BURTON: Fast and Furious stonewalling looks like guilt – Washington Times

BURTON: Fast and Furious stonewalling looks like guilt – Washington Times.

Congress will persist until truth is uncovered

By Rep. Dan Burton

The Fast and Furious investigation has reached its 17th month, and it’s obvious it has taken on a life of its own. Stonewalling and misdirection from the executive branch in response to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s investigation not only raise suspicions and make a mockery of the idea of due process but also minimize the death of a patriot who served his country valiantly.

I wish I could say the actions of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., his Justice Department and the president were unprecedented, but history proves otherwise. In 1998, while serving as chairman of the House oversight committee, I held a vote recommending contempt for then-Attorney General Janet Reno for her failure to comply with a subpoena issued in connection with the committee’s investigation into campaign finance law violations. Although the committee voted to hold Ms. Reno in contempt, a resolution of contempt of Congress was never voted on by the full House of Representatives. Despite the different outcomes, the parallels between then and now are very similar. In both instances, the accused misled the committee and feigned ignorance throughout the entire investigation. These are not actions commonly attributed to persons with nothing to hide.

Unfortunately, Mr. Holder’s Justice Department and the administration chose a course of action that forced Congress‘ hand. The inability to find closure regarding this congressional investigation rests solely on the executive branch’s determination to obstruct it. This kind of disregard for congressional oversight and the duties of his office must not stand. I am a firm believer in the relevance of the old detective’s query, “What did he know and when did he know it?” Unfortunately, the answers to these simple questions remain unknown to the American people. But when one takes into account the facts that the committee has brought to light, it becomes very clear that the executive branch looks guilty of hiding the truth.

In 2009, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) implemented an operation that allowed criminal suspects to walk away with illegally purchased guns. The purpose was to wait and watch in the hope law enforcement could identify members of a trafficking network and build a large, complex conspiracy case. Tragically, about 2,000 weapons were not tracked, forcing Mr. Holder to formally retract previous claims that he had made to Congress.

Six wiretap applications dating back to 2010 prove this to be true. Those wiretap applications reveal that ATF agents were monitoring suspected gun traffickers for Mexican drug cartels but making no arrests or interdictions. Wiretap applications do not happen on their own — they require authorization at the highest levels. Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco, three of Mr. Holder’s most senior aides, authorized those wiretap applications. It defies reason that not one of Mr. Holder’s most senior aides was made aware of the highly controversial and perilous tactics being employed in the Fast and Furious operation.

Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa’s handling of this investigation has been meticulous. He has been dogged in his pursuit of the truth while also exercising professional courtesy and restraint in his dealings with Mr. Holder and the Justice Department. His professionalism and fortitude were met with the handing over of about 7,600 of the requested 100,000 documents (about 13 percent) of overly redacted material no doubt strategically vetted and hand-selected by senior officials within the department for their lack of detail. Justice’s level of cooperation to this point has been severely lacking. In fact, the evidence is inescapable that the executive branch is going out of its way to ensure that this investigation does not come to an impartial conclusion. We owe it to the American and Mexican people to see this investigation come to its rightful and truthful conclusion.

We must not allow ourselves to become bogged down by the political firestorm that has engulfed the Fast and Furious investigation. Whether one chooses to discuss the contempt of Mr. Holder or whether Mr. Obama has misused executive privilege, the political theater threatens to overshadow the true purpose of this investigation. The heart of the congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious is to seek answers about the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry as well as hundreds of innocent Mexican citizens, all killed by guns supplied to Mexican drug warlords by our own federal government.

No one is above the law. It is the fundamental duty of Congress to find out why this happened and to ensure that this kind of reckless behavior is not tolerated or allowed ever to happen again. We must get to the bottom of this.

Rep. Dan Burton, Indiana Republican, is a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Stand-down orders stymied ‘Fast & Furious’ gun tracking, memo says – Washington Times

Stand-down orders stymied ‘Fast & Furious’ gun tracking, memo says – Washington Times.

