Category archives: Change Watch

Change Watch Backgrounder: Gregory Craig

by Bill Saunders

December 16, 2008

Position: White House Counsel

NOMINEE: Gregory Bestor Craig

Born: Norfolk, Va., March 4, 1945

Family: Wife, Derry Noyes, and five children.

Occupation: Partner in the Washington, D.C., law firm Williams & Connelly

Education: A.B. Harvard College, J.D. Yale Law School

Senate Work: Senior Advisor on Defense, Foreign Policy and National Security to Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) for 1984-1988

Clinton White House: Director of Policy Planning, State Department, 1997-1998; special coordinator to monitor China’s suppression of Tibetan culture and religion, 1998; Assistant to the President and Special Counsel 1998-1999 (impeachment team “quarterback”)

Famous Clients: John J. Kearney (FBI agent accused of illegal wiretapping during the investigation of the Weathermen terrorists), 1977; Richard Helms (CIA Director accused of perjury before the Senate concerning General Pinochet’s 1973 coup in Chile), 1977 (with Edward Bennett Williams); John Hinckley, Jr. (attempted murder of President Reagan), 1981; Sen. Edward Kennedy (testimony relating to the rape trial of his nephew, William Kennedy Smith), 1991; Juan Miguel Gonzalez (custody battle over his asylum-seeking son, Elian), 1998; Kofi Annan (Volcker Committee investigations over Oil-for-Food), 2004; Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada (former leftist President of Bolivia, accused of involvement in the killing of 67 further left-wing protestors in 2003), 2008.

Testimony: “He has the ability to look at issues from a different perspective and he’s very pragmatic and very smart.” - Madeleine Albright

There’s no one I’d rather be with in a crisis. He’s just wonderful and very comforting, no matter how tough the problems you’re dealing with. He never kind of loses it. He’s so rational, says what he has to say very clearly, and he’s always on your side.” - Ethel Kennedy

Nicaraguan Communism

While serving as Senator Ted Kennedy’s Senior Advisor, Craig orchestrated hearings about alleged human rights abuses by the American-backed Nicaraguan rebels, the Contras. During these hearings he brought a number of communist Sandinista sympathizers to testify before Congress. Their politically motivated accounts of the situation in Nicaragua brought significant bad press to the freedom fighters, thus complicating stated administration policy on Nicaragua. Following the hearing, however, after having been criticized in The New Republic for aiding communists, Craig expressed regret, insisting that he did not realize how biased his witnesses were. He subsequently traveled to Nicaragua himself and criticized the manifest human rights abuses of the Sandinista government. [source]

Elian Gonzalez

While technically not a government employee at the time-having returned to his partnership at Williams & Connelly-Craig played a decidedly active role in the entire Elian Gonzalez affair, ostensibly representing his father, Juan, who was under the control of Fidel Castro and his aides. From an article in National Review:

Accounts of pre-raid negotiations between Elian’s Miami relatives and the Justice Department suggest that Reno wasn’t trying to bring peace to the warring Gonzalez family so much as taking orders straight from Craig. It appears that the Miami Gonzalezes had agreed to transfer custody of Elian to his father, as long as they could live with the boy and his father in an environment free of U.S. and Cuban officials. These negotiations dragged on through Good Friday and into the next morning, with Craig reviewing documents in his office past 2:00 A.M.- and ultimately vetoing the proposed settlement.

Craig had been pushing the government to take Elian from his relatives “immediately” for some time prior to the raid. For his efforts Craig was paid $100,000 through a “voluntary fund” set up by the United Methodist Board of Church and Society and administered by the National Council of Churches.

Clinton Impeachment

Part of why Craig’s time at State was unremarkable was his short tenure, since he had to leave that position to head Bill Clinton’s impeachment defense team. It is worth noting that Craig was originally cool to the idea. The Washington Post reported at the time:

I hope you won’t think it amiss if I tell you I’m not enthusiastic,” [Craig] recalls telling John Podesta, then deputy White House chief of staff, when Podesta asked him in early September to consider leading Clinton’s defense team in the impeachment inquiry. “John said, ‘Well, just think about it.’ So I kept thinking about it — and my enthusiasm didn’t grow.”

Even after meeting with Clinton, Craig was not sold on the idea:

[Clinton] was in great pain,” Craig recalls. “He was, I think, profoundly troubled at his own failures, at his own shortcomings, and really at a loss about what to do, how to handle it. And I told him he really needed to talk about it. And he asked for my help. And I said I’ve got to talk to my wife.”

