I have been unsure whether Eric Holder's role in the controversial pardon of billionaire fugitive Marc Rich should raise concerns about his nomination to be Attorney General. George Lardner, who covered the pardon for the Washington Post at the time, makes the case suggests Holder has been less-than-fully forthcoming about his role, and that the pardon "deserves more scrutiny" before Holder is confirmed as the nation's top law-enforcement official. His article concludes:
The precedent against pardons for fugitives was set more than 200 years ago by President John Adams. The charge, brought in 1799, was murder on the high seas against a ship's captain who was clearly trying to put down a mutiny. But the mutineers made it back to the States, ready to testify against the captain, while his supporters were still at sea. The captain was afraid to return. Asked to approve a nolle prosequi (a notice that prosecution won't be pursued, a procedure then treated as part of the pardon power), the president consulted his cabinet, which concluded that a trial should come first and a pardon, if justified, after that. Clemency, wrote Secretary of War James McHenry, should be exercised only with "great caution and on the fullest information."
Mr. Holder never came close to meeting that standard. He had the last word at Justice on clemency petitions and he saw to it that he had the only word. He brokered one of the most unjustifiable pardons that an American president has ever granted.