I rise today, Madam President, in support of Eric Holder to be the next Attorney General of the united states. The next Attorney General will need to hit the ground running, from beefing up civil rights and antitrust enforcement to addressing white-collar crime and drug-related violence, to helping keep our country safe from terrorist attacks. As I told the judiciary committee last week when I voted in favor of his nomination, Eric Holder is the right man to do the job. He is the right man to lead the department of justice at this critical time. And most importantly, coming from a state that had our own share of problems with a political appointee as U.S. attorney, he is the right man to get the department back on course, to put the law first when it comes to the department of justice.

First, as I look at the reasons why I am supporting his confirmation, first, at a key time in our nation's history where we deal with terrorist acts not contemplated in simpler times, from cyber battlefields to sophisticated crimes, from market manipulation to financial fraud, Eric Holder has a clear command of the legal issues confronting our country. That was very apparent in the discussions that took place during the nomination hearing. There are a number of Senators, particularly those on the other side of the aisle that had some very good questions. When you listen to the discussion that Eric Holder had with Senator Kyl regarding some of the ongoing foreign intelligence issues from multipoint wiretap authority to lone wolf surveillance authority, it was very obvious that Eric Holder knew that he was talking about and he was convincing to Senator Kyl.

The discussions that Eric Holder had with Senators Hatch and Feingold regarding executive power and congressional authority and the important back and forth with Senator sessions, graham, and Feinstein -- who I see the Senator from California is here -- regarding terrorism cases, regarding the unique nature of those cases, regarding the issues facing our agents and soldiers in the field and the prosecution of detainees. Despite what we recently heard from my colleague from Texas, it is no surprise to me that after hearing Eric Holder's command of the law, command of the issues facing our country, the vote on the committee was so overwhelming, that the vote was 17-2, that so many of my republican colleagues who earlier had expressed concerns about Eric Holder ended up supporting him and voting for him and asking that he be the next Attorney General of the united states.

The second reason that I’m glad to support Eric Holder for Attorney General is that he is committed to the bread and butter work of the justice department. As Chairman Leahy noted before I came to the senate I was a prosecutor for eight years. I ran an office of 400 people. I had some sense of the importance of going after not just the big crimes, but also the little crimes. And Eric Holder was a pioneer in this area when he was U.S. attorney and established a community prosecution initiative. It's really built on the idea of community policing.

It goes back to the basics. The idea is instead of a prosecutor sitting in her office looking at a bunch of files, not having any relation to the neighborhood that we're supposed to protect; the prosecutor is assigned to a certain area to work with the same police, to work with the same neighborhood groups. While there may be some crimes committed in the government centers in this country, for the most part they're tpho. And so what it does, this idea of community prosecution,  it connects what goes on in those four walls of the government centers, in those four squares of our judicial centers to the neighborhoods out in the field, to the people out in the field. When we did this in Hennepin county by assigning prosecutors by geographic area to work directly with a set group of police and neighborhood groups, we got better results for liveability crimes. We got stronger sentences and we saw a 20% reduction in crime. And again, Eric Holder, when he was U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia, which involves not just doing U.S. attorney-type prosecutions, but also the bread-and-butter work of prosecutions in the District of Columbia because of the unique nature of the District of Columbia, he was one of the pioneers for community prosecution.

And it shows his command, and it really explains why he has so much support from law enforcement. I remember actually during this time we had a visit -- this is way back years ago -- from a presidential candidate to one of our suburban areas. And I said to one of the police officers, "Do you want to meet this person? He's here. It’s exciting." he said, no, not really. I'd really want to know if Terry Froehling is around. She was our community prosecutor we had assigned to that suburb, to Bloomington, Minnesota, that he had gotten to know and respected. It brought home to me again how important this program was.

You can see, as I mentioned, the faith that law enforcement has put in Eric Holder by the number of the bipartisan endorsements he has received. You also see the endorsements of republican-appointed prosecutors like my law school classmate, Jim Comey. That means a lot to me, and it should mean a lot to the people in the senate. Third, Eric Holder is a humble person who is willing to admit mistakes. From my brief two years here, Madam President, we need a little bit more of that in Washington, D.C. as a former prosecutor, I’m not a big fan of pardons, and I told this to Mr. Holder. But anyone that's worked in the criminal justice system whether they be a police officer or prosecutor or public defender or a judge, anyone that's worked in the system for any length of time knows that people make mistakes. For eight years when I managed our office, I saw the gut-wrenching decisions, and I had to make some of them myself, that the people have to make on the front line. From the momentary decision that police officers have to make at a fast-moving crime scene whether to shoot or not shoot, whether to knock down a door or not knock down a door, to the decisions prosecutors need to make about whether to call a certain witness or whether to plea down a case when a case is falling apart and they know their only hope to get someone off the street that they consider dangerous is to accept that plea. Those are the tough decisions that may not make good television, but they are the true decisions that prosecutors need to make every day. Now if you want someone with experience for this job, then they're going to have made some decisions that you don't like or that I don't like. There's absolutely no doubt about it. People who are in this field have to make literally dozens of decisions a day. So they're going to make some decisions you don't like. They're going to have made some mistakes.

And I’m glad they were discussed and brought up at the nominations hearing and glad that so many of my Judiciary Committee colleagues actually took the time to listen to the nominee, to listen to Eric Holder. He explained that one thing was a mistake, that he wouldn't have made that decision if he had more information. He admitted that, and we were able to question him at length. He explained some things that he still supported that they didn't agree with or that the times had changed and they had more information, and there was a reason they didn't agree with it now. Those discussions were had, and he was very candid about it.

But what we learned from that committee hearing is that in the end, so many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle looked at this man as a whole, and they decided that as a whole, his experience, while there may have been flaws in his experience, his experience led them to support him for this job, which leads to my last reason. Eric Holder's background is, first of all, as a prosecutor in the field. But just as importantly, it's also as a sound, solid, competent manager who is guided by justice. Someone who will lead quietly but firmly. Someone who will work to build the morale of a department that has suffered for too long. As I mentioned at the beginning, I saw it in my own state when one bad decision made up on high, when the Attorney General was Alberto Gonzales, putting in an inexperienced political appointee into the top spot of a gem of a U.S. attorneys' office in Minnesota created havoc in our state and that office. I worked in that office. I know the people that work there. I know how high quality they are and that decision wreaked havoc in that office.

Thanks to General Mukasey that office is steady. I appreciated how he consulted with me about the replacement for that job, and I also appreciate how our state's acting U.S. Attorney Frank McGill skillfully guided the office through a difficult time and restored morale. But that experience, with my own U.S. Attorney's office in my own home state, has brought home to me the importance of having an Attorney General who puts the law and not politics at the helm of the Department of Justice. As former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh said -- he was the Attorney General for Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush -- he said the next Attorney General will need to restore the image of the department of  justice as a -- quote -- "nonpartisan organization dedicated to the rule of law." I couldn't agree more.

We need to put justice and the law at the helm. I support Eric Holder's nomination to be Attorney General because I believe that Eric Holder can steer this big ship and get it back on course and put justice at the helm.