I’ve blogged here and here about the weakness of the criticisms of Eric Holder relating to the James Rosen search warrant. Holder has now responded to his critics here in responses to questions submitted by Rep. Goodlatte of the House Judiciary Committee.
One interesting detail in Holder’s responses is that it sheds light on Holder’s role in reviewing the Rosen warrant affidavit. The original Michael Isikoff story had said that the Rosen affvidavit had been “approved at the highest levels,” including “discussions” with the Attorney General. Holder critics have generally assumed this to mean that Holder personally reviewed the affidavit and approved its specific language. In that sense, the language in the affidavit could be treated as Holder’s own language, as if he had written the affidavit himself. That assumption has been necessary to make each word in the affidavit attributable to Holder, which has then been taken (far out of context, in my view) to suggest a conflict with Holder’s testimony. According to Holder’s latest responses, though, this assumption was erroneous:
[A]lthough my approval was not required in order to seek a search warrant under the Privacy Protection Act, Department officials sought my approval before the government took the investigative step of seeking a reporter’s emails from a service provider and I approved of that step. The approval occurred on May 28, 2010. Although Department attorneys described to me the factual basis for the search warrant affidavit, including how the requirements of the Privacy Protection Act were satisfied, I was not provided and did not review the actual affidavit in support of the search warrant. Of course, attorneys involved with the case reviewed the affidavit prior to its submission to the court, and ultimately, a federal judge reviewed and granted the warrant.
I don’t know if this will change anyone’s mind. If you assume Holder is a liar, then this statement can only be taken as more lies — which only makes the case that Holder lies stronger. Still, it seemed worth noting for those seeking to follow the Rosen search warrant kerfuffle.