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.

Fast and Furious Is Not a D.C. Law Firm – Ann Coulter – Townhall.com

Fast and Furious Is Not a D.C. Law Firm – Ann Coulter – Townhall.com.

Most Americans don’t care about whether Attorney General Eric Holder is hiding Fast and Furious documents because they don’t understand the story.

Until someone can tell us otherwise, there is only one explanation for why President Obama’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives gave thousands of guns to Mexican drug dealers: It put guns in their hands to strengthen liberals’ argument for gun control.

Precisely because this is such a jaw-dropping accusation — criminality at the highest level of government to score a political point — Republicans refuse to make it.

But the problem with Republican rectitude in discussing this scandal is that as soon as they start talking about subpoenas and dates and documents, TV channels change across America. They’re never going to get answers unless they first explain to the American people why it matters.

Liberals have been dying to reinstate the so-called “assault weapons” ban, but they haven’t been able to for political reasons. (For more information on this, see the 1994 congressional elections.)

A typically idiotic Democratic scheme, the “assault weapons” ban prohibited the sale of semiautomatics that are operationally indistinguishable from deer rifles, but which looked scary to liberal women.

First, the Democrats tried lying about how American guns were being found in the hands of Mexican drug dealers — while demanding a renewal of the assault weapons ban.

Obama had barely unpacked at the White House, when he and high-level administration officials and Senate Democrats — Holder, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Sen. Chuck Schumer — started railing about how our lax gun control laws were putting guns in the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

In 2010, even Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon demanded that the U.S. reinstate the assault weapons ban — on the grounds that Mexican drug violence was directly linked to the law’s repeal.

The claim was preposterous for many reasons, including the fact that the type and quantity of armaments being used by Mexican drug cartels can be obtained only from places such as North Korea, China, Russia, Venezuela and Guatemala.

The notion that most guns used by Mexican drug gangs came from the U.S. was a lie — exposed on about 1 million gun blogs and on Fox News.

So, then the Obama administration did exactly what Democrats had been falsely accusing American gun sellers of doing: They put American guns in the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

The only explanation for Fast and Furious is that it was a program to prop up a losing gun control argument. The Waco and Ruby Ridge raids were monstrous, but they at least made sense as simple screw-ups: (1) ATF’s budget was about to be cut and it needed some showy raids; and (2) law enforcement officials detest private gun ownership on principle.

There is no conceivable law enforcement objective to giving Mexican drug dealers thousands of untrackable guns. It’s not even fun for the agents, like an armed raid on a private home. If there’s some other explanation, Holder isn’t telling.

Republicans refuse to state this clearly because they can’t prove it. Instead, they just keep chattering about the documents that haven’t been turned over and subpoenas that haven’t been answered.

Did Democrats wait for a smoking gun to accuse Karl Rove of treason for revealing Valerie Plame‘s identity as a CIA agent? It turned out Rove didn’t reveal it, and it wouldn’t have been a crime if he had.

Did they wait for proof to accuse Sen. John McCain of committing adultery? They had none, and yet that story ran on the front page of The New York Times.

Did they have any evidence before accusing the entire Republican House leadership of complicity in Mark Foley’s creepy emails to young male interns? See if you can guess. Take all the time you need. Feel free to call one of your “lifelines” if necessary.

Liberals just make wild-eyed accusations and demand Republicans prove themselves innocent. (Say, whatever happened to Karl Rove’s trial for treason for outing Valerie Plame? Can somebody call Lawrence O’Donnell and check on that?)

If conservatives were our only source of information about 9/11, no one would care about that, either. Somehow they’d make it about Osama bin Laden not answering a subpoena.

This isn’t just another government program gone bad — a $300 ashtray, stimulus money fraud, Solyndra or Van Jones.

It isn’t just a story about some government official refusing to testify.

It isn’t even a story about an American dying as a result of a government program, as outrageous as that is. Yes, Brian Terry died at the hands of a Mexican using a Holder-provided American gun. Pat Tillman died. Ron Brown died. People sometimes die as a result of government screw-ups. Fast and Furious is worse.

Innocent people dying was the objective of Fast and Furious, not collateral damage.

It would be as if the Bush administration had implemented a covert operation to dump a dangerous abortifacient in Planned Parenthood clinics, resulting in hundreds of women dying — just to give pro-lifers an argument about how dangerous abortion clinics are.

That’s what Fast and Furious is about.

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.”

KEENE: Fast and furious cover-up at Holder’s Justice – Washington Times

KEENE: Fast and furious cover-up at Holder’s Justice – Washington Times.

Team Obama resorts to default excuse: Blame Bush

By David Keene – The Washington Times

Obama administration officials must remind each other daily that they will never have to accept responsibility for anything that goes wrong on their watch as long as they can find some way to blame their troubles on George W. Bush.

