Holder Confirmed

From the NYT:

“The Senate voted overwhelmingly Monday evening to confirm Eric H. Holder Jr. to be the new attorney general of the United States. The vote was 75 to 21, with all the votes against the nomination coming from Republicans.”

About time, too. I don’t really understand the point of delaying a nomination that is obviously going to pass, especially not when the Justice Department has a lot on its plate:

“Lawyers inside and outside the department say he will face crushing time constraints. Chief among them is a pledge by President Obama to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, within a year. Mr. Holder and a department task force must find a solution to the question of what to do with the remaining prisoners there and any apprehended in the future. (…)

Mr. Holder will also have to make several quick decisions because of court-imposed deadlines. And he will have to do so with many of the senior positions in the department not yet filled.

The department has to decide by next month whether it will reverse course from the Bush administration, which had repeatedly invoked the so-called state secrets doctrine to shut down legal challenges to several lawsuits dealing with national security. Officials also face a February deadline on whether to extend habeas corpus rights to detainees at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

“I can’t imagine a more challenging time to come in as attorney general,” said Walter Dellinger, a legal scholar who was an acting solicitor general in the Clinton administration. “The number of legal issues left behind to be resolved is really staggering.””

At least he finally got through, despite Sen. Cornyn’s desire to make him pledge not to prosecute people before he had all the facts in. Now he can finally get down to business. And there are hopeful signs about what he’ll do:

“”This will be a sea change of what went on before,” said an Obama administration lawyer, noting that the principal authority over detention policies will move from the Defense Department under the Bush administration to the Justice Department.

Under Mr. Obama’s recent executive order, the Justice Department will be required to review the files of the 245 detainees at Guantanamo and draw up a proposal on their fate that will fulfill the pledge to close the facility.

“The idea that it has to be closed within a year will drive the timing of many things,” said the Obama administration lawyer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because Mr. Holder had not yet taken office.”

From that lawyer’s lips to God’s ears.

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