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Eric Holder Reported to Be Obama's Choice for US Attorney General

U.S. media are reporting that President-elect Barack Obama has offered the post of Attorney General to Eric Holder. Holder served as deputy attorney general under former President Bill Clinton. If nominated and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Holder would be the first African-American to head the U.S. Justice Department. Mil Arcega has more.

Eric Holder has already made history. In 1997 he became the highest ranking African-American law enforcement official when he was appointed Deputy Attorney General by then-President Bill Clinton.

Another former deputy, Paul McNulty, says Holder could make history again if the Senate confirms his appointment to lead the U.S. Justice Department.

"And that ranks up there with another one of the great milestones in our national story after the enormous significance of Senator Obama to the presidency," he said.

As an early supporter of Mr. Obama's campaign, Holder played a key role in the selection of Senator Joe Biden for vice president.

The former prosecutor graduated from Columbia University Law School and once worked in the Justice Department's public integrity division. He also served as U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia.

Former federal prosecutor, Richard Ben-Veniste says Holder is well-qualified.

"Eric Holder has the qualifications to be an outstanding attorney general," he said.

Although respected and well-liked by his colleagues, Holder's tenure at the Justice Department was not without controversy.

Some critics denounced what they called his department's heavy-handed approach when U.S. authorities raided a Miami home to return 6-year-old Elian Gonzales to his Cuban father.

Holder also faced criticism for not speaking out against the presidential pardon of financier Marc Rich, who fled the United States after he was indicted for tax evasion and fraud.

But with Democrats in control of the Senate, some say Holder's confirmation is virtually assured.

"If Eric has made some mistakes over time, they are not major mistakes that would in my view be any kind of inhibition against his being confirmed," Ben-Veniste said.

McNulty says Holder's confirmation will be seen as a positive step for the black community, because of the department's role in upholding the nation's civil rights laws.

"The Department of Justice has already distinguished itself in its work," he said. "And if Eric Holder is the leader of the department, he will only continue to improve upon that fine record."

According to some sources, if confirmed, one of Holders top priorities will be rebuilding the department's reputation following charges of political meddling by the White House during the Bush administration.