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US Senate confirms Holder as attorney general

[JURIST] The US Senate [official website] on Monday voted 75-21 to confirm Eric Holder [professional profile] to serve as Attorney General. Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] voted 17-2 to approve [JURIST report] Holder's nomination. Monday's debate over Holder's confirmation was partisan at times with committee chairman Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official website] denouncing Republican senators such as John Cornyn (R-TX) [official website] who have asked Holder to pledge not to prosecute intelligence officials who participated in controversial interrogation techniques during the Bush administration. Holder did win the support of several Republican seantors, including ranking Republican judiciary committee member Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) [official website]. Holder will be the first African-American to lead the Justice Department.

Last month, Holder told the committee [JURIST report] in confirmation hearings [materials; transcript] 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. Republicans have criticized [JURIST report] Holder for his role in the 2001 pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich [Time backgrounder].

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