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Senate Proceeding on Feb 2nd, 2009 :: 0:50:15 to 1:10:40
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John Cornyn

0:50:12 to 0:50:33( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: understanding, of course, we follow from side to the presiding officer: so recognized. the senator from texas is recognized. without objection, this request is agreed to. mr. cornyn: thank you, madam chair. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: madam president. madam president, i come to the

John Cornyn

0:50:15 to 1:10:40( Edit History Discussion )
Speech By: John Cornyn

John Cornyn

0:50:34 to 0:50:57( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: floor more with regret than anything else to say that i oppose the nomination of -- and confirmation of eric holder to be the next united states attorney. i sayhis to my colleagues because i approach this nomination with an open mind and actually a predisposition to vote for his confirmation.

John Cornyn

0:50:58 to 0:51:20( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: but, of course, we senators are -- have a constitutional duty in providing advice and consent to the executive branch's ecutive nominations like this one to ask hard questions and to get answers to those questions so that our advice and consent may be an informed consent. while i approach this nomination

John Cornyn

0:51:21 to 0:51:41( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: with an open mind and a predisposition of a vote for mr. holder's nomination, i ultimately concluded that as a result of the reasons that i will detail momentarily, that i could not vote for his confirmation in good conscience. mr. holder's experience in many ways uniquely qualifies him for

John Cornyn

0:51:42 to 0:52:02( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: this promotion as attorney general. but it's that very same experience when he served as deputy attorney general that calls into question his independence in judgment, particularly when the president of the united states, at the time president bill clinton, basically wanted something out of the department of justice.

John Cornyn

0:52:03 to 0:52:26( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: and this had to do specifically with two clemency petitions, one for the flan terrorists and the other for the notorious marc rich. these two actions where president clinton commuted the sentence of 16 puerto rican teufts and the recommendation to

John Cornyn

0:52:27 to 0:52:47( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: pardon the billionaire marc rich ray raised -- raised serious questions about mr. holder's independence and judgment. when mr. holder came to my office, i asked him is there any reason why you would resign rather than carry out the orders of a president if you were attorney general? he quickly said of course, if the president asked me to do

John Cornyn

0:52:48 to 0:53:08( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: something ilgal or unethical, then i would resign rather than carry out those instructions. well÷ no one is suggesting that when mr. holder did was illegal given the fact that the president of the united states solely had the

John Cornyn

0:53:09 to 0:53:32( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: prerogative to grant the commutations. but the consideration of eric holder raises questions if he could hold himself to the same standard that he articulated i my office. two other mr. holder's record concerns me. one is his demonstrated lack of seriousness regarding the

John Cornyn

0:53:33 to 0:53:54( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: profound threat posed by radical islamic terrorism. and, secondly, as some senators on my side of the aisle have already pointed out, his apparent hostility to the second amendment. the right to keep and bear arms under our constitution. in the judiciary committee on which i'm proud to serve, mr. holder failed questions and the questions of

John Cornyn

0:53:55 to 0:54:16( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: my colleagues in a way that alleviated these concerns and, in fact, i found many of his responses to be simply resassive. -- simpl as i said earlier, i had four reasons for opposing this nomination, one, mr. holder's role in the flan, his role in

John Cornyn

0:54:17 to 0:54:37( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: the marc rich pardon, his misjudgment and shifting opinions on the war on terror, and his record of hostility to the individual right to keep and bear arms. i think it is important to point out the facts of the commutations because they really are alarming and many of our memories may have been dimmed because man of these events

John Cornyn

0:54:38 to 0:55:01( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: occurred in the past. in august of 1999 president clinton offered clemency to 16 members of puerto rican separatist organizations. the deputy attorney general eric holder made the recommendation that he should do so. the

John Cornyn

0:55:02 to 0:55:23( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: recall, was a clan destine terrorist to bring about independence to puerto rico through violent means. itself independence was to open war on america with kidnappings, prison escapes, threats and intimidation, all of which resulted in the death of at

