Scottish Haggis Lives Up to the Name, Backs Holder

Say, are you the least bit surprised that Arlen "Scottish Haggis" Specter has lived up to his name? As in "offal" and "sheep"? Once again? (h/t BSL)

 After making a huge fuss questioning the independence of Eric Holder, Specter just caved and said he’ll support the attorney general nominee.

"I can say with some confidence that there won’t be a successful filibuster," Specter told reporters at a press conference gathered to share his thoughts on Holder in advance of tomorrow’s Judiciary panel vote on the nominee.

Specter added that the strong recommendations Holder received from former FBI director Louis Freeh and former DoJ No. 2 James Comey were influential in swaying his vote.

"At no time did I challenge Mr. Holder’s integrity," the Pennsylvania senator concluded. (But he sure came close, according to Holder himself.) "It was a question of judgment."

Speaking of judgment, Holder also has resolved — to Specter’s satisfaction, at least — the GOP demand that he promise not to prosecute Bush administration intelligence officials who engaged in brutal interrogations at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere.

"The gist of" Holder’s stance on the issue, Specter told me, "is that if you have an authoritative legal opinion, that’s a defense in terms of mens rea, of intent. That’s a broad generalization. I don’t think you can go any further than that until you examine the specific facts of a case."]

So the kabuki is off, as of tomorrow.

Well, that was nice. NOW can we get back to the business of governing again, little GOP boys?

  1. Petrocelli says:

    Hmmm, I wonder if there was some backroom deal on prosecuting BushCo … I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

      • klynn says:

        Didn’t Turley state on KO that an intentional delay on Holder could end up being obstruction?

        Did Whitehouse get you your “run out the clock” answer yet EW?

      • Dismayed says:

        I’m sure that’s was the first though to many, but if there was, it’s probably Kabuki on them. Obama has a plan, and getting Holder nominated was step one.

        He know how it’ll go, no one else does. Go luck government criminals. My gut says they’re going to need it.

    • NorskeFlamethrower says:

      Citizen Petrocelli:

      I wonder also…but Obama is nuthin’ if not shrewd and smart and I’m convinced that if the investigations and request to prosecute come from the Congtress he’ll acquiesce and congress ken certainly pass specific independent counsel legislation to take the Obama justice department off the hook.

  2. Leen says:

    I thought Specter and others had legitimate concerns about Holder. Although Specter sure threw a hissy fit with Leahy during the hearing.

    Going along with Marc Rich’s pardon really creepy and worth the hang up in my book

    • Petrocelli says:

      I thought Leahy understood that Specter is taking some very strong medication and cut him a lot of slack, although Leahy was greatly displeased with Arlen’s … um … snarlin’

    • CasualObserver says:

      I wonder how he [Specter] voted on Geithner. The weird about Specter is not that he had concerns, but that his concerns never seem to have any attachment to his votes.

      • BayStateLibrul says:

        Arlen flipped on Geitner (maybe Arlen is unbalanced or a Libra)

        “Ten Republicans overlooked that matter and voted for confirmation. One Republican, Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, told reporters earlier in the day that he would vote yes, only to change his mind and vote no.”

  3. bobschacht says:

    Yeah, I want to know what Holder promised. I don’t understand “the gist”. If that means Holder won’t prosecute Republicans who tortured people because Yoo said it was OK, that will NOT do.

    Can we get a clarification on this???

    Bob in HI

    • FreedomNow says:

      I think that the Republicans will be happy IF Holder keeps to his pledge of no prosecutions. That was a major hangup. If there is a binding committment then the GOP doesn’t like him, but can live with him. If he breaks it, all heck will break loose.

  4. plunger says:

    All of these backroom deals not to pursue prosecution – especially of the telecoms, relates to the fact that foreign intelligence operatives are in the midst of every single (otherwise prosecutable) issue.

    When we think of telecom immunity, we think in terms of AT&T and Verizion, while Israel thinks in terms of Verint, Comverse, Amdocs, etc.

    The backroom you are speaking of extends beyond US shores. This deal was done with AIPAC via Rahm prior to Obama’s election.

    • victoria2dc says:

      In response to this:

      All of these backroom deals not to pursue prosecution – especially of the telecoms, relates to the fact that foreign intelligence operatives are in the midst of every single (otherwise prosecutable) issue.

      When we think of telecom immunity, we think in terms of AT&T and Verizion, while Israel thinks in terms of Verint, Comverse, Amdocs, etc.

      The backroom you are speaking of extends beyond US shores. This deal was done with AIPAC via Rahm prior to Obama’s election.

      What the hell does AIPAC have to do with prosecuting Bush? Oh god… what next?

  5. Petrocelli says:

    O/T but for your Canuck friends, Wednesday is the day when our Librul Leader will decide whether to support Bush’s poodle, Harper or side with the other Opposition Parties, who have already pledged to give a no confidence vote to Harpuh and teh NeoCons of the North.

