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Holder: Blame Fast and Furious on Someone Else

Thursday, November 10, 2011

This week, Attorney General Eric Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he was not aware of the gunwalking tactics used in Operation Fast and Furious until early this year, and that he and senior Justice Department officials were initially unaware that a claim made by other department officials in a Feb. 4, 2011, letter to Congress—that “A.T.F. makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transport into Mexico”—was false.

During the committee’s hearings on Justice Department oversight, Holder also blamed the on-going inquiry into Fast and Furious on Republican politics. He refused to apologize to the family of murdered U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, beside whose lifeless body one, and perhaps two, guns walked by Fast and Furious were found.  In another effort to protect the Obama Administration against criticism, Holder suggested that Agent Terry’s murder shouldn’t be blamed on Fast and Furious in the first place. And he faulted the House of Representatives for voting to withhold federal funds from any effort to implement the BATFE’s requirement that firearm dealers in the southwest border states report sales of two or more detachable-magazine semi-automatic rifles of greater than .22 caliber. (The NRA is challenging the illegal requirement in federal court.)

“I am determined to ensure that our shared concerns about Operation Fast and Furious lead to more than headline-grabbing Washington 'gotcha' games and cynical political point-scoring," Holder said early on, trying to impugn the motives of Republican senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and John Cornyn of Texas, who later pressed Holder for detailed answers about the timeline of events in the unfolding of the gunwalking scandal.

Sen. Grassley asked Holder why he risked being in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with congressional requests for information about who signed off on a Feb. 4, 2011, letter from Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Ronald Weich to Sen. Grassley, which falsely stated that “ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico.” 

Sen. Cornyn asked Holder whether he had apologized to the family of Agent Terry, but Holder said that he hadn’t even spoken to the family. Sen. Cornyn then gave Holder the opportunity to apologize to the Terry family on the spot, but Holder declined. “I certainly regret what happened to Agent Brian Terry,” Holder managed to say. But further demonstrating the Obama Administration’s refusal to take responsibility for any wrongdoing, Holder added, “It is not fair, however, to assume that the mistakes that happened in Fast and Furious directly led to the death of Agent Terry.”

Understandably, the Terry family didn’t agree. “Mr. Holder needs to own up to Operation Fast and Furious,” the family said. “In the end, Mr. Holder may choose not to apologize to the Terry family for the role that ATF and DOJ played in the death of Brian Terry, but the Attorney General should accept responsibility immediately. It is without question, the right thing to do.”

When it became his turn to question Holder, one of the Senate’s most aggressive gun control supporters, Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), engaged in a little “gotcha gaming” and “political point-scoring” of his own, by claiming that gunwalking had first taken place during the Bush Administration.

“[I]t didn't start with the Obama administration,” Schumer said. “It started with [Bush Attorney General] Alberto Gonzales and then continued with General Mukasey” during Operation Wide Receiver.  Schumer was wrong because the movement of guns during Wide Receiver was monitored by U.S. and Mexican agents, while Fast and Furious deliberately allowed guns to disappear.  As even Schumer unwittingly admitted,  “The briefing material from 2007, which was prepared for General Mukasey, stated that, quote, ‘ATF has recently worked jointly with Mexico on the first ever attempt to have a controlled delivery of weapons being smuggled into Mexico by a major arms trafficker.... The ATF would like to expand the possibility of such joint investigations and controlled deliveries, since only then it will be possible to investigate an entire smuggling network, rather than arresting a simple smuggler.”

Meanwhile, on Thursday, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Cal.) pressed Assistant Attorney General Weich, author of the Feb. 4 letter Sen. Grassley asked about, to provide documents and other information about the letter. Also, this week, the number of congressmen calling for Holder’s resignation rose to 38, with Bill Flores (R-Tex.) and Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) adding their names to the growing list of men and women in the House of Representatives who think that Holder knew, should have known, or should have since found out who knew about Fast and Furious’s gunwalking before it became public earlier this year.

And, former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke admitted that he leaked secret records about BATFE Special Agent John Dodson, the leading whistle-blower against Fast and Furious. When Burke was forced to resign from his former post in August, Holder issued a statement praising Burke for demonstrating “an unwavering commitment to the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s office.”

As we reported last week, the time has come to fire Eric Holder.  

NRA-ILA has prepared a video that all freedom-loving Americans need to watch.  The video shows that Holder's actions prove he can't be trusted with the sanctity of our freedoms, the powers of his office, or the lives of our law enforcement officers.  To watch the video, please click here.

Please help spread the word and forward this video to family, friends and fellow gun owners.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.