former Attorney General Edward Levy phrasedit immediately after Watergate -- a strikingly analogous set ofcircumstances. But I believe the core of the soul of the Departmentof Justice is its Civil Rights Division.Yes, integrity must be restored to all of the department'soperations; and yes, it must regain its independence from politicalinfluence, but the area in which the department has been most damagedis the Civil Rights Division, which has been plagued by problems thathave shaken its very foundation.Press reports and hearings before this committee have revealedthe insertion of politics into litigation decisions, the weakening ofenforcement, improper or possibly illegal personnel practices and asubstantial decline in cases filed to protect racial and ethnicminorities. Politics and ideology have triumphed over evenhandedenforcement at almost every turn. Career civil rights lawyers in thedepartment have been demoralized and many have been literally drivenout of the department.This Tuesday, the department's Office of Inspector General andthe Office of Professional Responsibility released their joint reporton an investigation of allegations of politicized hiring and otherimproper personnel actions in the Civil Rights Division.The report was completed last July but only released this week.It is a shocking report. It shows, as the earlier report identified,an enemies list that was used to actually keep people from becomingmembers of the department. The entire Department of Justice HonorsProgram used the enemies list. Our organization, the Legal DefenseFund, was on the list.The second report is even more shocking than the first. Itconcludes that hiring in the Special Litigation Section, theEmployment Litigation Section, the Voting Section, the CriminalSection, the Appellate Section, all were illegally infected withpolitical and ideological considerations. And it makes a criminalreferral to the U.S. Attorney's office.But, as I said, the entire Department of Justice has sufferedgrievously.The challenge for the next Attorney General requires very specialleadership and very special commitment. It requires someone who caninspire and be an example.Yesterday's hearing, I believe -- and I sat through almost all ofit and heard the rest -- was a dramatic example and dramatic evidenceof why President-elect Barack Obama has selected Eric Holder to leadthe Department of Justice at this critical moment. We face periloustimes, both internationally and domestically. The legal issues beforeus are complex and dynamic.I think there is no better person than Eric Holder to restoreintegrity and honor to the entire Department of Justice and theethical standing and reputation for excellence of its Civil RightsDivision. He has an exceptional resume which you heard aboutyesterday; Columbia, Columbia Law School, the honors program, lawyerin the public integrity section, a judge, U.S. Attorney -- DeputyAttorney General, partner at a very prestigious law firm. Let me justadd one other thing to his resume. He began his legal career as alegal intern at the Legal Defense Fund. And ironically in the recentpast that would've disqualified him from working at the Department ofJustice.I also know Eric from my own history and professional experiencein this town. As you said, Mr. Chairman, I was a partner at a lawfirm for many years here. I was corporation counsel, I was presidentof the D.C. Bar, and I've known Eric for almost that entire time; weare friends. I think that his personal commitment to issues ofjustice and equality is exceptional.His experience and the strengthof his commitment to fairness assure me -- and I'm sure they assurethis committee -- that the odious practices identified in this week'sreport by the Inspector General will never be tolerated on his watch.Let me reiterate one final point. I don't think there is abetter person to lead the Department of Justice at this criticalmoment than Eric Holder. And with his nomination we can begin torestore the crown jewel of our nation's legal system.I urge the Senate to confirm Eric Holder as the next AttorneyGeneral of the United States.He'll make us all proud.
SEN. LEAHY: Thank you, Mr. Payton. And I do appreciate that. I-- actually with you testifying reminded me of something I was goingto do yesterday and because we went so late I didn't. But we've --Judge Freeh has talked about all the different people who have writtenin in support of Eric Holder. Mr. Canterbury talked about the uniquenature of all the different types of law enforcement being for him.And I put letters from those different organizations in the recordyesterday. But we've also received letters of support for Mr.Holder's nomination signed by more than 60 civil rights organizations.According to the NAACP, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, theSouthern Poverty Law Center, the Mexican-American Legal Defense andEducation Fund, the National Women's Law Center, the American-ArabAnti-discrimination Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the AFLCIO,the Asian-American Justice Center, and a whole lot more. So I willput the whole entire list of support into the record along with the --along with the letters. So thank you very much.Ms. Townsend it's always good to see you and I -- she was, untillast year, Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor to PresidentGeorge W. Bush where he chaired the Homeland Security Council withcertainly one person that most people in this country, when you wouldbe interviewed on television or others, would listen very carefully ona subject that affects every one of us. She advised the president onhomeland security policy and antiterrorism matters. Certainly, I'vebeen in meetings where the president has gone out of his way to praisethe advice you've given.Previously, Ms. Townsend spent 13 years at the Department ofJustice in a variety of senior positions, including Counsel to theAttorney General for Intelligence Policy -- which I believe isprobably the first place we met; Acting Deputy Assistant AttorneyGeneral; Director of the Office of International Affairs; Chief ofStaff to the Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division. Sheworked with Mr. Holder during his tenure as a U.S. Attorney and asDeputy Attorney General. She served as a federal prosecutor in theUnited States Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York.She began her prosecutorial career as Assistant District Attorneyin Brooklyn, New York. That was probably after Eugene Gold. Thereason I mention him, he and I served on the board of the NationalDistrict Attorney's Association. We've oftentimes had meetings in hisoffice.So thank you for appearing, and please go ahead and do yourtestimony.
