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Obama’s Enforcer Eric Holder’s Justice Department by John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky

Review of: Obama's Enforcer
John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky

Reviewed by:
On July 17, 2014
Last modified:July 17, 2014


The many examples in this book of contempt for the rule of law by Holder and his DOJ partisans will shock and infuriate. This well written and documented account is essential to understanding what is happening to America. It must be read by anyone who cares about this country and liberty.

Obama's EnforcerAfter reading Obama’s Enforcer this reviewer felt like Rip van Winkle. What was once the freest nation in the world became an oligarchy while I, and apparently the rest of the country, slept. Of course, it’s been obvious for quite awhile that the Obama administration disregards the rule of law when it serves the president’s purposes, but thanks to a complicit or cowardly media – choose one – the extent and frequency are mostly unknown. 

Obama’s Enforcer does an excellent job of rectifying that problem. John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky provide a detailed account of how Attorney General Eric Holder transformed the Department of Justice (DOJ) from a non-partisan agency, charged with administering fair and impartial justice, to a corrupt partisan enforcer of Obama’s ideological agenda. It is all here and substantiated by 24 pages of notes.

This powerful executive branch agency has “enormous discretionary power “ to decide which alleged lawbreakers to pursue and exerts “major influence over social, economic and national security policies.” Under Holder, DOJ has grown from a little over 105,000 employees in 2008 to 114,000 in 2013. In clear violation of civil service rules Holder has filled the career ranks of the Justice Department with political allies or cronies and Democratic Party donors. 

Most Americans are not aware of the scope and power of the behemoth agency. In addition to the forty different offices within Justice…

Eric Holder also oversees the Bureau of prisons…the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); he Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; The U.S. Marshals Service; the Drug Enforcement Administration … In essence, the Justice Department is the largest law enforcement agency in the world with investigators and agents, lawyers, and prison officials all combined in one government department.  

The book begins with Holder’s sworn testimony (May 15, 2013) before the House Judiciary Committee regarding the search of Fox News reporter James Rosen’s emails. Holder denied that he ever prosecuted the press over the publication of classified material. 

The Committee later learned that Holder had specifically approved a search warrant for Rosen’s emails by “swearing to a federal court that Mr. Rosen was a co-conspirator in a national security leak investigation.” When questioned by the Committee about the disparity between his testimony and the facts, Holder refused to answer. Even Jill Abramson, then executive editor of the New York Times was appalled, “the Obama administration has moved from beyond protecting government secrets to threatening fundamental freedoms of the press to gather news.”

This reviewer wonders if the attack on Rosen was a warning to other journalists of the perils of crossing the Obama administration. If so it is working: a recent supplication from the Society of Professional Journalists not withstanding. Instead of whining about “politically driven suppression of news and information about federal agencies “all they need do is start behaving like professionals. “There are a million stories in the naked city.” A case in point is IRS targeting of conservative groups. After initially covering the scandal, big media adopted the administration line that there is no there, there.  So Holder’s refusal to appoint special counsels to investigate the IRS and other serious problems within the Obama administration are pretty much ignored. 


The authors reveal Holder’s record of lying under oath while testifying before Congress. Even more disturbing is their account of unsubstantiated prosecutions of private citizens by key Justice operatives. Although reputations have been ruined and businesses bankrupted as a result, neither Holder nor his staff have been called to account, not by the president, the big media or anyone else.

The Gibson Guitar case is a flagrant example of abuse of power and DOJ overreach. DOJ conducted armed raids of the guitar factory and threatened criminal charges without evidence to back up its claims or its actions. No charges were brought, but the company was forced to settle to remain in business. Justice had cut off Gibson’s access to hardwood needed to manufacture guitars. 

Later it came to light that Henry Juszkiewicz, Gibson’s CEO, was a contributor to Republican campaigns and although Gibson’s main competitor, C. F. Martin & Company, uses the woods under contention in the prosecution of Gibson, it was not investigated. Chris Martin, the head of C.F Martin, is a major donor to the Democratic Party.  

The Gibson guitar fiasco put a spotlight on a little known division of Justice, the Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD)…which boasts on its website that it is “the nation’s environmental lawyer, and the largest environmental law firm in the country.” … They do not think of themselves as government attorneys supposed to act in the best interests of the public, both individual citizens and businesses, by enforcing our nation’s environmental laws in a fair and judicious manner. …

But because most ENRD lawyers agree ideologically with the extreme and often radical positions taken by the EPA and other federal agencies, like the Department of the Interior, they are not willing to objectively assess the legality of the government’s misbehavior and regulatory overreach. 

As a result, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal District, which has jurisdiction over many claims made against the federal government, accused the Justice Department, and specifically lawyers in the ENRD, of making legal arguments in court that are “so thin as to border on the frivolous,” unnecessarily drawing the cases out.

But there may be method to ENRD’s madness. The method being to make the litigation so lengthy and expensive that homeowners seeking compensation for land taken by the government simply give up and let the government take the land without compensation. The cost to taxpayers of these lengthy cases has been enormous.

In addition, Justice often uses its power to send money to organizations it favors. 

Part of the Gibson Guitar settlement required the company to pay $550,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Federation, a private group that was not involved in the lawsuit and was not injured by the defendant’s alleged actions. 

