By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard about Operation Fast and Furious, which actually is not an effort to catch illegal drag racers. Instead, it’s an operation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) where it’s been alleged that BATFE agents let tons of firearms flow south of the border by people they knew to be buying for the Mexican drug cartels. One of these guns was reportedly used to kill US Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.
The gun rights community, predictably, is up in arms (pun unintended) about it. Some are going so far as to claim it is all part of an effort to push forward increased gun regulations here. Yesterday, President Obama claimed executive priviledge regarding documents that Congress and subpenoaed. They had ordered them eight months ago.
Now, first let me address the conspiracy theory regarding using Fast and Furious being a way to push forward regulations here. I might have had something to do with that one. Months ago, on a blog that is no longer up on the net, I wrote that if I were inclined towards conspiracy theories, I would believe such a thing. After all, the use of American guns by drug cartels was cited by both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as reasons why we needed tougher gun regulations in the US. This was while Fast and Furious was going on and sending a proverbial buttload of guns down to Mexico…guns that BATFE knew about and did nothing to prevent.
Of course, a report from CBS News from December, 2011 looks like I might have been on to something:
House Republicans, led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), have tried to dig deep into the sordid mess of Operation Fast and Furious, only to be meet with hostility from Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department.
The scheme led by the ATF, in which agents knowingly allowed some 2,000 guns to cross the border and into the hands of some of Mexico’s most violent drug cartels, resulted in the deaths of more than 200 innocent people, including Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. When Issa and other tried to get answers, they were stonewalled and lied to by Holder. President Barack Obama invoked “executive privilege” to keep documents related to the scandal out of the hands of investigators, despite Americans’ desire for transparency.
But a new report released yesterday sheds at least some light on the scandal and those who will ultimately bear responsibility for it:
The Justice Department’s inspector general recommended on Wednesday that 14 current federal officials face disciplinary reviews over the botched gun-trafficking investigation known as Operation Fast and Furious.
The investigation into the Fast and Furious scandal came to a head in June when the House of Representatives approved two separate charges finding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt. Holder had refused to comply with requests from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to produce thousands of pages of material related to the operation. The Justice Department has only produced 7,600 pages of documents out of the more than 100,000 requested by the committee.
Instead of providing transparency to Congress — and ostensibly, the American people, President Obama invoked “executive privilege,” which effectively prevents congressional investigators from viewing sought after materials. But yesterday, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, filed suit claiming that the Obama Administration has no legal basis on which to conceal documents related to the scandal:
A lawsuit filed today by House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) alleged Attorney General Eric Holder is standing on a “legally baseless” claim in refusing to provide internal Justice Department documents relating to the “Fast and Furious” gun walking investigation.
Last month, the House of Representatives took the extraordinary step of voting to find Attorney General Eric Holder in both criminal and civil contempt of Congress over his failing to comply with requests for documents related to the Fast and Furious scandal. Even though the Justice Department, which Holder oversees, will not pursue the criminal charges, House Republicans have indicated that they will follow through with the civil charge.
Unfortunately, President Barack Obama has invoked “executive privilege” in order to conceal documents related to the ATF operation gone awry. Early polls indicated that Americans opposed use of “executive privilege,” but the Obama Administration has not back down from its stance.
According to a CNN/ORC International survey released Monday morning, 53% of people questioned say they approve of the House vote a week and a half ago to hold the attorney general in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents related to a controversial program called Operation Fast and Furious, with one in three saying they disapprove of the move and 13% unsure.
Nearly three-quarters of Republicans approve of the move, as do a majority of independent voters, while a plurality of Democrats oppose the vote.
The storm may have gotten a little quiet since the House of Representatives voted to find Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, but it may be getting loud again soon thanks to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Hill reports that Sen. Grassley has sent a request to the Justice Department demanding more information on Operation Fast and Furious, the ATF gunwalking scheme that allowed firearms and munitions to cross the border with Mexico and into the hands of violent drug cartels:
On Tuesday, Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Holder questioning who within the Justice Department knew of a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) memorandum reportedly circulated one day prior to the DOJ denying allegations of sanctioned “gunwalking” to lawmakers.
“I believe the Department should have been abundantly aware of allegations of gunwalking as there was more than one ATF agent providing information to Department components before the February 4, 2011, letter was sent to Congress,” he wrote.
Grassley alleges that his investigators contacted an ATF special agent on Feb. 2, 2011, who confirmed information provided by other ATF whistleblowers. The next day, that agent produced a memo documenting this discussion, which reportedly traveled through ATF’s chain of command.
