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The PJ Tatler

by
Patrick Richardson

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February 3, 2012 - 11:14 am

There were few surprises during yesterday’s Operation Fast and Furious Hearing. Attorney General Eric Holder repeatedly refused to give straight answers and called for more gun control as the Democrats on the Committee did there best to defend what may be the most incompetent man ever to sit in the AG’s office.

One interesting exchange came between House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa and Holder over wiretap applications which had been leaked to Issa’s investigators.

Holder got a bit worked up:

To the extent that those wiretap applications have been shared … If I find, if I find that someone in the United States Department of Justice has shared the contents of wiretap applications that is something that will have to be looked at … Anyone who reads or submits that information for people to look at does so at their peril.

Issa noted members of Congress were not subject to the court order which sealed the applications in question and not only that, but that whistle blowers were automatically protected.

Holder disagreed and appeared to be threatening Issa with criminal charges:

You act at your peril if you think that’s the truth.

It was a rough day overall for Holder, who was repeatedly savaged by Republican lawmakers incensed by Holder’s reaction to the failed operation which allowed at least 1,500 military-style weapons into the hands of the Mexican cartels — some reports have the number as high as 2,500 — and caused the deaths of hundreds of Mexican nationals and American Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

Rep.  Ann Marie Buerkle, (R-NY), hammered Holder on the subject of being held accountable for the debacle:

I would suggest the president has been eerily quiet in coming to your defense (on Fast and Furious). How many more border ptrol agents would have had to die for you to take responsiblity?”

Holder sat silent for a moment, and according to sources in the hearing, several minority members told him not to answer, before attempting to defend his tenure as AG, he finished by saying:

That question, respectfully, is beneath a member of Congress.

Rep. Dan Burton, (R-Ind.) also blasted Holder for his refusal to turn over documents relating to the case, noting he was in Congress when Holder was Deputy AG under Janet Reno and the DoJ had been forced to hand over documents before:

You said … today there’s certain documents you will not give us because of the separation of powers. Now we’ve been down that road before and we got them. We had to threaten a contempt citation, but we got the documents. I think you’re hiding behind something that will not stand so you ought to give us the documents. The conclusion I come to is there’s something in there you don’t want us to see. I would urge the chair to move a contempt citation against you if you don’t give the documents to us.

Overall it was just not a good day for Holder who once again looked like a hands-off manager who doesn’t know what’s going on within his own department and doesn’t talk to other departments, either.

He had said to Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), that he had not had explicit conversations about Fast and Furious with either Director of Homeland security Janet Napolitano or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton because “people don’t want to get dragged in front of Congress,” and that he’d only had passing conversations with the president on the subject about the fact of his testimony.

Chaffetz was … unimpressed:

1,500 weapons, 300 dead in Mexico, a dead United States Agent, we’ve had untold numbers of hearing and discussions and press reports and yet you have the people at the highest levels of the government saying “well we don’t talk to each other because our people don’t tell us information because we’ve got to remain ignorant because we’re going to have to testify and they don’t want to get involved. And at the same time you’re telling us they’re interfacing with the state department on a regular bases and the state department … is telling us it isn’t happening and Janet Napolitano is saying the very same things and Department of Homeland Security.

If we’re going to solve this problem, make sure it never happens again, we have to solve these challenges and I have no confidence that you’ve addressed it or offered anything to solve it.

Indeed 13 months after the allegations of gunwalking came to light, no one has lost their job at DoJ. Nor does it currently appear anyone will actually be held accountable. Of course the $25 million lawsuit Terry’s family is threatening may break something loose.

Patrick Richardson has been a journalist for almost 15 years and an inveterate geek all his life. He blogs regularly at www.otherwheregazette.com, which aims to be like another SF magazine, just not so serious.
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