Eric Holder’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary committee on Tuesday pretty much wiped out any lingering doubts about the true purpose of Operation Fast and Furious. What was once an almost unbelievable conspiracy theory about American guns being pushed into the hands of Mexican drug lords for political purposes, to create a narrative useful for U.S. gun control zealots, is now a matter of Congressional record, as reported in The Hill:
Holder said the Fast and Furious debacle points to the need for a crackdown on illegal arms trafficking.
“We must be careful not to lose sight of the critical problem that this flawed investigation has highlighted: We are losing the battle to stop the flow of illegal guns to Mexico,” Holder said.
“One critical first step should be for congressional leaders to work with us to provide ATF with the resources and statutory tools it needs to be effective.”
Democrats have long pointed to Fast and Furious and the testimony of ATF agents before Congress as evidence that federal law enforcement authorities need more tools to cut down on illegal gun trafficking.
A growing chorus of Democrats could be heard Tuesday also trying to link the debate over Fast and Furious to Wide Receiver, which was run under then-President George W. Bush.
(Emphases mine.) No, our “critical first step” was for the Obama administration to stop selling guns to Mexican drug lords. Then we need to find the people responsible for doing it – from the ATF to the DOJ and the White House – and get them far, far away from law enforcement and national security. The American people are not collectively responsible for the murderous disasters of the Obama Administration. We need to enforce existing laws against people like Holder and his subordinates, not come up with new laws to use against citizens.
Once again, because it cannot be stated often enough: Operation Wide Receiver was indeed a “gun walking” operation from the Bush era, but it was a fraction of the size of Operation Fast and Furious, involved a serious (if botched) effort to actually track the guns, and didn’t feature the broad-based inter-agency cooperation of the Obama gun-walking project. In other words, it was a knucklehead scheme to catch cartel goons with little radio transmitters stuffed awkwardly into guns, not a political operation with a body count designed to manufacture support for gun-control dogma. Also, and most obviously, Wide Receiver ran and failed before the Obama team decided to try the same thing with five times as many guns, and no radio transmitters.
One of the laws that should be applied against Holder is the one against perjury. His “defense” has essentially collapsed into a gamble that Congress won’t dare to prosecute him, even if he brazenly taunts them:
“I first learned about the tactics and the phrase ‘Operation Fast and Furious’ at the beginning of this year — I think when it became a matter of all of this public controversy,” Holder said.
“In my testimony before the House committee, I did say ‘a few weeks.’ I probably could have said ‘a couple of months.’ I don’t think that what I said in terms of using the term ‘a few weeks’ was inaccurate, based on what happened.”
Holder said he couldn’t be expected, as attorney general, to personally oversee the day-to-day details of every single operation conducted by the DOJ. He promised to hold accountable those involved in Fast and Furious’s poor decisionmaking once the IG investigation is completed.
Translation: “Weeks, months, whatever. I don’t know everything that goes on around here anyway, even when it’s getting hundreds of Mexican citizens and American agents killed, and those guns are turning up at crime scenes in American cities.”
Holder’s not the only one at DOJ who might be facing perjury charges in the Fast and Furious case. House Oversight chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) released a statement today pressing Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich for “documents and other information related to a false statement Weich made to Congress regarding gun walking that took place in the reckless gun smuggling investigation known as Operation Fast and Furious.”
On February 4 of this year, Weich told Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) of the Judiciary Committee that “ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico.”
Representative Issa looked up “interdict” in the dictionary, and confirmed that it doesn’t mean “watch straw buyers for Mexican cartels purchase truckloads of guns on closed-circuit TV and do nothing to hinder or pursue them.”
“Evidence gathered during the course of the congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious has shown that this statement was untrue – ATF, in allowing guns to walk, did not make every effort to interdict them and prevent their transfer to Mexico,” said the statement from Issa’s office. “Evidence gathered in the investigation has also shown that senior Justice Department officials knew at the time Weich made his statement in February that it was untrue.”
This led Issa to issue a stern reminder to the Assistant Attorney General:
Mr. Weich, as you are well aware, it is a crime to knowingly make false statements to Congress. As DOJ’s principal liaison to Congress, we rely on you to be straight with the facts. You have not been, and so your credibility on this issue has been seriously eroded. Whether it is the case that you were fed a lie and faithfully repeated it in a letter to Congress, or whether it is the case that you took the initiative to lie to Congress yourself, you are responsible for the contents of letters that bear your signature.
“Responsible” is not a word they like hearing around the Justice Department these days.
The most offensive part of Holder’s Senate testimony was his dismissive attitude toward the family of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was murdered by border-hopping bandits packing Fast and Furious guns. As reported by CBS News, Holder refused to apologize to Terry’s family:
At the session, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) asked Holder if he would “like to apologize today for this program that went so wrong, that took the life of a United States law enforcement agent.”
Holder said, “I certainly regret what happened to agent Brian Terry. It is not fair, however, to assume that the mistakes that happened in ‘Fast and Furious’ directly led to the death of agent Terry.”
Wow. If that principle applies to anyone beyond Obama Administration drones, an awful lot of people are about to be sprung from prison.
Terry’s family has been pressing for more details about his death. They considered Holder’s testimony “evasive”:
Brian Terry’s father, Kent, and his mother, Josie, shared their thoughts on the testimony with Attkisson.
Josie Terry said of Holder, “I thought he was very evasive. I thought that this was his second time around, and I still didn’t get anything out of it — at all. Seems like all the questions that he was asked, he was evading or throwing someone else underneath the bus.”
Kent Terry added, “We’ve heard five different stories, and every time we hear (a new) one, (it) is different. We never got a straight answer.”
[…] Both say they’re still waiting for some official to take responsibility for the gunwalking operation that allegedly trafficked the weapons found at the murder scene.
Josie Terry said, “I couldn’t believe that something like that would happen. I just couldn’t believe that they would let those guns go across the border, and all them other innocent people in Mexico would get killed with those same guns.”
Eric Holder’s testimony might have been evasive, but it made Fast and Furious a lot more “believable.” Every new revelation makes it less plausible as a law-enforcement program… and more perfectly understandable as a political exercise.
We even received this week that a former U.S. attorney leaked sensitive documents to smear whistleblower ATF agent John Dodson. As reported by the Washington Times:
Former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke in Arizona, who resigned in the wake of a congressional probe into the Fast and Furious undercover investigation his office oversaw, has admitted leaking a sensitive document about a federal agent who blew the whistle on the gunrunning operation, according to Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican.
Mr. Grassley, in a statement late Tuesday, said the leaked document was “deemed so sensitive by the Justice Department that it was not provided to Congress, except in a secured room at department headquarters.”
“Leaking sensitive documents to the press and retaliating against whistleblowers is not good faith cooperation with Congress,” Mr. Grassley said.
The memo in question was provided to a reporter looking for “context” about Agent Dodson. Apparently some free bonus “talking points” were included in the deal. Now that’s how you handle hyper-sensitive information in a delicate law enforcement operation with a huge body count! If you’re a Congressional representative with oversight responsibilities, you have to go into a special secured room to have a shot at seeing such documents… but if you’re a friendly reporter writing a piece that will make a Fast and Furious whistleblower look bad, you can swing by Dennis Burke’s place to pick up a copy.
No worries though, because Burke’s attorney assures us he’s a “stand-up guy” who had absolutely no intent “to retaliate against Special Agent Dodson or anyone else for the information they provided Congress.” It is good to have an attorney that thinks highly of you.
If there’s one thing this farce proves, it’s that reporters who call Fast and Furious a “botched” or “failed” operation are speaking prematurely. It’s only a failure if the Democrats don’t get their gun control laws.