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Votes they regret: Bond, Dodd speak up

From NBC's Ken Strickland
Republican Sen. Kit Bond says he regrets voting to confirm Eric Holder as attorney general in February 2009.

The Missouri senator, the top Republican on the intelligence committee, said Holder assured him prior to his confirmation vote that the Justice Department would not reopen criminal cases against those involved in CIA interrogations of 9/11 suspects.

"He said, 'no, not unless circumstances change completely,'" Bond said, recalling Holder's comments during an interview with NBC News. But, Bond said, the attorney general later broke that pledge. "He went back and opened up the whole range.”

Bond's claim that Holder promised not to reopen the cases echoes what the Missouri senator told The Washington Times in an interview shortly before the confirmation vote. "He gave me assurances that he would not take those steps that would cause major disruptions in our intelligence system or cause political warfare," he said in January 2009. A Holder aide disputed that characterization at the time. Holder was confirmed by a 75-21 vote.

The decision to repon the cases “has put all of our intelligence-gathers, who ought to be out on the forefront, in a reflexive, protect-your-neck mode,” Bond told NBC.

Looking back over his 30 years in the Senate, Democrat Chris Dodd said in his Exit Interview that he regrets voting against the confirmation of two of Ronald Reagan's nominees: C. Everett Koop for surgeon general and Jim Buckley for an appellate judgeship.

Buckley was a former senator from New York who had moved to Connecticut. In 1980, when Chris Dodd won his Senate seat, Buckley was his Republican opponent.

A few years after Buckley lost, Reagan nominated him to the D.C. appellate court.

"I was just angry," Dodd said, "and I wrote him a letter afterwards and apologized." Dodd said he let personal resentment "get in the way of making an objective determination about whether he ought to be a judge and I regret it."

Dodd's vote against Koop was "over issues that I didn't really think through very carefully." Koop also received an apology letter from Dodd.

Koop and Buckley were both confirmed.

Republican Sen. Judd Gregg also would like a do-over on a vote he described as "a big, substantive vote." He refused to divulge exactly which vote it was, but shared his misgivings about it.

"I should have done what my gut told me, rather than what my logic told me at the time," Gregg said. "You're always better off to go with your gut."