June 18, 2012 4:00 A.M.
Will Holder’s Politicking Finally End?
Facing contempt charges, the attorney general agrees to “negotiate.”
By John Fund
The Washington Post just bestowed its “Worst Week in Washington” award on Attorney General Eric Holder, and it’s not hard to see why.
Over the weekend, Senator Joe Lieberman, who caucuses with the Democrats, clearly expressed his lack of confidence in Holder by calling for a special counsel who is independent of the Justice Department to investigate serious leaks of national-security documents. Someone near the president is leaking classified information, and both Democrats and Republicans seem determined to find out who.
But the real blow came last week, when Holder’s carefully constructed stone walls against House investigators started to crumble.
Representative Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, announced he would initiate contempt-of-Congress proceedings against Holder for not turning over documents related to the committee’s probe of the Fast and Furious gunwalking scandal at Justice. Issa says that more 200 Mexicans and a U.S. Border Patrol agent were murdered with weapons that the U.S. government allowed to be sold to Mexican drug cartels as part of a probe into gun smuggling.
“The Justice Department is out of excuses,” House Speaker John Boehner said in support of Issa’s move. “Either the Justice Department turns over the information requested, or Congress will have no choice but to move forward with holding the attorney general in contempt for obstructing an ongoing investigation.”
The Justice Department dismissed Issa’s complaints, saying he was “playing political games.” By Friday, though, Holder said he was willing to sit down and negotiate to avoid what he dramatically called “a constitutional crisis.” For his part, Issa said he was willing to delay the contempt vote set for this Wednesday if Justice turns over a large chunk of the documents he has requested. But Issa says he will not back down until he gets to the bottom of Fast and Furious.
Holder’s sudden flexibility after 15 months of evasive maneuvers has two origins. First, sources inside Justice gave Issa a valuable leak last week: six wiretap applications used as part of Fast and Furious. Together, they provide evidence that higher-ups at Justice knew about and approved Fast and Furious, contrary to Holder’s assurances.
During an interview with me in New York last week, Issa pointed out that 31 House Democrats wrote a letter to Holder last year asking for more documents on Fast and Furious. The new revelations have shaken many of those Democrats, and Issa believes, based on a whip count, that many Democrats would ultimately back a contempt-of-Congress motion against Holder. This turnabout by Democrats is the second reason Holder is now promising cooperation. Until now, Holder wanted to wait for Justice’s inspector general to complete his own look at Fast and Furious before turning over more documents to Congress. But that investigation has been under way for 15 months, and there are no signs it will wrap up soon.
Issa’s patience is exhausted. “This is like Iran-contra, like Watergate, and other embarrassments over the years,” he told me. “The major embarrassment is the delay in being honest and open about it.”
The pattern of delay and denial is a familiar one, Issa says. “If you translate the double talk we get [from Justice], it amounts to ‘We will tell you what you need to know to know that we are right,’” he says. “What is the definition of propaganda?”
Attorney General Holder clearly helps President Obama in several ways. His brazen stonewalling of investigations certainly helps Obama postpone any final revelations until after the November elections. His department’s blatant refusal to enforce federal law requiring states to clean up their inaccurate voter-registration records, combined with DOJ lawsuits against state voter-ID laws, must bring smiles to any ACORN-like groups contemplating electoral mischief this fall. Finally, his attempt to contain and effectively delay any probe of the national-security leaks may outrage members of the intelligence community, but the perpetrators of those leaks surely must welcome Holder’s tactics.
With this record, Eric Holder has become, to paraphrase Gilbert and Sullivan, the very model of a modern attorney general — thoroughly political. It’s just too bad that such no-holds-barred partisanship has so little to do with real duties of the attorney general: upholding the rule of law, the Constitution, and standards of conduct other attorneys in government are expected to adhere to.
— John Fund is national-affairs columnist for NRO.
Border Patrol group calls for Holder’s resignation
By Jerry Seper The Washington Times Monday, June 18, 2012
The National Border Patrol Council, which represents all 17,000 of the agency’s nonsupervisory agents, called Monday for the resignation of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. for his role in the botched “Fast and Furious” gunrunning operation that resulted in the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
Council President George E. McCubbin III, a 25-year Border Patrol veteran, described Mr. Holder’s actions in the case as “a slap in the face to all Border Patrol agents who serve this country,” adding that the attorney general showed “an utter failure of leadership at the highest levels of government.”
Two semi-automatic AK-47 assault weapons found at the scene of the Dec. 15, 2010, killing of Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry were traced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to “straw buyers” who bought the weapons as part of the Fast and Furious investigation.
The agent died during a gunfight with heavily-armed Mexican bandits along the U.S.-Mexico border south of Tucson, Ariz.
More than 2,000 weapons purchased during the ATF-led Fast and Furious operation were “walked” to drug smugglers in Mexico. More than 600 of them still are missing.
Mr. McCubbin said Border Patrol agents are indoctrinated from day one of their training that “integrity is their most important trait and that without it, they have little use to the agency.” He said agents who lie or show a lack of candor are disciplined quickly.
“The standard that applies to these agents should at a minimum be applied to those who lead them,” Mr. McCubbin said. “If Eric Holder were a Border Patrol agent and not the attorney general, he would have long ago been found unsuitable for government employment and terminated.”
“The heroism that Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry demonstrated on that cold night in the desert of Arizona was in keeping with the finest traditions of the United States Border Patrol and will never be forgotten by those who patrol this nation’s borders,” he said.
“We cannot allow our agents to be sacrificed for no gain and not hold accountable those who approved the ill-conceived Operation Fast and Furious,” he said.
Mr. McCubbin said the “political shenanigans” surrounding Fast and Furious and the “passing the blame” must stop.
He noted that a Border Patrol agent cannot accidentally step foot in Mexico without a myriad of U.S. and Mexican government agencies being made aware, so there would have been no possible way that Fast and Furious was conducted without the knowledge and tacit approval of the Justice Department and the Obama administration.
“It is time for Attorney General Holder to show the least shred of responsibility and leadership and resign his post,” Mr. McCubbin said. “Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry deserves nothing less.”
Last week, Mr. Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee he had “no intention” of resigning, adding that he heard the White House press officer say the president has “absolute confidence in me.”
His defiance came after Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican and a senior committee member, called on him to quit, saying Mr. Holder had failed “the basic standards of political independence and accountability” in determining who knew about or approved the “walking” of guns into Mexico.
“Americans deserve an attorney general who will be honest with them,” Mr. Cornyn said.