Fast and Furious

Judge dismisses DOJ request end lawsuit over “Fast and Furious” documents

Attorney General Eric Holder might have a hard time keeping the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee from browsing through the “Fast and Furious” documents now that a federal judge has rejected his request to dismiss the committee’s lawsuit.

The Justice Department had requested the U.S. District Court to dismiss the Committee’s lawsuit asking for access to the “Operation Fast and Furious” documents, which had been kept from Congress after President Barack Obama asserted executive privilege over the records.

The president’s assertion was timely provided, given its stalling of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s investigation into “Fast and Furious,” which ultimately prompted Rep. Darrell E. Issa (R-CA) to question Obama’s reasoning behind the delay to assert privilege over the documents. The President’s assertion of privilege over the documents happened exactly eight months after they were subpoenaed.

According to the investigators looking into the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) undercover operation known as “Operation Fast and Furious,” as many as 2,000 weapons might have ended up in the hands of narcotraffickers. Multiple crime scenes were connected to some of the weapons that might have been brought across the Mexican border as a result of the undercover operation.

While the DOJ confirmed its officials had turned virtually all records concerning the operation, but a letter sent to Congress on February 4, 2011 shows certain inconsistencies that worried Congressional investigators.

Fast and Furious over Fast and Furious

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:

Five issues that will not win the 2012 election

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen Republicans begin to criticize President Barack Obama on various ancillary issues. Some of them are valid. Others not so much. Poll after poll shows that Americans are more concerned about the economy and jobs than other issues that may pop up in the news or the various memes that may arise from either the right or the left.

Here are some of the oft-repeated issues that have come up in recent days that conservatives and Republicans should stay away from if they hope to beat Obama and Democrats in the fall.

Social Issues: We’ve been over this one before thanks to the contraceptive kerfuffle earlier this year. It ended up being a bad issue for Republicans and they took a hit with women in the polls. They were largely right, in that taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to fund contraceptives and that the mandate was an infringement of the First Amendment on religious organizations that now have to pay for something to which they may have a moral objection.

More recently, however, it looks like they learned their lesson. When President Obama announced his support for gay marriage at the state-level, Republicans in Congress were mostly silent, though they did reinterate their support for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which is facing a legal challenge. That doesn’t mean that it won’t come up again during the course of the next several months, as we get close to November.

Polls show that social issues, such as gay marriage and abortion, are not on minds of voters, particularly independents. And perhaps even more of important are polls that show a majority of Americans are supportive of gay marriage.

Federal judge orders Eric Holder to turn over a list Fast and Furious documents to a House committee

A federal judge has delivered a blow to the White House and the Justice Department’s attempt to keep information related to Operation Fast and Furious out of the hands of members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Although she didn’t order the release of the documents themselves, Judge Amy Berman Jackson did order Attorney General Eric Holder’s department to send a list of the documents to the committee:

Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that the Justice Department must provide the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee with a list of documents — but not the documents themselves — withheld on the gunrunning operation.

The agency has until Oct. 1 to turn over the documents, Jackson said during a status hearing.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the Oversight panel, cheered the ruling.

“This administration has been so intent on hiding the contents of these documents that it allowed Attorney General Holder to be held in contempt instead of just turning them over to Congress,” Issa said. “The privilege log will bring us closer to finding out why the Justice Department hid behind false denials in the wake of reckless conduct that contributed to the violent deaths of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and countless Mexican citizens.”

CBS News reporter resigns, cites network’s liberal bias

Sharyl Attkisson, a journalist known for her reporting on Fast and Furious as well as Benghazi, has resigned her position at CBS News, citing, among other things, the network’s liberal bias (emphasis added):

CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson has reached an agreement to resign from CBS News ahead of contract, bringing an end to months of hard-fought negotiations, sources familiar with her departure told POLITICO on Monday.

Attkisson, who has been with CBS News for two decades, had grown frustrated with what she saw as the network’s liberal bias, an outsized influence by the network’s corporate partners and a lack of dedication to investigative reporting, several sources said. She increasingly felt like her work was no longer supported and that it was a struggle to get her reporting on air.

