Eric Holder has been an excellent attorney general

June 14, 2013

We were disappointed to read David Ignatius’s June 9 op-ed column, “A mediocre attorney general,” purporting to represent the views of a number of unnamed Washington lawyers about Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s tenure. Mr. Ignatius didn’t contact us, nor any of the 22 other former senior Justice Department officials who have signed this letter, for his column.

Our work, spanning a wide range of issues that come before the department — from national security prosecutions to violent crime prevention, from Supreme Court litigation to civil rights enforcement, from prosecuting financial fraud to remedying the impact of children’s exposure to violence — showed Mr. Holder to be a leader with excellent judgment and an unwavering commitment to do the right thing without regard for partisan preferences. That is exactly what this nation should expect of an attorney general, and precisely what they have in Mr. Holder.

It is odd that Mr. Ignatius should criticize Mr. Holder, on behalf of unnamed sources, for, among other things, the Sen. Ted Stevens case — a holdover matter with an array of problems from the prior administration. Mr. Holder made the difficult decision to throw out the case even after a jury had convicted Mr. Stevens and then followed up with a wide-ranging effort to improve training and policies for department prosecutors.

People should express their disagreement with the attorney general’s decisions, but impugning his motivations only adds to the coarse tone that has plagued Washington for too long.

Gary G. Grindler and David Kris, Washington

The writers are, respectively, former acting deputy attorney general and a former assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

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