So it should surprise no one that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and the administration’s surrogates are vociferously claiming that Operation Fast and Furious, the gun-walking scandal run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is all Mr. Bush’s fault. Fast and Furious was a program that resulted in Congress holding Mr. Holder in contempt for lying, put a couple thousand guns into the hands of Mexican drug gangs and led to the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent and as many as 200 Mexicans.

Obama spokesmen claim it all began under Mr. Bush and a little-known operation also run out of Phoenix, dubbed Operation Wide Receiver. The Bush-era program involved a few hundred guns and was designed and run by U.S. and Mexican agents who planted electronic tracking devices in the guns so the agents could follow the guns on both sides of the border. The idea was to compile evidence that could be used to prosecute gang kingpins.

A few of the guns vanished, however, as some of the batteries powering the implanted tracking devices failed, and in a few cases, gang members discovered and destroyed the devices. As soon as this was reported to Washington, the whole operation was canceled to prevent more guns from falling into the wrong hands. A vast majority of the guns involved were traced and retrieved; no one was killed; and the project was shelved as a bad idea.

Two years later, many of the same ATF and Justice Department officials in Phoenix came up with and launched a very different program they called Fast and Furious. Straw purchasers were allowed to buy more than 2,000 guns from dealers along our southern border who were pressured by government officials to look the other way. There was no attempt to trace or follow the guns; the Mexican government was not informed of the operation; and even ATF’s own agents in Mexico were kept in the dark.

No actionable criminal evidence against anyone was obtained, and agents who wanted to arrest middlemen before the guns walked were ordered to stand down. The program turned into a pipeline that provided arms to the Sinola drug cartel for use by the gang’s enforcers and drug smugglers.

The media continually refer to Fast and Furious as a botched operation, but the law enforcement purpose of the scheme never made much sense. It was never designed to enable anyone on either side of the border to trace firearms. Guns simply were handed over to criminal gangs so U.S. officials later could see how many of them turned up at crime scenes. For this to happen, they had to hope the guns would actually be used by the cartels. Gang members don’t throw away their guns for no reason, but when they use them in a crime, they discard them so authorities can’t tie them to the crime.

The American guns began showing up all over Mexico as civilians and criminals alike were gunned down. When one was found at the site of a fatal gunbattle that left U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry dead, the agent running the show reportedly dismissed his colleague’s horror at what had happened by observing, “You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.”

Whether someone at the Justice Department or deep in the bowels of the ATF dreamed up Fast and Furious is less important than what happened when higher-ups at Justice and the White House learned about it. Among the inquiries congressional investigators have spent 18 months conducting is whether administration officials attempted to use the fact that the guns were showing up at crime scenes as a means of building support for new gun-control laws.

The scheme might have worked but for a few honest agents who went to CBS News and to Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican. The Obama administration tried first to deny everything and discredit the whistleblowers; officials blamed it on out-of-control career bureaucrats and criminal gun dealers, and finally, they blamed Mr. Bush as part of a cover-up that continues to this day.

On Nov. 8, 2011, however, when it still looked as if stonewalling alone might work, the attorney general admitted before the Senate Judiciary Committee that there was no relationship between Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious, and he claimed he would never try to equate the two programs. That, of course, was then – before all else had failed and it was time once again to blame Mr. Bush for an Obama administration scheme that went bad.

David A. Keene is president of the NRA,former chairman of the American Conservative Union and a member of the board of the ACU, the Constitution Project and the Center for the National Interest.

EDITORIAL: Holder: The case for contempt – Washington Times

EDITORIAL: Holder: The case for contempt – Washington Times.

Attorney general must sleep in bed he made

The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Thursday on a contempt of Congress citation against Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. This unprecedented action has been made necessary by the Obama administration’s consistent refusal to reveal the whole truth about the Fast and Furious gun-walking operation and the cover-up that followed.

The contempt citation is over Mr. Holder’s failure to comply with an Oct. 12 subpoena from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform for documents necessary for Congress to fulfill its investigative function. The records in question do not deal with the Fast and Furious operation per se but with the Obama administration’s response to the investigation, the alleged retaliation and punishment of whistleblowers, and – most importantly – potential evidence of an organized and conscious effort to deceive investigators and lie to Congress.

Throughout the inquest, Mr. Holder has exhibited a pattern of at best, misstatement, and at worst, outright deception. On Feb. 4, 2011, he provided a letter to Congress that denied Fast and Furious allowed illegally bought weapons to cross into Mexico. This claim was later retracted in the face of clear evidence to the contrary. On May 3, 2011, Mr. Holder testified before the House Judiciary Committee that he did not know who approved Fast and Furious and that he had no knowledge of the operation before the investigations began. In October, however, it was documented that Mr. Holder had been sent briefings on Fast and Furious in July 2010. He again had to correct the record. Meanwhile, Justice Department employees who had been involved in Fast and Furious were subjected to what appeared to be retaliatory personnel actions for whistle-blowing activities.

