Attorney General Eric Holder’s attempt yesterday to distance himself from Operation Fast and Furious – the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ botched gun trafficking sting – has drawn blistering reactions on an ATF watchdog website, and from the U.S. Senator who has been investigating the scandal for the past eight months.
Northwest gun rights activists are following the Fast & Furious story at WaGuns.org, SeattleGuns.net, Northwest Firearms.com, GunRightsMedia.com and even Hunting-Washington.com. This column discussed allegations that the scandal reaches much higher than the ATF offices in Phoenix, from whence Fast and Furious was launched.
Holder, during a press conference covered by Reuters, Fox News and others, insisted:
“The notion that somehow or other that this thing reaches into the upper levels of the Justice Department is something that, at this point, I don’t think is supported by the facts.”
But Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) who has been doggedly pursuing the truth about Fast and Furious in an effort to identify those responsible for the operation, which is linked to the slaying of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry last December 15, and hold them accountable, was not impressed. In a statement provided to this column and Gun Week, Grassley observed:
“We need to know exactly what happened and why. Then people need to be held accountable to make sure something so stupid never happens again.”—Sen. Charles Grassley
But instead of cooperating with Grassley’s inquiry, and a separate investigation launched earlier this year by Congressman Darrell Issa and his House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the Justice Department and ATF have been anything but cooperative. Grassley and Issa have both repeatedly complained about stonewalling. This column discussed recently-revealed documents that suggest an official cover-up. Days ago, as this column noted, NRA’s Wayne LaPierre joined a growing chorus calling for an independent prosecutor to investigate Fast and Furious and the alleged cover-up.
And this morning, an administrator at CleanUpATF.org took off the gloves:
“Does anyone here actually buy Holder’s claim that he and DOJ’s senior leadership were entirely “unaware” of an operation that deliberately allowed thousands of assault rifles, fragmentation grenades and other military-grade weaponry to cross an international border?
These guys are suing States and accusing them of “human rights” violations before international bodies such as the U.N., for those States’ last-ditch attempts to stop the flood of illegal aliens (including thousands of violent criminals) from violating our borders, trashing their citizens’ ranches, overloading their schools, and sucking up their welfare funds, all of which are federal government responsibilities and abject failures.
Yet, when it comes to truckloads of high-powered weapons flowing the other direction and killing our own valiant law enforcement agents along with thousands of Mexican citizens, they don’t know a damned thing! This is clearly either an incredibly brazen cover-up of Watergate significance, or Eric Holder is among the most incompetent Attorney Generals ever to disgrace the Office.
And let’s not forget that all of the key ATF management players have been promoted (or at least shuffled into other positions), rather than being severely disciplined, terminated and/or prosecuted as is clearly warranted…”
My colleague, National Gun Rights Examiner Dan, weighs in here with his own perspective on Holder’s remarks to the press Wednesday. Holder has maintained from the outset that he was not aware of Fast and Furious until earlier this year, but Sen. Grassley has a much different recollection of events, and how things might have played out over the past several months, had Holder and the Justice Department been more forthcoming.
If the Justice Department and the Attorney General had been cooperative when I first asked questions in January, instead of stonewalling and pretending like I never asked the Attorney General about Fast and Furious, we may already have this behind us.”—Sen. Charles Grassley
The veteran Iowa lawmaker, who is ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, was not impressed by Holder’s suggestion, as reported by Fox News, that Congressional inquiries into the botched operation – which now has even reached into the White House – might be partisan in nature.
On Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder said for the first time that not only he but also other higher-ups at the Justice Department were not aware of the operation as it was being carried out. Holder also suggested politics could be a driving force behind Republican lawmakers’ forceful inquiries into the matter.—Fox News
While the facts about who knew what and when may be in dispute – as asserted by former acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson, who told Congressional investigators that Justice was covering up the case to protect Obama administration appointees – Grassley was indisputably direct in his reaction:
“Oversight shouldn’t be a partisan issue. I don’t care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat. People know my history of oversight, and it’s equal opportunity. I’m focused on getting to the bottom of Operation Fast and Furious, wherever the facts lead.”—Sen. Charles Grassley
Holder’s shuffle of ATF management and the resignation of Dennis Burke as U.S. Attorney in Phoenix last week, did not impress ATF whistleblowers including Vincent Cefalu, who raised alarms early in the case. His “reward” for diligence has been to spend the past two years essentially “on duty at home,” as this column reported Wednesday.
The Attorney General may want to plead ignorance, but by so doing, he leaves open the door for more criticism from gun rights advocates that he should resign for being essentially asleep at the wheel while Fast and Furious was imploding under his nose, as this column reported.
It is a no-win situation for Holder at this point, say his critics. He must either plead incompetence or monumental ignorance. There is no third “I” option.
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