The Senate on Tuesday confirmed President Obama's nominee to be Attorney General Eric Holder's top deputy at the Justice Department largely along party lines in a vote of 55-42.
James Cole, a veteran Washington attorney nominated in May, had been serving in the position since late December courtesy of a presidential recess appointment, one that would have expired at the end of the current session of Congress. And despite the bipartisan support of eight former attorneys general, the GOP remained steadfast in their opposition as top Republicans sought information on both the terrorist prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as well as, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearm's program dubbed "Fast and Furious."
Once the Administration came forward with the information sought, Republicans ended their filibuster, one that had successfully blocked the nomination earlier in June.
But opposition was not just about a lack of information. Some of it was directed at the nominee, himself.
Not only is there concern about Cole's tenure as an independent consultant to failed insurance industry giant AIG prior to the company's near-collapse in 2008 and its subsequent government bailout, but Republicans also voiced strong concern about what they believe to be his soft-on-terrorism stance.
Republican senators repeatedly referred to an op-ed the nominee penned in 2002 in the Legal Times in which Cole referred to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks as "criminal acts of terrorism against a civilian population," and included the attacks in the same vein as "many other devastating crimes" like rape, drug trade, organized crime, and child abuse.
Cole told Judiciary Committee members in his confirmation hearing last year that decisions to try alleged terrorists should be made on a case-by-case basis, not ruling out military commissions for some. The Obama administration has since said it will try the alleged 9/11 terrorists imprisoned at the Guantanamo facility in military commissions.
Cole previously served in the Justice Department for more than a dozen years before heading into private practice in 1992. He also served on former President Bill Clinton's transition team in 1992.