Thursday, June 21, 2012


Minimizing the Malfeasance

To the surprise of nobody, the NYT has an editorial today which blames Republicans.
For what this time? For seeking the truth about the devastating (if known about) scandal involving the Obama Administration called Fast and Furious. Let's look at the Time's argument here. They lay out the news about Republicans voting to vote to hold AG Eric Holder in contempt for refusing to turn over documents subpoenaed by the House Oversight Committee last October. Shouldn't the Administration, pledged to be the most open and transparent in the history of our nation, turn over the requested documents? The NYT is uncommitted on that, but it is sure the Republicans were up to no good here.
The Republicans shamelessly turned what should be a routine matter into a pointless constitutional confrontation.
Well, pointless is you don't care why the Administration facilitated arming Mexican Drug Cartels who used some of the nearly 2,000 weapons from America to murder fellow citizens and at least one American border guard, Brian Terry. If that's just something unworthy of notice, then the request for information on why this happened is indeed pointless. Stupid Republicans!
While Mr. Holder has turned over more than 7,600 documents to the committee, he has withheld some subpoenaed documents.
"Some"? He has withheld over 100,000 documents requested, (about 93%, I guess that's merely some).

Under Operation Fast and Furious, which ran between 2009 and early 2011, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives let about 2,000 assault weapons slip across the border to Mexico so the guns could be tracked up the drug cartel ladder. The bureau kept A.T.F. agents in Mexico in the dark while their superiors botched the surveillance. Some of the guns turned up in deadly shootouts, including one where an American border agent was slain.
This is actually a somewhat complete account of the scandal with a few caveats. The BATFE and US Attorney's office in Arizona didn't let the semi-auto weapons "slip across" the border, they helped them across, telling gun stores to let what were clearly illegal straw purchases go through. And superiors didn't botch the surveillance; there was no surveillance--neither planned nor attempted. The feds facilitated the illegal importation of the guns and then waited to trace the guns back to the United States when they were recovered at crime scenes and in uncoordinated drug busts by the Mexican Authorities. The letting slip the guns of war was not botched; it went exactly according to plan. The huge questions the Republicans want answered are: 1) What idiot thought up the plan; 2) Who authorized it; and, 3) What was the real purpose of this idiocy? They want this information presumably so the legislature can perhaps prevent such deadly, felony stupidity by our government in the future. Seems reasonable to the average Joe, but they are of a heightened sensibility at the NYT (and it's a Democratic scandal too). The Republicans also want to know why the DOJ initially lied and said no guns were allowed over the border and then months later copped to that lie. What was that about, say the Republicans? The mad fools.

Let's skip down to the big finish.
Executive privilege cannot and should not be allowed to shield the executive branch from regular, valuable Congressional oversight. There was no reason the House committee and the Justice Department could not work out a deal to produce the documents requested, or some form of them. Instead, they show again that every issue, large or small, can be turned into ammunition for political combat.
I agree with the first part and it really seems to apply here. (See the incomparable Andrew McCarthy). But the committee chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), did try to work with Mr. Holder. He cut down the request to a mere 1600 documents. It's Holder that refused to "work out a deal."

And now the President is involved with the too little too late bogus claim of executive privilege. We'll ignore the 7,600 documents turned over as a waiver of privilege, and go right to the heart of executive privilege. Unless the documents involve high level administrators advising the President  (which has been categorically denied) the claim won't work and is merely a dodge and delaying tactic. But it's the Republicans who are wasting everyone's time with this pointless partisanship, at least in the eyes of the Democrats.

This scandal was being ignored by the press (it's a Democrat scandal), and the President was somewhat insulated with the claims of his complete non-involvement. Now the press has to cover it and Obama has been sucked in.

Brilliant, these guys ain't.


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