Statement of Debra Burlingame
Co-founder, 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America
January 15, 2009
Senate Judiciary Committee Confirmation Hearing for Eric Holder
Chairman Leahy, Ranking Member Specter and Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee:
I am writing to share my views about the nomination of Eric Holder to the position of United States Attorney General.
For the last seven years, I have taken a keen interest in the workings of my government. After the widespread institutional failures of the U.S. government to protect the lives and property of its citizens from terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, it was no longer acceptable to me to be a passive observer, to accept at face value what public officials tell us about the policies and decisions they make. 9/11 reminded us all that the decisions made in Washington have real world consequences for those far removed from the center of power.
On September 11, 2001, my brother, Captain Charles F. Burlingame, III, was murdered in the cockpit of his hijacked commercial airliner which was then crashed into the Pentagon, killing all 59 of its passengers and crew, and 125 men and women working at the Department of Defense. After that difficult day, I made a personal vow to become a better citizen, which starts with becoming better informed. Since then, I have contributed in the best way I know how, sharing what I have learned with others. It is in that spirit which I write to you today.
I am well aware of Eric Holder’s academic credentials, his record of accomplishments and the high regard in which he is held by some of his colleagues and associates. His qualifications for the position to which he has been nominated are plainly evident. However, Mr. Holder’s record is clouded by actions which even his supporters admit constitute serious errors in judgment, most notably, the role he played in a series of highly controversial Presidential pardons which issued while he held the position of deputy attorney general at the Department of Justice (DOJ).
I believe the facts surrounding Mr. Holder’s conduct with respect to these pardons seriously call into the question his judgment, character and independence, and cast doubt about his willingness or ability to serve both the President and the American people with equal dedication and vigor.