  6. shredder says:

    Yeah, well, both Specter and Holder know damn well that there is no “mens rea” defense when the “mens” gave the order to the DOJ lawyers to produce the “rea” in the legal memos in the first place.

    What a ridiculous fig-leaf.

  7. plunger says:

    The real reason Bill Clinton pardoned Marc Rich

    During Eric Holder’s confirmation hearing, Arlen Specter scolded the attorney general-designate, but no one mentioned Israeli pressure.…..index.html

    Viewing the Lewinsky “swallow” blackmail caper as somehow separate from the Rich Pardon is to miss the point.

    • emptywheel says:

      No, actually, I quite like Haggis.

      But then, I also like scrapple, which would be a more apt name for Specter if it weren’t for his whole Scottish Law game on Clinton.

      • randiego says:

        No, actually, I quite like Haggis.
        But then, I also like scrapple…

        Ah, Scrapple. People out here have never heard of it, so I love getting to bring it up at parties and talk about what it is – it’s fun like Spam, but everyone’s heard of that.

        When I would drive to the beach from DC, the road went through the town of Bridgeville, Delaware that advertised itself – via a huge billboard at each end of the town – as the “Scrapple Capital of the U.S.” – I always got a big kick out of that. Everybody has to be the capital of something I guess…

    • MrsTarquinBiscuitbarrel says:

      The Vermont Country Store, which sells everything else under the sun, now offers haggis in a can. I wish I’d known about this during the Forced In-Law Holiday Gift Exchange…

  8. reader says:

    been done with Specter for a long time: i pay no attention anymore.

    i am convinced Obama and Holder are smart enough to get around any promises made to Specter AND Specter’s protests will amount to nothing in any future confrontation over said promises. anyway.

    i don’t think we can assume there are ANY back room deals … there may be BUT i see no evidence of any back room deals that would harm our goals.

    • Knut says:

      I don’t think there were any backroom deals either. Obama is in the catbird’s seat right now, and he doesn’t have to give any hostages. There’s no way Holder wasn’t going to be confirmed. He was vetted before they put his name up. Specter has to run in two years, and I think he simply decided that holding Holder wasn’t in his best interests. The rightards gave their best shot at him in 2004 and lost.

      Something else: if what we think about the warrantless spying is true, then it’s quite possible that the new administration has come into possession of all the dirt on the Congress critters collected by the previous one. This would put real fear into the hearts of the thugs, who (wrongly) believe that it might be used against them on the principle ‘do unto others as they have done unto you.’

      • bobschacht says:

        Something else: if what we think about the warrantless spying is true, then it’s quite possible that the new administration has come into possession of all the dirt on the Congress critters collected by the previous one. This would put real fear into the hearts of the thugs, who (wrongly) believe that it might be used against them on the principle ‘do unto others as they have done unto you.’

        I don’t think so. I think they took the dirt with them, then covered their tracks. The tools are still there, but the Obama admin would have to get them out and use them.

        Besides, the dirt the old administration was mostly? tagged for “Democrats.” Republicans might have been hoovered, too, however, just to keep the troops in line, as with the current Rove/Holder battle.

        Bob in HI

  9. R.H. Green says:

    Holder: “…if you have an authoritive legal opinion…”. That is to say not just a handy opinion, but an authoritative one, this gives Spector the cover he needs. What comes next is Holder’s view of how to define “authoritative”.

    • bobschacht says:

      That gives Holder a lot of wiggle room. Specter can interpret it to mean, “duly authorized by a person in authority” which Yoo arguably was (or not– wasn’t he temporary, or acting, or some such?) And Holder can interpret it to mean “authoritatively written, with adequate consultation of precedent, case law, etc.” which Yoo’s sloppy opinions don’t qualify as.

      But IANAL, and I’d appreciate a more informed read on this quote.

      Bob in HI

      • R.H. Green says:

        Exactly what I had in mind. Mind (NAL either) there are those scholars on record that declare that the OLC opinions relied upon are so poorly crafted as to warrant disregard. But is this Holder’s view?

  10. LabDancer says:

    This means either:

    [a] Petrocelli is right on his meds, except that he alternates downers from those that effect an upper – which means who the hell knows what he’ll say tomorrow; or
    [b] the senator for stuffed sheep’s entrails expects to be tagged out from his hold on Holder.

    Or both [my choice].

    And here I was looking forward to a re-run of Bananas.

    • R.H. Green says:

      Sometimes I very much enjoy your freeform linguistic pirouettes, but you lost me with the term, “tagged out”. Explain, please.

