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Eric Holder: Defender of Private Property?

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Tags Big GovernmentThe Police State


There are few government actions more contrary to the basic tenets of private property than the asset forfeiture programs — through which private property is seized based solely on suspicion of a crime and with no due process — foisted upon Americans in the name of the war on drugs and the war on terrorism. Opposition to these programs has increased in recent years, and Holder recently announced that the Justice department will stop fully participating in these programs. So should be now praise him as a great freedom fighter? Not hardly, writes James Bovard:

Holder has continued the tradition of previous attorney generals of exonerating government officials who commit politically-approved crimes. Though President Obama admitted that U.S. government officials were guilty of torture, the only CIA official that Holder prosecuted was John Kirakou, a courageous whistleblower who publicly admitted that the CIA was waterboarding. Holder is also complicit in the Obama administration's decision to suppress a massive amount of information about illegal interrogation practices that occurred during the prior administration.

Holder was lavishly praised last month after he announced that the Justice Department will cease sharing loot seized from Americans with state and local police. But in 2009, shortly after he took office, Holder bragged at the Asset Forfeiture National Leadership Conference about his role in championing forfeiture in congressional testimony ten years earlier and proclaimed that "the Asset Forfeiture Program provides vitally important funding for law enforcement." Holder reversed course last month only after a Washington Post expose proved that his favored program created an incentive for lawmen to wrongfully confiscate property from thousands of innocent Americans. Holder has proposed no compensation to the victims of the seizure frenzy he helped unleash.

Newspapers also heaped accolades on Holder for his declaration last month on Martin Luther King Day about "the troubling reality...that we lack the ability right now to comprehensively track" police shootings across the nation. But there was a law on the books that Congress enacted in 1994 to require the Attorney General to collect and publish annual data on "the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers." Holder, like prior attorney generals, ignored the mandate. And the Justice Department continues covering up killings by federal agents, including a rash of fatal shootings by Border Patrol agents and the FBI killing of 27-year-old Ibragim Todashev during questioning at his Florida apartment in 2013 regarding the Boston Marathon bombing.

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Ryan McMaken (@ryanmcmaken) is a senior editor at the Mises Institute. Send him your article submissions for Mises Wire and The Austrian, but read article guidelines first. Ryan has degrees in economics and political science from the University of Colorado, and was the economist for the Colorado Division of Housing from 2009 to 2014. He is the author of Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.

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