Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Even After a Contempt Citation Holder Still Blames Bush

In response to the vote today from the House Oversight Committee finding him in contempt of Congress, Attorney General Eric Holder has issued a statement.  The statement in itself is indicative of what got Holder in this mess in the first place.

All I could think of as I read it was an ostrich with his head in the sand.

Denial is not just a river in Egypt, as they say.

Let's look at it.  Here's his first paragraph:
“In recent months, the Justice Department has made unprecedented accommodations to respond to information requests by Chairman Issa about misguided law enforcement tactics that began in the previous administration and allowed illegal guns to be taken into Mexico.  Department professionals have spent countless hours compiling and providing thousands of documents -- nearly 8,000 -- to Chairman Issa and his committee.   My staff has had numerous meetings with congressional staff to try and accommodate these requests and yesterday, I met with Chairman Issa to offer additional internal Department documents and information that would satisfy what he identified as the Committee’s single outstanding question.
"Misguided law enforcement tactics" he says.  I'm sure that makes Brian Terry's family feel better. Their son's murder was a result of "misguided law enforcement tactics."  Not only that, but these "tactics" are all George Bush's fault.

He is, of course, referring to the operation "Wide Receiver" but there is a big difference between the two.  Wide Receiver was conducted with the cooperation of the Mexican government while Fast and Furious was not.  In Wide Receiver some of the weapons were fitting with tracking devices.  The operation was much smaller in scale than the estimated 2,000 weapons involved in Fast and Furious and when some of those guns went missing the operation was shut down.  No border agent was killed as a result of Wide Receiver.

For Holder to insist that this is a continuation of that operation is ludicrous.  The oversight of Fast and Furious was non-existent as more and more weapons continued to disappear while agents were directed to look the other way.

But, back to Holder's statement.  Most of those 8,000 documents to which he refers are from operation Wide Receiver - NOT the documents Issa and the committee are looking for.

Next paragraph:
“Unfortunately, Chairman Issa has rejected all of these efforts to reach a reasonable accommodation.  Instead, he has chosen to use his authority to take an extraordinary, unprecedented and entirely unnecessary action, intended to provoke an avoidable conflict between Congress and the Executive Branch.  This divisive action does not help us fix the problems that led to this operation or previous ones and it does nothing to make any of our law enforcement agents safer.  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.  
This is ridiculous and is an attempt to make this whole mess seem like Issa's fault.  He's so unreasonable, he has "rejected all of these efforts to reach a reasonable accommodation."  Reasonable?  Holder has had months, months to produce the requested documents.  When you are under subpoena to produce documents, or discovery, you don't get to just choose the ones you want to turn over.

The "unnecessary action" of a contempt citation could have been avoided if Holder had complied with the subpoena.  Contrary to Holder's assertion that Issa simply wants to "provoke an avoidable conflict between Congress and the Executive Branch," it is Holder who brought that action about by his refusal to comply.  Mr. Holder is not above the law.

Holder asserts that "this divisive action does not help us fix the problems" and he's correct that no justice for Terry's family will come as long as he dithers.

AG Holder suggests that this whole proceeding is an "election-year tactic" meant to distract and embarrass the administration.  I would suggest that Holder is the distraction and embarrassment.  Had he provided the documents requested there would be no contempt proceeding and no need for executive privilege which can only serve to push all this to the front of the mainstream media who, so far, had been doing a pretty good job not reporting on Fast and Furious.

Next paragraph:
“Simply put, any claims that the Justice Department has been unresponsive to requests for information are untrue.  From the beginning, Chairman Issa and certain members of the Committee have made unsubstantiated allegations first, then scrambled for facts to try to justify them later. That might make for good political theater, but it does little to uncover the truth or address the problems associated with this operation and prior ones dating back to the previous Administration. 
What "unsubstantiated allegations" does Holder mean?  Brian Terry's murder?  I don't think that's debatable.  Has anyone denied that the weapon that killed him came from the Fast and Furious operation?

While Holder might think all this is "good political theater" he would be better served to appreciate the seriousness of the situation and the gravity of the proceedings.  As far as doing "little to uncover the truth," well, Holder is doing just fine at keeping the truth covered up, with a little help from his boss.

And he again blames Bush.

“I have spent most of my career in law enforcement and worked closely with brave agents who put their lives on the line every day.  I know the sacrifices they make, so as soon as allegations of gunwalking came to my attention – and well before Chairman Issa expressed any interest in this issue -- I ordered the practice stopped.  I made necessary personnel changes in the Department's leadership and instituted policy changes to ensure better oversight of significant investigations.  And, I directed the Department's Inspector General to open a comprehensive investigation.  That investigation is ongoing, and the American people and Congress can count on it to produce a tough, independent review of the facts. 
He "ordered the practice stopped"?  After how many guns disappeared?  Certainly plenty of them.  As far as what Holder knew and when he knew it, that's almost beside the point.  As head of DOJ the buck stops with him.  Emails and other documents certainly prove that he knew about the operation; the operation was ridiculous to start with.  To let these guns just walk across the border untracked was an exercise in incompetence.

Holder's attempt to have the DOJ investigate itself is too ridiculous to respond to.

“When Chairman Issa later began his own investigation, I made it clear that the Department would cooperate with all appropriate oversight requests, while still adhering to our legal obligations to protect information involving ongoing law enforcement investigations, legally-protected grand jury material and other sensitive information whose disclosure would endanger the American people or our agents investigating open cases.   
AG Holder says here that he "made it clear" that he would cooperate.  So far, he has not.  He can certainly turn over requested documents to the Oversight Committee without endangering the American people or agents.  It would appear that agents had more to worry about from Fast and Furious than from Holder's cooperation in the investigation.

In conclusion Holder says,
“The American people deserve better.  That is why, I will remain focused on, and committed to, the Justice Department’s mission to protect the rights, safety, and best interests of my fellow citizens and to stand by my brave colleagues in law enforcement.” 
 The American people certainly do deserve better.  And if I was in law enforcement and Holder was standing beside me, I'd duck.

Now all we need is the idiots in the media to start screaming racism and the obfuscation is complete.  Oh, wait...

(H/T:  memeorandum)

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