      • LabDancer says:

        Delighted: tagged-out, as in a particular variation on a peculiar form of popular entertainment called, euphemistically, “professional wrestling”, wherein, by way of example, only one member of each ‘team’ in the course of competition with [against] another and therefore opposing ‘team’ is, according to any strict, reasonable and even liberal [though not progressive] interpretation of the rules of said competition, permitted to be actively engaged in the field or arena of competition at an one point in time – and in order to be effect relief and bring about replacement must “tag” or be “tagged” by another member of his [or, less commonly, her] team.

        In this context, “tagged out” would refer to Senator Sheep’s Innards removing his own “hold” on Holder, in anticipation of his being replaced by the “hold” on Holder of another [presumably Republican, and most likely a card holder in good standing with the Con-Rtist Brigade of that party’s caucus in the Senate].

        • LabDancer says:

          I am too routinely neglectful of the Preview utility, thus explaining in part some errors in my post. This one, for example, bears at least five. Without meaning to appear too anal, I have chosen to limit correction of them to one, in specific deference to Fearless Leader’s comment above on what precise meaning she intends be conveyed by her use of “Scottish Haggis”. Thus, where clearly appears the phrase “Senator Sheep’s Innards”, please imagine it to appear as “Senator Scottish Stuffed Sheep’s Innards”.

          • freepatriot says:

            I never thought of haggis as a bad thing

            strange, but not bad

            I wouldn’t eat it, but I wont eat broccoli

            tomatoes either

            I’m thinking the “haggis as a bad thing” idea has something to do with the Irish/Scottish rivlry (sort of a “potato eater” versus “haggis breath” feud)

            but you can’t go by what I think. I once thought asparagus was a conspiricy …

            • LabDancer says:

              “I once thought asparagus was a conspiricy”

              I feel I must be stating this on behalf of many others as well, but … I’m intrigued to know by what factor or process you – well, anyone with that thought – were able to overcome it.

            • bobschacht says:

              I never thought of haggis as a bad thing
              strange, but not bad
              I wouldn’t eat it,

              The stuff in bratwurst or Italian sausage is probably the same as the stuff in haggis, only ground up more. Think about that. And Bismarck’s quote about sausage making. Oh, and btw, I like bratwurst (well barbecued).

              Bob in HI

              • freepatriot says:

                Italian sausage is the secret to great pasta sauce

                Ya gotta have da pork

                and the onions, a little olive oil, some basil …

                haggis seems more like a big pot pie, cept you don’t wanna know what the “crust” is made of …

                nowadays, you can’t be sure what swanson is using for crust either …

        • R.H. Green says:

          Doh! Oh, that tagged out. Well, maybe so, but I see MajicBullit differently. I have some friends (in low places) that have a large dog that loves to see me come around. When no one is home he bounds to the gate grinning and wagging his tail. If the folks are in, he stands by the door and barks ferociously till someone opens the door. If they don’t come immediately he turns and barks in their direction. As soon as they respond he bounds out to greet me. He has this job, you see, of protecting the folks inside from the hazards of the passersby. Now ol Bullit, may have a lot of Limbaugh listeners as constituents that have to be assured that he’s on the job, pertectin the good people from the libruls that have to be restrained by a ferocious snarl to keepem at bay. He’s also smart and needs to exercise his intellect in shadowboxing the apoclypse now and again. This is just so much a combination of mental exercise, theatre and job security for him.

        • karnak12 says:

          So… are you saying that the game is that Specter removed his hold on Holder, because he expects that another commpatriot will step forward and put another hold on Holders nomination?

          Sorry, that’s what I seemed to get from your explanation. Like your use of the reference to tagging though.

  11. JTMinIA says:

    Sorry, ew, but I don’t buy your label at all.

    For Specter to live up to his name, he would have to say that the accusations against Holder were “not proven.”

    • emptywheel says:

      No no. That would be true if I still called him Arlen Scottish Law.

      I don’t. I call him Haggis. Meant to invoke that “not proven” dodge. But also to invoke offal and sheep.

    • freepatriot says:

      how about my label

      arlen “magic bullet” specter

      it has the advantage of suggesting that specter has an unpredictable trajectory in a world where ballistics is a known science

      what says you ???

      is that an easy sale ???

      • Dismayed says:

        Perhaps ‘ol Magic Bullet made a little nuzzle nuzzle to save his OWN neck.

        I’ve never though the whole lot of ‘em would end up in the pokey, but Rummy and Rove, perhaps Darth Dick.

        This is politics after all, it ain’t a perfect science and it’s better to be mixing the brew than IN the brew.

        And someone’s cutting carrots!

      • JTMinIA says:

        Calling Specter “magic bullet” of course makes sense (I remember a very amusing moment at some hearing where the witness took a shot – as it were – at Specter for the theory and Specter shot right back), but I don’t see the link to now.

        I’m sorry that I didn’t (and still don’t) know why Specter is linked to haggis. I made the assumption that it had to do with the impeachment. I guess that that was wrong. Oh well.

