Eric Holder's Original Sin

In setting out to write my book “You Lie!” my initial goal was to chronicle Barack Obama’s major deceptions. In doing so, alas, I ended up writing the history of the presidency.

Among the boldest of the deceptions was the canard that Obama’s would be a post-racial presidency. Barack Obama, after all, seemed just too white to play the race card effectively. That much Obama knew himself. He also knew if he did not meet the needs of the soi-disant civil rights movement, its veteran profiteers might just make good on Jesse Jackson’s threat “to cut his nuts off,” at least figuratively.

To keep the demagogues out of their knife drawers, Obama appointed Eric Holder attorney general. A Ron Brown protégé, Holder came of age in the minority huckster wards of D.C., the most relentlessly corrupt slice of political America since Boss Tweed hung up his Tammany money belt more than a century earlier.

Holder did not disappoint. In his very first public act as attorney general, he showed his cronies that Obama was more anxious about keeping them happy than he was about faithfully executing the laws of the land. When the media let them get away with this, they knew they could get away with anything, and they were right.

The details of the case are evil enough to outrage just about every American outside of a major media newsroom. On Election Day 2008, two New Black Panthers in paramilitary gear intimidated would-be voters at a Philadelphia polling place. One carried a nightstick. Both were abusive. “You are about to be ruled by the black man, cracker!” one of them yelled at a white voter. Bartle Bull, a former civil rights lawyer and a onetime publisher of the left-wing Village Voice, was among the witnesses to see and hear this.

Given what Bull and others reported, much of which was captured on video, the Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit against the New Black Panther Party and three of its members for violating the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The DOJ filed the suit two weeks before Obama was inaugurated in January 2009.

Bull submitted an affidavit in support of the lawsuit. J. Christian Adams, one of the six career attorneys involved, called the Panthers’ actions, “the simplest and most obvious violation of federal law I saw in my Justice Department career.” None of the accused filed any response, and it appeared that the Department of Justice would prevail by default.

In February 2009, Holder assumed office. In March, the Senate confirmed Obama’s appointee Thomas Perrelli as associate attorney general. In May 2009, Perelli, or someone under him, overruled the six career attorneys and let the Panthers walk. To what degree Obama involved himself in this case will likely never be known. Clearly, though, all participants understood that in the Obama-Holder DOJ, race would trump justice.

Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, would testify that the “facts and law” did not support the original lawsuit. Adams and other attorneys vehemently rejected that argument. “That claim is false,” said Adams. “If the actions in Philadelphia do not constitute voter intimidation, it is hard to imagine what would.”

It was harder still to believe Perez’s claim under oath that there was no political involvement in the decision to drop the case. Nor was he the only one to make this claim. Holder testified before a House Appropriations subcommittee in March 2011 that “the decisions made in the New Black Panther Party case were made by career attorneys in the department.” United States District Court Judge Reggie Walton was not buying.

In ruling on a related case, Walton had received several relevant documents, including a series of e-mails between Perrelli and a colleague. “The documents reveal that political appointees within DOJ were conferring about the status and resolution of the New Black Panther Party case in the days preceding the DOJ’s dismissal of claims in that case,” wrote Walton in his ruling. He added that this “would appear to contradict Assistant Attorney General Perez’s testimony that political leadership was not involved in that decision.”

As expected, the media would not let the narrative stand as Adams described it. They did what they often do in these kinds of cases -- attack the whistleblower. Adams made a tempting target. Although not a political appointee, he was a conservative. Main Justice, a progressive legal blog and a source for many left-leaning journalists, chronicled Adams’s sins against progressive dogma.

Adams once filed an ethics complaint against Hillary Clinton’s brother (but who didn’t?). On another occasion, he asked a question at a meeting of the Federalist Society “that appeared skeptical of affirmative action.” And, most damning of all, Adams worked on a 2005 federal lawsuit that accused black officials in Noxubee County, Mississippi, of violating the civil rights of white voters.

Although Adams was not a major player in this case, his involvement was enough to garner a race-baiting taunt from Andrew Cohen, writing for The Atlantic. Adams’s “claim to fame as a federal lawyer,” said the sanctimonious Cohen, “seems to be his penchant for accusing black people of discriminating against whites.”

Cohen did not mention Adams’s primary partner on the New Black Panthers case, Christopher Coates, and for good reason. As the Washington Post acknowledged, Coates had a “pedigree different” from Adams. In fact, the DOJ hired Coates during the Clinton administration in 1996, and he had worked before that for the American Civil Liberties Union.

As the former head of the voting section that brought the case, Coates testified before the US Commission on Civil Rights in defiance of his supervisor’s orders. To do so, he sought and was granted whistleblower protection. “I had people who told me point-blank that [they] didn’t come to the voting rights section to sue African American people,” said Coates. “When you are paid by the taxpayer, that is totally indefensible.”

Coates testified that the Obama Justice Department was resisting “race neutral” enforcement of the law. “We had eyewitness testimony. We had videotape. One of [the Panthers] had a weapon. They were hurling racial slurs,” Coates testified. “I’ve never been able to understand how anyone could accuse us of not having a basis of law in this case.”

The irony of all this, of course, was that Obama had long postured as a champion of voting rights. As a US senator in 2007, Obama showily introduced a bill with Chuck Schumer to protect voters from intimidation. “There is no place for politics in this debate,” Obama testified in March 2007. “Both parties at different periods in our history have been guilty in different regions of preventing people from voting for a tactical advantage. We should be beyond that.”

The New York Times promptly recognized Obama as the friend of voting rights he feigned to be with the now-amusing headline, “Obama-Schumer Bill Proposal Would Criminalize Voter Intimidation.” And yet in the case that Bartle Bull called “the most blatant form of voter intimidation I’ve ever seen,” Obama’s Justice Department showed itself beyond neither politics nor racial propaganda.

When called to testify about this case in 2011, Holder blasted Bull. He claimed that by failing to understand the historical context of the case, Bull insulted “my people.” For all its implicit racism, Holder’s “my people” comment may have been the most honest remark to come out of the DOJ in the lat six years.

Jack Cashill’s new book, You Lie!: The Evasions, Omissions, Fabrications, Frauds and outright Falsehoods of Barack Obama will be released on October 7.

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