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.

Why do we listen to the terminally stupid and perpetually wrong? – Tea Party Nation

Why do we listen to the terminally stupid and perpetually wrong? – Tea Party Nation.

Posted by Judson Phillips

Liberals have one unique characteristic.  This is something we can say about the liberals of 100 years ago, who gave us the first big bite of liberalism, namely the income tax, to contemporary liberals who are trying to force socialist healthcare on America.

 What is the characteristic all liberals share?  What is it about them that we need to exploit in order to defeat liberalism once and for all?

 It is simple.  Liberals are always wrong.

 In two years, we will mark the 50th anniversary of the beginning of Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty

 How’s that one working out?

 For fifty years, we have seen massive increases in welfare spending.  Welfare spending is now the third largest item in the Federal Budget.  It is actually so large and so confusing, the General Accountability Office cannot identify all of the welfare programs the government has nor can it identify all of the money spent on welfare programs.

 Welfare programs, at least as of 2010 cost the average American household $638 a month. 

 If we suddenly eliminated all welfare spending and allowed Americans to keep that money, almost every American household could immediately afford at least one new car, if not two.  That would do more for the American economy and the American people than welfare has.

 In 1964, Lyndon Johnson announced his war on poverty.  If it is a war, we are supposed to win, right? 

 According to the Cato Institute, we spend $1 trillion a year.  To what result?  The poverty rate is the same as it was when the war on poverty started in 1964.    The Obama Regime has increased welfare spending by over 40% during its tenure. 

 Poverty?  Still the same and we now have the Great Obama Depression, which if anything is only making poverty worse.

 Here is a simple question.  Has welfare ever eliminated poverty?

 The answer is no.

 America is not the only nation with welfare programs.  Have any of them ever eliminated poverty?

 Can a liberal name a single nation anywhere that has implemented a socialist welfare system and has been able to shut it down because the programs have succeeded in eliminating poverty?

 The answer is no.

 It never has because welfare programs do not work.   All they do is subsidize poverty and as anyone who has studied economics knows, anything you subsidize, you get more of.

 If you try the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result, you are not just insane.   You are perpetually wrong and terminally stupid.

 This is the story of liberalism.

 Liberals are never right. 

 That is why the left must resort to their typical ad hominem attacks.  That is why they produce commercials showing Republicans pushing granny off the cliff.  That is why they go through the minority communities screaming racism.  Liberals cannot handle the truth and the truth is, their ideas suck and so do they.

 We the people have the right to demand that if our government is going to spend money on anything, that the money be spent wisely and if a program or programs do not work, they must be eliminated.

 Unfortunately, the government does not have a clue if welfare programs do anything other than to buy votes for the Party of Treason. 

 On June 1, 2011, the House Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending of the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, held a hearing on Welfare Spending and Inefficiencies.

 Patricia Dalton, the Chief Operating Officer of the General Accountability Office testified that she could not identify the number of welfare programs, how much money was spent on them or even the percentage of programs that were actually accomplishing the purposes they were created for.

 Only a government run by liberals thinks this is a good idea.

 Not only has no government ever eliminated poverty through welfare programs, no nation has ever provided decent healthcare through a massive socialist government program.  They have all failed. 

 In Britain, they are now privatizing their National Health Service.  Back in April, the far left Guardian reported the delays in healthcare were becoming intolerable, forcing the British Prime Minister to act.   Patients were being denied joint replacements, cataracts surgery and hernia repairs because the socialist healthcare system was broke. 

 In Britain, like all other places where socialist healthcare has been tried, it has failed.  Yet what does the left want to impose on America?

 You guessed it.

 Those on the left are terminally stupid and perpetually wrong.  They do not deserve respect; they deserve contempt for what they are doing. 

 What we need is an aggressive Republican Party that will not only call them on their stupidity but will also push a strongly conservative agenda.  If the Republicans will not lead on this, we must force them to.

 Liberalism has failed every time it has been tried.  The Free Market not only works but it has made America great.  It is time we forgot about the war on poverty and started a war on socialism. 

 Unlike those on the left, we conservatives believe in winning our wars.

Eric Holder’s Tangled Web of Deception – Lurita Doan – Townhall.com

Eric Holder’s Tangled Web of Deception – Lurita Doan – Townhall.com.

