Sunday, October 16, 2011

Is it time for Eric Holder to go? New documents suggest Attorney General committed perjury in Congressional testimony re: deadly and illegal BATF “Fast and Furious” gun tracking program.

Newly released documents uncovered in the Congressional investigation led by Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, into the “Fast and Furious” international gun trafficking operation conducted by the Obama Administration have raised doubt as to the truthfulness of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in sworn testimony before the House Oversight Committee in May of this year.  Coming on the heels of a string of reports bringing into doubt the Administration's claims about the controversial government operation executed through agents of the BATF out of the Phoenix Arizona field office, including revelations that the Federal government, after repeated denials, itself funded the illegal purchase of arms through "straw buyers," that there were more weapons than originally claimed, and the possible political motives of the Administration in letting the program go forward, (and indeed, expanding it!) the ACLP calls for the Attorney General's resignation.   The facts, and the reasons for our position are as follows:

In the May 2011 hearing before the Committee, Attorney General holder claimed he hadn't known about the controversial operation– which resulted in literally thousands of assault weapons being illegally sold to “straw buyers” at the behest of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and transported across the Mexican border only to end up used in the murder of at least two American agents– until just two to three weeks before the May hearing, (for video see HERE).

The only problem is that evidence uncovered by CBS news and others, including emails released pursuant to a subpoena by the House Oversight Committee, reveal reports and meetings that show the Administration's chief law enforcement officer was informed as early as April of 2010 of potential problems with the government “gun tracking” scheme and had received no less than half a dozen other letters, reports, and memos on the controversial program from cabinet and government officials inside the Department of Justice in the prior year, (some addressed directly to his attention!)  In the face of this brazenly conflicting information the Oversight Committee has issued new subpoenas aiming to get to the bottom of the discrepancies and uncover once and for all just what the Attorney General, and others in the Administration, knew about the ill-fated program and when, see here and here.

Mr. Holder claims, in a letter to the Committee on Oct. 7, 2011, that he hadn't personally read those memos or that those under his command, whose alleged job it was to inform him of such things, hadn't done so, (prompting a scathing reply by Congressman Issa, see news here and here).  

Whether due to mere incompetence or a coverup that makes the Watergate scandal of the 70's that brought down the Nixon Administration seem like small potatoes cannot at this point be definitively determined, but, in any case, it is irrelevant.

Assuming the attorney general's explanation is true, this paints an equally or even more disturbing picture of a Justice Department under Holder that is so out of touch and dysfunctional in its critical duty of enforcing the nation's laws and policing itself as to be inexcuseable. Indeed, the fact that attorney general Holder wasn't even aware of this misconceived government operation long after its deadly consequences became public in December of 2010 argue forcefully that change is long overdue at the Department of Justice. (Indeed, coming on the heels of attorney general Holder's previous controversial decisions and continuous stonewalling on this and other matters some would say more than long overdue, see HERE, here, and here). That change should clearly begin with the firing of Attorney General Holder by the President.

Mystifyingly however, rather than call for full cooperation by his Chief law enforcement officer to determine who knew what at Justice and when they knew it or even express dismay at the revelation that his Attorney General appears to have misled Congress in attempting to carry out its oversight duties, President Obama curiously has instead defended Holder and made no such calls. The question is, why?

It is beyond serious doubt by astute political watchers that it would be in the President's favor– coming up to what will undoubtedly be a closely-fought re-election in 2012– for Obama to dump anyone from his administration that could hurt his chances of re-election, (as most presidents do routinely when approaching a potential second term); indeed, it is a fact of political life that such “political appointees,” i.e., those who serve at the pleasure of the President such as the attorney general, are, in political terms, dispensible and routinely fired for just this reason.

So the question is, could the refusal of Obama to do so reveal there is more to this story than currently meets the eye? (Rather than just a deep loyalty on behalf of Obama to his top law enforcement official?)  I mean, it's bad enough there are indications that the whole reason the Obama Administration pushed this dubious program initially was motivated by a desire to demonize lawful American gun makers and dealers for "Mexican cartel violence" and thus increase political pressure for new legislation restricting the right to bear arms, (a political goal of the Administration that would fit with its M.O. in other areas), but could this reticence on the part of the President be the result of a desire to protect his own self from political fallout if it were revealed he had personally signed off on the program?

While no one can presently say for sure– this is one of the very questions the newly issued subpoenas are likely to shed light on as the only way Holder can legally refuse the subpoenas is to claim 'Executive Privilege,' a defense available only if he admits having discussed the operation with the President– the fact this Administration is instead closing ranks and circling the wagons in support of Holder might suggest that knowledge of who knew about “Fast and Furious” and yet continued to approve its execution might indeed go all the way to the President. In this scenario it makes perfect sense why President Obama, who knows that throwing Holder under the bus could lead to revelations about his own knowledge of this unsavory (and illegal!) program that could eliminate any chance of his re-election come 2012, might defend Holder instead of fire him. This, to us, is the real story here.

We wish Congressmen Issa and others investigating the Administration's actions well in getting to the bottom of this scandal which has had deadly consequences as well as undermined U.S./Mexican relations and the credibility of American judgment and resolve to enforce our laws.   jp

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