MS. TOWNSEND: Mr. Chairman, thank you for the warm welcome I'vereceived. It really is a privilege and an opportunity to be heretoday before the committee to testify in support of the nomination ofEric Holder to be Attorney General.You went through my resume, if you will, and I suppose to manyhere it -- my appearance in support of Eric comes as something of asurprise given my most recent position. But as you noted, my 23 yearsof public service included 13 years at the Department of Justice whereI worked both with Eric Holder and for Eric Holder at various points.Eric's career, both as a Superior Court Judge and as a careerprosecutor in the Public Integrity Section in the Criminal Division,rightly earned him both the respect and the affection of careerprosecutors not only here in Washington but around the country in theU.S. Attorney's offices around the nation. Not surprisingly, givenhis experience, I found Mr. Holder to be open-minded, fair andrespectful of the views and the opinions of career lawyers.Mr. Holder was never reluctant to hear discussion between careerand appointed staff if there was a disagreement among them, andoftentimes that was the case. He decided those issues in accordancewith the facts and his best judgment, giving serious consideration andrespect to the advice of the career lawyers.In his interactions with the Office of Intelligence and PolicyReview, he took his national security responsibility seriously and healways made himself available whenever he was needed.He carefully reviewed the detailed documents prepared forsubmission to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court when hisapproval was required and unfailingly deliberated on the questions andfacts before signing such submissions.In yesterday's testimony, Mr. Holder spoke about being at thedepartment during the East Africa Embassy bombings and in 2000 duringthe Cole. One of the cases I thought I might mention to you because Ithink it's very relevant to the execution of his national securityresponsibilities was the successful prevention of the MillenniumAttack, 1999 into 2000.As the committee is aware and as Director Freeh will recall, thiswas a very difficult time -- we had very specific threat information.Both Attorney General Janet Reno and the Deputy Attorney General werepersonally involved in the Justice Department and FBI's investigation.We took risks to prevent that attack. We made considered legaljudgments to prevent that attack. We applied the Foreign IntelligenceSurveillance Act in a far more aggressive way that had ramificationsbeyond the disruption of the Millennium Attack.That case could have, if tradition had held, been prosecutedunder criminal wiretap laws. I believed at the time and recommendedboth to the director and the Attorney General that we use the ForeignIntelligence Surveillance Act legally and appropriately in thatinvestigation. Eric Holder was a part of that deliberation. Theywere persuaded that the use of the Foreign Intelligence SurveillanceAct to disrupt that plot was correct.That plot was not only successfully disrupted, individuals whowere later criminally prosecuted, the prosecutors in the SouthernDistrict of New York legally and appropriately used the tape from theForeign Intelligence Surveillance and that was upheld on appeal.That's the kind of man Eric Holder is. That was a difficultlegal decision, it was a close call, and it was a decision that he waswilling to take because he understood the seriousness of the threat.But I wish to be clear. I am not here because I believe that ifconfirmed as Attorney General Eric Holder will decide legal issuesnecessarily in the same way that I would. On the contrary, I expectthat there would often be times where this is not the case. I am herebecause I believe Eric is competent, capable and a fair-minded lawyerwho will not hesitate to uphold and defend the laws and theConstitution of the United States.I know Eric to be an honest, decent man of the highest ethicalstandards, who both understands and appreciates the strong and proudtraditions of the Department of Justice and will protect and honorthem.The Attorney General position must be filled quickly.We remain a nation at war and a nation that faces the continuousthreat of terrorist attack. We cannot afford for the attorney generalposition to sit vacant or for there to be a needlessly protractedperiod where the leadership of the department is in question.For these reasons, sir, I humbly and respectfully recommend thatthe committee move expeditiously to confirm Eric Holder as attorneygeneral of the United States, thank you.
SEN. LEAHY: Ms. Townsend, thank you very much. I appreciate thatand I -- especially as, as you stated, there'll be areas where you'lldisagree with Mr. Holder. I've, in my 34 years here there's neverbeen an attorney general, frankly in a Republican or Democraticadministration, including attorneys general I voted for, that Ihaven't found something where I've disagreed.Joseph Connor is the son of Frank Connor. Frank Connor was stilla young man when he lost his life in a bombing at Fraunces Tavern inNew York. The bombing was conducted by a Puerto Rican nationalistgroup called The Armed Forces for National Liberation, FALN.Mr. Connor testified before the Senate Subcommittee on ForeignRelations in 1999 about the clemencies granted to some FALN members.He even worked with Senator Hatch to introduce the Pardon AttorneyReform and Integrity Act to Congress in 2000. I was touched also verymuch in reading your testimony, Mr. Connor, all of which will beplaced in the record of course when you spoke about the fact that yourfather will never get to see his grandchildren. As -- my colleagueson this committee have to hear my stories ad infinitum about mygrandchildren, I think that's one of the greatest joys of life -- tohave your grandchildren. So we thank you for coming back to thesenate, you've been here before, and please go ahead, sir.
MR. CONNOR: Well, thank you, thanks for having me back. Theysay you love your children but you really love your grandchildren. So
SEN. LEAHY: Without taking up your time, I'd add that I've toldpeople that I've discovered this hidden clause in The Constitutionwhich requires grandparents to spoil their grandchildren (scatteredlaughter), then turn them back to the parents who have to deal withthe consequences.
MR. CONNOR: Oh, so that's what happens, I guess. Okay. Thanksfor the insight. My name is Joseph Connor and I'm here, as the senatorsaid, for a second time once again addressing the unimaginableimmoral, really dangerous 1999 clemencies to 16 Puerto Ricanterrorists, the Los Macheteros and the FALN. We'll call them the FALN.These terrorists proudly claim responsibility for over 130bombings in the U.S., including the murder of my 33-year-old fatherFrank Connor as he ate lunch at Fraunces Tavern in downtown New York.It was January 24th, 1975. Despite the warnings and recommendationsto the contrary from the FBI, the Bureau of Prisons, prosecutors,Janet Reno herself, then-deputy attorney general and current attorneygeneral nominee Eric Holder, yesterday flatly admitted recommendingrelease of those terrorists.Upon hearing those words yesterday, some questions popped into mymind. One is, did you actually believe in their cause?; number two,can you recommend a release at someone else's direction, perhaps thepresident?; and number three, and maybe most disturbing, do you notknow what they did? It seemed that a lot of the issues that wereraised he claimed he didn't know about -- from the surveillance tapeof them building bombs to their threat of Judge McMillen at theirsentencing -- and that was disturbing.He admitted to have taken advice from people outside ourgovernment -- dignitaries, if you will; folks like Desmond Tutu, JimmyCarter, Coretta Scott King -- and ignored those people -- (audiobreak) -- government; the FBI, the Bureau of Prisons, the prosecutors.Something didn't add up.When we look back at the people whose recommendation he did take,on what information were they basing their recommendation? Were theytold the "political prisoner" -- I put that in quotes -- line that thepro-FALN people were passing or did they actually know the facts?Something tells me if they knew the facts they wouldn't berecommending this.Putting aside his well-documented involvement in the outrageouspardon of Marc Rich, the attorney general-nominee's egregiousrecommendation for playing Russian roulette by unleashing unrepentantterrorists on American people against the advice of the FBI, Bureau ofPrisons, prosecutors, even Janet Reno herself, should disqualify himon its own merit.So it was 10 years ago, but incredibly we're revisiting today thesame issues -- the recriminations of the hearings, and how sad that wehave to go through this again. We