John Cornyn

0:55:24 to 0:55:46( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: least six people and injuries to many more between 1974 and 19836789 the most -- 1983. the most gruesome occurred in 1975 in a bombing in lower manhattan, the time to explode during lunchtime, the bomb decapitated one of the four people killed and injured another 60. it is hard to imagine what it

John Cornyn

0:55:47 to 0:56:07( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: would be like today if it occurred and what the faln was found guilty of. in another attack in puerto rico there was an attack on a bus o u.s. sailors, kling two, wounding nine. fortunately much of the leadership of these terrorist groups were captured and brought

John Cornyn

0:56:08 to 0:56:28( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: to justi 1980's, but by the mid-1980's the worst of the reigm of terror was -- reign was over. in the 1990's there was clemency on behalf of groups. it was an easy call for the pardon attorney, that's the title of the individual whose

John Cornyn

0:56:29 to 0:56:49( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: responsibility it is to screen requests for clemency. these unrepennant terrorists had not bothered to petition for clemency themselves, so market love, who worked for jamiey

John Cornyn

0:56:50 to 0:57:11( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: gorelic recommended against this. after eric holder became deputy attorney general recommended that president clinton grant clemency for these unrepennant terrorists. strangely and inex --

John Cornyn

0:57:12 to 0:57:33( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: inexplicably eric holder stands by this as reasonable. mr. hold, first of all, claims that the individuals were not -- quote -- "linked to violence." that's clearly false. these men were active members of terrorist groups that committed dozens of violent crimes as i described a moment ago. it is true that they were not individually prosecuted for the

John Cornyn

0:57:34 to 0:57:55( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: worst of those crimes, but by that standard anyone who conspires to commit violence and murder are not linked to violence. only those who actually execute the orders of higher ups. these commutations were at the time believed to be politically linked. indeed the clinton white house discussed how the clemencies

John Cornyn

0:57:56 to 0:58:16( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: would affect then vice president gore's aspirations for political higher office, particularly among the puerto rican community. for this reason i believe accounting of the individuals that mr. holder met with, what they discussed a what went in his decisions in recommending the commutations is

John Cornyn

0:58:17 to 0:58:37( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: but there's another reason why these questions should be answered, and that is only fair and just that the victims of the violence of these two terrorist groups, that they be provided answers. i would encourage all of my colleagues before voting to review the testimony of joseph connor beings whose father was -- connor, whose father was

John Cornyn

0:58:38 to 0:58:59( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: killed in the bombing in lower manhattan. mr. connor testified that mr. holder did not consult with him, did not contact him or his family or other victims before recommending that the faln terrorist go free. i cannot vote for mr. holder's nomination until i can explain

John Cornyn

0:59:00 to 0:59:20( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: my vote to joseph connor. less than two years after the controversial recommendation for commuting the sentence of these faln terrorists and lomachoos terrorists, on the last night of his administration, president clinton recommended -- he recommended that president

John Cornyn

0:59:21 to 0:59:41( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: clinton pardon marc rich. at the time mr. rich was number six on the f.b.i.'s most wante list. in 1983 then u.s. attorney rudy guiliani got an indictment of international commodities trar marc rich. the indictment charged 65 counts of tax evasion and racketeer

John Cornyn

0:59:42 to 1:00:02( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: and trading with the enemy. comesk charges include ill -- charges include tradeing with the iranian terrorist regime and violation of u.s. energy laws and trade embargoes against iran. indeed, mr. rich made a fortune trading with the ayatollah's regime at the time that 52

John Cornyn

1:00:03 to 1:00:24( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: diplomats were being held hostage in tehran. he profit ited by trading with libya and cuba. rather than face the charges mr. rich fled to switzerland where he remained a fugitive for 17 years. law enforcement including the

John Cornyn

1:00:25 to 1:00:47( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: c.i.a., n.s.a. and other agencies expended substantial resources in trying to apprehend mr. rich. these efforts included extradition requests at attempts by u.s. marshals to seize him abroad. mr. rich refused to return to the united states despite an offer by prosecutors that they would actually drop the racketeering charges in exchange

