Operation Fast and Furious went to a further level today. Specifically, a US congressman threatened the Attorney General with impeachment.
A fast and furious mission
Attorney General Eric Holder took the stand today. He had reason to feel embarrassed before he sat down. Last night, CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson finally said out loud what most other media outlets were afraid to say. She said that the real purpose of Operation Fast and Furious was to give the Obama administration an excuse to push for more gun control.
Even Fox News Channel’s William LaJeunesse never said that. Only a few alternative-media voices have said anything like that. They are:
- Mike Vanderboegh at Sipsey Street Irregulars
- David Codrea, National Gun Rights Examiner
- Kurt Hofmann, St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner
- Dave Workman, Seattle Gun Right Examiner
- Anthony G. “The Welshman” Martin, National Conservative Examiner
And, of course, CNAV.
Last night (December 7), the Justice Department “dumped” some documents, as they usually do when they must release something embarrassing. As Martin reported, Sharyl Attkisson picked up on several e-mails between and among senior officials at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Those e-mails refer repeatedly to Demand Letter 3. This was to be the third in a series of demand letters that ATF would send to all gun dealers, each demanding yet more reporting of sales of different kinds of guns. Attkisson, and Martin after her, highlighted this sentence in an e-mail to Bill Newell, former head of the ATF Field Division, Phoenix, AZ: (At least one observer suspects that the ATF did send Demand Letter 3 out in April.)
“Bill – can you see if these guns were all purchased from the same (licensed gun dealer) and at one time. We are looking at anecdotal cases to support a demand letter on long gun multiple sales. Thanks.”
The author: Mark Chait, Assistant Director of Field Operations, ATF.
Of course, basing law or public policy on anecdotal evidence is fallacious anyway. But CNAV has long suspected that ATF wanted statistical evidence to back up an absurd claim that “ninety percent of all the guns in drug-cartel hands in Mexico came from the United States.” The goal of Operation Fast and Furious was to place “throw-down weapons” at Mexican crime scenes.
The Attkisson report also showed that Phoenix-area gun dealers knew that something was wrong. This excerpt, from a gun dealer’s message to an ATF officer, is telling:
“I wanted to make sure that none of the firearms that were sold per our conversation with you and various ATF agents could or would ever end up south of the border or in the hands of the bad guys. I guess I am looking for a bit of reassurance that the guns are not getting south or in the wrong hands…I want to help ATF with its investigation but not at the risk of agents (sic) safety because I have some very close friends that are US Border Patrol agents in southern AZ as well as my concern for all the agents (sic) safety that protect our country.”
“It’s like ATF created or added to the problem so they could be the solution to it and pat themselves on the back,” says one law enforcement source familiar with the facts. “It’s a circular way of thinking.”
It’s more than that. That gun dealer should have been afraid that ATF would blame him for guns turning up at Mexican crime scenes. Him, and every other gun dealer in the Arizona/New Mexico territory, the whole American Southwest, and across the country.
A fast and furious exchange
Today the always-testy relationship between the Department of Justice and the Congress came to a head. Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) is Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and also sits on the House Judiciary Committee. Today the full Judiciary Committee heard Holder. (See his statement here.) Why, and by what right, they wanted to know, did he withhold information from the Congress?
That is, the Republicans wanted to know these things. The Democrats didn’t care. Indeed, as Workman reports, the Democrats almost gave the game away. One thing, and only thing only, matters to them: taking the guns out of the hands of the citizenry.
Toward the end of the hearing, Issa rhetorically tore the skin off Holder for his repeated lack of cooperation with his own Oversight Committee. Then he came to the point: he asked whether Holder would resign. Holder indignantly refused. And that, according to Codrea, is when Issa dropped the phrase contempt of Congress into the room. (Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, R-WI, dropped an even more dreadful word: impeachment.) In return, Holder, trying to imitate Judge Joseph N. Welch when he appeared before Senator Joseph McCarthy (WI), shot back:
Have you no shame?
Sensenbrenner asked why the DOJ withdrew a document it had “dumped” back in February, saying that no DOJ higher-ups knew about Operation Fast and Furious. The withdrawal notice admitted that the document had several “inaccuracies.” Why, Sensenbrenner wanted to know, could Congress not take that as an admission that the DOJ lied to Congress. Holder gave the legal definition of mens rea (Latin, “state of mind”), and denied that anyone could show a willful intent to deceive.
Martin’s latest report suggests that Holder might resign anyway, especially if the e-mails in the Wednesday evening “document dump” are even more damaging than Sharyl Attkisson has already revealed.
The Constitution (Article II, Section 4) reads:
Two Presidents of the United States have faced impeachment. So have a number of federal judges. Cabinet officers caught in scraps like this usually resign when the President asks them to. Eric Holder might become the first Cabinet officer to face impeachment.
The problem: the man now holding office as President would preside over any trial of the impeachment in the Senate. And the Senate would never muster the two-thirds supermajority that a conviction would require.
But this would be the worst embarrassment that Barack H. Obama and the Senate Democratic Caucus have ever faced. Most observers expect Obama to spare himself that by asking Holder to resign. CNAV is not so certain. Obama might decide instead to “brazen it out,” and campaign openly for universal citizen disarmament. Several Senators and Representatives have already shown that they would like to do precisely that.
- A Journalist’s Guide to Project Gunwalker, Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, and Seven.
- The next level
- More subpoenas
- Shell game
- Cover-ups continue
- Death threats
- Fast and Furious is not Gunrunner
- The unraveling
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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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