knew the clemencies were wrong in1999; after all, the Senate voted 95-2 to condemn them. Yet here weare contemplating the confirmation of the architect of that veryrelease as the top law enforcement officer in our country. How canthis be?If anything, the devastating attacks of 9/11 -- we should be moreresolute in our opposition to anybody who would be soft on terror orsupport any terrorist organizations. If anyone needs to be remindedabout what terrorism can do, give me a couple of minutes.It was a beautiful day on January 24th, 1975. I had just turned9, my brother Tom had just turned 11. That night, my mom was cookingus a dinner to celebrate our birthdays and we were expecting ourfather home on time to celebrate with us. Well, after we got homefrom school, we found out that there was a bombing downtown. Wedidn't know my father was in it right away. My mom didn't know he hada meeting that day; he wore an old suit. He wouldn't have expected tobe with clients. But when she called up he didn't answer. She knewthen something was wrong.After hours, we finally got the news that he'd been killed. Heand three others were murdered that day intentionally and, as you mayfind out later from Rick who will give a bit more information, thebomb was meant to kill a lot more people than the four that it endedup killing.My dad was only 33, as I mentioned. He was the only child ofimmigrants Thomas Connor and Margaret Maloney. His father was anelevator operator downtown and his mom was a cleaning lady at JPMorgan. She was so proud when she got him the job so he wouldn't bein a dangerous position. His friends were becoming cops and firemenor working in the subways, but he got a job at a nice office out ofhigh school.And his was an American success story. He went to college atnight. He worked his way up to an officer position at JP Morgan andhe had two sons and he had made something of himself; from a cleaninglady to an officer of a bank. It was an amazing story. Although mymom is remarried to a fine man and my brother Tom and I have familiesof our own, not a day passes without us feeling the void that this hasleft in our lives.My father's death has become a wound, and it was reopened whenthe clemencies were offered and it's been reopened now by thisnomination. These terrorists took away my dad's life, and as youmentioned, he'll never got to see his sons graduate high school,college, meet his daughters-in-law or be a grandfather. Now, we askwhy, my kids ask why, what happened? It seems that it was all donefor politics with the direction from the president to further hiswife's Senate future or was it something else? Was it a -- someonewho believed in the cause of the terrorists?And who are the FALN? Like I said, Rick will get into it alittle bit more, but contrary to the disingenuous claims we heardyesterday, there was nothing nonviolent about these people. Thesepeople built 130 bombs in the U.S. They killed five people and theymeant to kill a lot more. They devastated lives and maimed.The day after their release one of them was on with Tim Russert,and when asked about the Fraunces bombing, one of the released, one ofthese people who was nonviolent, had nothing to do with it, said, wellyou know what? The restaurant didn't take the proper precautions --blaming someone else, never taking responsibility for what happened.And these people were released.On 9/11, my brother Tom and I commuted through the World TradeCenter. We left, I said goodbye to him in the Trade Center. I went myway, he went his. At quarter to 9 I saw the North Tower explode out mywindow. I couldn't get Tom on the phone, then I called my cousin,Steve, who works at Cantor Fitzgerald. Steve never answered.Steve was my father's godson. He was killed on 9/11. Tom and I gothome that night safely to our families, but there's consequences.Terrorism cannot be treated as a political tool. It has to be treatedfor what it does. It kills people, and it hit our family very hardtwice.Despite what Mr. Freeh just said, the clemency process was notfollowed properly. We were never informed, as a family, of theirrelease, although I understand we were supposed to have been throughthe Victims Rights and Restitutions Act of 1990. The terrorists didnot request clemency. They did not express remorse. They were notrequired to provide information solving other crimes. They wereallowed 30 days to decide to accept the conditions. And they weregiven conference calls between prisons. Now, clemency is anindividual grant, yet they were treated as a group, and that's notright.Supporters were given nine meetings with Mr. Holder and hisgroup. Do you know how many we got? None. He never talked to us.Despite what he said yesterday, he didn't -- there was noconsideration to the victims, at least to the people I know. If wehad bee properly notified we would have told him what happened,because it seemed like yesterday, from the conversation, he didn'tknow about the threats to the judge; he didn't know about thembuilding bombs. It was a very disturbing moment in the interviewsyesterday.The biggest issue that I read in the recently released memos, asthey came from the Justice Department, was how the public relationsfallout might be if these guys committed more crimes -- not what mighthappen to those people who were injured by them, but what the publicrelations issues would be for Holder and his team if something wentwrong.I have a whole litany of questions I would like to put into therecord. I know we're kind of going late now. I can read them now orI can do it another time, but I have a bunch of questions --
SEN. LEAHY: I've read them, and if you want to --
MR. CONNOR: I have some more.
SEN. LEAHY: -- ask some, go ahead.
MR. CONNOR: Okay.
SEN. LEAHY: I'm trying to give as much flexibility to all --
MR. CONNOR: I appreciate that. Look, I know I'm going long.
SEN. LEAHY: I know this is a difficult -- I'm not trying to cutyou off, and your whole statement, of course, will be made part of therecord, but if there are some of those questions you'd like toemphasize, please go ahead.
MR. CONNOR: Thank you. See, yesterday a lot of issues came upthat caused this -- my statement to change and my questions to changebecause he said some things that were just a surprise. He admittedthat he knew so little about the terrorists, and he testifiedyesterday he hadn't seen the surveillance video, didn't know theythreatened the judge. How then could he know enough about the case tofeel comfortable in releasing them? What does that say about thejudgment there? He said none of these terrorists were part of anyattacks that killed or hurt people. Given his limited knowledge onthe subject, how could he possibly know that? And given what RicardoJimenez said on "Meet the Press," that's just not true.He took advice of others over his own due diligence, from what Ican see, and that's irresponsible. It borders on incompetence. Now,I know he has a long record -- and I know there's a lot of very goodpeople here who have spoken to his successes in the past, but it's notunprecedented that one mistake can disqualify you. Look what happenedwhen Clinton had Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood. They were both veryqualified people and both of them had to withdraw their nominationbecause they did something like hire illegal aliens to work in theirhouse and didn't pay taxes on them, which to me is far less egregiousthan what he did.We talked about -- he mentioned yesterday that Cardinal O'Connorsupported clemency. That's not true. I have a letter from thecardinal specifically saying he didn't, because I contacted thecardinal at the time.We came here in 2000 and introduced the Pardon Attorney's Reformand Integrity Act, and we warned at the time about future terroristacts, and we hoped that by instituting this act, which never wasinstituted, that there wouldn't be releases like this, that therewould be a light shining on people so everyone would know what thepardon attorney was doing and what the Justice Department was doingbefore the clemencies were released, and that's a transparency that weneed, not yesterday in the meetings when Mr. Holder was asked toproduce a document recommending the clemency. He didn't want to doit. Now, this new administration is suppose to be the mosttransparent in our government's history, yet the attorney general hasno transparency.I'll go now, but I urge the Senate to review Mr. Holder's record,put aside any politics, put themselves in the shoes of ordinaryAmericans who have given them their trust and their vote, and decideif this man who recommended playing Russian roulette with Americanpeople by releasing unrepentant terrorists should be charged withprotecting our fellow citizens. I think ordinary Americans wouldagree the answer is very clear. Thank you.