By Jerry Seper – The Washington Times

Concerned that Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents were “too close and would burn the operation,” the lead investigator in a Fast and Furious surveillance operation ordered an ATF team monitoring the pending transfer of weapons to Mexican drug smugglers to “leave the immediate area.”

While the agents were repositioning themselves, the transaction took place and the smugglers took possession of weapons purchased by “straw buyers” at a Phoenix area gun shop — leaving the area without any agents in a position to follow.

The guns were among more than 2,000 weapons purchased that ended up in the hands of drug smugglers during the Fast and Furious investigation, which began in September 2009 and was halted only after the December 2010 killing of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry. Two Fast and Furious-purchased weapons — both AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifles — were found at the site of the Terry killing.

The surveillance snafu is outlined in a Feb. 3, 2011, memo by ATF agent Gary M. Styers recounting for agency supervisors what he told two investigators for Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, about his experience with Fast and Furious. He said the weapons transfer was to occur at a gas station, and an ATF surveillance team was in place when it was ordered to back off by lead investigator Hope McAllister.

It’s not the only time a surveillance was called off or that field agents questioned the tactics used in Fast and Furious, a risky strategy to allow weapons to flow south into Mexico. The goal was to identify the drug-cartel bosses in Mexico who were paying for the weapons. ATF supervisors had no interest in prosecuting the straw buyers on charges of “lying and buying.”

ATF senior agent Olindo James Casa told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that when surveillance teams did follow weapons purchased by straw buyers, they always were terminated without interdicting or seizing the firearms. He said the stand-down orders came from Ms. McAllister or ATF Group VII Strike Force supervisor David J. Voth, who oversaw the Fast and Furious operation.

Mr. Casa testified that he and other agents “sternly warned” their supervisors of the “consequences of their actions (or lack thereof), but were repeatedly ignored.” He said when he and others asked Ms. McAllister and Mr. Voth if they were prepared to attend the funeral of a slain agent or officer killed by a Fast and Furious weapon, neither answered “or even seemed concerned by the question.”

Mr. Grassley wants to know whether the Styers memo was forwarded to the Justice Department in Washington. Its Feb. 3 date falls one day before the department denied in a letter to him that any weapons had been “walked” to gun smugglers in Mexico.

In a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., the veteran Iowa lawmaker said his investigators were told that the memo “caused such a stir that ATF planned to put a panel together to address the allegations but someone within DOJ suppressed the idea.”

A report by Mr. Grassley and Rep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Fast and Furious field agents often were told to stand down rather than interdict weapons, and when they complained, they were ignored.

ATF agent John Dodson told Mr. Issa’s committee that he and others were ordered to observe the gun smugglers but not to intervene. He said he and others monitored the purchase of weapons “almost daily,” but rather than interdict them, the agents took notes, recorded observations and tracked the movement of some of those involved for short periods, “but nothing more.”

“Knowing all the while, just days after these purchases, the guns we saw these individuals buy would begin turning up at crime scenes in the United States and Mexico, we still did nothing,” he said.

The strategy continued until Dec. 14, 2010, when two Fast and Furious AK-47s turned up just north of the Arizona-Mexico border at the site of the Terry killing.

In his memo, Mr. Styers said ATF agents were not permanently assigned to surveillance on Fast and Furious, a practice he described as “unheard of.” Instead, he said, supervisors polled offices for “agents who were available to respond at short notice.”

Lights go dim on another energy project – Washington Times

Official portrait of United States Department ...

Official portrait of United States Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lights go dim on another energy project – Washington Times.

Geothermal losses pile up

By Chuck Neubauer – The Washington Times

A geothermal energy company with a $98.5 million loan guarantee from the Obama administration for an alternative energy project in Nevada – which received hearty endorsements from Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid – faces financial problems, and the company’s auditors have questioned whether it can stay in business.

Much like Solyndra LLC, a California solar-panel manufacturer with a $535 million federal loan guarantee that went bankrupt, Nevada Geothermal Power (NGP) has incurred $98 million in net losses over the past several years, has substantial debts and does not generate enough cash from its current operations after debt-service costs, an internal audit said.

