Contempt for the rule of law
Contempt for Rule of Law
"Let justice be done though the heavens should fall." --John Adams
Since at least April, the economic "recovery," such as it was, has nearly ground to a halt. But Barack Obama doesn't want to talk about that. Instead, his politically adept administration is working overtime to come up with as many distractions as possible to keep voters' minds off of the economy. Caveat emptor. Such is the backdrop for this week's events, albeit with a scandal that is far more than mere distraction.
From 2009 to 2011, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) ran Operation Fast and Furious (a.k.a. Project Gunrunner), ostensibly a program to track U.S.-purchased firearms headed to Mexican drug cartels. Our readers know the history well -- thousands of guns "walked" across the border, and hundreds of lives were lost. The real purpose, of course, was to undermine the Second Amendment by vilifying gun owners and sellers, followed by instituting tougher gun control.
While most of the Leftmedia did their best to ignore the story, recent events forced even the networks to grudgingly acknowledge it as an issue worth coverage. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted 23-17 along party lines Wednesday to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for his lies, inconsistencies and lack of cooperation during the investigation of Fast and Furious. The whole House will vote next week on the matter, and a contempt citation could lead to a civil lawsuit since Holder obviously wouldn't pursue a suit with a U.S. attorney. Holder called the contempt vote "unwarranted, unnecessary and unprecedented," a characterization that better describes Fast and Furious itself.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House committee, requested that the Justice Department release thousands of documents related to the inner workings of Fast and Furious, including details about the deaths of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata at the hands of murderers wielding weapons obtained through the ill-conceived operation. DoJ released some 7,000 documents to date, but that's a fraction of what Issa requested, and most of the paperwork handed over is only tangentially related to what the committee is seeking.
On Feb. 4, 2011, the Justice Department sent a letter to Congress denying the operation even existed. Ten months later, Justice retracted the letter. Holder insisted that the buck stopped with him, and he halted the program when he became aware of it. This week, Holder claimed that former Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey knew about it, which is impossible given that it didn't begin until after the Obama administration took office. Challenged on this, Holder retracted his claim, though White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who couldn't remember Agent Terry's name, made the same absurd claim Thursday.
Then the administration moved to solidify its stone wall. Knowing full well the political consequences, Barack Obama claimed executive privilege, theoretically putting the documents out of Congress's reach, and escalating the not-the-economy debate. By claiming executive privilege, the president is implicitly admitting his own knowledge of or involvement in Fast and Furious, even though he has heretofore disavowed any advance knowledge. How then can executive privilege apply to something with no White House involvement? Either Obama was involved or he's making the bizarre claim that the Justice Department, which was not created by the Constitution but by Congress, is not, in fact, accountable to Congress.
Obama is overreaching, and his actions highlight his hypocrisy. As a senator in 2007 criticizing George W. Bush's White House, Obama expressed the view that executive privilege is really just a tool presidents use to hide inconvenient truths that they don't want to face. In fact, in seeking the cover of executive privilege from Obama, Holder cited Bush administration arguments regarding the firing of several U.S. attorneys -- the very episode Obama criticized in 2007, though in reality completely different from the one at hand.
Nevertheless, the facts here are so inconvenient as to merit Obama's spending his own political capital to bail out Holder and the Justice Department. Or worse, Obama is bailing himself out. Surely, Hispanic voters wouldn't take kindly to an Obama program that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Hispanics.
The bottom line, however, is that the crimes committed are far worse than the stonewalling and cover-up. Fast and Furious was a deadly disaster in conception and execution, and the White House and Justice Department must be held accountable.
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