Fast and Furious: did Obama commit treason?
Last week, Chairman Darrell Issa of the House Oversight Committee
warned Attorney General Eric Holder that his committee was about to hold
him in contempt of Congress.
No, Mr. Attorney General. You are not a good witness. A good witness answers the questions asked of him. Now I ask you again…
The above was just a sample of what Issa and his colleagues gave Holder, the last time he sat before them.
So on Monday, Holder made a last-minute offer. He would meet Issa in
private and go over what documents he had about Operation Fast and
Furious, and why any of them were too sensitive for Holder to hand over.
Holder and Issa did meet yesterday afternoon at 5:00. Issa came away
angry and adamant about holding a hearing, or “markup,” about Holder and
his attitude. He told reporters that Holder had offered him nothing but
empty promises. Worse, he demanded that Issa not ask for any more
documents after the so-called “briefing.” In holding his “markup,” Issa
faithfully followed this “user’s manual on contempt of Congress.”
The “markup” began at 10:00 a.m. today. And then the putative President said something that changed everything.
Before today, Holder always said that the papers Issa wanted would
breach “deliberative privilege.” That is close to the traditional
professional-client privilege, that protects all that passes between a
professional (like a lawyer or a doctor) and his client. In this case,
Holder was saying that the papers touched on sensitive things that
passed between him and his own advisers.
But today Barack Obama said that the papers broke executive privilege. According to CNN, that claim came in a letter from Deputy Attorney General James Cole to the committee. (See also this report in The Washington Post. Note the headline: the Post, for the first time, called Fast and Furious a “scandal.”)
Executive privilege protects certain matters that pass between the President and his
advisers. It applies when those matters involve protecting the United
States against invasion, infiltration, or other such danger.
That claim hit official Washington like a thunder-clap. The reason: Obama has never admitted that he knew anything about Fast and Furious until he started reading about it in the newspapers. But Issa wants documents of things that happened before the mainstream media started to cover Fast and Furious.
Fast and Furious background
Operation Fast and Furious grew out of Project Gunrunner. In it, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) ordered
gun dealers to let known gangsters buy guns for the gang, and not
report them through the usual channels. ATF’s field office in Phoenix,
AZ, told those dealers that they would trace those guns to the
gangsters, and Mexican authorities would arrest the gangsters, and get
the guns back, in Mexico. This did not happen. Then on December 10,
2010, Border Control Agent Brian Terry died in the line of duty. Authorities recovered two or three guns at the scene that were part of Fast and Furious.
In February of 2011, AG Holder said that ATF had never sat and
watched gangsters buy guns in this country and carry them back to
Mexico. But later in the year, Holder had to take that back.
(Today, Holder had to take something else back. Last week he
petulantly told Issa’s committee that the Bush administration had let
guns “walk,” too, in Operation Wide Receiver. A receiver is the
main body of any gun, that one attaches the stock, barrel, scope, and
other moving parts to; hence the name. Today Holder sheepishly admitted
that Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious were not the same, or even
Darrell Issa took over as Chairman of Oversight and Reform in January
of 2011. He started investigating Fast and Furious almost at once.
Today, at about 4:30 p.m., the committee took its vote. By an almost party-line vote of 23 to 17, with no member abstaining, the House Oversight Committee cited Holder for contempt of Congress. Issa will refer this matter to the full House of Representatives.
But Obama's executive privilege announcement bewilders some, and angers many others. The talking heads compared Obama to Nixon. But Obama has gone further than Nixon ever dared. He puts "throw-down" weapons in another country. A man dies. And now he is covering up for everyone involved, including just possibly himself.
What say you?
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