U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has come under fire this week: evidence revealed he either ignored weekly reports in the summer of 2010 that discussed Operation Fast and Furious, or he committed perjury when he claimed he first found out about the program in early 2011. The former suggests incompetence, the later criminality — either would be legitimate reasons to see him removed from office.
Despite recent developments, the Department of Justice is publicly pushing back in favor of their boss, even as a key source claims career employees’ morale is at an all time low and that “Stalinesque complete control” over internal communications has been implemented to squelch leaks.
The White House is also publicly standing up for Holder, with President Obama providing unqualified support:
“He’s indicated that he was not aware of what was happening in Fast and Furious,” the president said in support of Holder, speaking at a White House news conference Thursday. “Certainly I was not. And I think both he and I would have been very unhappy if somebody had suggested that guns were allowed to pass through that could have been prevented by the United States of America.”
The President also touted the DOJ inspector general’s investigation of the scandal. He did not note that Cynthia A. Schnedar is an acting inspector general who has already been accused of using her office to obstruct the House Oversight Committee’s investigation, and who works for an administration that tends to fire inspector generals that do not report what the administration would like to hear.
However, it seems that the Obama administration’s allies are falling silent in regards to Holder, Obama, Fast and Furious, and allegations of other gunwalking programs.
When the story first broke early in 2011, Democratic lawmakers and leftist gun-control groups rallied to the administration’s defense, and they still provided support through midsummer. Paul Helmke of the Brady Campaign wrote a typical screed of the type on June 29, attempting to blame Republicans for the plot:
If California Rep. Darrell Issa and other congressional members who are in lock-step with the NRA bosses want to get to the bottom of the ATF gun trafficking operation, they need to start looking at their own actions and lack of action. By blocking and loosening laws to prevent gun violence they, too, are culpable in ATF’s “Fast and Furious” apparent debacle.
This poorly executed operation had agents skulking around gun shops to watch and possibly document numerous illegal firearms sales in Arizona. The unstopped gun runners then resold about 2,000 assault weapons to violent Mexican drug cartels. Further tragedy unfolded when two of the guns were found at the murder scene of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010.
Helmke would later testify at a dog and pony show organized by Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings that sought to be a rhetorical counter against Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa’s congressional investigation. Cummings and a handful of fellow Democrats then tried in July to use Operation Fast and Furious as an excuse to call for more gun control. This also fell flat.
Since that last effort the administration’s allies have fallen silent.
New York Democrat Carolyn B. Maloney hasn’t said a word about Operation Fast and Furious since she supported the doomed “Stop Gun Trafficking and Strengthen Law Enforcement Act” in mid-July. Neither has her even more zealously anti-gun collegue Carolyn McCarthy.
As pressure has increased on the administration this week, the silence from House Democrats has been deafening. And like House Democrats, Senate Democrats are quietly abandoning the White House and attorney general.
Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein have consistently pushed for gun control throughout their Senate careers. Along with Rhode Island Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, they fabricated a report in June that supported the administration with a walked-back version of the 90-percent lie.
Schumer in particular has been a strong ally of the president, and yet he has also been silent on Operation Fast and Furious.
How many major political scandals have there been in recent memory where an entire political party fell silent for months at a time — and how should we interpret that silence?
Democratic senators and representatives may feel they have nothing to gain by speaking out on behalf of the gunwalking scandals. It would be a logical position to adopt if they’re assuming that Operation Fast and Furious is a serious political liability.
Regardless of the specific reason, the Obama administration’s usual allies of gun-control groups and Democratic members of the House and Senate seem to have abandoned the executive branch to sink or swim on its own.