“The company’s ability to continue as a going concern is dependent on its available cash and its ability to continue to raise funds to support corporate operations and the development of other properties,” NGP auditors said in a financial statement for the period ending March 31.

“Consequently, material uncertainties exist which cast significant doubt upon the company’s ability to continue as a going concern,” the statement said.

Mr. Reid, a Nevada Democrat who led passage of the $814 billion stimulus bill and worked to include the loan guarantee program to help finance clean-energy projects, predicted in 2010 that NGP would “put Nevadans to work” and declared that Nevada was the “Saudi Arabia of geothermal energy.”

Mr. Chu celebrated NGP’s potential in his June 2010 announcement of the loan guarantee, saying the federal government’s support of the company demonstrated its commitment to geothermal power to achieve the nation’s clean-energy goals.

But Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on regulatory affairs, stimulus oversight and government spending, is concerned about NGP’s finances and the timing of the loan guarantee.

“The company was in danger of defaulting on its financial obligation, and the [Department of Energy‘s] assistance served as a de facto bailout,” Mr. Jordan said. “After receiving a taxpayer-backed $98.5 million loan guarantee, the company is still struggling.”

He said the loan guarantee “essentially served to prop up an already-faltering firm.”

In January, Rep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican andchairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told Mr. Chu that the NGP loan guarantee raised questions about why the Energy Department was investing significant taxpayer resources in a company with well-established financial problems.

‘Save the failing company’

At the time the Energy Department announced its conditional approval of the guarantee, Mr. Issa said NGP would have defaulted on a loan from TCW Asset Management Co., then its primary lender, “had DOE not swooped in to save the failing company with taxpayer money.”

A committee report said the loan did not finance any new construction and “did not help to create a single job.”

During a House hearing in May, Rep. Frank C. Guinta, New Hampshire Republican, asked why NGP needed a government loan in 2010 just a year after it had received financing to get its plant up and running. He said it didn’t sound like a loan but a bailout.

“I don’t see it’s a good practice for the Department of Energy to use taxpayer-subsidized loans to provide to an entity that already has an existing facility,” he said.

Mr. Jordan said the Energy Department handed out more than 20 loan guarantees to companies with an average credit rating of BB-, or “junk status,” meaning they were vulnerable to default if economic or business conditions changed. NPG was rated BB+, which is considered speculative or junk and a step below investment grade.

Mr. Jordan and Mr. Issa have questioned why taxpayer money was “put at such risk.”

Brian D. Fairbank, president and CEO of NGP, defended the company by saying its auditors were required to list all risks the firm faced because its stock is traded publicly. But, he said, NGP is making its payments on its federally backed loan.

“The loan is in good shape. The loan is fully supported,” he said, noting that the federally guaranteed loan went to an NGP subsidiary known as NGP Blue Mountain 1, for which he also serves as president and CEO.

The Energy Department guaranteed nearly $79 million, or 80 percent of the $98.5 million loan, financed in 2010 by John Hancock Financial Services. The loan is secured by assets from Blue Mountain 1 and gets paid from revenues generated by a 20-year power purchase agreement with NV Energy (formerly Nevada Power Co.).

“There is no question we benefited from the loan guarantee,” said Mr. Fairbank, adding that it helped them get the Hancock loan 4.14 percent compared with the 14 percent interest rate the company was paying on its existing debt with another lender.

Another loan

Mr. Fairbank acknowledged that NGP is not current on a separate high-interest $88.4 million loan from a Washington investment firm, which is not backed by the federal government and is subordinate to the federal guaranteed loan – meaning John Hancock and the Energy Department have first claim on Blue Mountain’s assets and earnings in a default.

JohnMcIlveen, a stock analyst at Toronto-based Jacob Securities Inc. who monitors NPG, said he did not think the federally guaranteed loan was in trouble because it “holds all the cards.” But he said he did not see the subordinate lender “getting out whole.”

He said Blue Mountain 1 is not producing as much energy as the company had hoped and needs $20 million to help increase its capacity, which could be difficult to raise.

Energy Department spokesman Dan Leistikow defended the loan guarantee by saying NGP was continuing to make its loan payments “on time and in full.”