Nevertheless, Craig did take the job, and by all accounts performed competently.

Change Watch Backgrounder: Eric Holder, Jr.

by Family Research Council

December 8, 2008


NOMINEE: Eric Holder, Jr.

Born: New York City, Jan. 21, 1951.

Family: Wife, Dr. Sharon Malone, and three children.

Occupation: Partner in the Washington, D.C., law firm Covington & Burling

Education: Doctorate from Columbia Law School in 1976

Judicial appointment: President Reagan nominated Holder for associate judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in 1988; served five years.

Clinton White House: Nominated by President Clinton in 1993 for U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, a position he held for four years; appointed Clinton’s deputy attorney general in 1997.

Hate Crimes

Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder testified in support of the legislation, indicating that it would strengthen federal-state law enforcement capabilities without encroaching upon state responsibilities. He also denied the claim, made by some federal officials in the past, that the federal law enforcement agencies would be overwhelmed if the bill were passed to include new hate crime categories prohibiting bias crimes based sex, sexual orientation and disability.” NOW website, June 7, 1999

Prosecution of Porn Peddlers

Some civil libertarians worry that Eric Holder will be inclined to continue the Bush administration’s crusade against pornography. They cite a June 1998 memo in which he told U.S. attorneys that obscenity prosecutions should focus on “cases involving large-scale distributors who realize substantial income from multistate operations and cases in which there is evidence of organized crime involvement” but added that “cases involving relatively small distributors can have a deterrent effect.” The Clinton administration’s actual track record in this area, however, consisted almost entirely of cases involving child pornography. “We continue to make these [child porn] cases a priority,” Holder says in the memo. Social conservatives often complained that the Clinton administration was not interested in taking on pornography made by and for consenting adults. We probably can look forward to hearing such complaints again under the Obama administration.”  [source]

Elian Gonzalez Fiasco

Mr. Holder said his agents were heavily armed when they entered the house because they had ‘intelligence that the possibility existed there were guns in the house. We had to make sure our people were protected and they were in a position to protect people within the house. I don’t know if there were any guns in the house. I don’t know if they found any guns. We had to deal, however, with the intelligence we had that we got from local sources and make sure everybody was adequately protected.’ Apparently no guns were found.” (Jerry Seper and Clarence Williams, “Holder Defends Sudden Raid For Elian,” The Washington Times, 4/24/00)

Bill Clinton’s Presidential Pardons

Holder played a major role in the decision to grant clemency to 16 former members of the Puerto Rican terrorist group the Armed Forces Of National Liberation (FALN). “Holder …has played major roles in the probe of Democratic funny-money in the 1996 elections, the Sexgate scandal and the recommendation to President Clinton on whether to free FALN terrorists from jail. A list of FALN documents withheld from Congress shows that many memos on the FALN clemency decision went directly to Holder, while Reno’s role was minimal.” (Brian Blomquist, “Ailing Reno Yielding Reins Of Justice,” New York Post, 12/15/99)

As deputy attorney general under President Clinton, Mr. Holder reviewed the last-minute pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich.” (Jim McElhatton, “GOP Hits Another Obama Adviser,” The Washington Times, 6/13/08)

Second Amendment

As Deputy Attorney General, Holder was a strong supporter of restrictive gun control. He advocated federal licensing of handgun owners, a three day waiting period on handgun sales, rationing handgun sales to no more than one per month, banning possession of handguns and so-called ‘assault weapons’ (cosmetically incorrect guns) by anyone under age of 21, a gun show restriction bill that would have given the federal government the power to shut down all gun shows, national gun registration, and mandatory prison sentences for trivial offenses (e.g., giving your son an heirloom handgun for Christmas, if he were two weeks shy of his 21st birthday). He also promoted the factoid that ‘Every day that goes by, about 12, 13 more children in this country die from gun violence’—a statistic is true only if one counts 18-year-old gangsters who shoot each other as ‘children.’ (Sources: Holder testimony before House Judiciary Committee, Subcommitee on Crime, May 27, 1999; Holder Weekly Briefing, May 20, 2000.) After the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the D.C. handgun ban and self-defense ban were unconstitutional in 2007, Holder complained that the decision “opens the door to more people having more access to guns and putting guns on the streets.” [source]

US Attorney Mixed Record?

