Reporting from Capitol Hill--Attorney General Eric Holder gave testimony today about topics ranging from terrorism, cyber security, CIA interrogation investigations, GITMO, gay/lesbian bullying and even his baby boomer status, but Holder’s remarks surrounding the Obama Justice Department’s Operation Fast and Furious were highly combative.
In his opening statement, Holder said he wanted to clear up and “correct some of the inaccurate and irresponsible accusations surrounding Fast and Furious.”
The problem is, the only person or department that has been inaccurate and irresponsible surrounding Fast and Furious accusations are officials within the Department of Justice, headed by Attorney General Eric Holder, and ATF management officials. Every lie that the Obama Justice Department has thrown out surrounding Fast and Furious has been proven false by the House Oversight Committee, Senator Charles Grassley’s office and alternative media outlets up to this point.
Considering his past testimony about when he originally knew about Fast and Furious, Holder was today questioned about his testimony timeline surrounding the scandal. He said in May 2011 he had only known about the program for “a few weeks,” yet memos addressed directly to him detailing the program are dated July and August 2010.
(Chart courtesy of the Office of Senator John Cornyn)
“I first learned about the tactics at the beginning of this year,” Holder said to clarify the dates of his knowledge. “In my testimony before the house committee I did say a few weeks, I probably should have said a couple of months.”
“Clearly by the time I testified before the house committee I knew for a couple of months,” Holder said.
Visibly frustrated, Holder said the focus on his conflicting testimony regarding when he knew about Operation Fast and Furious was a “distraction.”
The most pathetic part of Holder’s testimony was when he claimed he was doing everything in his power to bring justice to the families of border violence.
“As someone who has seen the consequences of gun violence firsthand--who has promised far too many grieving families that I would do everything in my power not only to seek justice on behalf of their loved ones, but also to prevent other families from experiencing similar tragedies,” Holder said.
Tell that to the Terry family, who has yet to receive an apology or any information surrounding Brian Terry's murder, a fatal result of Fast and Furious, in the Arizona desert on December 14, 2010. How about telling that to the family of I.C.E. Agent Jamie Zapata, who had to file a Freedom of Information Act form in order to gain information about the murder of their son in Mexico, which is also thought to be linked to the Obama Justice Department’s Fast and Furious operation.
Fast and Furious hasn’t only had bad consequences in Arizona and Mexico, but in Texas as well. According to Texas Senator John Cornyn, 119 guns linked to Operation Fast and Furious have showed up in his state.
Cornyn gave Holder the opportunity to apologize to the Terry family for Fast and Furious, to which Holder refused and admitted he has not spoken with the family at all about his murder. That’s right: Brian Terry’s mother, Josephine Terry, hasn’t received a single phone call from Holder about the murder of her son. Why? Holder said it is “unfair” to hold the Department of Justice accountable for his death. Remember, the Terry family has been denied victim status in this case by the government, which means the Obama Administration can wash its hands clean of Terry’s murder and avoid an unlawful death suit.
Throughout the hearing, Holder was repeatedly asked who he would be holding accountable for Fast and Furious and for Brian Terry’s murder.
“I have ultimate responsibility for what happens in the department,” Holder said, claiming those responsible for and those who thought Operation Fast and Furious was a good idea, would be held accountable but didn’t give specific names.
Holder can start with ATF Assistant to the Assistant Director in Washington D.C. William Newell, who said he would do Operation Fast and Furious all over again during testimony in July. Newell served as the special agent in charge of the ATF Phoenix Field Division throughout Fast and Furious and saw guns from the program showing up at violent crime scenes as a sign of the program “working.” Holder said during testimony he wouldn’t call for the resignation of Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, despite Breuer submitting false information to Sen. Grassley about Fast and Furious and supposedly withholding information about gun walking within the Department. Holder could also look in the mirror, and hold himself accountable for the program, because as he admitted, he has ultimate responsibility for what happens in his department.
On top of evading responsibility and refusing to apologize to the Terry family, Holder predictably called for more gun control to solve the problem of illegal gun trafficking into Mexico while reiterating the lie that the majority of guns in Mexico come from the United States. He claimed Operation Fast and Furious was a “flawed response” to gun trafficking, not the cause of the flow of illegal guns to Mexico from the U.S.
“As you all know, the trafficking of firearms across our Southwest Border has long been a serious problem--one that has contributed to approximately 40,000 deaths in the last five years. As Senator Feinstein noted last week, of the nearly 96,000 guns that have been recovered and traced in Mexico in recent years, over 64,000 were sources to the United States,” Holder said.
Holder also shamelessly pulled the "blame House Republicans"-card and said, “Unfortunately, earlier this year the House of Representatives actually voted to keep law enforcement in the dark when individuals purchase multiple semi-automatic rifles and shotguns in Southwest border gun shops.”
Holder failed to point out it was ATF management and his Justice Department that left Mexican authorities and ATF agents working in Mexico out of the loop during Operation Fast and Furious and that reporting measures are worthless when the federal government is breaking its own laws. Not to mention, throughout Fast and Furious, law abiding gun shop owners and workers were extremely uncomfortable with selling to known straw purchasers under the direction of ATF in the first place.
Despite leaving Mexican authorities in the dark, Holder also claimed his department has been working with Mexican authorities to “develop new procedures for using evidence gathering in Mexico to prosecute gun traffickers in U.S. courts; training thousands of Mexican prosecutors and investigations; by successfully fighting to enhance sentencing guidelines for convicted traffickers and straw purchasers; and by pursuing coordinated, multi-district investigations of gun-trafficking rings.” The fact is there was no coordination to prosecute gun traffickers under Operation Fast and Furious, not to mention, gun trafficking prosecutions under the Obama Administration are nearly non-existent.
Holder’s testimony surrounding Operation Fast and Furious on Capitol Hill can be summed up this way: I knew nothing about this, none of my senior officials authorized this, it was a local project and we need more gun control.
“The straw buyers in Fast and Furious were already breaking the law,” Sen. Grassley said. “The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter how many laws we pass if those responsible for enforcing them refuse to do their duty--as was the case in Fast and Furious.”