Mr. Reid’s spokeswoman Kristen Orthman said NGP has received bipartisan support because “programs and incentives for clean energy have helped create jobs and make Nevada a growing leader in geothermal energy production.”

Mr. Fairbank denied knowing or lobbying Mr. Reid, but the House Oversight Committee said Ormat Inc., which was paid $80 million to build NGP’s Blue Mountain plant, has “strong ties” to the senator. It said two former Reid staffers, Kai Anderson and Paul Thomsen, work for Ormat.

NGP said it will hold its annual shareholders meeting July 24 in Vancouver, British Columbia, during which Mr. Fairbank is expected to discuss the firm’s debts, a recapitalization plan and steps that have been taken to reduce operating costs, including ending its registration and over-the-counter listings in the United States to eliminate the costs of Securities and Exchange Commission reporting requirements.

Much like NGP, Mr. Chu praised Solyndra after the company was awarded its $535 million federal loan guarantee, but two years later it filed for bankruptcy. It remains the focus of a criminal investigation by the Justice Department.

Democrats to Defect, Vote for Holder Contempt – Newsmax.com

Democrats to Defect, Vote for Holder Contempt – Newsmax.com.

A rapidly growing number of Democrats are lining up to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress on Thursday for withholding documents in the investigation into Operation Fast and Furious, a botched sting operation that let guns slip into the hands of drug cartels.

At least five Democrats so far have said they plan to vote to hold Holder in contempt, according to Fox News, and as many as 11 appear ready to break ranks. They include Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga, Reps. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va.; Collin Peterson, D-Minn.; Jim Matheson, D-Utah; and Mike McIntyre, D-N.C.

“The only way to get to the bottom of what happened is for the Department of Justice to turn over the remaining documents,” said Barrow. “We can work together to ensure this tragedy never happens again.”

Federal agents allowed 2,500 firearms to be illegally purchased on the Southwest border. Two of the guns were recovered when U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in December 2010.

“The Terry family, the public and Congress deserve answers,” said Matheson, a six-term Democrat from Utah. “Sadly, it seems that it will take holding the attorney general in contempt to communicate that evasiveness is unacceptable. It is a vote I will support.”

The votes are expected hours after the Supreme Court will capture the nation’s attention with its ruling on the legality of President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Even without that diversion, the contempt issue throws both parties temporarily off-track in their efforts to focus on the economy in an election year.

There’s little question that Republicans will get the votes they need, not only from their own majority but from Democrats aligned with the National Rifle Association — which has said it’s keeping score.

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., the longest serving House member and normally an NRA supporter, said Wednesday he would not back the contempt resolutions but instead wants the Oversight and Government Reform Committee to conduct a more thorough investigation.

The criminal contempt resolution would send the matter to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, who is under Holder. The civil contempt resolution would allow the House to go to court in an effort to force Holder to turn over documents the Oversight committee wants. In past cases, courts have been reluctant to settle disputes between the executive and legislative branches of government.

The House is unlikely to get the documents anytime soon, because President Barack Obama has invoked a broad form of executive privilege, which protects from disclosure internal documents in executive branch agencies.

In nearly three hours of arguments before the House Rules Committee on Wednesday, Republicans and Democrats squared off with oft-repeated arguments that have turned a major constitutional issue into a political food fight.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and chairman of the Oversight panel, told the Rules Committee that the documents sought were essential to learn who in the administration produced a February, 2011 letter denying that Operation Fast and Furious allowed guns to “walk” from Arizona to Mexico. The Justice Department has already given Issa’s committee 7,600 pages on the operation itself. The documents now sought covered a period after the operation was shut down.

Referring to Justice Department officials, he asked, “When did they know we were lied to and what did they do about it?” It took 10 months before the administration acknowledged the false information. Issa said he had no evidence that Holder knew of the gun-walking tactics.

The ranking Democrat on Issa’s committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, countered, “Why are we rushing” toward the first-ever vote to hold a sitting attorney general in contempt? He said he was certain that the dispute could be worked out.

