Fast and Furious: who are the most contemptible?
Yesterday the House of Representatives cited Eric Holder, the
Attorney General, for contempt of Congress. They did this because he
refuses to let them see critical documents about Operation Fast and
Furious. This should have surprised no one. Republicans had the votes,
and even some Democrats agreed with them. But as contemptible as Eric
Holder has been, most House Democrats behaved even worse. They poured
contempt on themselves, the House, the memory of a dead federal agent,
and on the people’s liberties.
Fast and Furious Votes
The House voted twice to cite Holder, first for criminal contempt,
second for civil. This was no frivolous exercise. Technically, Rep.
Darrell Issa (R-CA) accuses Holder of a criminal act: withholding
information from Congress, information that he ought to let them see.
But Congress usually refers criminal contempt cases to the United States
Attorney for the District of Columbia. Eric Holder is that man’s boss.
He isn’t likely to investigate very far.
So in addition, the House cited him civilly as well. That lets the
House hire its own lawyer and take Holder before a judge. Now a judge
would ask to see the documents that Holder won’t show. If Holder doesn’t
show them to the judge, now he’s in contempt of court. If he
does, then maybe the American people will learn how much he knew about
Operation Fast and Furious while it went down, and how much he knew before and after Agent Brian Terry died in the line of duty.
Before the first vote took place, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) moved
to reprimand Chairman Issa. She said he has run a partisan
investigation and a “witch hunt.” The House voted her down. Democrats
then tried to refer the matter back to the House Oversight Committee;
the House voted that down, too.
To no one’s surprise, Republicans (all but two) voted
to cite Holder both times, and they had the votes alone. But rumors,
even before the votes, had several Democrats breaking ranks to vote to
cite Holder also. Break ranks they did, at least seventeen of them.
That’s when most of the House Democratic Caucus did the contemptible
thing. 110 of them got up and walked out of the House chamber.
Democrats apologize for Holder and Fast and Furious
The Congressional Black Caucus threatened
to do this the day before. When they did, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic
Floor Leader, joined them. (Sixty-five Democrats stayed in the chamber
to cast “No” votes.) Outside, on the Capitol steps, Pelosi said:
Just when you think you have seen it all. Just when you
think they couldn’t possibly go any further over the edge, they come up
with something like this. What is happening here is shameful.
Pelosi seemed to have forgotten what the vote was all about:
Operation Fast and Furious, the thousands of guns that “walked” during
that operation, the deaths of two federal agents and 200 Mexican
nationals, and even Agent Terry’s name. (She probably needn’t feel too bad; White House Press Secretary Jay Carney couldn’t remember that name, either.)
Again to no one’s surprise, the White House condemned the contempt votes, too. The White House said several things, some obviously contrary to fact:
- Operation Fast and Furious was nothing new; George W. Bush “walked”
guns, too. (Not true. In the Bush days, the ATF bureau tracked those
guns. Eric Holder’s ATF tracked almost none of them.)
- Eric Holder stopped guns from walking. (He did, only after it started on this watch. Issa is trying to find out whether it started on Holder’s orders.)
- Republicans prefer “political theater” to oversight. (This drama is
political because it concerns a political question: should private
citizens own or carry guns, or not? Eric Holder is on record saying that
“we”—and who’s “we”?—have to “brainwash” people against guns.)
The White House seems to think that Chairman Issa’s goal is to bring
down the (putative) President himself. Issa has a much larger goal: to
find out how this government let gangsters get their hands on two automatic rifles and use them to kill two US LEOs and 200 Mexican civilians. And Issa should
seek to protect the Second Amendment against a putative President and
an Attorney General who want to abrogate it. And considering the kind of
Supreme Court we now have, that would be ridiculously easy. (Slap an
annual tax on every gun owner. Did not Chief Justice John Roberts say
that the power to tax has no limit?) Easy, that is, if the Democrats
controlled the House. They do not.
And that is the real reason why anyone in Congress is
investigating Operation Fast and Furious. In 2010, Republicans won
control of the House. Had this not happened, Ranking Member Elijah
Cummings (D-MD), as Chairman at Oversight, would have accepted Eric
Holder’s first letter saying that no such operation as Fast and Furious
exists or existed. That would have been the end of it. But that letter
wasn’t true. Holder had to take it back. That’s what those documents that Issa is after, are all about:
- Why did Holder say that no such operation as Fast and Furious exists or existed, when it did?
- When did he find out that Operation Fast and Furious did exist, and was as bad as Issa said?
And what does Nancy Pelosi (and Holder, too) mean by accusing
Republicans of “putting politics ahead of public safety”?
three votes she cast. Those votes clearly show that she favors “gun
control.” The Pennsylvania Firearms Owners’ Association has more on her wants: stopping guns from crossing State lines, and a national gun registry. So when she speaks of public safety,
mightn’t she be talking about gun control? She is not on record as
saying this out loud, but nearly everyone in or out of Washington, DC
knows what she thinks. And that is: that no person, except a
law-enforcement officer, a military service member, or an official
bodyguard, ought ever to carry a gun.
But today, Holder surely knows that he and his friends have failed
completely to “brainwash people against guns.” After all, his boss is
“the best gun salesman in America today.” So he does not dare raise the real issue at the heart of Fast and Furious. And if he raised it confidentially with his boss,
the boss (i.e. Barack Obama) wouldn’t care to raise it, either, or have
anyone else raise it. Hence the claim of “executive privilege,” and
Holder’s consistent withholding of information.
What say you?
Who were the most contemptible players here? Holder? Obama? Pelosi? Issa? House Democrats? House Republicans? Everybody?
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