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Obama Nominee in Peril Over Terror and Military Voting Policies

Posted on December 3 2010 1:00 pm
J. Christian Adams is an election lawyer and former attorney in the Voting Section at the Department of Justice. He blogs about elections and the laws which affect them at
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One of the most important federal positions in the fight against terrorism is the Deputy Attorney General (DAG).  President Obama’s nominee, James Cole, may not be confirmed before this Congress adjourns.  Predictably, a full court press is on to urgently move the nomination in the next few days.

The DAG has day to day oversight on in the war on terror.  His philosophy and attitude toward Islamic fundamentalism’s struggle against the West will have enormous influence on our safety.   Even more than the Attorney General, the DAG oversees the daily grind of protecting the nation from another terrorist attack.

Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Senator John Cornyn of Texas have done a tremendous job ensuring the Cole nomination does not move forward.   Senator Sessions has drawn attention to Cole’s weakness on terrorism issues.  Sessions noted:

“He’s written an op-ed, for example, that suggests that he believes the 9/11 attacks were criminal acts, not acts of war.”

Senator Cornyn has put an outright hold on the nomination.  He wants action and answers from the DOJ about why they failed to adequately protect military voters during the 2010 election despite Cornyn’s successful push for legislation in 2009 to strength military voting rights.  Thus far, the DOJ has bungled the effort to satisfy Cornyn.  They sent flunkies to meet with him throughout the summer who provided spin instead of substance.  In the meantime, military voters were losing their right to vote.  Congress is now paying attention to the DOJ induced military voting disaster.

Because soldiers lost their right to vote in 2010 because of DOJ inaction, Cole may lose out on his DAG nomination.

If the Voting Section at the Justice Department had acted with zeal in August and September to protect military voters, James Cole might be confirmed.  If the Voting Section had even bothered to reply to Senator Cornyn’s request for basic information about what was happening to our soldier’s voting rights, Cole might be at his desk.

Instead, we witnessed a bureaucrat-induced disaster of inaction, slow action and lawless contempt for the military voting laws.

Senator Patrick Leahy has complained that Republicans are preventing an essential office from being filled.  Leahy describes a parade of horribles how the vacancy threatens the fate of the Republic.  Others have editorialized Cole’s confirmation is urgently needed.

But they never ask why a vacancy even exists in the first place.  The DAG position is vacant because of the curiously abrupt resignation of David Ogden.  Ogden was Deputy Attorney General for less than a year.  Anyone who has ever reviewed resumes and hired employees recognize that red flag.  The reasons for this abrupt and peculiar exit have never been explored.

It’s pretty flimsy to push confirmation so urgently merely because a vacancy exists when the vacancy was caused by the prior DAG’s strange rush for the exits.  If President Obama must re-nominate a DAG when Congress adjourns in a few days, perhaps he can find someone willing to stay on the job for longer than 11 months.

In the meantime, the administration might examine what angered Senator Cornyn enough to draw a line in the sand over Cole.  They might get him the answers he has sought for months.   Bureaucrats failed to protect precious rights of our service members overseas, and Cole’s nomination may be the price.  To satisfy Senator Sessions, President Obama might consider a nominee next January that views the attacks of September 11 as something more than a criminal act.

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