At the same time, Attkisson’s own reporting on the Obama administration, which some staffers characterized as agenda-driven, had led network executives to doubt the impartiality of her reporting. She is currently at work on a book — tentatively titled “Stonewalled: One Reporter’s Fight for Truth in Obama’s Washington” — which addresses the challenges of reporting critically on the Obama administration.
Others have suggested that CBS News itself was politically biased: “It’s no secret that Sharyl has been unhappy about CBS’s lack of interest in investigative reporting, especially when it comes to stories about the Obama administration,” a source close to Attkisson said.

Two more deaths tied to Operation Fast and Furious

Operation Fast and Furious

While congressional investigations into Operation Fast and Furious have stalled because of the White House and Justice Department’s refusal to cooperate, the failed gun-walking scheme is back in the news again. The Los Angeles Times reports that a semi-automatic rifle used in the murder of a Mexican police chief and a body guard has been traced back to Operation Fast and Furious:

Luis Lucio Rosales Astorga, the police chief in the city of Hostotipaquillo, was shot to death Jan. 29 when gunmen intercepted his patrol car and opened fire. Also killed was one of his bodyguards. His wife and a second bodyguard were wounded.

Local authorities said eight suspects in their 20s and 30s were arrested after police seized them nearby with a cache of weapons — rifles, grenades, handguns, helmets, bulletproof vests, uniforms and special communications equipment. The area is a hot zone for rival drug gangs, with members of three cartels fighting over turf in the region.

A semi-automatic WASR rifle, the firearm that killed the chief, was traced back to the Lone Wolf Trading Company, a gun store in Glendale, Ariz. The notation on the Department of Justice trace records said the WASR was used in a “HOMICIDE – WILLFUL – KILL –PUB OFF –GUN” –ATF code for “Homicide, Willful Killing of a Public Official, Gun.”

Poll: Plurality believes Eric Holder should resign

Looking back on his four-plus years as President Barack Obama’s Attorney General, one has to wonder if Eric Holder regrets taking the job. The job has its trials and and hardships, as does any political appointment or office, but Holder’s actions have frequently been the source of controversy.

The first significant controversy that Holder faced was over Operation Fast and Furious, the ATF’s now-infamous gunrunning scandal that led to the deaths of 200 innocent people, and the subsequent congressional investigation. The Justice Department was less than cooperative in the investigation and President Obama invoked executive privilege to block investigators access to documents relating to the scandal, an action that Americans opposed. Holder was eventually found in criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the investigation.

The American Empire: Renewal or Ruin?

What in heaven’s name has happened to the country I grew up admiring? That is the question I’ve been asking myself over and over since the re-election of Barack Obama. While it’s easy to blame the crumbling of those principles, values and characteristics on Obama and liberal Democrats, that’s an easy way out, a little white lie we tell ourselves as a comfort mechanism. We blame it on Obama having run a campaign of distractions and outright lies to hide his failures (he did), or Romney not running an effective ground game (he didn’t) or being an eloquent spokesman for conservative principles (he wasn’t). We blame it on widespread voter fraud by Democrats (there was), or the media being complicit in protecting Obama by helping cover up the truth about scandals like Fast and Furious, or Benghazi (they were).

Yet not even those things reveal the underlying truth about the hastening erosion of what was once the foundation of American exceptionalism. We once valued hard work, honesty, fidelity in marriage, humility, and personal responsibility. We held up as men and women to be admired those who were industrious and entrepreneurial. These were traits we aimed for, even though we often fell short. Yet where are these values today? John F. Kennedy, the iconic president adored by Democrats, once exhorted us to “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Contrast that Democrat’s pseudo-messianic figure in Obama, who shuns the call for sacrifice, for hard work, telling us we have a right to free health care, welfare checks, food stamps, and a plethora of other goodies, all paid for by taxing at ever greater levels the hated, evil rich.

Fast and Furious report leaves many questions

Darrell Issa holds up redacted Fast and Furious document

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.

House files suit against Holder over Fast and Furious documents

Darrell Issa holds up redacted Fast and Furious document

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.

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