NOTE: Two later updates included in the post below.
A lengthy post on Politico.com this morning indicates a bit of concern in the Obama administration about the issues I raised yesterday — at least enough concern to send the Attorney General to mollify a group of progressive lawyers.
Josh Gerstein’s ‘Holder Tacks Left at DOJ’ at best shows a minor course correction. The Attorney General is not turning the Titanic hard to port.
[Update 6/16/11 22:15: Actually, I should have analogized not to the Titanic but to the Bismarck. But I was afraid the reference was too obscure, too harsh.]
Today Mr. Holder addresses the American Constitution Society, a worthwhile organization, where he’s likely to receive a more polite reception than he would at the Federalist Society because progressives tend to be more polite than movement conservatives.
One attendee told Gerstein:
“If you ask any civil libertarian, you’re going to get the same answer. That is: there’s been precious little change from the Obama administration after the Bush administration,” said Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University. “On the war on drugs: very little change. On criminal justice generally, there’s not a piece of paper that can be put between the position of the Bush and Obama administrations.”
Gerstein’s last two paragraphs probably say it all:
Whatever Holder has to offer Thursday, it is doubtful he’ll offer the red meat he served up to the group at its 2008 convention, held in the midst of Obama’s presidential campaign. He railed against warrantless wiretapping and the “disastrous course” of the Bush administration.
“We owe the American people a reckoning,” Holder declared then.
I suspect we’ve gotten it.
[Update 6/17/11 0930:] Gerstein covered last evening’s Holder speech in Politico.com this morning. The take away:
In a 14-minute speech that stuck largely to the script displayed on teleprompters, Holder also touted other Justice Department stances popular with the liberal group, such as support for retroactive reductions in sentences for crack convicts and aggressive enforcement of civil rights laws. [Emphasis added.]