“It has all the trappings of a witch hunt,” said Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York, the ranking Democrat on the Rules Committee. She also said, “I don’t think there’s any way we’re doing justice to Brian Terry with what we’re doing today.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday that the public would view the vote as “political theater” and “gamesmanship.”

Carney said the Justice Department and the White House on Tuesday had shown House Republicans a representative sample of the documents they were seeking. He said the administration’s offer would have provided “unprecedented access” to internal communications about how it responded to congressional inquiries into the Fast and Furious program.

Ironically, the documents at the heart of the current argument are not directly related to the workings of Operation Fast and Furious, which allowed guns to “walk” from Arizona to Mexico in hopes they could be tracked. The department has given Issa 7,600 documents on the operation.

Rather, Issa wants internal communications from February 2011, when the administration denied knowledge of gun-walking, to the end of that year, when officials acknowledged the denial was erroneous. Those documents covered a period after Fast and Furious had been shut down.

In Fast and Furious, agents of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Arizona abandoned the agency’s usual practice of intercepting all weapons they believed to be illicitly purchased. Instead, the goal of gun-walking was to track such weapons to high-level arms traffickers who long had eluded prosecution and to dismantle their networks.

Gun-walking long has been barred by Justice Department policy, but federal agents in Arizona experimented with it in at least two investigations during the George W. Bush administration before Fast and Furious. The agents in Arizona lost track of several hundred weapons in the operation.

Issa: Obama’s privilege claim in ‘Fast and Furious’ suggests complicity – Washington Times

English: Badge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobac...

Issa: Obama’s privilege claim in ‘Fast and Furious’ suggests complicity – Washington Times.

By Jerry Seper and Sean Lengell – The Washington Times

The chairman of a House committee that recommended a contempt citation against Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in the Fast and Furious scandal said Tuesday that President Obama’s assertion of executive privilege means the White House is either covering up its role in the botched operation or is obstructing a congressional probe.

“To date, the White House has steadfastly maintained that it has not had any role in advising the [Justice] Department with respect to the congressional investigation,” Rep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, said in a toughly-worded seven-page letter to Mr. Obama.

“The surprising assertion of executive privilege raised the question of whether that is still the case,” he said.

Mr. Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, also challenged the validity of the privilege claim, saying courts have “consistently held” that executive privilege applies only to documents and communications that involve the president’s decision-making process.

Accordingly, he said, the assertion can only mean that Mr. Obama “or your most senior advisers” were involved in managing the Fast and Furious operation “and the fallout from it,” or the president was acting “solely for the purpose of further obstruction a congressional investigation.”

The committee voted 23-17 last week along party lines to recommend to the full House that Mr. Holder be held in contempt of Congress – an unprecedented move against a sitting attorney general – for refusing to cooperate fully with the probe. The executive privilege assertion came only shortly before the committee was scheduled to vote.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz dismissed the letter, saying Mr. Issa’s analysis of executive privilege had “as much merit as his absurd contention that Operation Fast and Furious was created in order to promote gun control.” He said the privilege claim was consistent with executive branch precedent over three decades.

He said the courts have routinely “affirmed the right of the executive branch to invoke the privilege even when White House documents are not involved.”

The full House is expected to vote on the contempt resolution on Thursday. Mr. Obama has denied any knowledge of Fast and Furious, and has stood solidly behind his attorney general.

House Speaker John A. Boehner said on Tuesday that in legal decisions on the scope of executive privilege during the Bush and Clinton administrations, judges consistently ruled that the privilege did not extend to Cabinet-level officials or their staffs.

But Mr. Schultz countered that the courts have routinely affirmed the right of the executive branch to invoke the privilege even when White House documents are not involved.

Fast and Furious was a gunrunning operation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) aimed at identifying drug-smuggling bosses in Mexico who were buying weapons from Phoenix gun shops. More than 2,000 weapons were sold and “walked” into Mexico, but the ATF lost track of them.