SEN. LEAHY: Thank you, Mr. Connor.Mr. Hahn -- Richard Hahn is the president and CEO of R.Hahn andCompany, Inc., a security consulting and investigating company,specializing in counterterrorism and homeland defense, retired fromthe FBI after a distinguished career that's spanned 33 years -- isthat correct, Mr. Hahn? -- a senior supervisory agent and as aspecial agent. He's a member of the FBI. He investigated domesticand international terrorist organizations, specialized in eventscarried out by the Armed Forces of National Liberation, or the FALN.He testified before this committee in 1999, 10 years ago, about theFALN clemencies. Thank you for coming back and testifying again. Ofcourse, your whole statement will be made part of the record. Pleasego ahead, Mr. Hahn.
MR. HAHN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. (Off mike.) My purpose inbeing here today is to make clear just who and what the FALN andMacheteros were. These organizations were no less terrorist than anyof the terror organizations recognized by this government today.These were clandestine organizations with cellular structure andsecret membership. This makes knowing who did what acts inside theconspiracies difficult if not impossible. But despite this, throughinvestigation, some acts attributable to those who received clemencyare known.Former FALN member Freddie Mendez has chosen to cooperate withthe government after being convicted on federal charges but beforebeing sentenced. Mendez described being mentored by FALN leader OscarLopez, one of those offered clemency. Lopez taught Mendez how todetect and avoid surveillance, use dead drops for communications, thecode words used by the FALN, how to operate safe houses, and how tobuild a bomb. Mendez participated in the preparation of bombs inOctober of 1979, which were coordinated with the Macheteros. On thatoccasion he was assisted by Oscar Lopez and Ida Luz Rodriguez, andcarried a bomb with Ricardo Jimenez to the Democratic Partyheadquarters in Chicago with the intention of placing it in theiroffices.Three bombs were placed in Chicago that day. He participatedwith Oscar Lopez, Dylcia Pagan, Ida Luz Rodriguez, Haydee Torres, LuisRosa, Ricardo Jimenez, and William Morales in the armed assault on aNational Guard armory in Oak Creek, Wisconsin to steal weapons andexplosives. Employees were put on the floor, guns placed to theirheads, and they were repeatedly threatened during the takeover. Healso participated in the armed takeover of Carter-Mondale campaignheadquarters in Chicago for the purpose of intimidating campaignworkers and delegates to the convention. Mendez named participants inthe planning and execution of this invasion as himself, Oscar Lopez,Carmen Valentin, Dylcia Pagan, Ricardo Jimenez, Ida Luz Rodriguez,Luis Rosado, and Alicia Rodriguez. It is noted that they carriedrifles and a variety of pistols into the assault, and again, workerswere threatened, bound, gagged, and the offices ransacked.Mendez was arrested in Evanston, Illinois, along with CarlosTorres, Haydee Torres, Adolfo Matos, Ricardo Jimenez, Dylcia Paga, IdaLuz Rodriguez, Alicia Rodriguez, Luis Rosa, Elizam Escobar, and CarmenValentin. Some of these conspirators had just participated in thearmed takeover of a truck rental agency, not only stealing a truck butrobbing the patrons of personal effects. The group had gathered inEvanston for the express purpose of robbing an armored car thatserviced Northwestern University. All were wearing disguises andarmed.In a separate investigation of an FALN safehouse apartmentoperated by Alejandrina Torres and Edwin Cortes, over 21 pounds ofdynamite, 24 blasting caps, four hand guns, over 3,000 rounds ofammunition were discovered and seized. Also found were disguisematerials, false identification, and terrorist training manuals.Cores and Torres were videotaped as they built firing circuits forbombs. They also were surveilled electronically and physically asthey made plans and traveled to Wadsworth Veterans' Hospital in Kansaswith weapons and explosives to attempt the escape of FALN leader OscarLopez. A second safehouse apartment in Chicago searched in April 1983was found to contain a semi-automatic rifle, silencers, bulletproofvests, and documents, including intelligence materials from the policeof Puerto Rico. Cortez and co-conspirator Alberto Rodriguez weresurveilled electronically as the plotted an armed robbery, andsubsequently with Alejandrina Torres as they planned bombings ofmilitary installations in Chicago.Regarding other crimes of the FALN, as you know, they engaged ina campaign of bombings that started in 1974 and did not end until1983. This campaign encompassed over 100 explosive and incendiaryattacks, killed five, and maimed scores of others, including severalpolice officers. Some of these attacks were designed to kill. InDecember 1974, the FALN called in a report of a dead body in SpanishHarlem. A booby trap explosive device hung on the opposite side ofthe main entry door. Exploding as the door opened, a New York PDofficer was blinded in one eye and severely maimed. Ironically, theofficer, Angel Poggi, was Puerto Rican himself, and even moreincredible, it was his first day on the job. In January 1975, thebombing of Fraunces Tavern killed four and wounded 60. Credit wasclaimed within minutes by a written FALN communique. In August 1977the FALN conducted the daytime bombing of the employment offices ofMobil Oil in Manhattan, killing one and maiming several others.The Macheteros have a similar history of terrorist acts. In1978, the Macheteros ambushed a patrol car of the police of PuertoRico in an attempt to steal weapons, uniforms and the patrol caritself. One of the officers was killed as he resisted the ambush.The other, stripped of his uniform, was left handcuffed to a tree atthe side of the road. The Macheteros proudly claimed credit for thisact in a written communique. In October 1979, the Macheteros, inconcert with the FALN, conducted bombings on the island of Puerto Ricowhile simultaneous bombings were conduced in the U.S. Credit forthese were claimed by a joint communique to the press, which bore thelogos and names of both the FALN and the Macheteros.In December 1979, the Macheteros, with other groups, conducted awell-coordinated attack on a Navy transport bus at Sebana Seca, PuertoRico. The bus was blocked on a public highway. Then another vehicledriven by the terrorists pulled into the opposing lanes of traffic,shot the bus driver, and proceeded to rake the side of the bus withautomatic weapon fire. Two died and many more were wounded. InJanuary of 1981, the Macheteros bombed jet aircraft of the PuertoRican national guard, resulting in tens of millions of dollars indamage to specialized aircraft. In 1983, the Macheteros fired rocketsat the FBI office in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico, and at the U.S. courthousein old San Juan, Puerto Rico. And, finally, in the fall of 1983, theMacheteros engineered one of the greatest thefts in U.S. history, thetheft of over $7 million in U.S. currency from a Wells Fargo depot inWest Hartford, Connecticut. Much of the money ended up in the handsof Cuban agents.All of this is a matter of public record, not only accessible tothe Department of Justice, but to any motivated citizen who wishes tofind these facts. All this makes clear that these conspirators werenot merely activists but in fact were indeed terrorists. In myopinion, granting them clemency in the absence of any cooperation orunderstanding of how committed the most heinous of crimes remains acompromise of our justice system and reflects a failure of thegovernment personnel with overset of such matters to competently carryout their duties.
