Loretta Lynch: The Good And The Not So Good

January 30, 2015  |  

Loretta Lynch, current United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, stands a solid chance of becoming the country’s first Black female attorney general.

On paper, her professional accomplishments are impressive. And as many might have seen during the the Senate confirmation hearings held earlier this week, she knows how to expertly handle members of Congress. In one of the more memorable moments from the hearings, she boldly declared that she is not Eric Holder, but rather “I will be Loretta Lynch.” As far as representation goes, Lynch will make us proud. And by “us,” I mean both the country and Black people in particular.

With that said, I am just as much interested in how Lynch might prioritize certain issues, which most affect the lives of Black and brown people if she is appointed to the top law enforcement job in the country. Although the confirmation hearings (you can watch all three parts here) were, at times, filled with a lot of partisan showboating, they did provide some insight into the type of prosecutor she might be. And more to the point, her responses illustrated the Obama administration goals and objectives for law enforcement during the remainder of his term. Although the hearings in front of the Senate lasted two days, I decided to focus on the first day of testimony, since it had less partisan showboating.

Immigration

It came as no surprise that, immigrant issues dominated most of the hearings. Leading the charge was Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) who asked Lynch her thoughts about the legality of the recent executive order issued by President Obama, which would allow four million of the 11 million undocumented expats living in America to stay indefinitely. In short, he wanted her to say it was backdoor amnesty for illegal immigrants. And Lynch was like, well not really…

More specifically, Lynch agreed with Grassley that a portion of the President’s order, which ultimately circumvented approval by Congress, did not have a “legal framework.” However she also said that her own review of the OLC opinion, didn’t show anything that would suggested amnesty for the four million undocumented expats. Instead, she argued that the order will help to “accelerate” the deportation of the other seven million undocumented expats, which might include terrorists and felons.

Politically, this is good for Obama, who has argued that this order is not an abuse of presidential powers. It doesn’t seem like a Lynch tenure will bring an actual halt to the deportations, which have significantly increased under the Obama Administration, instead it would help the Administration dot the Is and cross the Ts of these one-way bus tickets out of town.

The War On Terrorism

“I will draw upon my experience in the Eastern district of New York, which has tried more terrorism cases since 9/11 than any other office,” said Lynch during her opening statement.

Again, that is one of those statements, which sounds good on paper. However the American Civil Liberties Union has long called out NYPD’s Muslim surveillance program, which has monitored and mapped every religious and community leader, mosques, student associations, organizations, businesses, and even individuals identified with the Islamic faith since 2002. According to the ACLU, the mapping part of the surveillance program has been scrapped due to public pressure But. that community is still being targeted.

During the hearings Lynch acknowledged that privacy is a concern, however she was pretty concrete in her support of such terrorism surveillance tactics. Her favorites are the roving wiretaps, which allow sweeping surveillance of a suspect’s communication lines without the need of court order, and the lone wolf authority, which allows surveillance of non-US person suspected of terror plotting without demonstrating actual connection to said organizations. Lynch went on to note that both tactics, which were extended under the U.S. Patriot Act “have been invaluable tools” in the war on terrorism.

Although her ideas on governmental surveillance are icky, Lynch did acknowledge that waterboarding was “torture and illegal.”

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