[Originally published June 7, 2008 when Holder's name was proposed for AG]
This week American Lawyer floated a trial balloon for the next Attorney General. The fluff job began with a casual vignette that showed us how the anointed candidate is connected — and obedient — to Power. Which sounds exactly like what was wrong with all of Bush’s AG’s. After seven long years of depravity in Bush’s DOJ, do you really want four more years of a DOJ prostituted out to corporate clients?
[Eric Holder Jr.] is there to prep Fernando Aguirre, the CEO of Chiquita Brands International Inc., for an interview with "60 Minutes," which will be broadcasting a segment on the company’s past involvement with Colombian right-wing paramilitary forces. Last March, Holder helped Chiquita secure a slap-on-the-wrist plea deal to charges that it had paid off the terrorists.
Aww. Isn’t that special? Another very-well-paid corporate servant just helping another
criminally amoral conspiracy corporation — Chiquita — evade punishment for killing anyone who gets in the way of maximum quarterly yield. After all, corporate officers and board members already enjoy effective immunity from criminal prosecution (and personal liability) when they deliberately choose to maximize profits by killing and maiming their employees and the rest of us — either through predictable workplace "accidents" or the intentional collective posioning of us and our fetuses we quaintly call "pollution".
Why not take the next step and kill union organizers? Hey — it worked for Big Carbon during the start of the last Great Depression. Why shouldn’t Big Banana do the same as we slide into the next Great Depression?
After all, killing union activists is just another tool in maximizing corporate earnings — and that’s what America, the legal prostitutes who collectively comprise the corporate bar, and the Bushies’ DOJ is all about, right? And why make a big stink about Big Banana? After all, killing union activists is just the way business works in Colombia — as long as Uribe and the DEA/DOJ’s Plan Colombia run the show:
Between 2002 (when Uribe took office) and 2006, a total of 510 union activists have been slain in Colombia.
The Uribe Administration likes to trumpet the fact that the number of murders of trade unionists has been on a downward trend since he took office. However, to put that so-called good news in perspective, according to USLEAP, each year between 2002 and 2006 the total number of labor-leader assassinations in Colombia alone has exceeded the total killed globally — with 72 union leaders killed in Colombia in 2006, compared to 66 in the entire rest of the world that same year.
After that much bloodshed, you have to wonder if Uribe’s so-called success in reducing the murder rate of unionists is not due to the fact that there are simply fewer labor leaders out there to murder.
Hey, assassinating trade unionists worked for Coca-Cola’s bottlers in Colombia, right? Why deny Big Banana the same advantage?
After all, isn’t that what the noble profession of law is all about: establishing a level playing field with elaborate rules designed to ensure all parties have vigorous advocates who give them "their day in court"?
Sure. When one party is a multi-billion corporation and the other an individual, it has to work well, right?
Or when the multi-billion megacorps simply write their own legislation — and then fund their creature ALEC to use
campaign contributions legalized bribery and just purchase the votes required to buy whatever the megacorps need from our state and Federal "Justice" systems.
After all, it worked for the Bankruptcy Law "reform", right? It worked to neuter Superfund, right? It worked to sink universal health insurance, right?
And last year — when Congress knowingly turned the techniques of the women’s suffrage and civil rights movement into federal crimes – it sure worked then, right? But of course, AETA was all about terrorism, right?
And that has nothing to do with the sweet deal American Lawyer’s fluffee Holder negotiated for the Boys From Banana, right?
There was a labor organizer who was organizing banana workers, who was taken off a bus by paramilitaries and shot; people shot in the banana fields; social organizers who were advocating for causes that the paramilitaries were opposed to; a woman taken out and shot in front of her family.
We believe that Chiquita is actually essentially engaged in a criminal conspiracy with the paramilitary organizations to control the banana-growing region of Colombia and that it was to Chiquita’s great benefit to use the paramilitaries to maintain a social and political stability within this region to allow them to conduct their extremely profitable banana-growing operations.
What the Chiquita executives probably didn’t tell you is that during this period, when they claimed they were being extorted by the paramilitaries, their Colombian subsidiary was the most profitable arm of Chiquita’s global operations, and, in fact, they continued to buy land in Colombia in the area where they said it was so dangerous that they had to pay protection payments to the paramilitaries. They continued to buy land and expand their operations until 2004, when they abruptly sold their Colombian subsidiary at around the same time that the Justice Department began investigating their payments to the paramilitaries.
Nope, no terrorism to see here with Chiquita. Run along and support their lawyer for AG.
The DOJ, Michael Chertoff, America’s corporate elite, their purchased servants among the WTO, DNC, RNC and the blue ribbon law-firms and law partners who comprise the corporate bar, and our major media would never turn a blind eye to terror, right?
Well, unless the terrorists are Cubans — the right sort of Cubans, that is. Or unless the "terrorists" increase quarterly profits. American justice, after all, is all about equal rights for all.
Unless equal rights to a safe workplace, labor organizing, or safe food/air/water actually cost some stockholder somewhere something someday.
The most prosperous positions for attorneys are as corporate counsel – the consiglieri for the serial poisoners and serial killers otherwise known as corporate America. Members of the Bar.
Who pushes the Bush Reich’s assertion that torture and extra-judicial murder are Executive Privilege? Members of the Bar.
Who pushes that Exxon should be let off the hook for letting a known drunk foul Alaska and cause billions of irremediable damages? Members of the Bar.
Who are serving as the uniformed cogs in the DOD’s homicidal Gitmo show trials? Members of the Bar.
Who appear meekly to seek "Justice" before the same federal jurist who — as a U.S. Attorney — railroaded the people’s choice for Governor, Siegelman, into prison? Members of the Bar.