Eric Holder gets good national press, but some of those who know something about his activities in DC know better. As a lackluster local US Attorney, he not only sat on information concerning police and water department corruption, his staff regularly signed off on excessive police overtime to keep cops friendly to the prosecutors. Holder was also instrumental in getting law changes that made jury trials more difficult for certain defendants.” - Progressive Review, 1998

One of Holder’s predecessors, Joseph DiGenova, says, “When you have corruption staring you in the face, and you fail to act, you should resign. You can’t worry about judgeships or your next job. And this from former city auditor Otis Troupe: “For years, in audit after audit, and in newspaper article after newspaper articles, we have established fact patterns that constitute crimes. And in all but a handful of case, nobody did anything in the prosecutor’s office.” - Progressive Review, 1997

As US Attorney, Eric Holder was the guy who indicted Dan Rostenkowsi and was responsible for his eventual conviction.


There have been questions about his role in the Justice Department’s conduct in Waco: “The federal prosecutor who raised questions about a possible Justice Department cover-up in the Waco standoff was abruptly removed from the case along with his boss, according to a court filing made public Tuesday.
Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder recused U.S. Attorney James W. Blagg in San Antonio and assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Johnston in Waco, Texas, from any further dealings in criminal or civil proceedings related to the siege.
Holder appointed the U.S. attorney in a neighboring district as a “special attorney to the U.S. attorney general.” Michelle Mittelstadt, September 14, 1999, Associated Press,


His firm, Covington and Burling, lobbies for the NFL and was a major player in the passage of the Internet Gambling bill.  Eric Holder did not play any part in those negotiations.

Change Watch Backgrounder: Tom Daschle

by Family Research Council

December 4, 2008



NOMINEE: Thomas Daschle

BIRTH DATE: Dec. 9, 1947

EDUCATION: B.A. in political science, South Dakota State University, 1969.

FAMILY: Wife, Linda Hall Daschle; three children from a previous marriage.

FRC SCORECARD: 107th Second Session: 22%, 108th First Session: 14%, 108th Second Session: 17%

EXPERIENCE: distinguished senior fellow, Center for American Progress; special public policy adviser, Alston & Bird; Senate minority leader, 2003-2005; Senate majority leader, 2001-2003; Senate minority leader, 1995-2001; U.S. Senate, 1987-2005; U.S. House of Representatives, 1979-1986; aide to Sen. James Abourezk, 1972-77; representative for financial investment firm; intelligence officer, U.S. Air Force, 1969-72.

HEALTH CARE EXPERIENCE: Co-wrote one book and a few papers on the subject while with the liberal organization Center for American Progress.


Comments on Health Care

Many believe wrongly that we have the best health system in the world … One of the most urgent priorities in this nation is making its health system accessible and affordable for all.” Daschle. Thomas, Paying “More but Getting Less: Myths and the Global Case for U.S. Health Reform,” Center for American Progress, November 2005.

Daschle’s solution lies in the Federal Reserve Board, which has overseen the equally complicated financial system with great success.  A Fed-like health board would offer a public framework within which a private health-care system can operate more effectively and efficiently … Daschle argues that this independent board would create a single standard of care and exert tremendous influence on every other provider and payer, even those in the private sector.”  Excerpt: “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis,” by Senator Tom Daschle with Scott S. Greenberger and Jeanne M. Lambrew, February, 2008

For the most part, Daschle’s views on health-care policy are predictable for a Democratic politician with long service in the Congress … the toolbox he is looking through is the same one other Democrats are also reaching for: mandates on individuals and businesses to buy or offer coverage; new government-run insurance options for the under-65 population; a national governmental agency offering anyone who wants it to sign up for insurance outside of work; large new subsidy programs; and much more government involvement in determining what is and is not effective medical care … Daschle is no free-market reformer. He believes the solution is to entrust government-run health care to people more trustworthy than HHS bureaucrats or elected members of Congress … In Daschle’s vision, such a board would be charged with making the big and controversial decisions - like what should or should not be covered by insurance plans - without having to answer to the public. Of course, this would be a nightmare scenario for those fearful of government intrusion into the practice of medicine. Once up and running, such a Board would inevitably accrue more power and authority, becoming the choke point for all crucial decisions. And the public would have little recourse to ever undo it.” Capretta, James, “Daschle’s Health-Care Plan,” National Review, August 27, 2008.


