The Republican Witchhunt Against Attorney General Eric Holder

First, I want to state up front that I don’t understand the Republican obsession with “Operation Fast and Furious.” Frankly, I’ve paid almost no attention to the story until recently. But I guess if you watch Fox News it’s a huge story that is connected to Republican fears that President Obama is coming to take away their guns.

Republicans have been convinced that Obama wants to strip their Second Amendment rights since before the 2008 election–even though Obama has shown no interest at all in changing gun laws. He didn’t even propose any sort of gun control after the shooting of former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Of course Republicans never let facts get in the way of their beliefs.

“Fast and Furious” is part of a “gun walking” program begun by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) under the George W. Bush administration. Here is video in which radio talk show host Thom Hartman explains the program and the controversy.

Here’s a transcript of Hartman’s presentation:

Republicans live in an alternate universe. It’s a universe where Attorney General Eric Holder conspired with President Obama to sell a bunch of guns to Mexico in hopes that those guns would eventually make their way back to the United States – kill Americans – and create a crisis that gives the administration justification to then start confiscating everyone’s guns. I know this sounds like a tin foil hat conspiracy. But it’s how Republicans – in their alternate universe – have spun this so-called “Fast and Furious” program run out of the Department of Justice.

But for those who don’t watch Fox News and don’t know what Fast and Furious is – here are the facts. It was a program started by the Bush Administration – and it’s purpose was simple – though arguably misguided. Basically – the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives sold guns across the border in Mexico – in hopes that they could then track those guns as they made their way up to Mexico’s biggest drug cartels – to then bust up those big drug cartels. The plan didn’t work out too well – and in December of 2010 – a border patrol agent named Brian Terry was killed in a firefight with suspected undocumented immigrants along the Souther Border in Arizona. And it was later discovered that one of the guns that killed Agent Terry was traced back to the ATF’s Fast and Furious gun-running mission.

A month later – the ATF ended the Fast and Furious program. And the Republicans began their conspiracy-theory witch-hunt against Attorney General Eric Holder. Again – Attorney General Holder has handed over thousands of documents to comply with Chairman Darryl Issa’s investigation. The only documents he hasn’t handed over are ones that pertain to ongoing criminal investigations – which are not subject to Congressional subpoena. And Holder’s witchunt is even turning off other prominent Republicans. As Politico reported last month, “Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California have decided to slow Rep. Darrell Issa’s drive to hold the attorney general in contempt…Some within House GOP leadership circles would like Issa to abandon his plan for a committee and floor vote…They fear negative political fallout from citing the U.S. attorney general with contempt of Congress in an election year.” Yet next week – Republicans – stuck on their delusion and led by Darryl Issa – will vote to hold Attorney General Holder in contempt of Congress. They’ll do that rather than anything constructive – like trying to figure out what went wrong in the Fast and Furious program to begin with – or better yet – trying to figure out how to get Americans back to work.

It’s well known that Republicans plotted to commit treason on President Obama’s inauguration day – when the likes of Eric Cantor, John Kyl, and Newt Gingrich came together at a fancy steakhouse in Washington, DC and vowed to sabotage the economy to ruin the President’s first term. Voting no again and again to economic stimulus is just one part of the plan. The other is to carry out witchhunts – be it against Attorney General Holder – or Treasury Secretary Geithner – or President Obama’s so-called “czars” This isn’t about justice – this is about distractions, sabotage, and treason – led by people like Eric Cantor and executed by people like Darrell Issa. The only question is – who will hold these people to account when they succeed in crashing the economy and sentencing millions of Americans to poverty and desperation?

Yesterday, Attorney General Holder met with Rep. Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, in a last ditch attempt to satisfy Issa’s unreasonable demands (He has been demanding records that Holder cannot legally release).

Issa’s committee is specifically seeking documents that show why the Department of Justice decided to withdraw as inaccurate a February 2011 letter sent to Congress that said top officials had only recently learned about Fast and Furious.

Holder said he offered to turn over some of the documents sought by Issa when they met Tuesday in a final effort to resolve the dispute before Wednesday’s hearing. Issa, however, said Holder put unreasonable conditions on his offer.

In a letter to Issa after Tuesday’s meeting, [Deputy Attorney General James] Cole reiterated Holder’s position that the documents would show Holder had nothing to hide about his role in Fast and Furious.
Cole noted that the lone point of dispute was whether the February 4, 2011, letter was part of a broader effort to obstruct a congressional investigation.

“The answer to that question is an emphatic ‘no’ and we have offered the committee the opportunity to satisfy itself that that is so,” Cole wrote.

Predictably, Rep. Issa was not satisfied. Today, the President asserted Executive Privilege to protect Holder in his refusal to release the documents.

This afternoon the House Oversight Committee voted to hold the Attorney General in contempt.