John Cornyn

1:00:48 to 1:01:08( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: for his return. in a final extradition, mr. rich went so far as to renounce his u.s. citizenship an he tried to become a citizen of bolivia. its hard for me to imagine anyone less deserving of clemency by the president of the united states than a fugitive from justice accused of trading

John Cornyn

1:01:09 to 1:01:31( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: with the enemy. mr. rich's own lawyer told him that he -- quote -- "spit on the american by avoiding the jurisdiction of our courts. on the last evening of the clinton administration white house counsel called mr. holder to solicit his views on the rich

John Cornyn

1:01:32 to 1:01:54( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: pardon application, as dispute attorney general mr. holder was speaking for the entire department. strong disregarding of the hundreds of d.o.j. prosecutors and f.b.i. agents for decades that worked to bring mr. ch to justice, he said that heas -- quote -- "neutral

John Cornyn

1:01:55 to 1:02:16( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: leaning to favorable." with this recommendation from the deputy attorney general in hand, president clinton granted the rich pardon in one of his last, most inexplicable actions. senator specter, the distinguished ranking member, the senator from pennsylvania correctly recounted what former f.b.i. director louie freeh said

John Cornyn

1:02:17 to 1:02:37( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: about the pardon. he called it a -- quote -- "corrupt act." now mr. holder has, during the hearings, accepted fault, admitted that he made a mistake. i don't know how he could do differently. never in a full day of hearings and written questions did mr. holder offer a good reason

John Cornyn

1:02:38 to 1:02:58( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: for supporting the pardon in the first place. he defends himself by was naive. he admits it was a mistake and promises he will not make the same mistake again. but this is difficult to square with the fact that just two years earlier mr. rich agreed that the faln commutations were

John Cornyn

1:02:59 to 1:03:20( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: a reasonable act it appears to be something of a trend here. madam predent, the other area that i'm very concerned about, as i mentioned earlier, is the questions i asked mr. holder about in the war on terror. of course, it's hard for us now

John Cornyn

1:03:21 to 1:03:42( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: to recount the horrors of 9/11 when al qaeda common deared airplanes -- common deared airplanes that hit washington, d.c., and new york killing 3,000 americans. it was in the wake of that that congress authorized the u.s. of military force against al qaeda in afghanistan and against the taliban. it is in the wake of that that

John Cornyn

1:03:43 to 1:04:03( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: congress passed the patriot act to provide enhanced tools to our law enforcement agencies and our intelligence agencies to try to make sure that 9/11 never, ever happened again. and the department of justice, particularly in the office of legal counsel, was struggling with new efforts to try to figure out how to protect

John Cornyn

1:04:04 to 1:04:25( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: americans from future attacks. i believe they struggled in good faith to try to come up with legal guidance for our president, his administration, and intelligence authorities to make sure that they were operating within the limit of the law, which, of course, prohibits torture. but i want to recount what

John Cornyn

1:04:26 to 1:04:46( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: mr. holder said in january 2002, which is that -- which is at stark odds with what he said in 2008. he said in january of 2002 that captured al qaeda terrorists are not, in fact, people entitled to the protection of the geneva convention. he'd said that they're not prisoners of war.

John Cornyn

1:04:47 to 1:05:07( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: he went and to endorse detention of terrorists at guantanamo bay and said that such prisoners should not be afforded gee neefa -- geneva convention but more recently, taking perhaps a more political or ideological bend, he chastised

John Cornyn

1:05:08 to 1:05:29( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: the bush administration for policies he now seems defy the law. i want to quote at length from an associated press article entitledbama defendant -- dated december 22, 2008. according to this article when asked if terrorism suspects could be held forever, holder

