The Associated Press
February 3, 2009

Eric Holder, sworn in Tuesday as attorney general, promised a clean break with the past policies of the Bush administration, saying the Justice Department will be “no place for political favoritism.”

“I am determined to ensure that this shall be a new day for the dedicated career professionals that I am so honored to call my colleagues,” Holder told various employees and dignitaries gathered for the ceremony. He said he was committed to remaking the department “into what it once was and what is always should be.”

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Vice President Joe Biden administered the oath to President Barack Obama’s pick for the nation’s top law enforcement officer, the first African-American to hold the post.

Biden said the department, under Holder, would return to a past standard of “no politics, no ideology. Only a clear assessment of facts and law.”

Hundreds of department employees packed the hallways and stairways to welcome Holder. To loud cheers and applause, he pledged to remake the department by “taking it back to what it once was and always has to be.”

Holder was confirmed Monday evening by a 75-21 Senate vote, with all the opposition coming from Republicans.

Holder takes over a department wracked by Bush administration scandals over politically motivated hirings and firings. He has pledged to restore its reputation.

For starters, the new attorney general will learn the secrets of the Office of Legal Counsel, whose lawyers justified the use of controversial interrogation tactics and even declined to provide Bush administration documents to internal Justice Department investigators.

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