And where are the members of the Bar gathering outside the Federal Courthouses and Pentagon doorways and UC Regents’ meetings to demand their erstwhile colleagues — willing collaborators in corporate crimes and crimes of official Power — be removed from the Bar?
Where are the members of the Bar sitting in the damn doorways of Power until their voices are heard?
Back to Eric H. Holder, former MCI board member, partner at Covington & Burling (with a practice in "White collar defense and investigations: Congressional investigations and internal investigations"), former DOJ Public Integrity Section Federal attorney, former Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, former US Attorney (and first African-American) of the District of Columbia, former number two – Deputy Attorney General – of the entire Department of Justice!
Twenty-five years of public service – and even with his failure to recuse himself when his buddy John Quinn came calling for a Presidential pardon for a fugitive commodities trader – an impressive one.
Eric H. Holder was even selected to serve on the US Sentencing Commission Ad Hoc Advisory Group "that examined, and made recommendations to revise, the organizational sentencing guidelines".
The same Ad Hoc Advisory Group the USSC relied upon in endorsing government-coerced waivers of the attorney-client privilege and work product productions —
On April 30, 2004, the U.S. Sentencing Commission submitted to Congress a number of amendments to Chapter 8 of the Guidelines relating to ""organizations""-a broad term that includes corporations, partnerships, unions, non-profit organizations, governments, and other entities.
OK – IANAL. Maybe forcing waiver of attorney-client privilege is the best legal innovation since footnotes. But anything so draconian that it brings together the American Chemical Association, NAM, and the ACLU gives me the heebie-jeebies.
With exceptions such as the ACLU, the EFF, the NLG, EPIC, The Southwest Center For Biological Diversity, and the like, the normative culture in American law appears to have become a culture of depravity.
Like medicine, the cultural norms and ethical norms are generated by the practioners. At any given moment, the norms of both professional communities reflect prevailing values. So at one time in America, physician participation in executions was normative: today it is proscribed. Medicine still has a long way to go: members of my profession are complicit and responsible for torture and for the illegal use of psychotropic drugs in the new "Security State" the Bush Reich has brought upon us.
Even the best-intentioned members of any profession can be so inured to cultural norms that we don’t see what is before us until an outsider tells us the professional norm is naked – and ugly.
I’ve every reason to respect Scott Horton and the attorneys who write for FDL. I believe they are good people with honorable values. Though I’ve never met them, I just know they are: their actions and writings tell me.
Yet even Scott Horton was inured to the fact that a war criminal like John Yoo is a member of the Bar.
But I’m still haunted by a question a student put to me following a presentation I made at Columbia University on Tuesday evening. "If the bar is so serious about this," the student said, "then explain to me how it’s possible that John Yoo and his confederates haven’t been disbarred." I started to answer about the complexity of the disbarment process, but I stopped. The student was right. If the bar were serious about this, it should have used its disciplinary tools to deal with it. This is not a case of an eccentric academic mouthing some cock-eyed theories. It is about a government official using the power of a government office to induce people to commit serious crimes.
Even a genuinely independent and ethical thinker like Scott Horton was brought up
short when Yoo’s bar Card was questioned. To his credit, he admitted he’d never considered it. His interlocutor?
A law student — someone too new to the culture of American law to have been inculcated in the cultural norm of depravity I’ve described above.
The cultural norms of medicine, and especially psychoanalysis, were once every bit as insular, self-absorbed, self-protective, and depraved as is the legal culture I describe above. When I commenced my psych training in the late ’80s it was still routine to meet (and be trained and supervised by) psychiatrists who were now married to the patient they’d started fucking … while they were that patient’s doc. That behavior among therapists is now illegal.
Until the normative American legal culture of aiding those complicit in corporate death squads, mass poisoning (and its progeny: mass carcinogenesis, mass mutagensis, mass reproductive disorders, mass learning disorders), serial killings of industrial employees, and complicity in the same abuses of federal and state power for which the Allies hung Nazi leaders at Nuremberg (and their instruments at other post-war trials) goes through the same wrenching changes medicine is part-way through, the culture of depravity will still be blithely excused as "our adversial system".
The blindness will be so severe that even those touting a candidate for Attorney General will use a high-powered role in securing a "slap on the wrist" for corporate officers’ complicity in death squads as a telling indication of power — rather than a stunning indictment of the candidates’ ethics and morality.
And even a former professor of Consitutional Law who is now the Democratic candidate for President may be blind to the true significance of bringing that high-powered corporate lawyer into his campaign, much less his Cabinet.
After nearly thirty years of Presidents in thrall to corporate power, America is on the verge of social collapse. In selecting corporate servants to staff his Administration, President Obama can speed our goverment and our Republic’s rush to destruction.
In rejecting corporate sevants and the amorality they serve as he chooses his Cabinet, President Obama can reverse the megacorps’ lethal corrosion of our society and Federal Government.
Assume Obama wins the presidency…. Is Holder attorney general?
Holder doesn’t hesitate. "I got to tell you, that’s going to be up to the president," he says. "And I will not be the president. I will also tell you that I am married to a wonderful woman who is a doctor. Her name is Sharon Malone. And Sharon Malone tells me that I won’t be going anywhere except back to my law firm. So I think President Obama is going to have to talk to Sharon, and she’s a pretty formidable person."
Dr. Malone sounds like a very wise doctor to me. Let’s hope President Obama will follow her prescription.
Let’s hope President Obama chooses an Attorney General — and executive appointees — for We the People, not for the megacorps.
We’ve been dying for that.
[image credit: RO-BOT]