Pro-Life Record

Taxpayer funding of abortions: June 20, 2000, voted for taxpayer funded abortions on military bases


Parental rights/Morning after pill: Voted against a Helm’s Amendment in 2000 that would have prevented taxpayers paying for the morning after pill being distributed to school girls. 


Roe v. Wade:

March 12, 2003, voted for a Senate resolution endorsing Roe v. Wade.


Partial Birth Abortion: July 25, 2002, Senator Daschle, as Majority Leader, was key on blocking the Partial Birth Abortion Ban coming to a vote in the Senate that year, despite voicing support for the legislation. “(A)bortion rights advocates are counting on the majority leader, Senator Tom Daschle, Democrat of South Dakota, to prevent a bill from coming to the floor. ‘The Senate is our firewall,’ one abortion rights supporter said.”  Hulse, Carl, “An Abortion Bill Passes, But to an Uncertain Fate,” New York Times, July 25, 2002.

Unborn Victims of Violence: March 25, 2004, voted for an alternative to the Unborn Victims Bill, the measure that provides protection and justice for women and children like Laci and Conner Peterson who are victims of violence that would have been far weaker. The measure Daschle backed would deny that the baby had suffered any injuries or death in such an attack.



Tax and Reporting Problems

Make no mistake, tax cheaters cheat us all, and the IRS should enforce our laws to the letter.” Sen. Tom Daschle, Congressional Record, May 7, 1998, p. S4507.

According to the lead article in today’s Washington Post, Tom Daschle ‘waited nearly a month after being nominated to be secretary of health and human services before informing Barack Obama that he had not paid years of back taxes for the use of a car and driver provided by a wealthy New York investor.’ If President Obama were really serious about ending business as usual, he would immediately withdraw the nomination of someone who was cheating big-time on his taxes and who didn’t level with Obama about the problem at the outset.  [Source] Of course, if he were really serious about ending business as usual, he would never have selected for a major Cabinet position a former senator of no discernible talent who, while he was a senator, enabled his wife to leverage his status to become a super-lobbyist and who on leaving the Senate cashed in his access to his former colleagues for millions of dollars a year.” Ed Whelan, “Limousine Liberal,” NRO The Corner, February 1, 2009. 


Senator Daschle supported expanding taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell experimentation as U.S. Senator. [Source]

Senator Daschle was “disowned” by his Catholic bishop due to his strong anti-abortion stance.

The Senate minority leader and the highest ranking Democrat in Washington has been sent a letter by his home diocese of Sioux Falls, sources in South Dakota have told The Weekly Standard, directing him to remove from his congressional biography and campaign documents all references to his standing as a member of the Catholic Church.” Bottom, J., “Tom Daschle’s Duty to Be Morally Coherent,” The Weekly Standard, April 17, 2003.

Change we’ve seen before

by Family Research Council

December 4, 2008

The Washington Post reports today that the very impressive e-mail and cell phone number lists that Obama’s political campaign amassed will now be moving over to the White House to be used as an action arm of the Administration to get those who supported Obama during the campaign to defend his policy decisions.  Any potential legality aside I am worried how a President could very easily misuse this technology.  Candidate Obama used this technology to try to shut down media outlets that gave a voice to any dissenters and also used it to falsely malign two writers, Stanley Kurtz and David Freddoso.

The Post article states that the Obama transition team is already using the list to tackle probably the biggest “change” that the Obama Administration is preparing for -  some form of universal healthcare.  President-elect Obama’s choice for HHS Secretary, former Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD), has already had a conference call with 1,000 of the people from the list and also has “met with more than 100 insiders,” though the only two groups the article names are supporters of taxpayer funded abortions, AARP and Families USA.

Mr. Daschle also praises the suggestions from the taxpayer funded transition site Obama’s campaign have set up for comments, “‘We want to make sure you understand how important those comments and your contributions are,’ Daschle says into the camera. ‘Already we’ve begun to follow through with some of the ideas.’ Daschle praises the suggestion of creating a ‘Health Corps’ of volunteers, modeled after President John F. Kennedy’s Peace Corps.”

Actually, someone else thought the Health Corps idea was so great that it was created 35 years ago.

Daschle then closes with a quote reassuring people that facts won’t matter as much as anecdotes - so keep those stories coming in!

Stay tuned for more on the incoming HHS Secretary…