The operation, which began in September 2009, was shut down only after U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry was killed during a December 2010 gunfight with Mexican bandits near the Mexican border, south of Tucson, Ariz. Two weapons found at the site were traced to the Fast and Furious operation.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Mr. Issa’s push to hold Mr. Holder in contempt “has gone too far.” Still, Mr. Cummings said it wasn’t too late for the dispute to be worked out, and implored Mr. Boehner to intervene and to talk to the attorney general directly.

“We have a duty to do what we can to accommodate the executive branch,” he said. “And of course, they have a duty to accommodate us.”

While no Democrats backed the contempt citation in the committee vote, House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, told reporters Tuesday that some in his party may vote yes on the House floor, especially after the National Rifle Association said it would record how members voted for its annual legislative scorecard.

Border Patrol group calls for Holder’s resignation – Washington Times

Border Patrol group calls for Holder’s resignation – Washington Times.

By Jerry Seper – The Washington Times

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.

“You have violated the public trust, in my view,” he said. “It is more with sorrow than regret and anger that I would say that you leave me no alternative than to join those who call upon you to resign your office.”

It’s about time. – Tea Party Nation

It’s about time. – Tea Party Nation.

Posted by Judson Phillips

After months of dithering, the House is finally taking action against Eric Holder.  Holder has simply stonewalled Congress, refusing to turn over documents subpoenaed by the House Oversight Committee and refusing to take legal actions to prevent the disclosure, such as claiming the documents are protected by privilege. 

 From CBS News:

 CBS News has learned the House Oversight Committee will vote next week on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. It’s the fourth time in 30 years that Congress has launched a contempt action against an executive branch member.

 This time, the dispute stems from Holder failing to turn over documents subpoenaed on October 12, 2011 in the Fast and Furious “gunwalking” investigation.

 The Justice Department has maintained it has cooperated fully with the congressional investigation, turning over tens of thousands of documents and having Holder testify to Congress on the topic at least eight times.

 However, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., says the Justice Department has refused to turn over tens of thousands of pages of documents. Those include materials created after Feb. 4, 2011, when the Justice Department wrote a letter to Congress saying no gunwalking had occurred. The Justice Department later retracted the denial.

 “The Obama Administration has not asserted Executive Privilege or any other valid privilege over these materials and it is unacceptable that the Department of Justice refuses to produce them. These documents pertain to Operation Fast and Furious, the claims of whistleblowers, and why it took the Department nearly a year to retract false denials of reckless tactics,” Issa wrote in an announcement of the vote to be released shortly. It will reveal the vote is scheduled for Wednesday, June 20.

 There is even better news.  Perhaps it is simply an election year or perhaps John Boehner is finally getting the message.  It looks like he is hauling down his freshly laundered white flag of surrender and is supporting this move.

 From the Hill:

 The action has been contemplated for weeks, and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) threw his support behind the politically-sensitive move in a statement on Monday.

  “The Justice Department is out of excuses,” Boehner said. “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.”

 Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) also weighed in with his support.

 “Assuming Attorney General Holder continues to stonewall, we will have no choice but to hold him in contempt for his failure to provide the documents necessary to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again,” Cantor said.

  Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Republicans on his panel argue Holder has failed to hand over documents related to the gun-tracking operation.

  In Operation Fast and Furious, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartel operations in the hope of tracking them to wanted criminals and them making big arrests.

 If there is no other reason to make certain the House stays in Republican hands this fall, it would be to make certain this investigation continues.  If Nancy Pelosi were to ascend back to the Speaker’s chair, you can be certain this investigation would die an immediate death.

 The Obama Regime believes it is above the law.  It needs a reality check quickly and the House of Representatives is the only body today that can deliver that check.

HANDRAHAN: Eric Holder’s sizzling summer – Washington Times

HANDRAHAN: Eric Holder’s sizzling summer – Washington Times.

Attorney general on hot seat for probes on gun-running, child exploitation funds

By Lori Handrahan

What a week it was in Washington. Summer heat has not yet hit, but steam already is rising from Republicans on the Hill as they express outrage over U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s conduct.

Mr. Holder was up on the Hill last week testifying before Congress, again, about the Department of Justice’s gun-tracking Fast and Furious operation. There are allegations of lies and obstruction of justice committed by department employees and claims that the attorney general himself is covering for his staff rather than upholding the U.S. Constitution. Mr. Holder’s recent testimony caused Rep. Paul A. Gosar, Arizona Republican, to declare Mr. Holder is unfit to be America’s attorney general.

