The congressmen who asked Eric Holder to testify on Capitol Hill today should cite the Justice Department for contempt. They expected to cross-examine General Holder and they got Sergeant Schultz.
Holder said he was just as upset as everyone else, and shocked — shocked! — that guns were being trafficked to Mexican drug cartels by his agency. He wanted to get to the bottom of this nefarious activity himself. “Like each of you, I want to know why and how firearms that should have been under surveillance could wind up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels,” he said.
But since Holder heads the department under which Fast and Furious took place, shouldn’t he have been familiar with the operation in the first place? Holder argued, in effect, that he could not be expected to do his job, because it is hard. Holder said “I cannot be expected to know” what happens within the Justice Department nor to be familiar with the contents of memos that are addressed to him or that bear his name. After all, the DoJ employs 117,000 people. (Note to budget cutters: Please lighten Eric Holder’s oversight load, beginning with the EEOC.) That many employees generate a hefty volume of memos that Holder cannot be bothered to read. Besides, this was merely a “local, Arizona-based operation”.
However, when Congressional Republicans showed any interest in helping Holder get to the bottom of this dark mystery, Holder has accused them of playing “gotcha games” and engaging in “cynical political point scoring.” Instead, he said today he wants Republicans to engage in a “responsible dialogue” — the kind that does not lead to his being ejected from the federal government or possibly facing criminal charges for such crimes as perjury.
On May 3, Holder replied he had learned about Fast and Furious “over the last few weeks.” Yet Sen. Chuck Grassley and Congressman Darrell Issa have uncovered no fewer than five memos briefing Holder about Operation Fast and Furious since July 2010. When Cornyn pressed how this squared with his previous statements, Holder replied, “I’m not sure I understand the question.”
Incredibly, Holder used his appearance to push for renewed gun control measures. He said the “flawed investigation” proved “we are losing the battle to stop the flow of illegal guns to Mexico” due to “a lack of effective enforcement tools.” He whined, “Unfortunately, earlier this year the House of Representatives actually voted to keep law enforcement in the dark when individuals purchase multiple semi-automatic rifles and shotguns in Southwest border gun shops.” He added that Congress should “fully fund our request for teams of agents to fight gun trafficking.” Since those AK-47s are being trafficked by their fellow ATF agents, the matter could be resolved at their Christmas party.
In all of his testimony, Holder declined to accept responsibility for any of his department’s actions that resulted in tragedy and death, on both sides of the Mexican border. Gun trafficking, he said, was already out of control; Fast and Furious attempted to stop this by providing narcoterrorists with fresh weapons. He misled Congress about when he learned about the program, but it’s not his fault; they write a lot of memos. Holder even refused to apologize to the family of Brian Terry for the agent’s murder as a result of Operation Fast and Furious, though he manly said, “I certainly regret” the bloodshed of a uniformed civil servant.
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