John Cornyn

1:05:30 to 1:05:51( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: ponded -- responded, it seems to me you can think of these people as combatants. holder said in a cnn interview in 2002 and it seems to me you can say looking at precedent that you can retain these people until the war is over if that is ultimately what we wanted to do. just weeks later this article guess on to say: holder told cnn

John Cornyn

1:05:52 to 1:06:13( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: he he didn't believe al qaeda suspects qualified as prisoners of war under the geneva convention. said that one of the things that we want to do with the prisoners is to have an ability to interrogate them and find out what their future plans are and where other cells mighting located. under the geneva convention, you are limited in the amount of

John Cornyn

1:06:14 to 1:06:34( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: information you can elicit from people. holder said that it is important to treat detainees humanly, but he said that the entitled to the p the ge geneva protection. he these detainees were mistreated. madam president, these are essentially the same arguments

John Cornyn

1:06:35 to 1:06:55( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: being made by the bush administration in the wake of 9/11. since the -- since then these arguments, as we all know, have been criticized by human rights groups, leading democrats, and, surprisingly enough, mr. holder himself. he gave a speech to the american constitution society in june

John Cornyn

1:06:56 to 1:07:17( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: 2008 where he said: we must close our detention center at guantanamo bay. he said: a great nation should not detain people military or are civilian in dark places beyond the reach of the law. guantanamo bay, he said, is an international embarrassment. he added he would never thought he would see the day where -- quote -- "the supreme court

John Cornyn

1:07:18 to 1:07:39( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: would have torder the president of the united states to treat detainees in accordance with the geneva convention." these sharply contrasting positions from 2002 to 2008 make me wonder if this is the same person, the same eric holder. moreover, it makes me wund

John Cornyn

1:07:40 to 1:08:00( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: whitewater it is he -- wonder what it is he truly believes. in 2008, mr. holder in a speech attacked many of the positions that he once held as -- quote -- -- quote -- quo making a mockery of the rule of in tt speech, he called for a reckoning over the bush

John Cornyn

1:08:01 to 1:08:22( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: administration's unlawful practices in the war on terror. he also accused the bush administration of acting in direct defiance of federal law and policies that he claimed violated international law and the united states constitution. it's one thing to change your mind, madam president. but it's another thing to change your mind and attack the very

John Cornyn

1:08:23 to 1:08:43( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: position you once held as one that could only be held in bad faith. it's cynical to characterize a position you once held later as making a mockery of the rule of law.

John Cornyn

1:08:44 to 1:09:06( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: the recent attacks in mumbai reminded americans of the possibility of another attack literally anywhere in the world by committed terrorists. in 2008, november 26, mumbai was ravaged by a gan of terrorists, more than 170 people died as a result of the bombings and gunfire including six americans. if an american city was targeted

John Cornyn

1:09:07 to 1:09:27( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: in the same manner as mumbai or worse, let's say these terrorists had a biological chemical or nuclear device, it's critical that our laws give our law enforcement personnel, give our intelligence personnel, give the president of the united states the very intelligence they need in order to detect and

John Cornyn

1:09:28 to 1:09:49( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: defeat those attacks. and our intelligence officials and those who act consistent with interpretations of the law from the office of legal counsel at the department of justice need to know the law's not going to change after they act consistent with what they understand the law to be in order to protect american citizens from future attacks.

John Cornyn

1:09:50 to 1:10:11( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: madam president, i worry that -- about mr. holr's shifting opinions on what the law provides for and what it doesn't provide for, and i worry about the chilling effect that will have on future intelligence officials who may decide rather than risk prosecution by shifting opinions on what the law provides or does not provide rather than risking everything

John Cornyn

1:10:12 to 1:10:32( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: i've worked a lifetime for, including what i've provided for my family, i'm just going to play it safe. what we learned on 9/11, according to the 9/11 commission, was when we play it safe, when we tre terrorism as a criminal act alone, we invite future attacks against our country. for all these reasons,

John Cornyn

1:10:33 to 1:10:41( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: madam president, i would oppose the nomination. i'd ask finally unanimous consent that a letter from a

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