  12. bobschacht says:

    This is way cool. Glenzilla reports that

    The day before that, on Friday, February 6, 2009, I’ll be on Bill Moyers’ Journal, discussing media issues and other similar matters. That same week — most likely on the night of Wednesday, February 4, 2009 — I’ll be on The Rachel Maddow Show discussing yet-to-be-determined issues. I’ll post more details on these and other events as the dates approach.

    How cool to be penciled in by Rachel Maddow when she doesn’t even know what she wants to talk to him about yet! Oh… I forgot… that’s the modus operandi of the standard talking heads of the pundit class: They are assumed to know what they’re talking about ahead of time. Nice to see Glenzilla being promoted to such lofty heights.

    Bob in HI

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Lovely, heartening news.
      Last weekend, I had the happy surprise of learning that several people I’ve not seen in ages, who’ve never liked politics, now watch KO and Maddow regularly. Evidently, the weirdness of BushCheney prompted them to pay A LOT more attention to political news. (In their cases, CNN and MSNBC.)

      These people have always avoided politics, so whatever Glenzilla explains will be news to them — they don’t read blogs, so it’s nice to see him reaching a wider audience.

      FWIW, they like Tweety.
      More signs of social change beyond what I ever dreamed that I’d see…

  13. skdadl says:

    Haggis. Yum.

    EW gotta stop pickin’ on teh Scots. Even the “not proven” verdict is an interesting option, especially to those with a literary as well as a detective turn.

    There must be some lawyers here who have read the priceless William Roughead, great Scots lawyer who wrote a popularization of classic Scottish crimes, obviously savouring every wry word (not to mention every gothic crime) along the way. Roughead can make you laugh the way that Twain can make you laugh, except he is dealing with bloodier stuff. Like Madeleine Smith, who went free on a “not proven.”

    What? You don’t like a little mystery in your life?

  14. spoonful says:

    Regardless of the lack of “mens rea” of those officers committing unlawful acts upon orders, such defense does not apply to those who ordered these unlawful acts.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Whoa, that is more than passing strange.
      Although I can’t figure out how so much rampant graft and economic thievery occurred right under the noses of the NewSurveillanceState. Aren’t they supposed to be tracking large financial transactions?

      How has the government hoovered all text, email, online, phone, cell, and every form of communication or activity subjected to surveillance, yet they never caught Madoff?? And for just one quick glimpse at the national security -foreign policy implications:…..fd2ac.html

      So we have an economic meltdown fueled by wire transmissions and huge amounts of money surging over fiber optic wire, and DNI never figured out that there were some incredibly corrupt activities bringing down the US economy?
      What was it that Richard Clarke said about ‘ALL enemies — foreign AND domestic?’

      Wonder whether Scottish Haggis will see any connections between the law, sound economic policy, and national security? Nevermind: rhetorical question.

  15. JohnLopresti says:

    Thought I read at TMM last week that Specter was his usual misgiving ridden conscientious self but the then still bruited delay of the hearing was to be at the behest of a different Republican member of that committee.

    As far as I know, we have yet to see Levin’s full report on the torcha planning. I think Holder wants to afford diligence its due.

    My own politics, always at some apogee and azimuth, are the importance of getting it right so the same group who comprised the exited administration will find gumming the works prevented by the 111th’s work next time Republicans are in Potus. Right now the ex’s are dubious and fretting, appropriately. Building takes as much sinew as critique, and some of that is a private process. /end

    On McConnell, Aftergood had some nice paragraphs and a link to Blair’s replies to prehearing interrogs.

  16. GregB says:


    MSNBC moronette Tarantos says the GOP have smartened up and realized that they lost big in 2008 because they behaved like big spending Democrats.

    I see, the voters hated the GOP’s big spending ways so they protested by voting in big spending Democrats.



    • Badwater says:

      The Republics are out of power so they have returned to their traditional ways of complaining about spending. While they were in power, however, they did nothing but spend. I suppose they hope that no one will notice that their rhetoric never matches their deeds.

  17. Blub says:

    Nothing to see here. Arlen’s made a career of having his backbone fall out of his body at inopportune moments. Good to know his peculiar ailment works in both directions. Go away, GOP.

  18. Adie says:

    Long ago, I gave up on ole Arlen. He’s too predictable to be interesting any more. His loneliness is pathetic. He doesn’t fit in with the kool kids, so he appears to compensate by diligently working toward getting his name in the Guinness book of world records for “most flip-flops per issue while on camera.”

    He seems comfortable in his odd little corner of the world. I leave him be. But then, I don’t dust under the bed nearly often enough either.
    On some things in life, a dusting of lint is quite becoming. But I draw the line at mold. Keep moving Arlen, so we’ll know you’re still semi-functional.