The documents the committee has subpoenaed relate to Mr. Holder’s contradictory assertions and the internal communications that led to him changing his account of his personal knowledge of Fast and Furious. The fact that these are deliberative documents is the basis for the White House claim of executive privilege, which arrived shortly before the committee voted to recommend the contempt citation last week. But deliberations cannot be privileged when they are at the center of the case. If any such privilege ever existed, it was nullified when Mr. Holder began radically changing his story. This made the documents fair game because they represent the only available means to validate Mr. Holder’s version of events.

The executive-privilege defense is contradictory. On the same day Mr. Holder offered the committee a “fair compilation” of the subpoenaed documents in exchange for calling off the contempt vote, he appealed to the White House to extend executive privilege to avoid “significant, damaging consequences” should the documents be released. This calls into question how fair the compilation would have been in the first place and reinforces congressional concerns about the nature of the information in the withheld documents.

The privilege claim also widens the circle of the inquiry by implying that President Obama or his immediate staff was involved in the Fast and Furious operation, the cover-up, or both. Mr. Obama said on March 23, 2011, that neither he nor Mr. Holder authorized the gun-running operation. The documents in question and others being sought by the committee have a direct bearing on that statement. The stonewalling raises the question whether Mr. Holder has not been trying to protect himself but acting on White House orders to shield Mr. Obama.

This crisis is completely the result of Mr. Holder’s actions – his statements, his reversals and his refusal to produce documents that could potentially vindicate him. The vote is unprecedented, but so is the Obama administration’s degree of contempt for the people’s house.

The Washington Times

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.

Four GOP lawmakers hit Holder on guns operation – Washington Times

Four GOP lawmakers hit Holder on guns operation – Washington Times.

By Jerry SeperThe Washington Times

Four senior House Republicans say Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has not fully cooperated with a congressional subpoena seeking information on the botched “Fast and Furious” gunrunning operation and suggested the nation’s top prosecutor comply with a 7-month-old subpoena or face the consequences.

“As co-equal branches of the U.S. government, the relationship between the legislative and executive branches must be predicated on honest communications and cannot be clouded by allegations of obstruction,” House Speaker John A. Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa said in a letter Friday to Mr. Holder.

“If necessary, the House will act to fulfill our constitutional obligations in the coming weeks. It is our hope that, with your cooperation, this sad chapter in the history of American law enforcement can be put behind us,” they stated.

The four lawmakers told the attorney general the Justice Department has not sufficiently complied with a congressional subpoena seeking answers on the operation, and questioned whether false information that was provided — and later withdrawn — was “part of a broader effort by your department to obstruct a congressional investigation.”

They said the family of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry, killed in December in a gunbattle along the Arizona-Mexico border where one of the Operation Fast and Furious-purchased assault rifles was discovered, deserved to “know the truth about the circumstances that led to Agent Terry’s murder.”

“The American people deserve to know how such a fundamentally flawed operation could have continued for so long and have a full accounting of who knew of and approved an operation that placed weapons in the hands of drug cartels,” they said.

Mr. Issa’s committee drafted a contempt of Congress resolution against Mr. Holder earlier this month for not responding to an Oct. 21 subpoena for internal Justice Department documents.

In the letter, the lawmakers said two key questions remained unanswered: Who among the Justice Department leadership was informed of the “reckless tactics” used in Fast and Furious prior to Terry’s death, and did Mr. Holder’s leadership team mislead or misinform Congress in response to a congressional subpoena?

“Fast & Furious was a fundamentally flawed operation. It was taken to an extreme that resulted in at least one death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent and unknown other consequences, because U.S. law enforcement agencies allowed thousands of firearms to be illegally ‘walked’ into Mexico and into the hands of drug cartels,” the lawmakers said.

“It is our hope that, in finding the truth, we can both provide closure to the Terry family, begin to repair our relationship with Mexico, and take steps to make necessary changes at the department,” they said.

The letter also noted that seven wiretaps were approved for the Fast and Furious operation by the department’s leadership between March 2010 and July 2010. It said whether the information used to justify the wiretaps or the information gained from them was used in any ongoing criminal prosecution was “immaterial to the question of who on your leadership team reviewed and approved the wiretaps and was therefore privy to the details of the Fast and Furious operation.”

The lawmakers said Mr. Holder’s assertion that his leadership team could approve wiretaps in 2010 and yet not have any knowledge of the tactics used in Fast and Furious until 2011 “simply cannot be accurate and furthers the perception that the department is not being forthright with Congress.”

The said the Terry family “deserves to know the truth about the circumstances” that led to their son’s death, that the whistle-blowers who brought the operation to light “deserve to be protected, not intimidated, by their government,” and the “American people deserve to know how such a fundamentally flawed operation could have continued for so long and have a full accounting of who knew of and approved an operation that placed weapons in the hands of drug cartels.”