The 23-to-17 vote, which fell along party lines, came after President Obama invoked executive privilege to withhold the documents and communications among Justice Department officials last year as they grappled with the Congressional investigation into the case. As part of the operation, weapons bought in the United States were allowed to reach a Mexican drug cartel in an effort to build a bigger case….

Deputy Attorney General James Cole said in a letter to Mr. Issa that the president was claiming privilege over the documents, although he suggested that there might yet be a way to negotiate the release of some of the contested documents.

“We regret that we have arrived at this point, after the many steps we have taken to address the committee’s concerns and to accommodate the committee’s legitimate oversight interests regarding Operation Fast and Furious,” Mr. Cole said in the letter. “Although we are deeply disappointed that the committee appears intent on proceeding with a contempt vote, the department remains willing to work with the committee to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution of the outstanding issues.”

Here are a couple of primers for those of us who don’t watch Fox News and don’t think the President wants to take away everyone’s guns:

Think Progress: Five Things To Know About The Republican Witchhunt Against Attorney General Holder.

Wall Street Journal: The Fast and Furious Dispute: A Guide.

I’d also like to call your attention to a post I wrote about Rep. Darrell Issa back in January, 2011: New Chairman of House Oversight Committee Lacks Moral Gravitas (To Put It Mildly). I spent quite a bit of time researching Issa’s history of criminality and corruption, and wrote about it in this post after the Republicans took over the House.

The full House still has to vote on whether to cite Holder for contempt of Congress, but it sounds like “Fast and Furious” is the new “Whitewater.” There’s no there there, but Republicans will continue to pretend it’s a real controversy; and the media will continue writing and talking about it.

32 Comments on “The Republican Witchhunt Against Attorney General Eric Holder”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    From Think Progress (linked in post):

    Issa Has No Case: Issa’s uncovered no evidence showing Holder bears any blame for the botched operations begun under George W. Bush, even though the Justice Department turned over thousands of pages of documents concerning the operations. Instead of accepting this fact, Issa has requested many more documents containing confidential information regarding ongoing law enforcement investigations, and is now threatening to hold Holder in contempt if these documents are not turned over. Holder is entirely correct to withhold these documents, however, because Justice Department documents are not subject to congressional subpoena if they would reveal “strategies and procedures that could be used by individuals seeking to evade [DOJ’s] law enforcement efforts.”

    • dakinikat says:

      Issa’s definitely on a witch hunt. They’re looking for scandals when there are none.

      • RalphB says:

        Yep and all the screaming and yelling about executive privilege will be just another standard Republican Rage-gasm. Meh.

    • northwestrain says:

      The important part IMHO is that this dumb ass idea started under the Bush/Cheney reign.

      Seems to me that the guys in government need to have a focus group to sound out all their wild ideas on. The focus group would have to have no ties to anyone in government but each one would need to be blessed with the ability to see through B.S. Duh — the guns were sold to people who kill other people.

      The GOP is looking for anything to use against 0bama — just like they did with Clinton. These are old political games.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Yes, and none of the Bush administration officials involved in it have been called to testify before Issa’s committee. Surprise, surprise.

    • m Andrea says:

      Holder hasn’t turned over all the documents, congress had to threaten him with some legal thing in order to get him to comply at all, to the extent he has. Yes, I haven’t been paying massive attention to the story lately, but it looks like there is some merit to their concern. Hello, just because a “program was started by Bush” doesn’t mean liberals are magically obligated to continue that program — unless they want to. Hello. Stop making totally stupid excuses.

      The other thing republicans are complaining about, apparently, is the way liberals don’t actually address the criticism, instead they dismiss the criticism as nonsense. As you did here.

      I am slowly discovering for myself that they do in fact have a bit of a reason for their complaints.

      • m Andrea says:

        *some* of their complaints, anyway. 😀

      • m Andrea says:

        And, apologies for sounding so harsh, but once I started reading a few republican blogs (that weren’t insane) AND they posted actual examples wherein the liberal party line tromps out the preferred narrative instead of noticing actual reality — yeah, I saw their point and for the very first notice how many liberals are just as bad as republicans when it comes to constructing a (false) narrative.

        Kinda disgusted, frankly.

        • dakinikat says:

          Is this a new troll trend? Come to a blog … identify it as liberal … call yourself liberal … and then agree with right wing talking points? Do you know anything about Issa? He hasn’t got an honest bone in his body.

      • ANonOMouse (Mouse) says:

        “Is this a new troll trend? Come to a blog … identify it as liberal … call yourself liberal … and then agree with right wing talking points? ”

        LOL!!!! I don’t think It’s a trend, I think it’s a tactic, Entire blogs are using this tactic as a method of swaying voters. The best way for these bloggers to set themselves up as legitimate critics of the Democratic Party or Dems in Congress or POTUS, or in this case Holder, is to paint themselves as former members, believers or communicants of that which they’re demonizing. The point of this sudden influx of troll critics is that this blog is demonstrably not on board with the RF’ers. More power to you!!!!