By a vote of 255 to 67 (109 did not vote, one voted present), the House of Representatives has found Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for his failure to produce documents related to the Fast and Furious scandal. Seventeen Democrats voted with Republicans to find Holder in contempt.
Operation Fast and Furious allowed more than 2,000 guns, some of which were purchased by convicted felons, to walk across the border with Mexico and into the hands of violent drug cartels. More than 200 of those guns found their way to crime scenes in Mexico. Some 200 people are believed to have been killed with weapons connected to the Operation Fast and Furious. Guns connected to the operation have found their way back into the United States and have been used in crimes here, including the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
The Supreme Court won’t bring all of the fireworks today as the finally make public their decision in the legal challenges to ObamaCare. As I explained yesterday, the House of Representatives is set to vote on the contempt resolution against Attorney General Eric Holder due to his failure to produce documents related to the Fast and Furious scandal.
Because the National Rifle Association is scoring the vote on the resolution, some House Democrats are planning to cross the aisle and vote to find Holder in contempt, a point that House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) freely admitted earlier this week. The National Journal tells us exactly which members are bolting from their party on the vote:
he House may vote on Thursday to cite Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress in connection to the Fast and Furious investigation. And although the vote will likely be largely split along party lines, some Democrats have said they’re breaking ranks. Here’s a list of such members, which we’re updating:
Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., plans to vote yes, his press secretary confirmed to the Alley.
Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, was the first to announce he’s going with the Republicans on this one.
With a contempt vote against Attorney General Eric Holder looming in the House of Representatives thanks to his failure to turn over documents related to the “Fast and Furious scandal, a new poll from The Hill shows that Americans believe President Barack Obama overreached last week by invoking “executive privilege”:
A clear majority of likely voters believes President Obama has exercised his executive power inappropriately — particularly in blocking the release of documents relating to “Operation Fast and Furious,” according to a new poll for The Hill.
Obama last week invoked executive privilege to stop certain Justice Department documents relating to the botched “gun-walking” operation from being disclosed to the House Oversight and Government Reform committee.
The same panel, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), voted along party lines to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.
The Hill Poll found that likely voters disapproved by an almost 2-to-1 margin of Obama’s assertion of presidential power in the case. Overall, 56 percent of voters disapproved of his action, while only 29 percent approved.
Sixty-one percent of independents said they disapproved of the president’s actions, and just 25 percent approved. Among Republicans, opposition to the president’s use of executive privilege was more entrenched at 78 percent.
Even 28 percent of Democrats, and 30 percent of self-identified liberals disapproved of Obama’s position.
The American Future Fund, a prominent GOP-leaning PAC that has committed millions for ads in the current election cycle, is looking to capitalize on the recent headache for Attorney General Eric Holder, who is facing a pending contempt vote in the House.
Now infamous, Operation Fast and Furious allowed ATF agents to knowingly allow straw purchasers to walk guns across the Mexico border in the midst of a violent war between drug cartels. Sadly, some of the weapons were used in the murders of dozens of innocent people. Since coming to light, the Obama Administration has been less than cooperative in providing information about the operation to Congress.
The new ad starts off with the mention of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was killed in January 2010. AFF notes that weapons linked to the operation were linked at the scene of his murder. The ad points out that President Obama has denied knowledge of the operation and inconsistancies in Holder’s own testimony on the operation.
After months of unanswered questions, stalling, and obstruction in the congressional inquiring into Operation Fast and Furious, the ATF’s botched gunwalking scheme; Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have scheduled a contempt vote against Attorney General Eric Holder:
The House Oversight and Government reform committee announced Monday that it will vote on a “contempt of Congress” motion against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder “for his failure to produce documents” related to the department’s knowledge of Fast and Furious, which the panel subpoenaed in October.
The announcement ends a brief detente between the two branches over Fast and Furious. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, tried to stave off a contempt vote by pressuring the White House directly to turn over thousands of pages of documents, but the Justice Department has not complied.
Aides told The Washington Examiner that the committee’s statement could be a last-ditch effort to get Holder to cough up the documents. The statement includes this line: “If the Attorney General decides to produce these subpoenaed documents, I am confident we can reach agreement on other materials and render the process of contempt unnecessary.”
Last week, Holder and House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., engaged in an angry exchange over the documents at a hearing, with Holder telling Issa he believes the department has released enough information. Issa responded by telling Holder, “You’re not a good witness.”
The panel is stacked in favor of Republicans, 22 to 16, so it’s likely the committee will vote Holder in contempt, but it remains unclear where the charge will go beyond Issa’s committee.