It looks like Darrell Issa’s “Fast & Furious” pursuit of the destruction of Attorney General, Eric Holder, has slowed to a “Slow & Cranky” crawl. Try as they might, Issa, his attack dog, South Carolina Representative, Trey Gowdy and the rest of the right-wing partisan pitchfork crowd will fail in their mission to have Holder removed from office on anything but his own schedule. All this effort, all those hearings, going on their third year, all this ginned up “Contempt of Congress” nonsense, all those talking points distributed to Rush and Bill and the rest of the highly-paid media Mynah birds who can actually mimic human orders telling them exactly what to say…all of the above – mostly a ginormous waste of time and resources.
The Justice Department’s internal Inspector General’s report on Fast & Furious and other “gun-walking” programs including, George Bush’s “Wide Receiver.” There was no evidence that Holder was informed of F & F prior to the date he testified to, January 31, 2011. He was castigated as a liar for that and most of his other testimony by the likes of Darrell Issa, the Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and Issa’s trained attack dog, South Carolina Representative, Trey Gowdy, who, rumor has it, is being groomed to run against South Carolina Senator, Lindsay Graham in 2014. Graham’s sin is “reaching across the aisle on some issues.” Graham was last seen tacking severely to the right.
The Horowitz report, authored by IG, Michael Horowitz, appears to give the Attorney General a complete pass. “We found no evidence that the attorney general was aware of Operation Fast and Furious or the much-disputed “gun-walking” tactic associated with it.” The unending insults and accusations hurled Holder’s way all slid down the wall. None of them stuck with the possible exceptions of mild rebukes for not having enough oversight over agencies the AG trusted to do the job. And this wasn’t just a five-page overview of Fast & Furious. This was a comprehensive 471-page report, thoroughly researched to the last exclamation point and replete with provable facts and named names.
Investigating gun-walking was certainly a legitimate target for Committee inquiries. Any time 2 government agency employee’s lives are lost under questionable circumstances leading back to other government agencies, it’s imperative that congress get to the bottom of where the blame lies both in the respectful memory of those who died in service to their country and the assurance it will never happen again.
But Issa and company almost immediately turned this very serous issue into a political sideshow. They used the occasion to attempt to obliterate Holder’s career in hopes of deeply discrediting the president. No answer would be sufficient. Every demand would include documents that they knew could not be legally produced because Holder was complying with the President’s order of Executive Privilege and every question was designed, not for clarification, but for its impact on Fox News slobbering over every word. Millions of taxpayers dollars were essentially wasted on an investigation that could have been wrapped up in half the time, if it had been approached in a serious, bi-partisan manner. It wasn’t.
It’s instructive that this transparent government crowd has little interest in letting citizens know who finances their campaigns. Nor do you find them pounding their desks demanding that their presidential candidate be more forthcoming about his taxes and finances. I’ve already written about Chairman Issa’s reaction to a subpoena to testify in the Roger Clemens trial – “go f**k yourself!” They should feel at least a measure of satisfaction in the words of Horowitz who said he was given access to every document. Most likely because they would stay in-house and not be used politically. For the record Issa was given the same opportunity. To meet with Holder and read the documents.
The IG report could be boiled down to a few salient points. Yes, there was gun-walking in both the Bush and Obama administrations. Certain personnel at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives could have done a better job and exercised better judgment and at least given the AG a hint of what they were up to. The former head of AFT (an unceasing target of the NRA by the way) just retired with the release of the report. A former acting deputy attorney general was also upbraided in the report as was the head of the criminal division and about a dozen others.
Most of the blame leveled at the program landed at the doorsteps of ATF leadership and staff and the U.S. attorney’s office in Phoenix. Criticism was also directed at justice and ATF for poor information-gathering resulting in misinforming Congress on the F & F issue. It must be noted once more that Holder was exonerated in the report and, in fact, personally ended F & F when learning of all the facts.
There are a couple of other points to made here that I’ve touched on in previous submissions. Phoenix-area gun dealers sell guns every working day that make their way to Mexico. Tens of thousands of guns over time. Many are sold to straw purchasers where the straw purchaser and the eventual possessor of the firearm(s) stand side-by-side during the transaction. Gun “collectors” have a field day bypassing legal requirements and sell to damn near anybody, including thousands over the years who have taken their arms into Mexico and handed them over to drug cartels. Issa and Gowdy know this. The NRA knows this. Republican voters know this.
The GOP is lavish in their praise of the report, suggesting it stands as proof of everything they’ve asserted in their assorted hearings. Oh? Did you really insist that Holder had no knowledge of Fast & Furious until January of 2011? Odd you would spend 99% of your committee time blasting the Attorney General and shouting disrespectful questions and charges at him while he civilly and truthfully replied to these cartoonish Star Chambers. There’s still a ho-hum lawsuit filed against Holder that will go nowhere. On the plus side 14 F & F gun traffickers have pleaded guilty so far. There are 6 cases to go.
As is often the case, President Barack Obama had the best summation of these now all-but-meaningless proceedings. In fully backing his attorney general, the president noted, “He has shown himself to be accountable by taking action against those who directed the operation.” That pretty much says it all.