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More on “Fast and Furious”

There might be a tendency, I think, among some world-weary types to say that this whole “Fast and Furious” disaster now unravelling is nothing more than the US equivalent of the sort of “Westminster Village” obsessions that we Brits got engrossed over more than a year ago. Nothing much to see here, please move along, etc. But I don’t see it that way. The use of executive privilege to squash oversight of key decisions made by this administration seems to be a serious matter that ought to concern the wider public, not least as people got killed and hurt.

Jennifer Rubin weighs in on the subject of the lamentable US Attorney General, Eric Holder:

“If he were a first-year law student asked to explain how the president could refuse to allow House oversight on a botched operation in which Americans and Mexicans died and the administration has twice had to cop to providing erroneous information to Congress, Eric Holder’s letter would get an “F.” He doesn’t set out the nature of the document being withheld, the type of privilege being asserted, or the argument as to why it supersedes the right of Congress to oversee executive branch misconduct. Congress is certainly within it rights to hold him in contempt. But really the president should can Holder.”

Bear in mind this appeared in the Washington Post, the same newspaper that we associate with the Watergate scandal, and hardly a bastion of the “vast rightwing conspiracy”.

16 comments to More on “Fast and Furious”

  • Alisa

    But really
    the president should
    can Holder

    That would have been the worst possible outcome: The President riding in on a white horse and saving the nation from a corrupt AG who betrayed his trust and that of The People. Holder is not the one standing for reelection, and, unlike The One, he is replaceable.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Holder is probably immune from firing by reason of scit ubi corpora sepultus sunt.

    Anyway, it’s obvious by now that Obama is a full partner, and probably the leader, in whatever Holder’s done; seldom has the Duck Test been better satisfied. What I expect to happen is for the Congress to find Holder in contempt, the Court to say “Cough ’em up” and Obama to block Holder from obeying the Court’s order, ‘to protect the presidency’. At this point, what has he got to lose?

  • Laird

    This article basically says that Obama should fire Holder merely because he sent a poorly-written letter. That makes no sense.

    There are lots of legitimate reasons why Holder should be fired, primarily relating to his selective enforcement of the laws (i.e., his failure to prosecute voter intimidation because the perpetrators were black; intentional non-enforcement of the immigration laws and the federal Defense of Marriage Act; vigorous enforcement of the drug laws against medical marijuana sellers and users who are in full compliance with state laws; etc.). The cover-up of criminal acts by subordinates (which is what Fast & Furious seems to be) is another valid reason to fire him. But none of that is what this article addresses; it’s focused purely on the claim of executive privilege in this particular instance (which claim seems to be wholly without merit).

    You omitted the last sentence of that section you quoted. The complete final paragraph says: “Congress is certainly within it rights to hold him in contempt. But really the president should can Holder. He’s a lousy lawyer.” That might be true (although he previously served as an Assistant AG under Clinton, as a US Attorney and as a judge, so my suspicion is that he is reasonably competent), but this article fails to make a compelling argument for it. Furthermore, if (as I believe) the privilege assertion is without merit, the letter is probably as good a one as it is possible to draft. You can only work with the material you’ve got, and in this case the poor man was definitely doing his best to fabricate a silk purse from a sow’s ear. It’s hard to be too critical when he fails.

    One final point about the assertion of executive privilege here: Up until this point, no one has made claim that Obama was in any way involved in Fast and Furious. But by (improperly, in my view) asserting this privilege he has now inserted himself into it, in the form of aiding and abetting the cover-up. That is precisely what got Nixon impeached (he had no involvement with the Watergate break-in, merely the attempted cover-up). Obama deserves the same fate, although if we have any luck the voters in November will render that unnecessary.

  • Gene

    Your statement that this comes from the Washington Post is of no significance. The posting in question is from the blog of Jennifer Rubin, a conservative and only one of a number of WaPo bloggers. If these were the words of the “official” editorial board of the newspaper, your point would be stronger.

    (That, by the way, is not a criticism of Rubin, who is very professional and with whom I agree on many things. But she in no way represents the thinking of most of the powers-that-be at that newspaper.)

  • RRS

    If one looks at the time-line for the documents demanded, I think you will see the problem DOJ and EH have with release, based on the “deliberative” claim.

