Caution: long post….
Attorney General Eric Holder has sent a letter to various Congressional leaders defending his Department of Justice’s mishandling of the “Fast and Furious” operation; you can read it here, originally located through FoxNews, so I’ll just offer some observations about a few of his claims in this post.
The first claim of Mr Holder is early in his letter:
I cannot sit idly by as a Majority Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform suggests, as happened this week, that law enforcement and government employees who devote their lives to protecting our citizens be considered “accessories to murder.”
The “suggestion” was by Rep Paul Gosar (R, AZ), and what he actually said in a telephone interview with The Daily Caller was this:
We’re talking about consequences of criminal activity, where we actually allowed guns to walk into the hands of criminals, where our livelihoods are at risk. When you facilitate that and a murder or a felony occurs, you’re called an accessory. That means that there’s criminal activity.
We impugn the private sector, we impugn main street America, and the bureaucracy cannot be held to any different standard whatsoever.
TheDC summarized other parts of the telephone interview thusly: Congressman Gosar said the government should be held to the same standard as everyone else. Fast and Furious weapons were used to kill U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, as well as scores of Mexican citizens, and he thinks administration officials should be held accountable. Congressman Gosar further told TheDC that Justice Department and ATF officials “intentionally—intentionally—violated the law.”
Congressman Gosar clearly was talking about Mr Holder and his immediate subordinates who ran—and apparently covered up—this botched operation. He was not at all referring to any other “law enforcement and government employees” than himself and his immediate subordinates. Plainly, this is nothing more than Holder’s rank, Alinsky-esque attempt to obfuscate and change the subject.
…in 2011, after the controversy about this matter arose, I took decisive action to ensure that such operations are never again undertaken. First, I referred the matter…to the Department’s [IG]…. Second, I instructed the Deputy Attorney General to reiterate to our prosecutors…that Department policy prohibits…. In addition, new leadership is now in place….
Why did Mr Holder wait until the failure had become public before he took any action? Oh, wait, he’s only the guy in charge; he had no way of knowing the operation even existed, much less was a bungling failure with murderous results.
Oh, and the AG sicced his IG on the matter. That’ll show ’em. And he reiterated policy to his prosecutors. What effect does he expect from this, exactly? If his policy were worth a hoot, or if his authority had any substance, the policy wouldn’t need repetition; it would have been followed in the first place. And he put new leaders into a couple of slots. What has he done about the folks he (can’t quite get around to) hold responsible for their inadequate reporting up the chain? About the leadership who hatched this idea and then, apparently, executed it without any guidance from above? Are they still on the Federal payroll? Are they being investigated for any criminal charges? Mr Holder is oddly silent on this. No, instead he’s actually suggesting that his idle chit chat and Very Stern Finger Shaking is “decisive action.”
Prior to early 2011, I certainly never knew about the tactics employed…and it is my understanding that the former United States Attorney for the District of Arizona and the former Acting Director and Deputy Director of ATF…were unaware of the tactics employed. …they never briefed me or other Department leadership….
How does that work? Are we seriously to believe that these men were as cut out of the loop and isolated as Mr Holder claims to be? Doesn’t his Department have any reporting requirements at all? Aren’t his juniors required to report up the chain what they’re doing, or contemplating doing, in the name of the United States Government an international operation?
On a weekly basis, my office typically receives over a hundred pages of so-called “weekly reports” that, while addressed to me, actually are [read and handled by others]…. Please note that none of these summaries say anything about the unacceptable tactics employed by ATF…. [G]iven the volume of material to which I must devote my attention, I do not and cannot…. As Attorney General, I am not and cannot be familiar with the operational details of any particular investigation being conducted in an ATF field office….
There are so many things wrong here. When I was in the USAF, I had the good fortune to have an assignment that made me the Director of Radar Operations for a Wing in the FRG. In that staff capacity, I was responsible for 19 combat units. In that job, I read an inch thick stack of message traffic twice a day—a bit more than “a hundred pages” a week. I also knew what my units were doing in that international environment, and what relevant sections of those units were doing. And I was just a poor, dumb Air Force Captain, not a high-powered attorney nominally in charge of an entire Federal Government Department. How is it possible that Mr Holder didn’t even know what his ATF was doing? Oh, those reporting “requirements,” and the degree of practical authority this man has. He’s only the guy in charge. Not somebody who matters.
A telling moment in this regard [concerning the Obama administration’s effort to use border gun violence as an excuse to get legislation infringing on Americans’ 2nd Amendment rights]…. Representative Maloney was cut-off in mid-sentence [of an effort to discuss “potential reforms to our laws”] by Chairman Issa, who then “cautioned” the witness that it would not be “valid testimony” to respond to such questions because the Committee was not interested in “proposed legislation and the like[.]”
The Chairman attempted to keep the Committee and the witness focused on its purpose of the hearing. How petty and irrelevant a beef is this?
Finally, I have a few questions. Where was the Department of State in this cross-border operation? With whom did Mr Holder coordinate in the Department of State on this operation? Which of Mr Holder’s subordinates coordinated with State, and with whom in State did they coordinate? What were the outcomes of those coordination activities?
And why, since Mr Holder was listening to Congressman Gosar so assiduously, did Mr Holder choose to ignore Congressman Gosar’s question of State’s involvement in this international operation? Or was this, in fact, another task passed off to a junior, who then decided for Mr Holder that the matter wasn’t important enough to trouble the busy man with?
I also have a question for Secretary Clinton: why is the State Department so silent on this international operation, especially now that is so blindly public?
If Mr Holder really is as ignorant of the activities of his Department as he claims himself to be, his incompetence is breathtaking. He owes it to those who serve in the ranks of law enforcement for whom he bleeds so much to stop sullying their good names and their reputations with his presence. He owes it to the American people which his Department serves to desist from so steadfastly misleading us. He owes to all of us to resign.
Update: Updated the link to AG Holder’s letter to go directly to a .pdf of the letter and not to FoxNews’ display of the letter. FoxNews remains the source through which I located the letter.