These kinds of settlements create a conflict of interest for government lawyers, since their client is the federal government and they are supposed to be acting in the best interests of the public at large, as expressed through the statutes passed by Congress. It is an abuse of their authority to provide a windfall to an outside group instead of the American taxpayer and the government. This is a conflict of interest that Eric Holder simply ignores.

And so does big media.

But there is more than one way to skin taxpayers. Rather than vigorously defend the federal government when it is sued, in at least 60 cases between 2009 and 2012 “the Justice Department chose not to defend lawsuits brought by special interest advocacy groups, and in each case agreed to settlements on terms favorable to those groups. The cases resulted in more than 100 new federal rules with estimated compliance costs of more than $100 million annually.” 

This process provides an end run around the normal rule-making process. 

But by colluding with their political and ideological allies in the radical environmental movement, the administration can essentially short-circuit the regulatory process and implement whatever rules the administration wants by throwing the case, failing to defend, waving the white flag of surrender and agreeing to a settlement that has what both sides (who are really on the same side) want. There is no participation by the public, the business world, or anyone else in the national economy that would be affected by the new regulation.

And the American taxpayer pays for it all.

Of course, any investigative reporter worth his or her paycheck should have been on these stories “like a duck on a June bug” as the saying goes. But it never happened. There is little doubt that had these events occurred in a Republican administration it would be front-page news, above the fold. 

One of the most unfortunate and dangerous hallmarks of the Obama administration has been its contempt for the rule of law and its sweeping view of executive power that is well outside the bounds of the Constitution and the legal mainstream.   

Holder’s extreme positions on legal and constitutional issues brought before the Supreme Court have resulted in an unprecedented loss of cases. The Justice Department has won only a third of its cases before the Supreme Court in contrast to the more usual 70%.  

Even more unusual, and further evidence of the outlandish legal opinions he has advanced, is that since January 2012, the Supreme Court has ruled against Holder unanimously nine times.  So even liberal justices on the Court, including the two justices appointed by President Barack Obama, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, have disagreed with Holder’s positions.  As George Mason University law professor Ilya Somin says, ‘when the administration loses significant cases in unanimous decisions and cannot even hold the votes of its own appointees… It is an indication that they adopted such an extreme position on the scope of federal power that even generally sympathetic judges could not even support it.’(Authors’ emphasis.)

What? You didn’t know about any of this? Well, “if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it. Does it make a sound?”

The authors devote a chapter to the Civil Rights Division, one of the largest, most powerful, and most radical within DOJ.

Holder has radicalized the prosecution of federal discrimination laws and led an unprecedented attack on election integrity laws, thus making it easier for people to commit voter fraud and facilitating the election of members of his political party. 

In 2013 the Inspector General of the Department of Justice released a disturbing report about biased hiring practices – “in the Voting Section alone, 56 percent of those hired since 2009 came from only five organizations: the American civil liberties Union, La Raza, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, the NAACP, and the Mexican American legal Defense and Educational Fund.” According to the IG report:

the voting section passed over candidates who had stellar academic credentials and litigation experience with some of the best law firms in the country, as well is with the department’ in order to hire those they considered to have ‘commitment’ to ‘traditional’ civil rights, that is, liberals who support quotas, ethnic and gender entitlements, and government-imposed racial spoils system.

Employees perceived as conservatives or Republicans who believe in “race-neutral enforcement of federal discrimination laws” are harassed, bullied and threatened with physical violence.  

Inspector’s General reports are almost always available to the public. Yet, it was not widely reported, if at all.

Holder’s tenure at the Justice Department has been marked by one scandal after another entailing abusive behavior by Justice Department lawyers and ideologically driven prosecutions. Holder is the first attorney general in history to be held in contempt by the House of Representatives. The contempt motion resulted from Holder’s refusal to turn over documents related to Fast and Furious, the infamous gunrunning operation in which federal agents allowed guns to be smuggled into Mexico, causing the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry and a growing list of others. 

Holder’s refusal to enforce laws he or the president dislike – the Defense of Marriage Act, certain federal drug laws and provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act come to mind – allows the executive branch to “nullify the application of federal law ” making the entire legislative process “little more than pretense.”  This is “a frightening abrogation of our constitutional structure ” and an abdication of Holder’s duty to defend laws passed by Congress. 

But there is much more in this book than can be covered in a review. It’s all about the president’s political agenda. And what this book says about Obama’s Enforcer is that property; livelihood and freedom depend upon Holder’s ideological manipulations of law. Just ask the folks at Gibson Guitar. 

The authors observe that the DOJ website coveys only information that casts the Department in a favorable light. 

But informing the public of the numerous cases in which the courts have found prosecutorial misconduct by Eric Holder’s prosecutors would not be helpful to the image Eric Holder has tried to cultivate with the public about his conduct as attorney general, or the historical view of his boss, Barack Obama, and his administration.

This reviewer believes the same observation applies to big media’s coverage of Holder and the Obama administration. If this nation is able to recover from the Obama/Holder years of undermining the Constitution and eroding the American ethos, big media’s abdication of its watchdog role of monitoring the conduct of government will be duly noted. The mainstream media’s prevailing progressive bias in determining what to cover and how to cover it is a shameful chapter in the history of a free press. 

The many examples in this book of contempt for the rule of law by Holder and his DOJ partisans will shock and infuriate. This well written and documented account is essential to understanding what is happening to America. It must be read by anyone who cares about this country and liberty.


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