Punitive justice

While plenty of news media attention has been paid to Attorney General nominee Eric Holder's affinity for criminals who aren't CEOs, what worries business leaders is his authorship in the Clinton Justice Department of the infamous "Holder Memo." The memo encourages companies to withdraw legal support from employees accused by the federal government of crimes, lest they be considered "uncooperative" and face further punitive measures from Uncle Sam themselves. If you believe the government is wrongly prosecuting your employees, in other words, you'll pay a price if you fight back.


Arlen Specter and Ed Meese explained in a recent Wall Street Journal editorial that Holder's action at Justice trickled down to other agencies: "Similar policies were adopted by the Internal Revenue Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and others." Why haven't more news outlets -- and more importantly, Judiciary Committee members who yesterday voted to send Holder's nomination to the Senate -- focused on this aspect of Holder's past? Because fugitive billionaires and Puerto Rican terrorists are sexier.


Government abuse -- especially the selective sort that targets companies unpopular with or critical of an administration -- was a big fear in large companies during the Clinton/Gore years. Will Holder's likely ascent signal a return to that era?

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