Eric Holder, portrait of a man who matters – part one: accusing Wikileaks

CC Flicker/The Aspen Institute

Attorney General Eric Holder has been at the forefront of the legal battle the United States have led against Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

In the American administration, the attorney general is both the head of the Department of Justice and the chief law enforcement officer of the Federal Government. He is designated by the President of the United States and acts as his legal adviser. He also represents the US government in legal matters.

Back in December 2010, Eric Holder was the official figure designated to condemn Wikileaks’s actions and to announce the legal measures that would be taken against the organisation. He accused the organisation of putting “the safety of the American people at risk” and  announced that the Department of Justice and the Pentagon were undertaking criminal investigations. When asked how he could prosecute Assange, because of the complexity and uniqueness of the case, he responded:

Let me be very clear, it is not saber rattling. To the extent there are gaps in our laws we will move to close those gaps, which is not to say . . . that anybody at this point, because of their citizenship or their residence, is not a target or a subject of an investigation that’s on going.

Answering questions at a press conference he explained he had “authorized ‘significant’ actions aimed at prosecuting Wikileaks,” without explaining what they were. He added that the justice department was examining ways to stem the flow of leaked cables, a comment of particular significance, when one recalls that the banking blockade  started at the same period.

Eric Holder also came forward regarding the attacks Anonymous organised to avenge Wikileaks. At a news conference he explained that he was looking into “those incidents” and said that he was “hopeful that the people responsible for the WikiLeaks disclosures of classified information will be brought to justice.”

Yet, Eric Holder has also been the victim of harsh criticism from the Republican party and the target of their pressures, as they consider the Attorney General should have gone further in condemning Wikileaks. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House of Representatives Oversight Committee, who is in charge of investigating the government for waste and fraud, said Holder should quit his position if he was not able to prevent Wikileaks from publishing government documents. He also called for a new “whistle blower bill” that would tackle the issues brought up by Wikileaks.

Michelle Bachmann was also calling for his resignation, as she condemned his “inaction over the Wikileaks disclosure.”