Fast and Furious: Eric Holder’s bizarre House Judiciary testimony

Attorney General Eric Holder attended hearings into Operation Fast and Furious by the House Judiciary committee on Thursday.  His testimony brought one major breakthrough: it turns out he doesn’t hate David Axelrod’s guts after all.  There have been accounts that Holder nearly came to blows with President Obama’s top political advisor, but Holder told House Judiciary they have a “great relationship,” and he doesn’t think Axelrod has ever “done anything that I would consider inappropriate.”

Whew!  Glad we got that out of the way!  In other news, U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry is still dead because of Operation Fast and Furious.  The Attorney General still maintains he and his top deputies didn’t know anything, can’t remember anything, and have no intention of complying with lawful subpoenas from Congress.  Holder acknowledges that he’s only turned over 7,600 of the 140,000 Fast and Furious documents he’s sitting on, and that’s about as good as it’s going to get.

This did not sit well with the clearly exasperated Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who is chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and the lead House investigator into Operatin Fast and Furious.  “You’re not a good witness,” Issa snapped at one point, when Holder made one of his periodic efforts to pretend that coughing up five percent of the required material constitutes fulfillment of his subpoenas.  “A good witness answers the question that was asked.”

How about those wiretap applications, smuggled out of Justice by a whistleblower, which prove beyond question that Holder’s inner circle was well aware of “gun walking” tactics, long before Agent Terry’s death?  Well, according to the Attorney General, that’s all George Bush’s fault.

Holder claimed that high officials in his department don’t review wiretap applications before signing them – they skim over brief summaries and ignore details not directly related to the request for electronic surveillance.  You know, little peripheral matters like the ATF losing hundreds of guns to Mexican drug cartel hit men.  “They do not look at the affidavits to see, if in fact… to review all that is engaged… all that is involved in the operation,” the Attorney General explained.

For his part, now that Issa and his whistleblowers have kindly brought the wiretap applications to his attention, Holder has read them in full.  “I have read those, and I have read Wide Receiver as well,” he said, referring to the vastly smaller Bush-era gun walking program.  “I can say that what has happened in connection with Fast and Furious was done in the same way… wiretap applications were done in the same way under the previous Administration in Wide Receiver.”

Asked when the White House was made aware of the gun walking tactics employed by Operation Fast and Furious, Holder essentially said his staffers briefed the White House but didn’t brief him, so he doesn’t know what anybody said, or when they said it.  He allegedly still hasn’t found the time to gather “specifics” about the case, even though he easily made the time to conduct a political seminar for black preachers recently.  When Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) demanded to know who authorized Fast and Furious, Holder referred him to the eternally “in progress” internal Justice Department investigation, which is apparently being conducted by Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.  He even said he doesn’t know how many guns have been recovered, or even more appalling, how many are still missing.

Holder also complained about having to keep giving the same non-answers to investigative committees eight times now, moaned about how he feels under “attack,” and of course slipped in a call for more gun-control legislation.

Unbelievably, while he was being read an email from Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein that discussed “gun walking” by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Holder said it was actually about the Bush-era Operation Wide Receiver… even though the email actually referred, verbatim, to Fast and Furious.

An astonished Chaffetz said, “The email says Fast and Furious, you say it doesn’t.  I’ve got it in black and white.”

“I have superior knowledge,” was Holder’s ultimate response.

There is no question this nonsense would be yielding 24-hour wall-to-wall news coverage from hyperventilating anchors if Holder was a Republican attorney general.  He’d already be a staple of late-night comedy routines.  Instead, expect a total media blackout of this incredible hearing.

House Democrats, especially Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas, were happy to aid Holder in covering up his malfeasance by interrupting legitimate questions from the serious members of Congress, in an obvious bid to run out the clock on the Judiciary hearings.  It was rather like watching a group of little kids squabble over the rules of a softball game.  Except that several hundred people have already been killed by this particular game, so it sure isn’t “softball.”

It is simply impossible to watch this testimony without concluding that Eric Holder is either a dangerous incompetent, or a liar.  If what he says is true, his removal from the Justice Department would cause nary a ripple – he’s so disconnected from vital operations that nobody would even notice he was gone.  Otherwise, he should be up on charges, most definitely beginning with contempt of Congress.