If it’s a “Right-Wing Freak Out,” I’m in great company

**Posted by Phineas

Hah! Found out last night that Your Humble Correspondent, cross-posting at Sister Toldjah’s site on the administration’s invocation of executive privilege with regard to Operation Fast and Furious, was cited briefly on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show,” hosted by the ever-genteel Ed Schultz. Here’s the screen cap:

 

(Click for a larger size)

And this is the post to which they’re referring.

So, in the past I’ve been called “insensitive” and “ignorant,” but this is way cool. To be in the same company as those other rabid right-wingers above is… is… *sniff!* That’s the nicest thing a left-wing tool has ever said to me. 

Thanks, Ed! You’re the best!

[Screen cap courtesy of AI Politics, hat tip ST]

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

#FastAndFurious – conspiracy or stupidity? And does it matter?

**Posted by Phineas

In a video last week, Bill Whittle asserted that the only explanation for Operation Fast and Furious was as an effort to undermine the Second Amendment and pave the way for strict gun control. It’s an argument made by others, notably Bob Owens at PJMedia, and it has a certain appeal, if only because there seems to be no other reason for such a stupid idea, an idea that got people killed.

But what if it was “locally-grown” stupidity? What if the ATF simply screwed up, and now the DoJ and the White House are trying to sweep weapons-grade idiocy under the rug? At Power Line, Paul Mirengoff cautions that we should be careful not to assume conspiracy when stupidity will suffice:

First, Fast and Furious does not appear to have been the brainchild of President Obama or Attorney General Holder. Rather, the program reportedly was formulated by the ATF in Phoenix in response to an edict from Washington to focus on eliminating arms trafficking networks, as opposed to capturing low-level buyers, as had occurred under traditional interdiction programs. If Fast and Furious had been the product of a conspiracy by the administration to promote gun control legislation, the program would have come from the top down, not from the bottom up.

Now, it’s possible that a thorough review of documents would show that, contrary to current understanding, the plan originated in the White House or with Eric Holder. But it seems unlikely. For if this had happened, those who have been blamed for the program would likely have said they were following edicts from the highest reaches of the government.

Eric Holder’s claim that he knew nothing about Fast and Furious is implausible. But this doesn’t mean that he and/or the president came up with the idea. As far as I know, there is no evidence as of now that either did.

He goes on to argue that the “pursuit of gun control” theory is unpersuasive be cause a) Americans just don’t care enough about violence in Mexico to demand stricter gun control here and b) the idea of supplying guns to Mexican cartels carries such risks for the administration (as we’re seeing play out now) that it doesn’t pass the rationality test for Holder and Obama to actually do this.

Finally, there’s the question of why, then, would Holder patently lie to Congress and why would Obama try to shield him by invoking a weak form of executive privilege? Mirengoff argues:

In reality, cover-ups typically stem from a quintessentially non-ideological motive – the desire to escape blame and stay out of trouble.

What kind of trouble? The administration may be motivated by the desire to cover up evidence that the Attorney General knowingly and deliberately lied to Congress. It may want to cover up evidence that Holder knew plenty about Fast and Furious and/or that Obama did too.

But it’s unlikely that the administration invoked executive privilege to cover up evidence that it formulated or authorized Fast and Furious in order to promote an ideological agenda.

Read the whole thing. Mirengoff’s a lawyer and he looks at the question with an attorney’s logic.

As for myself… I don’t know. Both sides make plausible arguments regarding the “why,” and my natural predilection is to assume incompetence before malice, so call me a fence-sitter on this question.

On the other hand, the reasons for Fast and Furious and for the administration’s coverup are less important than what we do know as fact:

  • The United States government, through the Department of Justice and its subordinate agencies, not just allowed but encouraged the illegal sales of firearms to Mexican drug cartels, said cartels being in an effective state of war with the government of Mexico, our ally.
  • Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered, shot in the back with a weapon supplied through Fast and Furious.
  • ICE Agent Jaime Zapata was ambushed and killed outside Mexico City, while he was working to intercept firearms supplied through Fast and Furious.
  • Hundreds of Mexicans –soldiers, civilians, and police– have died via weapons supplied through Fast and Furious.

As long as we fix our minds to these facts and unrelentingly demand accountability of our government and justice for the dead, we’ll learn the reasons for this whole sordid, squalid mess.

RELATED: A “Fast and Furious” whistleblower once himself proposed gunwalking. Earlier posts on Operation Fast and Furious.

LINK: And on the “gun control may have been the objective” side we can now add Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who’s been leading the charge to investigate Fast and Furious. (via Hot Air) Like I said above, at this point, the reasons for Fast and Furious are less important than the deaths it caused.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

(Video) #FastAndFurious “Follow the ideology”

**Posted by Phineas

Or, as Bill Whittle asks at the end, “Have you no shame?” (1)

The ideological reasons behind Operation Fast and Furious are still speculation, but, given the far-left agenda subscribed to by both Obama and Holder, the idea that this might have been aimed at imposing strict gun control is not unreasonable. And it is more than reasonable that Congress should investigate this.

Oh, wait. I forgot. Someone invoked executive privilege to block that investigation.

Meanwhile, somewhere, Dick Nixon laughs.

RELATED: Earlier Fast and Furious posts.

Footnote:
(1) In fairness, while most of the media has dutifully ignored a Democratic president’s scandal –in which people died!– CBS’ Sharyl Attkisson has done a great job from the start.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

“Fast and Furious” scandal goes “full Watergate,” White House asserts Executive Privilege — UPDATED

**Posted by Phineas

“I am not a crook!!”

