“The Speaker participated in a friendly lunch meeting today with the President and other congressional leaders,” House Speaker John Boehner’s office reveals. “The Speaker asked the President to encourage the Attorney General to provide the information Congressional investigators have sought about the Fast and Furious operation. The Speaker was very pleased with the sandwiches served.” So I guess there wasn’t any humble pie, as the President of the United States continues to stonewall the investigation into the ATF’s illegal gun running operation, which directly contributed to the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata and [literally] countless Mexican nationals . . .
In fact, the Obama administration’s damage control team are in full swing, dismissing Representative Darrell Issa’s push to hold the United States Attorney General in Contempt of Congress for refusing to surrender over 60k subpoenaed documents relating to Fast and Furious.
To wit: Deputy Attorney General James Cole’s letter to Issa’s committee, responding to the Contempt campaign [via dailycaller.com]. In short: fuck off and die.
But let’s take a slightly closer look at this, operating under the assumption that the Department of Justice is lying through its teeth to protect US AG Eric Holder and President Barack Obama from the fallout from a scandal which, unlike Watergate, contributed to the death of American citizens. Not to mention Fast and Furious’s obvious links to the growing ATF “Grenade Walker” scandal.
We believe that a contempt proceeding would be unwarranted given the information the Department has disclosed to the Committee to date; unprecedented given the law enforcement sensitivities at issue; and ill-advised given the damage it would cause to relations between the Executive and Legislative Branches.
Obviously, it’s not up to the recipient of a Congressional subpoena to decide how much information is enough, and how much is too much. “You got what you need now GTFO” is not an argument that would hold much water if your documents were subpoenaed by, say, the IRS. It may come as news to an administration headed by a Constitutional scholar, but the DOJ has no more right to refuse a Congressional subpoena than an American citizen. Not prima facie, anyway.
As for the contention that the Committee’s doc demand is “unprecedented,” I’d bet blinis to bullets that there have been plenty of Congressional subpoenas with similar or even greater scope. Besides, what does that have to do with the price of eggs? While our laws are based on precedent, my Google-Fu doesn’t reveal any legal limit on the number of documents Congress can subpoena.
The last part of that para—calling the potential Contempt citation “ill advised”—is particularly galling. It reminds me of the scene in Mommie Dearest where Joan Crawford turns to a boardroom full of Coca-Cola executives and says “Don’t fuck with me fellas!” Only Joan was right and Cole is wrong. His thinly veiled “warning” is indicative of the DOJ’s thuggish refusal to abide by the law of the land. The law that they, the Department of Justice, are sworn to uphold.
The Committee’s concerns about the Department’s response to the October 11 subpoena appear predicated on a misunderstanding both of the extraordinary lengths the Department has gone to respond to the Committee’s requests, of the threat that disclosures of sensitive law enforcement information would pose to open criminal investigations and prosecutions.
This is the crux of their argument. We can’t reveal the real deal on Fast and Furious because we’re still investigating the case. No surprise, then, that the trial date of the two men accused of pulling the trigger on the ATF-enabled gun that killed U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry has been postponed. Here’s the 411 on that part of the coverup [via azstarnet.com]:
In a closed hearing last week, U.S. District Judge David C. Bury decided that the current June 12 trial date will not work, newly released minutes of the hearing say. He did not set a new trial date.
“The Court and counsel confer as to the current trial date,” the minutes say. “All parties agree the current date is not feasible. Based on defendant’s waiver of speedy trial and at the request of both parties the trial date of June 12, 2012 will be reset.”
The case against Manuel Osorio-Arellanes and co-defendant Rito Osorio-Arellanes has been sealed by Bury, but a coalition of news organizations is in litigation to open up the court case, and the minutes were released as part of that process. Manuel is charged with second-degree murder in the case, but it is unclear what charge Rito faces.
Bury set a new status hearing for Aug. 20.
Note: closed hearing. Also note:
On Jan. 12, Bury ordered that prosecutors unseal and release certain types of documents in the case – indictments as well as orders and minute entries issued by the court – but he declined to unseal the entire case file, as requested by the Arizona Daily Star and five other news outlets. Prosecutors want the case remain sealed until all those indicted have been arrested, Bury said.
I wonder if Judge Bury is aware that the Border Patrol let three of the suspects in the shooting go on the night of Terry’s murder. I also wonder if the judge understands that he lives in the United States of America, where the First Amendment is . . . wait for it . . . the first amendment.
Anyway, how would releasing the information about the case damage the government’s ability to apprehend Terry’s missing murderer, given that it’s been well over a year since someone amongst the Mexican rip crew pulled the trigger and shot Terry dead? More to the point, what is the government hiding?
Which brings us straight back to Cole’s letter:
Furthermore, we believe that the core questions posed by the Committee about Operation Fast and Furious have been answered . . .
[T]he lack of documents makes clear that these tactics had their origin in the field in Arizona and not among Department leaders in Washington.
Ipso friggin‘ facto. If the Committee’s questions had been answered they wouldn’t be asking for further documents. Documents generated by employees of the United States government. You know: of the people, by the people, for the people. In other words, information about the ATF, Fast and Furious and any and all other illegal government programs or activities that we, as citizens, have a right to examine.
Well, at least we learned the Department of Justice’s new strategy: throw the ATF Arizona field office under the bus. In particular, ATF Special Agent William Newell, the man at the sharp end of Fast and Furious who told Issa’s committee “there were times when I should have conducted more risk assessments.”
Speaking of risk, the DOJ is taking a big one by pinning Fast and Furious on Newell. By all accounts Mr. Newell is wrapped a little too tight, and he knows exactly who authorized what when.
Remember: this is the same Bill Newell who was in routine contact with Kevin O’Reilly, then White House National Security Director for North American Affairs. The same O’Reilly who was suddenly “unavailable” in Iraq when the Committee learned of his emails with Newell. Who returned and contacted the Committee to testify. Who was ordered to STFU by the Obama administration.
To make a long, revolting story short, the clock is ticking on the Fast and Furious scandal. The Obama administration knows it could bring down the President should the American public learn that the CinC’s minions were doing business with Mexican drug cartels (e.g., Fast and Furious and DEA money laundering) with his blessing.
Obama’s Boyz are trying to contain this whole Mexican drug and gun running thing until after the elections. For the future of this country, for the preservation of the rule of law, let’s hope they don’t. The truth needs to be told. Speaker Boehner should be satisfied with nothing less.