Holder's legacy: counterterrorism to civil rights

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Former US Attorney General Eric Holder
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Holder's legacy: counterterrorism to civil rights

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder delivers remarks on the second day of the 2016 Democratic National Convention at Wells Fargo Center on July 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Philadelphia, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Democratic National Convention kicked off July 25.

(Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage)

Attorney General Eric Holder announces he is leaving the Department of Justice while U.S. President Barack Obama looks on.

(WhiteHouse.gov)

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder arrives to talk to the media about the shooting of two police officers in Ferguson, and to announce pilot cities for DOJ program to build trust between law enforcement and communities they serve, at the Justice Department in Washington March 12, 2015. Holder said on Thursday the shooting of two police officers in Ferguson, Missouri, was a "heinous assault" that threatens reforms under way in the city.

(REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at the annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Orlando July 16, 2013. Holder told the major civil rights convention that controversial "Stand Your Ground" self-defense laws that have been adopted in 30 states should be reconsidered.

(REUTERS/David Manning)

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (L) shares a laugh with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder at an event in Chicago, Illinois July 2, 2014.

(REUTERS/Jim Young)

Eric Holder (L) is sworn-in as US Attorney General by US Vice President Joe Biden (R) as Holder's wife, Sharon (C) holds the Bible during ceremonies on February 3, 2009, at the Justice Department in Washington, DC.

(PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

A packed room watches Holder's speech.

(WhiteHouse.gov)

Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama, captures a moment of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder as Obama mentions Holder's presence at a town-hall meeting with students and Columbia area youth leaders about the importance of community involvement at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina March 6, 2015.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Attorney General Eric Holder makes a separated statement on the unrest after the unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, during a major financial fraud announcement press conference August 21, 2014 at the Justice Department in Washington, DC. Holder spoke on the current situation in Ferguson one day after his visit to the town and met with Browns family, saying the investigation of the shooting will be thorough and will be fair, and Department of Justice stands with the people of Ferguson.

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (R) embraces President Barack Obama after the president announced Holder's resignation in the White House State Dining Room in Washington, September 25, 2014.

(REUTERS/Larry Downing)

US Attorney General Eric H. Holder is sworn-in during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill May 15, 2013 in Washington, DC. Holder and other members of the Obama administration are being criticized over reports of the Internal Revenue Services'(IRS) scrutiny of conservative organization's tax exemption requests and the subpoena of two months worth of Associated Press journalists' phone records.

(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during a naturalization ceremony at the U.S. Department of Justice May 27, 2013 in Washington, DC. During the event Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas administered the Oath of Citizenship to approximately 70 new U.S. citizens.

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during the second day at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 26, 2016.

(REUTERS/Mike Segar)

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder returns an acknowledgement from President Barack Obama at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation dinner in Washington September 27, 2014.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder arrives at the 46th NAACP Image Awards in Pasadena, California February 6, 2015.

(REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)

Eric Holder (L) is sworn in as U.S. Attorney General by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (R) at the Justice Department in Washington February 3, 2009. Holder's wife Sharon (C) holds the Bible during the swearing in.

(REUTERS/Jason Reed)

U.S. President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder attend the National Peace Officers Memorial Service at the Capitol in Washington May 15, 2013.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is trailed by reporters upon his arrival on Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Washington March 6, 2015. Holder had accompanied U.S. President Barack Obama for the day to Columbia, South Carolina.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Attorney General Eric Holder (R) and his wife Sharon Malone attend the unveiling of Holder's official portrait with the artist Simmie Knox (L) at the Dept. of Justice, in Washington, February 27, 2015. Holder, the first African-American attorney general, serving since 2009, will be succeeded by Loretta Lynch, the first African-American woman to hold the position if confirmed by the Senate.

(REUTERS/Mike Theiler)

U.S. Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch (C) speaks as U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and retiring Attorney General Eric Holder (L) look on, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington November 8, 2014.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

United States Attorney General Eric Holder (L) participates in a selfie with Ju Hyeon Seo (R) during a ceremony for 70 citizenship candidates at the Justice Department in Washington July 22, 2014. Ju was formerly a South Korean citizen.

(REUTERS/Gary Cameron)

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By JIM KUHNHENN
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Eric Holder, who is resigning as attorney general, leaves a legacy built over six years during which he was in the vanguard of administration policymaking but also the subject of intense criticism from Republicans. A look the legacy of the nation's first black attorney general and one of President Barack Obama's longest-serving Cabinet members:

TERRORISM

Holder declared that waterboarding was torture, ordered a review of CIA interrogations, and defended the use of drone strikes overseas. His Justice Department successfully prosecuted terrorism suspects, including Osama bin Laden's son-in-law. He was widely criticized by Republicans and some Democrats for his plan to try professed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other alleged co-conspirators in New York, a plan he ultimately dropped.

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CIVIL RIGHTS

He fought against voter ID laws, urged federal prosecutors to shy away from seeking mandatory minimum prison sentences for nonviolent criminals, introduced new clemency criteria and backed proposals to give leniency to certain drug convicts. He also advanced legal protections for gay couples, declaring in 2011 that the Justice Department no longer would defend the constitutionality of a 1996 law that prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage.

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DEATH PENALTY

Though not a proponent of the death penalty, Holder approved pursuing capital punishment in numerous federal cases. But in the aftermath of a botched execution earlier this year in Oklahoma, Obama asked Holder to study the protocols used by states in applying the death penalty. The Justice Department already was reviewing practices used by the Bureau of Prisons and had placed a moratorium on federal executions.

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FERGUSON

Holder became the administration's point man in the federal response to the police shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri. He ordered a civil rights investigation into the Ferguson Police Department. In the shooting's aftermath, Holder also enlisted a team of criminal justice researchers to study racial bias in law enforcement.

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FAST AND FURIOUS

Holder became the first Cabinet member to be held in contempt of Congress amid a dispute over document production in a long-running congressional investigation of a flawed law enforcement gun-smuggling probe along the Southwest border.

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MEDIA CRACKDOWN

Under Holder's watch, the Justice Department cracked down on news media reporting on national security matters. The department secretly subpoenaed phone records from Associated Press reporters and editors and used a search warrant to obtain some emails of a Fox News journalist as part of a separate leak investigation.

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