Attorney General Eric Holder denied being behind Fast and Furious but was caught red-handed lying to Congress about when he found out about it. In May, he told Congress he'd learned about it just a couple of weeks before, yet he had received emails and memos some months earlier detailing the operation. He then claimed he had neither read nor been briefed about those emails. Even if true, this is wholly unacceptable nonfeasance for which he not only did not apologize but indignantly faced down his congressional inquisitors as if they were the ones at fault.
Top officials in the Justice Department, including Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, were caught lying in a Feb. 4, 2011, letter to Sen. Charles Grassley, in which they claimed the "ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation into Mexico." On the very day Breuer approved of that letter, he was trying to convince Mexican authorities, who had previously been kept in the dark, that gun walking was a good idea. Under questioning from Rep. Trey Gowdy, Holder refused to admit the letter was "demonstrably and materially false" and said only that it "contained inaccuracies."
When Congress tried to get to the bottom of the scandal, which resulted in not only Terry's death but the injury or death of 200 Mexicans and the commission of 11 violent crimes in the United States involving 57 Fast and Furious weapons, Holder stonewalled. He used a concurrent investigation by the inspector general as an excuse to withhold from Congress some 74,000 documents concerning the matter. To protect Holder and fortify his stone wall, the most transparent president, Barack Obama, invoked executive privilege.
Fast-forward to the IRS scandal and compare the administration's reaction. In both scandals:
--Holder lied and then lied about his lying.
--The administration investigated itself and stonewalled congressional investigators.
--The administration denied culpability and knowledge and blamed the wrongdoing on rogue employees -- in Phoenix and Cincinnati, respectively.
--The administration blamed Bush. With Fast and Furious, Wide Receiver was the culprit. With the IRS scandal, it was the fault of a Bush appointee.
--Obama expressed shock and varying levels of outrage, promised to bring to account those responsible and then proceeded to do the opposite.
--Congressional Democrats obstructed and ran interference for the administration.
--Obama did his best to shield those accountable, rewarding the wrongdoers and, in some cases, punishing the whistle-blowers.
Congress must not be deterred by the administration's evasions. It must turn up the heat and be just as persistent in demanding accountability as the administration is in dodging it.
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