How disheartening to watch U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder maneuver, spin, duck, dodge and dissemble.  Perhaps Holder still clings to the notion that he is serving the country and protecting the President, but his actions have pushed him well beyond that high ground.  Even Democrat leaders in congress, long-time Holder allies who long ago stopped thinking for themselves and who now resemble crazed wildebeests lost in their blind stampede against Republicans, are having doubts.  

During three years at Justice, Attorney General Holder has told too many tales, ducked accountability too many times and has too-often clung to the tattered banner of racist assertions.  

Americans have watched this recent Team Obama drama unfold over the past two years as the Attorney General initially claimed no knowledge of the Fast & Furious operation, then admitted limited knowledge but no direct involvement, to his recent assertion of Executive Privilege, implying that not only is Holder involved, but that the President is also.  

Holder’s Fast & Furious story has changed so often, and usually after additional scrutiny is applied, that the Justice Department’s credibility and Holder’s has been shredded.  The credibility of the Justice Department to is further eroded by the latest round of comical maneuvering by the President to assert Executive Privilege  to protect deliberations between the Attorney General and the President regarding an operation about which they both claim they knew nothing.  That Holder and Obama expect Americans to believe such contradictory posturings boggle the mind.  

Now, right on cue, the Democrat leadership wildebeests stampede to the next waterhole by crying GOP anti-Holder “racism”, when explaining congress’ motive in finding Eric Holder guilty of contempt of congress.    Haven’t Americans had enough of that old saw?  And doesn’t a 258 vote for with only 95 against disprove the “racism” claims?

Let’s look at some facts.

AG Holder has testified that he cannot provide the documents requested by Congress regarding Fast & Furious and the death of Border Agent, Brian Terry, because they are considered too “sensitive” to share with Congress.  

How ironic that the White House and DoJ see no commensurate sensitivity preventing them from revealing the identity of an informer who aided the United States, providing data that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.  Eric Holder, the Department of Justice and the White House, are awfully quick to release sensitive information that might imprison and ultimately kill a potential ally if the politics suggest a small bump in the polls might be gained.

Nor is that all.  We have seen details of secret operations leaked by the White House, methods and sources coughed up that our intelligence experts say will set back our nation’s ability for the next ten years.  And yet, Holder urges Americans to look away; nothing untoward is happening here he says, as he urges all Americans to join the unthinking, Democrat wildebeests and keep moving along.  

AG Holder also tells Americans that the House Oversight Committee’s inquiry into Fast & Furious is a waste of time, a waste of taxpayer money, and that there is more important work that the Department of Justice needs to be doing.

Right.  Consider this: assisting congress’ investigation into the Fast & Furious debacle, which led to the death of an American border agent and the placement of thousands of assault weapons in the hands of Mexican drug cartels, is a waste of the government’s time?  However, spending three and a half year and almost $100 million taxpayer dollars building a twice-failed case against baseball legend, Roger Clemens, was a better use of DoJ time, energy and tax payer dollars?  Go figure.

The Department of Justice doesn’t have time to investigate and to prosecute with rigor social security disability fraud either, even though it costs our nation almost $200 billion dollars annually in wrongful payments.

Then there is the special case of Scott Bloch, former head of the Office of Special Counsel.   Americans may have forgotten Scott Bloch; the Department of Justice certainly hopes they have.  Bloch was the fellow that unscrupulous Democrat leaders in congress once depended upon to serve up juicy morsels of scandal and alleged misdeeds within the Bush Administration.  Democrats quoted him often, the New York Times and Washington Post rushed editorials.  Then, the FBI raided his office and discovered that he had lied to Congress and had constructed an elaborate disinformation campaign to falsely discredit others.

To cover his tracks, Bloch paid ‘Geeks on Call’ to erase government computers and asked his chums to post blog reports, masquerading as wounded warriors to try and settle scores and sway public opinion.   Bloch was, quite frankly, a real piece of work, who was finally caught after a long run and was forced to plead guilty to lying to Congress back in 2008.   For the past several years, Holder’s Justice Department has helped Bloch escape all responsibility for lying to Congress and falsifying government reports, accepting stall after stall, as Bloch attempts to avoid the mandatory jail term and fine associated with his misdeeds.  

Seemingly, under AG Holder, the Department of Justice is not so much interested in facts and justice, but rather is wholly consumed with political tradeoffs and calculations.  