SEN. LEAHY: Thank you very much. Our last witness is StephenHalbrook. He's practiced law for over 30 years. He's authored andedited seven books and dozens of articles related to the right to beararms. He's also the author of an amicus brief in a recent SecondAmendment case before the Supreme Court -- District of Columbia versusHeller -- submitted on behalf of Vice President Cheney and 250 membersof the House of Representatives. Mr. Halbrook is known in my state, astate which actually, as I mentioned yesterday, has no gun laws exceptduring hunting season, and then we have certain restrictions if you'regoing to hunt on the state house lawn. I also noted the fact that Iown numerous weapons and I'm almost tempted -- well, I'll tell thestory about Director Freeh and myself target shooting in my backyardin Vermont later on. Go ahead, Mr. Halbrook.
MR. HALBROOK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning, SenatorLeahy and Senator Specter. It's a real pleasure to be here. I didfile the amicus brief on behalf not only of 250 representatives butalso 55 senators, including majority members of this committee, in theHeller case. Heller, as you know, held that the Second Amendmentmeans what it says. The right of the people to keep and bear armsmeans that individuals have that right. I'm author of the book, "TheFounders' Second Amendment" and numerous other publications. I'vedone a lot of litigation on this subject in the Supreme Court. I'moutside counsel for the NRA. I'm not representing them here today.This is an issue that we have an explicit constitutionalguarantee. We live in an age when people invent rights and they seemto be implicit in the Constitution. And I like Senator Leahy's theright to spoil grandchildren is an implicit constitutional right.It's a lot more innocuous than other ones that might be invented, andI fully support that concept. As you know, Mr. Holder filed -- ratherjoined in an amicus brief in the Heller case, denying that the SecondAmendment protects any individual right, and seeking to uphold thetotal ban on handguns by D.C. residents.My background, by the way, I've appeared before this committee anumber of times, going back to the 1982 committee -- Subcommittee onthe Constitution Harian (ph) Report, which was entitled "The Right toKeep and Bear Arms." Serious concerns I think are raised about Mr.Holder's position. Throughout his career he's denied that the SecondAmendment basically means anything in regard to private citizens, andhe's advocated basically the criminalization of what many peopleconsider to be their constitutional rights. And I'm talking about,for example, the advocacy of making it a five-year felony to possessan unregistered firearm in the District of Columbia. That was when hewas U.S. attorney. And there's been many other draconian proposalsthat he's set forth.I listened carefully yesterday to Mr. Holder's testimony, inparticular the question that if the Supreme Court reconsidered theissue of the meaning of the Second Amendment, whether it recognizedindividual rights, does refer to the right of the people after all, orsome kind of elusive collective right that doesn't really protectanybody, and if the Supreme Court revisits that issue, what positionwould you take, and Mr. Holder responded that, first, it would dependon the facts, even though facts really don't matter in theinterpretation of a Constitutional provision, and he did say thatstare decisis is one consideration that would be taken into account.I think, given that he has supported the so-called collective rightsview for his career, it's most likely that he would indeed support areconsideration of the meaning of the Second Amendment.And in addition to that, Mr. Holder, based on his career-longproposals for Draconian firearm bans, would be likely to say thatnothing really violates the Heller decision if it indeed stands thetest of time. I'm not going to get into any policy questions, but Idid take note yesterday that he advocated the reenactment of the so-called assault weapon ban as a permanent fixture. The Heller decisiondid talk about firearms that are commonly possessed by law-abidingpeople for lawful purposes as being protected by the Second Amendment.It might depend on what a person arbitrarily chooses to call by thispejorative term "assault weapon," whether that test would be met ornot, but there is a lot of meat in the Heller decision that basicallysays that banning commonly possessed firearms would violate the SecondAmendment.He mentioned that what he called the gun show loophole must beclosed, and it reminds me of his prior advocacy of a federal law thatwould require background checks on all private intrastate transactionsinvolving firearms, presumably making it a felony to give a firearm toyour grandchild as a gift without a federal background check, and alsohas advocated the registration of all firearms, that all of thesebackground checks on private transfers would be registered with theBureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, so we'd have aregistration system of firearms.He was asked yesterday about proposals to ban firearm possessionby individuals who are in the age group 18 to 21 years old, and thatwas a proposal that he supported. Mr. Holder supported H.R. 1768 backin 1999. So you would have the phenomenon of a person who is servingin the armed forces, eligible to do so, age 18, eligible to vote,serve on juries, and it would be a federal felony for them to possessa firearm.And the attorney general not only prosecutes federal crimes andinfluences courts on the meaning of constitutional rights; theattorney general also administers and enforces the Gun Control Actthrough the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Forhis entire career Mr. Holder has denied that individuals have anySecond Amendment rights on behalf of law-abiding citizens. He hasadvocated that firearms must be registered, and the possession of anunregistered firearm be punished with five years' imprisonment. Themillions of Americans who exercise their Second Amendment rightsrightly feel uneasy about this nomination.Much has been said about unjust prison sentences imposed onpersons who possess crack cocaine, not to mention the rights ofalleged terrorists held at Gitmo and other places, and we would hopefor sympathy to be shown for Americans who bother no one and whomerely wish to exercise their Second Amendment rights without beingsent to prison because they possess a gun without the government'spermission.Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LEAHY: Thank you. It's interesting hearing -- the chairsitting and listening to Mr. Holder yesterday. I have a home in -- ora house in Virginia that I use when I'm down here, and my home is inVermont. I've often been struck that in your state of Virginia, yourgun laws are considerably more restrictive than the laws out in mystate of Vermont. For example, you couldn't carry a concealed weaponwithout a permit in Virginia but you could in Vermont.For example, you couldn't just -- you couldn't carry a concealedweapon without a permit in Virginia, but you could in Vermont. Imean, you could this afternoon, if you were there. I own at least adozen weapons of different sorts, ranging -- well, small calibers, andenjoy shooting them in my backyard. Can't do that in Virginia.Mr. Holder, I asked him would he support federal laws that wouldrestrict Vermont's laws, other than the obvious ones about felons whoare restricted -- and that's been upheld by the court, in theirpurchase and use of weapons. I asked him if he would supportrestricting Vermont laws. He said no. It's interesting. And we haveconsiderably less laws than you have in Virginia on firearms.Now, Judge Freeh, we talked about your unique perspective -- AndMr. Halbrook, I'll let you go back to that if you care to, after, butlet me just -- the thought occurred while you were speaking. JudgeFreeh, you have this unique perspective, and you did work closely withEric Holder, as you've described. -- (inaudible) -- the FBI director,you said sometimes you agreed, sometimes you disagreed.You've certainly been very critical on the pardon of Marc Rich,and you know that both I and Senator Specter have been very criticalof that pardon. Of course, it was a pardon issue not by Eric Holder,it was issued by then-president Clinton. And the clemency granted tomembers of the FALN, you were critical of that, as was I. But, theclemency was created by President Clinton.But, notwithstanding these disagreements, if he is confirmed asattorney general he's going to be attorney general of all the co.Both you and I will be in the country served by this attorney general.Notwithstanding your past disagreements, you do strongly support thenomination of Eric Holder, is that correct?