Rep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, hopes to hold Mr. Holder in congressional contempt over his alleged refusal to share information with the American people and Congress about which department officials were involved in this botched program.

Just a mile or so downtown from the Hill, another shoe quietly dropped this week for the attorney general. On Tuesday, Cause of Action, a Washington-based nonprofit dedicated to government accountability, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for extensive records of Justice’s federal funds provided to states – specifically Maine – with the intention of prosecuting child porn perpetrators and keeping America’s children safe.

Cause of Action’s FOIA states, “Internet crimes against children are the fastest-growing crime in the United States. We therefore write seeking information about the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal DivisionsChild Exploitation and Obscenity Section and its funding of Internet Crimes Against Children investigations, specifically as they concern the State of Maine.”

After noting the large amount, perhaps millions of dollars, of the department’s federal funds going to Maine compared with just seven referrals in one year, Cause of Action’s FOIA request states that “one is left to wonder what Maine is doing with the federal money it receives.”

Anyone who follows Maine may have a theory about these missing funds. The state of Maine is, by all accounts, a failed state. Maine received an F for overall corruption risk, 46th out of 50 states in preventive measures. It received an F and ranked the absolute worst in the country for judicial oversight, with zero accountability for judges. Maine received an F on child-trafficking prevention. Trafficking of women and children is one of organized crime’s signature businesses.

Maine indeed it is a miserable state, particularly if you are a child hoping to be kept safe from pedophiles. So it is little surprise to Maine-watchers that millions of Department of Justice federal funds might have gone missing north of Boston.

The real question is: Will Mr. Holder withhold the documents that Cause of Action has just requested related to the potential misuse of funds meant to protect our children? Congressional Republicans allege Mr. Holder has done just that with documents related to Fast and Furious. Will he cover for his staff rather than uphold the Constitution and protect America’s children?

If so, Mr. Holder could be back on the Hill soon facing more Republican heat, this time for obstruction-of-justice allegations related to federal funds meant to protect our children from sexual abuse and exploitation. It just may be that Cause of Action’s quiet little Freedom of Information Act request could result in a very hot summer for Eric Holder and the Department of Justice.

Lori Handrahan is a professor at American University’s School of International Service in Washington and serves on the United Nations’ Interagency Standing Committee Child Protection Working Group.

EDITORIAL: A climate of hypocrisy – Washington Times

EDITORIAL: A climate of hypocrisy – Washington Times.

Liberals live it up while preaching austerity

There’s nothing so profitable as being among the concerned climate experts who preach austerity. These enlightened few hector ordinary Americans into sacrificing their functional light bulbs, toilets and sport utility vehicles so the planet can be preserved. According to them, failure to give up these luxuries will overheat the globe and provoke devastating floods and hurricanes.

The peddlers of such apocalyptic tales rarely practice austerity themselves. Earlier this month, Rep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, asked Michael J. Ahearn, chairman of the board for First Solar Inc., to come and testify before a congressional oversight panel about his solar-panel business. Sun power is hailed by the left as the solution to the world’s energy needs. That’s why the Obama administration showered First Solar with $1.5 billion in taxpayer-backed gifts, recognizing the firm’s unquestioned eco-correctness.

An impious Mr. Issa, however, couldn’t help but inquire about how Mr. Ahearn made the journey from Tempe, Ariz., to Washington. According to liberals, carbon dioxide – the odorless gas that makes respiration possible – is destroying the Earth itself. So instead of driving an SUV, we’re all supposed to take the bus, ride a bicycle or even walk. Mr. Ahearn did none of these. “I flew in yesterday on a Challenger,” he explained. “A 300,” referring to the model.

According to data from Bombardier, the manufacturer of the $20 million luxury jet, the round trip would have produced about 21.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide. That’s equal to five years’ worth of per-person emissions from the average household, by the Environmental Protection Agency’s reckoning. There’s no telling how many thousands of households would have to turn down the thermostat to offset the emissions from the annual travel of just one green-energy CEO.

