Any claim “that ATF ‘sanctioned’ or otherwise knowingly allowed the sale of assault weapons to a straw purchaser who then transported them to Mexico is false,” Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) in February 2011. “ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation into Mexico.”
But nine months later, after weeks of foot-dragging and attempts to find “dirt” on those who had blown the whistle on Fast and Furious, the Justice Department finally came clean. In November 2011, Holder admitted under oath that the gun-walking had, in fact, occurred. The February denial was rescinded.
To some observers, the idea of a truly ethical Justice Department is something of a pipe dream. As far as they’re concerned, the attorney general is nominated by a president who’s either Democrat or Republican, so we shouldn’t be surprised when he conducts business is a partisan manner.
Such a cynical view, though, is unfounded. Many fine attorneys general have served ethically defensible terms under both Republicans and Democrats. The tenures of Edwin Meese under Ronald Reagan and Griffin Bell under Jimmy Carter, for example, prove that the Justice Department can be run in an entirely independent, professional way.
Holder’s term as attorney general represents the other end of the spectrum: driven by politics, tainted by scandal and mired in corruption. The need for an attorney general that will, in fact, uphold the Constitution in a fair, impartial and ethical fashion has never been greater.