MR. FREEH: Yes, sir, I do.
SEN. LEAHY: Thank you.The person I always ask -- and I used to ask this of prosecutorsin my office, then you get the mark of a prosecutor -- I ask ifthey'll be politically independent, follow the rule of law, not feelthey have to be subservient to any political party. I've certainlyprosecuted members of both Republican and Democratic party, includingthe chairman of my own party.And the attorney general has to beindependent of the president who nominates him.Do you have any question in your mind that he'd be politicallyindependent?
MR. FREEH: No, I don't. And as you well put it, Mr. Chairman,the attorney general is not the president's lawyer.We've had,unfortunately, in that office, I think, at times, people who thoughtthat was the case. But he is not the president's lawyer. Thepresident has the White House counsel for those purposes.And I know that Eric Holder understands that difference. I thinkhe would be very quickly able to say no to the president if hedisagreed with him. And I think that's the confidence and trust thatwe need in that position.
SEN. LEAHY: In fact, a president -- would you agree with me thata president is ill-served by an attorney general who's unwilling tosay no to him if he thinks that president is wrong?
MR. FREEH: Of course he is. It not only subverts the purpose ofthe attorney general, but it puts the president in a very vulnerableposition.
SEN. LEAHY: And you've dealt with him when you were -- when hewas deputy attorney general and you were director of the FBI. We haveanother FBI director now, and well-respected by this committee, do youhave any doubt that if the current director were to come into anAttorney General Holder and say, Mr. Attorney General, I think you'rewrong on this, and here's why, do you have any doubt that he would geta fair and complete hearing?
MR. FREEH: No. He would get a completely fair hearing. And Ithink Eric would expect that from his staff. And I think the peopleand the career staff who did not do that would not be his trustedadvisers, they would not be serving the country in their, in theirfunction.
SEN. LEAHY: And, Mr. Canterbury, obviously the Fraternal Orderof Police has had some disagreements, certainly on the clemency issueof FALN. And I recall your organization testifying to Congress -- infact, we asked you to testify to Congress at that time. But do Iunderstand your testimony correct that you -- or correctly, that youbelieve that Eric Holder will be a strong attorney general, especiallyon law enforcement matters?
MR. CANTERBURY: (Off mike.) -- (inaudible) -- Based on thetotality of his record, we absolutely believe that. We still -- wesit here like we did in '99, we abhor the clemency that was granted.We thought it was wrong, just like Director Freeh. We still think itwas wrong. But, we also believe, based on the information and therecord of Eric Holder, that, given the position of authority of theattorney general, versus a deputy attorney general; and the fact thatclemency was a presidential issue and not his sole recommendation.And we believe that he would be fair. And we look at it from thetotality of circumstances and his career, and we feel comfortable,after an exhaustive review of his decisions as a judge and as aprosecutor.
SEN. LEAHY: And you're supportive of him, and you're joined byvirtually every national law enforcement organization there is.
MR. CANTERBURY: Every organization we know of, Senator.
SEN. LEAHY: Sorry I went 32 seconds over my time.Senator Specter.
SEN. SPECTER: (Off mike.) -- (inaudible) -- significantlydifferent dimension on the hearing from other arguments that we haveheard. And sometimes these matters on paper don't really reflect thekind of injury, the kind of scarring which is involved. But, I thinkit's very, very important to bear in mind what the victims had to say,and how the victims feel about it. But I --
MR. CONNOR: Thank you.
SEN. SPECTER: -- bumped into you yesterday in the corridor andyou told me neither you nor your family have come to closure.
MR. CONNOR: Yeah.
SEN. SPECTER: I can see, as you described, the wounds. And Ithink it was really unfortunate that you weren't consulted, at leastgiven an opportunity to be heard about it.Director Freeh, welcome again to this committee. Distinguishedcareer -- FBI agent, a judge, a director. You have come down harderon the characterizations of what Mr. Holder has done than anybody elsein the hearing. You say that the Rich pardon was "a corrupt act" --said it twice. Said it was a terrible mistake. He allowed himself tobe used and co-opted. Pretty tough words. Tougher than Mr.(Cranberry ?), who characterized it as (abhorrent ?).You said that he will be independent because the committee willmake sure about that. Well, my experience -- 28 years on thiscommittee, is we've been more ignored by attorneys general than beenable to influence them. Every time we seek information -- letterssigned jointly by Chairman Leahy and ranking member Specter, orChairman Arlen Specter and ranking member Leahy, we would get nothingin return.You say the media will make sure. Absolutely not. The mediadoesn't know what's going on. Sometimes they find out, but they can'tstop it. In the limited time, I'm not going to pursue that.I wanted to get into one question with you with respect to theindependent counsel on campaign finance. Have I pressed Mr. Holdervery hard about that? And I can only comment about a bit of thatbecause of the limitation of time. But, this is a subject I want totake up, and this is going to be what I'm going to have to say, Mr.Chairman, so I may take a little longer, if I may.And I chaired the -- I chaired the full committee on the Richpardon -- know a lot about that, more than we could get into.But on the independent counsel investigation, I chaired thecommittee.And you made a statement, quote, "It is difficult to imagine amore compelling situation for appointing an independent counsel,"close quote. Difficult to imagine a more compelling situation forappointment of independent counsel. That's why it seemed to me that aman of Mr. Holder's status, intelligence, experience, that it wasinexplicable. Inexplicable is the word that I apply also to the Richpardon. Also I applied to the FALN situation.The matter is still under investigation, as you said, FALN, asituation where two of the people wouldn't even accept clemency. Thefederal government -- the United States government had no standing toconvict them; they wouldn't accept clemency. People involved withmurders and bank robberies. You could have a parade of victims thatwould fill a stadium.But on the issue of independent counsel -- and Mr. Chairman, Iask consent that the memorandum from Mr. Freeh to the attorney generalbe included in the record.
SEN. LEAHY: Of course. Without objection.
SEN. SPECTER: That was the memorandum I'm about to refer to now.
SEN. LEAHY: Whatever memos that you wish that be included, theywill be included.
