The Senate Judiciary Committee just recommended the confirmation of Eric Holder as attorney general.
The 17-2 vote, sending his nomination to the full Senate, came despite misgivings about his role in controversial pardons while he worked in the Clinton administration's Justice Department and his reluctance to promise not to prosecute government officials for harsh interrogations.
Last week with among his first executive orders, President Obama ordered a stop to those interrogations, including waterboarding, that critics consider torture, and wiped out the legal guidance that allowed them during the Bush administration.
Senator John Cornyn of Texas was one of the two "no" votes.
“I’m very concerned about his complicity in the Mark Rich pardon, which FBI Director Louis Freeh called a corrupt act by then President Clinton, and then his complicity in the pardons of a group of Puerto Rican terrorists, the FALN," Cornyn said this morning on Fox News Radio.
"Then also I’m very concerned about his stated positions on how he will deal with those intelligence officials who followed the legal guidance of the office of legal counsel of the Department of Justice that said basically the interrogation techniques they were using were legal, and his statement now that some of that was torture, which leaves the unanswered question, will he prosecute them? I think it’s unfair to those intelligence officials, it will cause future intelligence officials to be risk averse which will make our country less safe.”
If the full Senate confirms Holder, he would become the nation's first African American top law enforcement official.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.