[JURIST] US Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] Tuesday expressed his commitment to restoring a tradition of fairness and political neutrality [prepared remarks] to the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website]. In video remarks to DOJ employees delivered after he was sworn in [WH press release] by Vice President Joe Biden [official profile], Holder said:
there shall be no place for political favoritism, no reason to be timid in enforcing the laws that protect our rights, our environment and our principles as long as I have the opportunity to lead this great Department. This may be a break from the immediate past but it is consistent with the long history of the Department of Justice. I call on every employee of this Department - from this moment on - to return to the practices that are the foundation of this entity. It is time once again to base our actions on policies that are rooted in fairness and in a desire to ensure a more just America
Holder's remarks Tuesday echo pledges [text] he made during his confirmation hearings with the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] in January to "restore the credibility of a Department badly shaken by allegations of improper political interference" and "reinvigorate the traditional missions of the Justice Department ... [of] fighting crime, protecting civil rights, preserving the environment and ensuring the fairness of the marketplace."
On Monday, the Senate [official website] voted 75-21 to confirm [JURIST report] Holder as attorney general. Last month, during confirmation hearings [transcript] with the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website], Holder testified [JURIST report] that he believes waterboarding [JURIST news archive] constitutes torture. Then-President-elect Barack Obama officially announced his nomination of Holder [JURIST report] in December. Holder served as Deputy US Attorney General [archive materials] during the Clinton administration. Holder has been criticized [JURIST report] for his role in the 2001 pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich [Time backgrounder].