SEN. SPECTER: Mr. Freeh, this is a matter you and I talked aboutwhen I conducted the investigation in the year 2000, and I now referto a memo that I talked to you about a few moments ago, before thehearing started. No surprises, no gotchas. Everything on top of thetable.This is a memorandum which you wrote to Mr. Esposito, one of yourtop deputies, about a meeting he'd had with Mr. Lee Radek, who was thehead of the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice.And this is what it says, in part, quote, "I also advised theattorney general of Lee Radek's comment to you that there was a lotof, quote, 'pressure,' close quote, on him and PIS, Public IntegritySection, regarding this case, campaign finance investigation, becausethe attorney general's job might hang in the balance (or words to thateffect). I stated that these comments would be enough for me to takehim and the Criminal Division off the case completely," close quote.This memo is dated December 9th, 1996, and the background wasthat President Clinton had been re-elected. And Attorney General Renohad said she wanted to stay on publicly, and she hadn't been re-appointed.And then there was this meeting between your top deputy and oneof her top deputies, in effect saying ease off the campaign financeinvestigation. And you complained in this memo -- which I won't readin full because of the limitation of time -- that the FBI to takeover. The FBI had been kept out of the investigation.Now, that is the backdrop of what is happening in the Departmentof Justice where Mr. Holder is the deputy, where they're bringing theissue to the FBI to ease off so the attorney general's job will besaved.Now, how do you evaluate that in terms of politics, rank politics-- reappointment of a public official interfering with theinvestigation, law enforcement, and the rule of law.
MR. FREEH: Well, as I said, I couldn't think of a morecompelling case to go to an independent prosecutor. But let me justput that in perspective. And we have spoken about this before. Thatwas not a statement, of course, by the attorney general. It was byher Public Integrity Section chief.
SEN. SPECTER: Well, now, wait a minute, Mr. Freeh. Do you thinkthat Radek did that all on his own?
MR. FREEH: Well, I don't know. I never got a chance to cross-examine him.
SEN. SPECTER: Well, of course you don't know -- (laughter).Well, I'll draw the -- my inference, Radek's doing his boss' bidding.Now that happens occasionally.
MR. FREEH: Well, I would draw a different inference. But Iwould say the following: That statement was alarming enough, togetherwith all the other information we had, that I renewed myrecommendation that this case go to an independent prosecutor.The attorney general disagreed.We had a very strong -- perhapsthe strongest disagreement in eight years -- over that issue.Eric Holder, just to put it into perspective, was of course awareof this; he was the deputy. Went out of his way with me and theattorney general to say that, you know, Louis has a differentposition, we have to respect that position -- and actually supportedthe fact that I was taking a different position, which is, again, howI judge him to be willing and able to speak up and be independent.I didn't agree with the attorney general's determination, but shemade that determination subject to what she believed to be the rightfactors, and we disagreed.
SEN. SPECTER: Well, as the record will show, this memorandum yousent -- you sent as a copy to Mr. Holder. I will let the memo speakfor itself, where Radek, one of her top deputies, talks about a lot ofpressure on him and the Public Integrity Section. I think it's anobvious conclusion that that pressure is coming from the attorneygeneral.
MR. FREEH: Yeah. Well, I don't agree with you, respectfully,Senator.
SEN. SPECTER: Okay, why not? Why not?
MR. FREEH: Well, because there was never a conversation that wehad where she indicated -- and, more importantly, any action that sheever took that we were aware of -- and we were pretty aware ofeverything that was going on in the case -- that at all indicated, youknow, her aptitude or willingness or even consideration of trying tointerfere with this investigation in any manner.
SEN. SPECTER: (Inaudible.)
MR. FREEH: Yes.
SEN. SPECTER: Well, you weren't on the case in any real sense.This memorandum particularizes your request to her to get these peopleoff the case who were submitting to pressure to put the FBI in as thelead investigative agency. You weren't the lead investigative agency,were you?
MR. FREEH: Not at that time, no.
SEN. SPECTER: Mr. Freeh, let me move to another very delicatesubject, one which you and I discussed years ago and talked about afew minutes ago. You turned down the White House request for abriefing on campaign finance reform. Would you testify as to thecircumstances of that matter?
MR. FREEH: Yeah. Well, we had a criminal investigation calledthe campaign contributions case. And the subjects of thatinvestigation, as you know, were senior people in the White House,including the president, the vice president and others.And they -- at some point the White House wanted to be briefed onthe criminal case, which was also the intelligence operation by theChinese Ministry of Intelligence in the United States, to which wehave documentation -- this Committee has looked at it -- interferingwith the electoral processes here in the United States.So we decided --
SEN. SPECTER: Interfering with the electoral process where?
MR. FREEH: In the United States.So we decided that we could not brief the president and seniorofficials, who were also subjects of the investigation, on theinvestigation. It seemed to me a pretty -- no-brainer with respect toconflict, also protecting the integrity of the investigation.So the attorney general and I discussed it and we made a decisionnot to brief them on the criminal aspects of the case.
SEN. SPECTER: Was there any aspect of any other governmentalfunction -- foreign policy or anything else -- beyond the criminalinvestigation?
MR. FREEH: There was, and that part of the case was briefed tothem; in other words, Chinese intelligence operations. We briefed thenational security adviser --
SEN. SPECTER: But you declined to brief the president.
MR. FREEH: Oh, I don't think he asked me for a briefing.
SEN. SPECTER: Well, was it better to have been a part of thebriefing that the president did ask you for?
MR. FREEH: Well, no, he didn't. He didn't ask me for anybriefing at all, actually. It was the national security adviser. Andwe briefed them on everything except the criminal aspects of the casefor which subjects in the White House were now under investigation.
SEN. SPECTER: You say the White House asked for the briefing.
MR. FREEH: National security --
SEN. SPECTER: Griffin Bell said the White House doesn't ask forthings. (Laughter.)
MR. FREEH: (Laughs.) The national security adviser.
SEN. SPECTER: Okay. Well, that's -- I'm concluded now. Theinferences I draw -- and I'll give you an opportunity to disagree withme -- the inferences that I draw is that this investigation was rightto the top -- the president, as you testify; the vice president,attorney general's job. Question about impendent counsel was to thevice president, the president being involved.I had told you when we talked about it at the time -- you and Iand Fred Thompson had a conversation -- that I thought you were onvery shaky ground, a lot of -- (inaudible) -- responding to thepresident's request if you had evidence that might activate theimpeachment process, you ought to go to the speaker of the House, hecame to me; I'd just been chairman of Intelligence and Fred Thompsonwas chairman of campaign finance reform.Well, I'll let these facts speak for themselves, as to what kindof pressure there was, and whether Mr. Holder was a party to a matterwhich succumbed to political pressure.Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LEAHY: Thank you.Senator Sessions.
SENATOR JEFF SESSIONS (R-AL): Thank you.Well --
SEN. LEAHY: Senator Sessions was the only one who was able toclaim any kind of direct connection to the nominee, yesterday, becausethe nominee's wife is from Alabama; family is from Alabama.
SEN. SESSIONS: And a remarkable family she has and a remarkablesister particularly, a historic figure in the civil rights movement.And let me just say, Mr. Freeh, thank you for coming. And thematter that we are discussing here, as you can tell from SenatorSpecter's remarks, were pretty big deals at the time, were they not?I mean, this was a very intense situation, a very difficult time foryou, in the FBI, during all these periods of allegations and campaigncontributions and so forth.