    What is at issue are the documents that relate to the deliberations that led to the false testimony and false documents provided earlier, which were subsequently “corrected.”

    It is not about how the program was run, but about how and why the DOJ and the AG determined to respond to the inquiry as they did.

  • RRS

    Incidentally, Ms. Rubin is the WaPo “token” blogger from the “Right.”

    The Right Turn

    She is anything but the view of the Publisher or Editor.
    They also print (but certainly do not endorse) Charles Krauthammer and George Will, as well as Robert Samuelson (whose statistics and facts infuriate the bulk of the readership who can’t face realities).

    Still WaPo (strongly tipped) is more balanced than NYT with David Brooks, the admirer of good tailoring and fastidious dress.

  • Laird

    RRS, your argument is basically that the “deliberative process” privilege can be used to conceal perjury. Somehow, I doubt that the courts will be receptive to that position.

  • JohnB

    It seems also to have been part of the strategy to bring about gun control in the US.
    I don’t think they expected Pajamas Media to conduct quite the effective exposure of Fast and Furious as has been done.
    No wonder they hate the internet.

  • RRS


    No, that is not “my argument.” It is my take on the issue involved. The documents demanded concern what the DOJ has claimed are part of a “deliberative process” concerning how the DOJ should, could and did respond to Congressional inquiry, not “deliberative process” as to the formulation or authorization of the project in the first instance.

    Thus, the whole point is, as you note, can the privilege cloak an examination into falsification?

  • John K

    The whole thing is about the gun control agenda, and I imagine that any documents unearthed may show that. The line peddled was that 80 to 90% of the guns used by Mexican drugs cartels came from the USA, ergo “lax” US gun controls were fuelling the Mexican drug wars, ergo the US needed much more “gun control”. The only problem with that assertion is that it’s untrue. It may have been the case that of the guns sent by the Mexican Feds to the US, a large percentage did originate from the US, but that’s because the Mexican Feds only sent to the US the guns they thought it worth sending. The vast majority of guns used by Mexican narco gangs are full auto weapons bought or stolen from police, paramilitary and military units in Mexico and other central American states. There is clearly no point sending these guns to the US to be checked, since they were clearly never sold to US civilians.

    Fast & Furious was a dishonest attempt to make the facts fit the theory, by ensuring that as many US bought guns as possible were walked across the border. No effort was made to track them, because that was not the point. The whole point of the plan was that these guns should be used in crime in Mexico, and then be traced back to US gun dealers. It relied on Mexicans being killed to work. It is one of the most evil and cynical plots ever devised by a modern democratically elected government, and demonstrates the moral vacuum at the heart of Obama’s government. It makes Watergate look like a minor mix up. Obama and Holder should not just lose their jobs, they should get acquainted with orange jump suits in their new Federal accomodation.

  • RRS

    John K,

    All that may be true, but it is part of the “lost causes” of general incompetence.

    The remaining issue is the one Laird indicated:

    When Congress does attempt to carry out its duty of oversight (which Waxman did not do) can the conspiracies to thwart that oversight, including by falsification, be protected as a “deliberative process” by assertion of Executive Privilege?

    Could that be done even if (as not asserted) advice to, or consultation with, the Executive were the subject matters?

  • RRS

    But folks, we got us a much bigger issue coming on the Constitutional authroity for taxation (or “penalties’)

  • cerebus

    The spoilsports up-thread are ruining a chance to annoy the left by saying even the liberal Washington Post..

    But seriously, I love how the op-ed part of the Post website helpfully provides “left-leaning” and “right-leaning” options so readers have the option to stay in their ideological bubble.

    Though as noted, if the NYT did this, the “right-leaning” section would be pretty anemic.

  • Paul Marks

    The left are screaming racism (Holder is black – therefore any vote against him is racist), and “partisan witch hunt”.

    If it is “partisan” why did 17 DEMOCRATS vote hold Erik the Red in Contempt of Congress?

  • cranston

    Eric Holder issues statement: “Fast and Furious was a tax.”.

  • Paul Marks

    No cranston.

    John Roberts issues the statement.

    “I had to do it – there would have been trouble otherwise, the left made threats after Citizens United…”

    So Fast and Furious is a tax.

    And Mr Terry (and 300 plus Mexicans) are just government revenue.