Eric Holder

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder discussed regional crime with Caribbean leaders on Monday during a summit in Haiti.

Holder talked with the leaders of mostly English-speaking Caribbean countries about crime problems, efforts to curb weapons and drug trafficking and a need to alert countries in the region about imminent deportations at the conference of the Caribbean Community, known as Caricom, held at a hotel in the Haitian capital.

Hundreds of thousands of people from Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico and other nations have been deported to homelands they barely know since the U.S. Congress mandated in 1996 that every non-citizen sentenced to a year or more in prison be booted from the country upon release.

“With regard to deportees, I think what we need to do is make sure that we give as much notice as we possibly can before people are to be released and deported from the United States,” Holder told reporters. “As we increase the more general capacity, law enforcement capacity, security capacity of the nations of Caricom, they will be in a much better position to deal with these deportees from the United States.”

Holder also met privately with Haiti’s President Michel Martelly, who assumed the chair of the Caricom group in January and will hold the title for six months.

It’s the first time Haiti has hosted a Caricom conference. The gathering ends Tuesday afternoon.

Holder flew Monday afternoon to Thomas, Virgin Islands, where he is to meet with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

—Associated Press

Separation of powers showdown

Yesterday, President Obama granted Attorney General Eric Holder executive privilege to withhold documents requested by the House committee investigating the administration’s involvement in the failed ATF gun smuggling sting, Operation Fast and Furious.

The executive privilege, Obama’s first use of the power, ignited a “political firefight” on Capitol Hill and resulted in the House Committee voting to hold Holder in contempt of Congress.

Punches were thrown, and Holder claimed the vote was politically motivated.

"It's an election-year tactic intended to distract attention — and, as a result — has deflected critical resources from fulfilling what remains my top priority at the Department of Justice: Protecting the American people."

Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor defended the committee’s contempt vote and released a statement saying, “Fast and Furious was a reckless operation that led to the death of an American border agent, and the American people deserve to know the facts to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.”

Presidential use of executive privilege dates back to George Washington when he denied the House’s request for information relating to the Jay Treaty between the U.S. and Great Britain.

More recently, Bill Clinton used executive privilege 14 times, most notably in an attempt to withhold his aides from testifying in court during his impeachment in 1998.

George W. Bush used the power six times, once to withhold the details of Vice President Dick Cheney’s meetings with energy executives, and several times to block congressional subpoenas of his Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers and political aide Karl Rove.

While voting to hold an official in contempt can potentially lead to jail time, politicians usually avoid carrying out the entire procedure because it could lead to a court battle that redefines the limits of executive privilege.

Nancy Pelosi chastised House republicans Wednesday and claimed they misused the contempt vote.

“It doesn't serve our country, and it undermines the true purpose of contempt of Congress," Pelosi said. "That's why I didn't arrest Karl Rove when I had the chance."

Things seem to be calming down now, with the Associated Press reporting a compromise between both parties is in the works.