MR. FREEH: Yes, sir, they were.
SEN. SESSIONS: And I think I just want to say this. I believeSenator Specter felt the pressures.He felt the development of theinvestigations. And Senator Specter was asking the tough questions,to find the truth, as he always tries to do, and felt that there werepolitical efforts to block that, to block the truth from beingdiscovered, which is not consistent with the highest ideals ofAmerican justice. And it was a very difficult time. I remember itwell.And so I like Mr. Holder. I think he has a lot of finequalities. I think it's appropriate that this be inquired into. Ithank you for your integrity in your testimony and in your work at thetime.With regard to the pardons, Mr. Freeh, your Department of Justiceexperience, I think, maybe the only panelist; maybe Ms. Townsend didtoo previously. But there's a reason, is it not, that we have apardon attorney.I mean, thousands of people ask for pardons, every year,commutations of sentences. We don't -- the president -- I think thelast two or three presidents who have served eight years gave about400 or 500. The vast majority are denied.I know of a case where a former public official in Alabama, inhis 70s and reaching the end of his life maybe, 80s, was convicted 40years ago. He's contributed to his community ever since. He'd like apardon. I doubt he'll get a pardon. Thousands are turned down, see,more deserving than the ones that got approved.That's what upsets me and that's what causes me to question myfriend, Mr. Holder, a man I respect very vigorously, at the time ofthe FALN pardon. And so everybody can make a mistake. And maybesomebody said, the best spin you could put on this is, Bill Clintoncould talk anybody into anything.So if he wanted it, maybe he just talked Mr. Holder into doingsomething he really didn't want to do and tried to resist but justcouldn't resist. Maybe that's what happened. But it was a bigmistake, I think.Mr. Hahn, yesterday, I compared the fact that the people -- thatsome of these people didn't actually murder somebody or set off a bombto the fact that neither did Osama bin Laden or Khalid SheikhMohammed. They didn't actually do it. They got people who flew theairplanes and caused all the destruction.And Mr. Holder responded that this was not in the same category,and that it was not his understanding that any of the terrorists, FALNterrorists were, quote, "head of the organizations," leaders. What'syour evaluation of that?
MR. HAHN: Well, first of all, Senator, in fact, Oscar LopezRivera is and was a leader of the FALN. So there's no question as towhether or not he was.
SEN. SESSIONS: So he was in error in his memory or --
MR. HAHN: That's correct.
SEN. SESSIONS: -- failed to know that when he recommended thepardon.
MR. HAHN: Correct.And the second point, of course, is these are clandestineorganizations with secret membership. Who did what acts remainsunknown. So it could have very well have been -- in fact, Oscar LopezRivera told Freddie Mendez that he had participated in bombings bothin the United States and Puerto Rico.Now, that's pretty amazing, since the FALN never claimed creditfor any bombings in Puerto Rico, but other groups did. So did he acton behalf of other groups when he was there? We don't know the answerto those questions, so we really don't know whether or not Oscar Lopezor any of these other people may have been involved in acts in whichpeople were killed.
SEN. SESSIONS: Now, Mr. Freeh, that's why you go through thepardon attorney process. You remember Catherine Love -- I meanMargaret Love, the former pardon attorney?
MR. FREEH: Yes, sir, I know.
SEN. SESSIONS: For some reason, Mr. Holder removed her on thestand. She was, I thought, a woman of great integrity and handled thejob -- she was a Democrat, but she the handled the job exceedinglywell.But at any rate, those are the kind of facts that, if you gothrough the formal process, the pardon attorney gets, does he not? Imean --
MR. FREEH: He does. He does.
SEN. SESSIONS: But you avoid mistakes when you do that, and youalso seek out the opinions of the prosecutors who tried the case andthe agents who investigated the case. I just feel like that was avery unwise thing.And Mr. Connor, I mean, how that went along, thank you forsharing the human perspective on this. I appreciated a littleopportunity to chat with you yesterday.
MR. CONNOR: I appreciate that, sir.
SEN. SESSIONS: And, you know, one of the things I think I sharedwith you that was troubling to me was after such a big controversyover this pardon, the Senate voted 95 to 2 -- Chairman Leahy and allthe members of our committee voted to deplore President Clinton'spardon -- the Marc Rich pardon was done not much longer after that.So, Mr. Chairman, I'll wrap up. I guess I'll ask Mr. Hahn ormaybe -- let me ask Mr. Freeh, it strikes me that after all of thatflap over the FALN pardon, that the deputy attorney general who washandling these matters should have been even more resistant to theMarc Rich pardon, which you have considered to be corrupt, and shouldhave done everything possible to resist it and certainly shouldn'thave said, "I'm leaning toward it," but should have said it's theposition of the -- "Mr. President, you can do you what you want, butit's the -- my position is you should not execute this pardon."
MR. FREEH: Yes. No. Senator, you're absolutely right.You were -- you were a lead prosecutor. You were responsible for anoffice. You know, I was, as I mentioned before, the deputy U.S.attorney in the Southern District. I went over to the Swissauthorities to negotiate for Marc Rich's arrest. I mean, there wasnobody more outraged with that pardon than me and my colleagues in theSouthern District of New York.But I did say earlier this morning, you know, the White Housewent to extraordinary lengths to deceive the attorney general, myself,the Department of Justice and everyone about who was on the secretpardon list; whether it's a pay-for-play list, or whatever you want tocall it.But to put, you know, Eric Holder's position and victimization inperspective, as I said, I had two FBI agents -- on inaugurationmorning, eight years ago next week, I had two FBI agents standing inthe cold outside of the west gate of the White House, because that wasthe only way we were going to see the publicly-posted list of peoplewho were pardoned.So the extraordinary lengths that they went to, and Marc Rich'slawyer being a part of that cabal, I don't think it's fair to put thatblame totally on Eric Holder. He takes responsibility, and he willnever make that mistake again. But I think, as Senator Warner saidyesterday, he's learned from that mistake. And that should certainlynot be the basis upon disqualifying him for a job which I think he'sgoing to do with excellence.
SEN. SESSIONS: Thank you. I think you've explained the issuefor the Senate very well.And Mr. Chairman, thank you for allowing us to have this hearing.
SEN. LEAHY: Thank you. And again, I'm going to put in the restof the letters from victims' advocates and all the law enforcement inthe record. I'm going to keep the record open till the close ofbusiness today.I thank all of you for being here. I know how busy you are.Judge Freeh, you said that you were heading to Vermont thisafternoon. I want you to know that at my home this morning inVermont, the temperature was 24 -- that's 24 below zero. (Laughter.)
MR. FREEH: Thank you, sir.
SEN. LEAHY: Thank you. We stand in recess.