In a perfect world, everybody takes their oaths of office seriously, tends to their knitting, and works hard as servants of We the People. Here’s the world U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder lives in: “The notion that somehow or other this thing [the Gunwalker scandal] reaches into the upper levels of the Justice Department is something that . . . I don’t think is supported by the facts. It’s kind of something I think certain members of Congress would like to see, the notion that somehow or other high-level people in the department were involved. As I said, I don’t think that is going to be shown to be the case — which doesn’t mean that the mistakes were not serious.” Not shown? Serious? U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered with an ATF-enabled gun. How do you reality check that kind of weaseling and hold those responsible responsible? Simple . . .
Appoint a Special Prosecutor.
The U.S. Constitution provides for checks and balances between the three, co-equal branches of government (Congress, Judiciary, Executive). Congress can investigate the Executive and Judiciary, The Executive can investigate just about anybody (through the Justice Department). And the Judiciary can go after the Executive and Legislative branches. Fair enough. But sometimes, politics gets in the way.
At the end of the 20th Century, a President with rock star popularity (that would be Clinton) had a number of, ahem, dubious ethical dealings which attracted the attention of Congress. This would have been no big deal, as long as Congress was run by the same party as the folks in charge over at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
But what happens when the loyal opposition takes over, as they did when Newt and his Contract With America guys took over Congress? Well, we have a clambake. Or to put it more specifically, a Congressional investigation.
Because one side wants to acuse the other of staging a politically-motivated witch hunt, Congress passed a law providing for the option to create a “special prosecutor” who would operate with absolute impunity, untouched by political influence. A prosecutor who could Get To The Bottom Of Things without making it look as if Torquemada had taken up residence in D.C. and was open for bidness.
The special prosecutor system, frankly, doesn’t get around claims (from either side) of politically-influenced witch hunts. Just look at the ritual abuse heaped upon Kenneth Starr, special prosecutor of one William Jefferson Clinton. Wild Bill may or may not have been guilty of something – anything – in the Whitewater(gate) scandals – we’ll likely never know. But one thing is indisputable. Clinton lied in front of a Grand Jury when questioned about his dalliance with Ms. Monica Lewinsky, White House intern, starry-eyed girl, and cigar aficionado.
Starr’s investigation resulted in impeachment charges being brought against Clinton in the House. In the case of Impeachment, the House acts as a kind of Grand Jury, authorized to bring charges against the President. They did. The Senate then acts as both Judge and Jury in a trial that can result in the President’s removal from office.
Clinton got off (legally – I won’t speak in the euphemistic sense), largely due to a lack of will on the part of the Senate to nail Clinton for lying to a Grand Jury. The whole case largely brought the White House to a standstill and crippled the second term of Slick Willie & Company.
That brings us to the alphabet soup of agencies implicated in the mess known as Gunwalker: ATF, FBI, CIA, ICE, CPB, DHS, DoS, AG, and the DoJ. Wow. That’s a lot of soup. But the ones that really count here, at least as far as an investigation goes, are “AG” and “DoJ.”
It’s hard to imagine the idea of “self-policing” working, when the suspicion of wrong-doing goes all the way up to America’s Top Cop, Attorney General Eric Holder, and his Department of (in)Justice. Don’t think Fast and Furious is enough to worry about? Howza about the whole Gibson GuitarGate? What about the “We’re not going to prosecute in voter fraud cases” thing? See a pattern here?
Senator Grassley and Representative Issa have done a fine job of keeping the ATF mess from getting swept under the ObamaNation rug. But they can only do so much before they are pilloried for being biased due to party affiliation. [ED: See New York Times hit piece on Issa.] A Special Prosecutor can investigate without the encumbrance of ties to the Just-Us Department or the Executive Branch. He or she’s got the power to kick down doors, take names, and walk out of the room with somebody’s ass in their briefcase.
To uncover the full illegality that goes by the name of Gunwalker, to follow those guns wherever they lead, we need a special prosecutor. Right now.
Special Prosecutors don’t come cheap. The whole Whitewatergate/Lewinsky mess didn’t come cheap. But whereas the Clinton White House hunkered down in the bunker mentality and curtailed some of their more creative stabs at implementing their agenda, the Obama White House does not seem to be similarly encumbered. Things like the Gibson Guitar raids would indicate they’re taking more of a “Damn the Torpedoes…Full Speed Ahead” strategy.
But this Gunwalker mess seems to grow by the hour. In the last two months, we’ve gone from “there’s something rotten in the State of the ATF” to compelling evidence that nine major federal agencies were involved in activities that armed criminals that shot a federal law enforcement officer. And God knows who else. And God knows what else.
In the last three days, we’ve learned that the ATF enabled illegal gun purchases in Indiana. That the ATF and U.S. Attorney’s office allowed a known grenade maker and gunsmith—a man who also converted semi-automatic rifles into submachine guns for Mexican drug cartels—to return to his craft south of the border. That the case against some 20 straw purchasers is collapsing like a house of cards.
There’s really only one office that has (as of yet) not been drug, kicking and screaming) into the eye of the storm – the Oval Office. And if you believe in the old axiom “where they’re smoke, there’s fire,” you have to believe that things are getting a little hot over on Pennsylvania Avenue.
A Special Prosecutor can and would take this case and run with it. Unlike other investigations, they can go where the evidence leads, all the way to the top, if need be. It’s probably the only thing that will really give the fine folks over at Justice a serious case of acid reflux. They can stonewall Congress, redact away, and hope things blow over. Even call “executive privilege” or “national security” when things get a little too hot. But a Special Prosecutor? Now THAT’S some power.
As Santayana was fond of saying, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Between Watergate, Whitewatergate and this current mess, it would seem that history is doing that self-fulfilling prophesy thing again. That may sound like great fun in a bread and circuses kinda way. But America actually face some serious problems right now. We need to clean house before we can put our house in order.
So it comes to this: how ’bout we put the pedal to the metal and get this over with, before this devolves into a quagmire that consumes the nation? Email your Congress critter now with a simple message: “Please appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate all the crimes relating to the program conducted by The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives known as Operation Fast and Furious.”