Justice for those that help the political fortunes of Mr. Holder, and his allies, is far different from the justice others can expect.    

Of course, no description of just how Mr. Holder’s DoJ carefully selects investigations to coincide with the political benefits derived can be complete without a mention of the two Black Panthers swinging night sticks at potential voters at a voting precinct in Philadelphia in 2008.   

Holder’s Justice Department doesn’t have time to investigate that that kind of voter intimidation, but, instead, is now mobilizing huge resources and millions of taxpayer funds to prevent states such as Florida from updating voter lists by removing the people that have died, Mickey Mouse, and countless others that had been added to the voter rolls by fraudsters like ACORN.   

Perhaps Americans should admit that Justice, under Eric Holder’s leadership, is both arbitrary and dangerous, and is neither fair nor swift.  Democrat party leaders crying “racism” is demeaning and shameful and is nothing but a poor attempt to intimidate Congressman Darryl Issa and the House Oversight Committee into silence.

Americans should also understand that holding Holder in contempt of congress is important for what it represents.  First, the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch are supposed to work for the same goal—the good of the American people.  There should be truth between the two branches. So the contempt charge proves that our Founding Father’s system of checks and balances does work.

Second, in voting 258 – 95, Congress seems to be saying that under Eric Holder’s Department of Justice, the law is not being applied fairly or equally, and that the decisions, at the highest level, of what Department of Justice and Team Obama considers “transparent” and time-worthy is capricious, vindictive and politically motivated.  Congress seems to be saying that Americans deserve better—and we do.

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.

EDITORIAL: A regulatory drug shortage – Washington Times

EDITORIAL: A regulatory drug shortage – Washington Times.

FDA’s marketplace intervention endangers cancer patients

The last thing a sick person wants to hear is that ample supplies of a life-saving medicine have been replaced by a surplus of red tape. That’s precisely what’s happening nationwide, with 82 percent of hospitals reporting shortages so severe that treatment must be put on hold, according to the American Hospital Association. Since 2010, 210 drugs, many of them critical components of cancer treatment and anesthesia, have been at dangerously low stock levels.

On June 15, the House Oversight committee issued a report implicating the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a badly drafted law for the current state of affairs. Many of the hard-to-find drugs are now off-patent, produced as generics with very narrow profit margins. The Medicare Modernization Act changed the way manufacturers were reimbursed for older generic drugs, particularly when administered in a nonhospital setting. The price of three chemotherapy drugs, as the report details, fell 90 percent in the first year they went off-patent.

The price drops were steep enough that manufacturers began to give up. In a free market, the price for the drugs would rise until supply could meet demand. It didn’t happen here because the government plays such a major role in Medicare that the law effectively imposed price controls. Only a few big manufacturers who could exploit economies of scale and turn a modest profit on the low-margin generics continued making these medicines.

Even this would not be a problem under normal circumstances, but the FDA began getting more involved. In 2009, the FDA sent out 474 warning letters to manufacturers, 673 in 2010 and an astounding 1,720 in 2011. As the congressional report noted, there’s no evidence anyone has been injured from medication manufactured in the United States, but the federal busybodies forced four out of the five largest American injectable drug manufacturers to undertake remediation efforts. As a result, there was a 30 percent drop in drug-production capacity.

The FDA’s ham-fisted approach suspended entire facilities or major plant renovations instead of using targeted inspections. The agency didn’t consider the impact of its actions on the nation’s drug supply or on cancer patients. For the last two years, hospitals and doctors have been forced to make decisions about which patients get the drugs that are available, and which ones go without, or whether to substitute a drug that might not work as well.

In true bureaucratic fashion, the FDA is tackling the crisis it created by expanding its Office of Drug Shortage. The idea is to get information ahead of time about which drugs will be in short supply. This leaves in place the root cause of the problem: government intervention in the market. The supply of generics will not grow, and the concentration of the market will not decrease unless the production of these drugs becomes more profitable. That requires lifting the government-imposed cap on prices. There are enough big players on the other side, in the form of the group purchasing organization, to keep prices in check. The FDA needs to step back and try to do no further harm.

The Washington Times

EDITORIAL: Holder’s contempt and Obama’s privilege – Washington Times

EDITORIAL: Holder’s contempt and Obama’s privilege – Washington Times.