Many more need to forgo modern technology to offset the impact of a global-warming strategy session. At the 2009 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, for example, about 1,200 limousines and 140 private jets were used to ferry the international bigshots looking “to save the world,” the London Telegraph reported. These posh conferences are always held in exotic locales such as Cancun, Mexico, and Durban, South Africa, subjecting the popular resort destinations to critical shortages of organic champagne and sustainable caviar.

Bureaucrats from around the world suddenly forget about planet-saving travel options such as wind-powered ships (otherwise known as sailboats) when booking reservations. Those who aren’t of the level to qualify for a private jet can attend the next U.N. conference in Doha, Qatar, in November on Qatar Airways, the event’s official airline. “Doha is home to world-class hotels and restaurants, where you can enjoy 5-star service and renowned Qatari hospitality,” the airline bragged in its advertisement to attendees. “You can also indulge in some fine shopping at luxurious shopping malls or a variety of water and beach sports available at various hotels and resorts throughout Doha.” Now that’s austerity.

It’s hard to avoid the obvious conclusion that government envoys and renewable-energy hucksters don’t really credit their own claims. The global-warming myth is simply an excuse to pillage public coffers to enhance their personal lifestyle.

EDITORIAL: More TSA lies – Washington Times

A TSA officer screens a piece of luggage.

A TSA officer screens a piece of luggage. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

EDITORIAL: More TSA lies – Washington Times.

Obnoxious agency is caught fibbing to Congress again

Frequent flyers are no fans of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The blue-gloved bureaucrats are experts in making trips to the airport as unpleasant as possible. As a joint congressional panel revealed Wednesday, the agency’s biggest failing is its inability to grope the truth.

Earlier this year, the House Oversight & Government Reform and Transportation & Infrastructure committees got wind that the TSA has 5,700 pieces of security equipment worth $184 million gathering dust in a Dallas, Texas, warehouse. For example, a total of 492 explosive trace detectors that cost $30,000 each have been sitting in storage for more than a year. When congressional investigators were dispatched to learn more about what was going on, TSA did everything it could to stall them.

The congressional auditors finally arrived on Feb. 15 to find a warehouse crew had been busy working from 5 a.m. that morning to shove as much of the embarrassing horde as it could out the back door. The TSA had provided the committees with a written inventory that undercounted the equipment on hand that day by 1,300 items. “Congress was misled,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, the Oversight chairman. The California Republican is threatening a criminal inquiry into the incident if the agency fails to come clean about what it has been doing.

The warehouse shenanigans racked up an estimated $23 million in depreciation costs for taxpayers as the pricey equipment lost its value while boxed away on a shelf. A $500,000 cargo scanner has a useful life of only seven years, and some of the higher-tech scanning devices became obsolete before the TSA gets around to deploying them. That’s not a bad thing in every case. Fourteen pornographic “advanced imaging technology” machines were locked away in the Dallas facility. America would be a safer place if every single one of those devices were consigned to the dark corner of an abandoned building.

We are told that these X-rated x-ray scanners are needed because an al Qaeda operative failed in a 2009 attempt to detonate a bomb in his underpants. The scare was renewed May 7 with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s announcement that a sleeker, more comfortable set of combustible undies had been captured in the hands of Islamists overseas. TSA’s ultimate boss, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, insisted her agency’s invasive contraptions would have discovered the dangerous dainties.

Government Accountability Office counterterrorism expert Stephen Lord knows from field testing whether that statement is true or not. He would not say in an unclassified session whether the scanners would have caught the new bomb. “We’ll take that, and I’m going to predict it’s going to be, ‘No, they couldn’t,’ ” said Mr. Issa.

To sum up, TSA is buying millions in equipment that it isn’t using, throwing away taxpayer funds. Some of the equipment it does use invades privacy without identifying any real threats. This mess is the result of the agency’s hasty creation in the wake of the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001. After a decade, TSA has proved itself mismanaged and ineffective. It’s time to pull the plug.

The Washington Times