      • HT says:

        Ah, the paid troop sockpuppets have started already. Mitt must have one heckuva election bank in order to unleash them so soon.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Andrea’s spiel does sound kind of like a set piece, doesn’t it? They threatened him with “some legal thing?” And “hello”–she also sounds like an over the hill Valley Girl.

        She’s ‘slowly discovering for myself.” ROFLOL!

        The Romney trolls sound different than the Obama trolls, and so far they aren’t quite as mean and nasty as the Obama trolls in 2008.

      • Beata says:

        Overuse of the word “liberals” in comments, even when claiming to be one, always makes me suspicious. And a sure sign of a RF is using the abbreviation “Libs”.

  2. dailypuma says:

    If our government wanted to catch the mexican drug cartel, wouldn’t putting secret transponders in luxury cars have worked better? Then if it turns out that certain luxury cars always seem to be near where drug activity is going on, there might be probable cause to investigate further.

  3. Fannie says:

    No need to ask, but Issa think’s he is a SMOOTH OPERATOR

    • bostonboomer says:

      He’s definitely an operator. If you didn’t read my post about his criminal past, check it out. It’s linked at the end of this post.

      • Seriously says:

        That’s a great post. What is going on with the CA Democratic Party that they can’t beat this guy? A history of suspicious fires after jacking his fire insurance, the incidents with the guns, and he’s not only not charged but actually gets elected to Congress? *headdesk*

      • bostonboomer says:

        AND, he was a car thief! Issa is also as rich as Mitt Romney, and the richest member of Congress. He’s reported to be worth $250 million. Maybe that’s why he keeps getting re-elected?

  4. Fannie says:

    BB…………where is that link? Issa is the richest member of congress, somewhere above 600 million………………..Dial O for Operator

  5. Paul L. says:

    You forgot Eric Holder lied to Congress 3 times.
    The ATF does not gunwalk in a letter to Sen. Grassley (retracted by the DOJ)
    Holder only knew about gunwalking for a few weeks (Revised to a few months)
    Bush AG knew about gunwalking. (retracted by the DOJ)

    • bostonboomer says:

      Yes? And your point is?

      • Paul L. says:

        Holder is a Liar who has been covering up Fast and Furious.
        BTW if you cite Hartman as a authority, you know he believes that Reagan made a deal to sell guns to the Iranians to keep the hostages in order to beat Carter.

        So I can say Obama made a deal to sell guns to the Mexican drug lords to get donations through his AVS disabled website and promote gun control by increasing the number of American guns in Mexico to justify his bogus 90% gun statistic.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Oh please. Obama has shown zero interest in gun control. He even defended the SCOTUS decision to overturn the DC gun ban. Just go back to watching Fox News propaganda and spare us the idiotic, illogical conspiracy theories. I’m no fan of Obama or Holder, but what you’re arguing is nonsense.

      • Seriously says:

        Exactly. What reason does Obama have to purge the of land guns, except to fulfill this inane caricature that doesn’t exist anywhere except in your heads? Obama is devoted to one thing, and that’s Obama. He doesn’t care about gun control, he has no principles whatsoever.

  6. Paul L. says:

    Just pointing out that Thom Hartman has his share of tin foil hat conspiracy.
    Sorry to ruin your epistemic closure/echo chamber of MSNBC/RT/Current propaganda.

    • dakinikat says:

      And your epistemic closure/echo chamber of Fox current propaganda is just hunky dory, right? Which group of news watchers are the least informed on anything per multiple academic studies?

    • bostonboomer says:

      epistemic closure/echo chamber of MSNBC/RT/Current propaganda.

      That’s really funny. You don’t have the slightest idea who you’re talking to sweetie. Now run along and play with your wingnut pals.

    • Seriously says:

      This is the problem with turning everything into something it isn’t. Sure, this program was poorly conceived, poorly administered, stupid, and irresponsible. And yes, lying to Congress is wrong. But those points kind of get lost when you’re determined to create a showtrial run by transparent phonies who are simply acting as partisan hacks and trying to exploit the circus atmosphere for political gain. Thom Hartmann isn’t in Congress. There are very few places in the country where he could get elected to anything. Meanwhile, take a peek at Congress.

  7. janicen says:

    Wow. Congratulations Sky Dancers. I’ve been only dropping in briefly lately because I’ve been really busy, but I see you’ve been attracting some trolls! How wonderful! You know you’re doing something right when you’re getting under their skin! Keep it up! I love reading even if I don’t have time to comment.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Yeah, it’s election season again. We can ban them, if necessary but letting people see how ignorant and hateful they are is sometimes a good idea.