Kit Bond Sings a Different Song on Holder

Here’s a liveblog of what Kit Bond had to say about any "promises" Holder made him about prosecution. You’ll note several areas of difference from the Moonie Times article:

Most notably I’ve been concerned about some of the comments related to intelligence activities that Holder made in hearings. I wanted to make sure the intelligence community has the tools it needs to protect the country. I wanted to make sure we had an AG who would keep the country safe. Discussed TSP, FISA Amendments, interrogation program, Gitmo, interrogation legislative proposals, media leak investigations. A second meeting. 

Carrier liability provisions, and propriety of investigating intelligence officials.

Confusing press reports and statements from Senators who were not in attendance. 

Neither Holder nor I made promises with respect to prosecutions. Holder provided additional insight that assures me he will keep the country safe. Assurance given to Kyl concerning investigation of intelligence officials on interrogation. 

Holder expanded on these remarks and explained how he reached this conclusion. His public emphasis on those who followed DOJ guidance, I told him and I believe he understood that trying to prosecute political leaders would generate a political firestorm. 

Carrier liability. He believed he would unless circumstances changed. I asked if he could explain changed circumstances. It would be difficult for circumstances to change since all this happened in the past.  Didn’t give me specific idea of changed circumstances. Given that those certifications are based on simple legal facts, I’m confident he’ll reach the same conclusion as Mukasey. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of the carrier liability.

Mr. Holder is not read in, or given access, to the TSP or the other programs, it would not be advisable to make statements about either program without the facts. I enjoyed his willingness to withhold judgement until he had the fact. I believe he will take good ideas from whereever they come.[my emphasis]

Here’s the relevant passage from the Moonie Times:

President Obama’s choice to run the Justice Department has assured senior Republican senators that he won’t prosecute intelligence officers or political appointees who were involved in the Bush administration’s policy of "enhanced interrogations."

Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, a Republican from Missouri and the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in an interview with The Washington Times that he will support Eric H. Holder Jr.’s nomination for Attorney General because Mr. Holder assured him privately that Mr. Obama’s Justice Department will not prosecute former Bush officials involved in the interrogations program.

Mr. Holder’s promise apparently was key to moving his nomination forward. Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 17-2 to favorably recommend Holder for the post. He is likely to be confirmed by the Senate soon.

Sen. Bond also said that Mr. Holder told him in a private meeting Tuesday that he will not strip the telecommunications companies that cooperated with the National Security Agency after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks of retroactive legal immunity from civil lawsuits–removing another potential sticking point among GOP senators.

In the interview Wednesday, Mr. Bond said, "I made it clear that trying to prosecute political leaders would generate a political firestorm the Obama administration doesn’t need."[my empahsis]

The differences are this:

  • By Bond’s telling, Holder didn’t make any "promises"–certainly not beyond the language he used in his answer to John Kyl regarding those who relied on OLC opinions.
  • Bond’s statements on the floor make it much clearer that Holder was speaking only of intelligence officers. It is Bond who ascribed Holder’s statements more generally to political appointees or political officials.

Also note, that as Bond described it, Holder’s support for retroactive immunity–what Bond calls liability protection–is even weaker than it was when he was asked about it in his hearing. He maintains that he hasn’t been read in yet, so he doesn’t know what he’ll find. (FWIW, I do think he will support Mukasey’s certification that the program was legal–but hopefully he’ll surprise me.)

  1. scribe says:

    Understand this: “understanding that prosecuting political leaders would create a political firestorm” is not much different from “won’t prosecute”.

    The difference is in tone, and in keeping Kit’s ass out of the hoosegow.

    • emptywheel says:

      Are you suggesting that Bond asked for a promise? It didn’t sound like it. I think he just harangued Holder about not prosecuting politicians, but it doesn’t even sound like Kit asked for a promise.

      • plunger says:

        I’m sure the nod and wink was sufficient for Bond to construe a promise. He was just criminally stupid to say it out loud.

    • Hmmm says:

      Understand this: “understanding that prosecuting political leaders would create a political firestorm” is not much different from “won’t prosecute”.

      Naw, I’m with WO on this one. If KB is accurately reporting his Quality Time with EH, then it could well be that EH simply understands that there is gonna have to be a political firestorm when it comes time to prosecute the (former) political leaders who greenlighted and architected… well, all that shit that they did. Soft-pedalling that message to KB could easily have been misinterpreted by KB, who (let’s face it) is not wholly unmaroonlike.

    • james says:

      The problem that no one wants to confront is we need a political shitstorm right now one that will do what Reconstruction failed to do…put these Confederate patrician mother f****rs in their place.

  2. plunger says:

    Bond just made the ridiculous statement that “circumstances can’t change” significantly enough to bring a suit now, given that the subject events and circumstances “happened in the past.” As the same could be said of ALL crimes, regardless of any new whistleblower revelations (their GREATEST CONCERN), documents or other evidence that might be brought to light, what was the point of saying that?

    The “conspiracy to move forward” continues…

    • LabDancer says:

      Imagine your repeating your take, word [singluar] for word [singular], as if reported in the Moonie Times:

      ‘by now appearing to approach shrill in insistence, while at the same time intriguingly longer, and moreover arguably redolent of more nuance, leaving in some the impression of possible closed-door sessions in the period intervening’.

      Of course, the national affairs editorial desk would strike ‘redolent of’ in favor of ‘with’, in the interest of clean reading.

  3. JimWhite says:

    Thanks for this EW. I was stuck outside with the vet and horses and didn’t get to hear the statement. At least we made Bond walk back on his wild assertions to the Moonie Times. I see that as a victory for our side.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Agree 100%.
      It must really shock Bond and his GOP buddies (and, let’s hope, some Blue Dog Dems also) that citizens actually watch, pay attention, and are going to call them on b.s.

  4. freepatriot says:

    even if Holder promised bond there would be no prosecutions, what is bond going to to if Holder decides to break his word to bond ???

    is bond gonna come out and say he had a deal to protect these assholes ???

    if zi was Holder, I would have promised bond ANYTHING

    and recorded the conversations

    then kit bond could walk in blagoff’s shoes for a while …

    once the prosecutions start, protecting these criminals is gonna be political SUICIDE

    what kind of American defends torture, and murder, and crimes against humanity ???

  5. emptywheel says:

    Here are 16 nos–I’m missing 5 nos, but DeMint and probably Vitter are among them;

    Kaybee Hutchison

  6. freepatriot says:

    hey kkkarl, pucker yer butt

    Eric Holder is NOW your Attorney General

    another crushing defeat for Obama and the Democrats ???

  7. freepatriot says:

    for Petrocelli at 17:

    That one is particularly funny for us alternative health freaks …

    and you wonder why you’re suspect ???


  8. tanbark says:

    It’s not what Holder wants; I don’t think Obama wants to go there.

    But if Holder can be seen as dragging his feet, it will take Obama off a small hook with progressives.

    Push come to shove, I don’t think that Obama should spend any of his political capital doing it. He’s going to need all of his clout to get rid of Petraeus and Odierno, and to get us out of Iraq, for starters. the success or failure of he and the dems is riding on that, not on chasing after the koolaid factory honchos.
    I doubt there is anything like a majority of the voters who want to see the prime movers in the Bush administration hauled into the docket, no matter how much they deserve it. Too many of them supported the invasion and subsequent events, to want to get their noses rubbed into the bloody, corrupt, stupidity of it for a year or two.