Fast and Furious fight heads to the House floor

President Obama’s attempt to invoke executive privilege to forestall contempt-of-Congress proceedings against Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. failed. Instead, the claim elevates the dispute between the administration and Capitol Hill to a new and troubling level. The operative question now is, what did the president know and when did he know it?

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted Wednesday to recommend a contempt charge against Mr. Holder. Since October, the Justice Department has refused to respond to a subpoena seeking 1,300 pages of documents related to the botched Fast and Furious Mexican gunrunning operation. Negotiations between the Justice Department and committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, broke down, and the contempt recommendation followed.

Mr. Obama’s last-minute move to extend the umbrella of executive privilege raises the question of whether the president or his staff had extensive prior knowledge of the operation, because this privilege can only be invoked when the chief executive’s office is involved. “Until now, everyone believed that the decisions regarding Fast and Furious were confined to the Department of Justice,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican. “The White House decision to invoke executive privilege implies that White House officials were either involved in the Fast and Furious operation or the cover-up that followed.”

Mr. Holder claims the documents in question are internal and deliberative and thus are records that traditionally are removed from congressional oversight. The committee is investigating the role Mr. Holder played in these very deliberations and how much he knew about the operation. He swore under oath that his involvement was limited and came late in the game, but he is withholding evidence that could either support or undercut his testimony. White House intervention gives the appearance that Mr. Holder’s stonewalling was not to protect himself from a perjury charge, but to conceal hitherto unknown Oval Office involvement in Fast and Furious. This also may explain why Mr. Holder said that what should have been a routine investigation could lead to a “constitutional crisis.”

Mr. Obama has an affinity for exerting unilateral power, so the attempt to extend executive privilege ought not to come as a surprise. Former President Bill Clinton made no such effort when his attorney general, Janet Reno, faced a contempt charge from the same committee in 1998. That dispute was resolved eventually without any broad claims of authority even though Mr. Clinton did exercise the privilege on 14 other occasions.

The danger in the administration’s strategy is that congressional investigators may already have obtained documents by other means. Earlier this month, Mr. Issa revealed that an anonymous whistleblower had provided wiretap applications related to Fast and Furious that had been under a federal court seal. Those papers by themselves probably have no bearing on Mr. Holder’s case or on the matter of White House participation, but it is possible that Mr. Issa may yet obtain other material directly contradicting Mr. Holder’s sworn testimony or revealing White House involvement. It remains to be seen whether this investigation will produce a smoking gun.

The Washington Times

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.

But will anything happen? – Tea Party Nation

Gsa seal

Gsa seal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But will anything happen? – Tea Party Nation.

Posted by Judson Phillips

Darryl Issa and other Congressmen are kicking off an investigation into the out of control Government Services Administration and the GSA’s blatant and possibly criminal misuse of taxpayer dollars.

 Well, it is about time but will anything happen?

 From Fox News:

 Congress will kick off a wave of what are likely to be contentious hearings Monday on the spending habits of the General Services Administration, as lawmakers try to uncover how the agency blew through $820,000 on a Las Vegas conference.

 The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, one of four panels probing the incident, has set the first hearing for Monday afternoon. The panel has called some of the top current and former GSA officials to testify, though at least one is expected to invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to answer questions.

 Lawmakers at this point are looking beyond the 2010 conference itself and into other areas where the agency may have spent money imprudently, such as on employee incentive programs. The hearing will surely fuel the controversy, which has expanded almost daily as new details emerge about the decision-making at the top levels of the GSA.

 Among those on the witness list Monday are GSA Inspector General Brian Miller and former GSA Administrator Martha Johnson, who resigned in the wake of the inspector general’s report on the conference.

 The head of the GSA western region who organized the conference, Jeffrey Neely, has said through an attorney that he plans to plead the Fifth. His attorney says Neely doesn’t need to come to D.C., but Issa insists he should appear anyway.

  While Obama is still President, do not expect any real changes in the GSA. 

 But Congress can act. 

 The left always uses the excuse of waste, fraud and abuse to cut the Defense budget.  Well you have some serious waste, fraud and abuse here.  The solution is to cut the GSA’s budget.  In fact, why not just eliminated this agency?

 Just line out the money the agency uses and fire all of the employees.  It is tough but we taxpayers are pretty angry about the way our tax dollars are being spent. 

 Judging from those videos we saw, having those GSA employees lose their jobs; well, that’s no great loss.

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