Republicans Invoke Marc Rich in Holder Confirmation Holdup


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Republicans forced a delay to the scheduled confirmation vote for Eric Holder, President Barack Obama's nominee for attorney general.

The one-week delay, Republicans said, would help address several concerns, including Mr. Holder's role in the pardon for financier Marc Rich at the end of the Clinton administration and the Obama administration's stance on whether to pursue criminal prosecutions over the treatment of terror detainees during the Bush administration.

Mr. Holder said at his confirmation hearing that one tactic used under President George W. Bush, waterboarding or simulated drowning, is torture. He didn't say whether those who waterboarded detainees or signed legal opinions approving the tactic should be prosecuted, but Mr. Obama has suggested such a move would be unlikely.

At a tense and brief Senate Judiciary Committee meeting Thursday, Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, the top Republican on the panel, said he wasn't ready to yield on unspecified questions that he believes Mr. Holder hasn't fully answered. Mr. Specter said he planned to meet Mr. Holder on Friday afternoon, during which he hoped Mr. Holder could provide the information he needs.

Confirmation of the 57-year-old corporate lawyer and former Justice Department official is still believed likely.

Mr. Holder didn't stop -- and some critics say he aided -- the Clinton White House when it circumvented Justice procedures in granting a pardon for Mr. Rich. At his hearing, he acknowledged making mistakes in handling the pardons, which generated months of investigations and hearings after he left office. He said he would handle the Rich pardon differently if he had a chance to do it again.

Mr. Holder has vowed to set the Justice Department on a different path from the Bush administration. Particularly on national security matters, the Obama administration has announced a lineup of nominees that signals new policies on interrogation, counterterrorism and the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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