You can tell Attorney General Eric Holder is getting nervous about the Gun Walker investigation, because he’s sounding mighty defensive about it. Fox News reports:
On Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder said for the first time that not only he but also other higher-ups at the Justice Department were not aware of the operation as it was being carried out. Holder also suggested politics could be a driving force behind Republican lawmakers’ forceful inquiries into the matter.
“The notion that somehow or other this thing reaches into the upper levels of the Justice Department is something that. … I don’t think is supported by the facts,” Holder told reporters at an unrelated press conference in Washington. “It’s kind of something I think certain members of Congress would like to see, the notion that somehow or other high-level people in the department were involved. As I said, I don’t think that is going to be shown to be the case — which doesn’t mean that the mistakes were not serious.”
That’s one of those weird, plausibly deniable denials that signals extreme distress among the Washington herd. “I don’t think the notion is supported by the facts” is a far cry from “I absolutely deny that absurd allegation.” Spinning it as a political witch hunt would work better if Holder hadn’t spent so much time stonewalling the investigation. When House Oversight finally pries something out of him with a subpoena, the pages are so heavily redacted with black marker that they look like supermarket bar codes.
As House Oversight chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) pointed out, Holder’s “Sergeant Schultz” defense amounts to deflecting accusations of malevolence by claiming incompetence:
Holder has said repeatedly he was not aware of the operation as it was unfolding, and others have said no one at the Justice Department in Washington was informed of it, but Issa insists Holder at least “should have known.”
“I believe it was his obligation to know, ” Issa told Fox News in June. “The fact that there was a ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy in Eric Holder’s office is to say really he wasn’t doing his job.”
Holder, however, noted he leads a massive department with all sorts of functions and obligations
“There are an awful lot of things that go on in the Justice Department,” he said. “There’s Operation Fast and Furious, [and] I’m sure there’s Operation ‘Fill In The Blank’ going on right now that the people here in the department are not aware of.”
Gosh, that’s comforting. I sure hope Operation Fill-In-the-Blank doesn’t involve arming violent Mexican drug cartels with American weapons!
The operation Holder is claiming sweet ignorance of, Operation Fast and Furious, was a massive exercise that involved not only the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, but also significant involvement from the FBI, which had to over-ride the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to allow Fast and Furious gun sales to go forward. Also, some of the cartel figures involved in Fast and Furious were paid FBI informants.
The “Gunrunner” project was a $10 million line item in the Obama “stimulus” plan. We’ve now learned that one of President Obama’s special assistants, Dan Restrepo, was very much in the loop on Operation Fast and Furious. The Justice Department has found it necessary to begin routing Fast and Furious cases to prosecutors outside of Arizona.
But Holder wants us to believe he knew nothing about all this… and yet is somehow still qualified to keep his job? He still wants us to believe all of this was arranged and executed by now-reassigned Acting ATF Director Ken Melson and a couple of knuckleheads at the Phoenix ATF office? Hey, we got a lot of operations running around here. Some of them kill a hundred and fifty Mexicans, plus U.S. Border Patrol and ICE agents. Don’t point fingers at me – I’m the only person in the Obama Administration who isn’t into micro-management!
Issa appeared on Fox News with Megyn Kelly yesterday to deliver a Fast and Furious update, and offer some thoughts on the Justice Department’s adventures with walking hand grenades into Mexico:
“Yes, it’s important to rack up the higher rankings, but you can’t do it over the bodies of dead Mexicans, or dead Americans,” Issa said, referring to the Gun Walker theory of following weapons until they implicated big cartel figures – a theory that seems to have been very rarely put into practice, since efforts to actually trace the Gun Walker weapons were virtually nonexistent.
Issa made it clear he’s not satisfied with the lower-level resignations and reassignments his investigation has produced thus far. He’s determined to track down every component of a failed system. That’s why the Attorney General is trying to defend himself by claiming he had no idea the system even existed.