Shades of Richard Nixon. Faced with a contempt of Congress citation for failure to produce subpoenaed documents, Attorney General Eric Holder apparently went to his boss, President Obama, and asked for a little cover.

He got it:

President Obama has granted an 11th-hour request by Attorney General Eric Holder to exert executive privilege over Fast and Furious documents, a last-minute maneuver that appears unlikely to head off a contempt vote against Holder by Republicans in the House.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is expected to forge ahead with its meeting on the contempt resolution anyway.

This is a slap in the face to the committee and practically guarantees a contempt vote. I’m willing to bet it will backfire on the Obama administration, too; anyone who remembers the Nixon years, when executive privilege was abused to hide administration culpability in the Watergate scandal, will now be asking a simple question: “What have they got to hide?” Or, as Gabe Malor put it on Twitter this morning:

Yesterday, I didn’t believe there was anything in the F&F docs worth hiding. Today, I’m absolutely convinced there is.

Chairman Issa, meanwhile, has said the committee plans to move forward with the contempt vote.

That’s well and good, and it may be a necessary preliminary step, but impeachment of the Attorney General must now be a serious consideration. I haven’t really thought this worthwhile up to now, since we’re so close to the election, and the chances of conviction in the Senate were minimal, but the House must defend its legitimate authority to investigate and hold accountable the government it funds with the money of the people it represents. This assertion of privilege is wholly unjustified and an abuse of a doctrine meant to preserve the ability of the president and his cabinet officers to receive unguarded advice or preserve classified information.

Two US federal officers and over 300 Mexicans have been killed with weapons provided under Fast and Furious, and their survivors and the American and Mexican public deserve answers.

If a contempt citation doesn’t work, then it’s time to impeach Eric Holder.

RELATED: Other posts on Operation Fast and Furious.

via ST

PS: And let’s not forget that supplying arms to armed groups fighting the Mexican government is by most reasonable understandings an act of war. Are we at war with Mexico, Mr. President?

LINKS: Lots of people covering this — Pirate’s Cove, Michelle Malkin, The PJ Tatler, Ace of Spades, Jammie Wearing Fool, Erika Johnsen, Ed Morrissey, Legal Insurrection, Breitbart, and Obi’s Sister.

UPDATE: Wanted to pull this directly from the linked Tatler post; it has important implications:

In the landmark case that spells out presidential executive privilege, United States vs Nixon (1974), the Supreme Court found that executive privilege pertains to communications directly with the president, and otherwise limited the scope of executive privilege. Today’s move by the White House implies either that Fast and Furious reaches directly into the Oval Office, or that the White House is challenging the Nixon ruling. Either way, today’s assertion is a major escalation of the scandal.

So, Mr. President. Are you admitting you knew all about Operation Fast and Furious all along?

UPDATE II: A couple of great informational posts from Gabriel Malor relevant to today’s news, one on contempt of Congress and the other on executive privilege.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Fast and Furious: DoJ-supplied guns used in Mexican lawyer’s murder

**Posted by Phineas

Well, ain’t that just dandy.

I’ve said before that the number of Mexican soldiers, federal agents, police and civilians killed by weapons allowed to “walk” over the border into Mexico under the Department of Justice’s “sting” operation has amounted to at least 300, per the Mexican Attorney General.

Here are some specifics, courtesy of Borderland Beat:

Firearms connected to Operation Fast and Furious were used in the 2010 slaying of the brother of the former Chihuahua state attorney general, according to a U.S. congressional report.

The report said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives traced two of the weapons suspected in the murder of lawyer Mario González Rodríguez, but did not report this fact to the Mexican government until eight months after the tracing.

(…)

A video of Mario González Rodríguez’s “interrogation” by armed men was carried on YouTube. The body of the well-known Chihuahua City lawyer was found Nov. 5, 2010, in a shallow grave.

Then, Mexican federal authorities, following a shootout with drug cartel suspects, seized 16 weapons and arrested eight men in connection with Mario González Rodríguez’s murder.

The serial numbers on the seized weapons were run through an ATF database and, sure enough, two AK-pattern weapons were were flagged as “walked guns.” But it took eight months for the US government to tell Mexican authorities of their findings. When Carlos Canino, then the ATF attache in Mexico City, finally did bother to tell the Mexicans that, hey, some of our guns killed one of your citizens –our bad!– he gave the following explanation for the delay:

Canino feared an international incident might break out with Mexico if the information leaked out to the news media instead of being sent through government channels. He told U.S. lawmakers that he did not want to undermine the trust that U.S. law enforcement had developed with their Mexican counterparts in the war against the drug cartels.

Because, Lord knows, nothing builds trust like supplying automatic weapons and grenades to your ally’s enemies. Hate to see that spoiled.

When did I move to Bizarro World?

PS: Note to Mitt Romney, two words: Special. Prosecutor.

RELATED: Earlier entries for Operation Fast and Furious, aka “Gunwalker.”

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Fast and Furious: Elijah Cummings throws the dead under the bus to protect Obama and Holder

**Posted by Phineas

Last week I reported that the Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R – CA) House Oversight Committee was preparing contempt of Congress charges against Attorney General Eric Holder for non-cooperation and defying subpoenas in the committee’s investigation into Operation Fast and Furious. Also known as “Gunwalker,” the administration’s supposed plan was to funnel guns and grenades to the cartels and then, somehow (1), trace them to their leaders. This plan went horribly awry, resulting in the deaths of more than 300 Mexican civilians, police, federal agents, and military, as well and one, perhaps two United States federal officers. It is this failed, fatal, operation that Chairman Issa’s committee has been digging into in order to find out how something this boneheaded could take place, all with little help from the Justice Department of the “most transparent administration, ever.”

Ranking committee Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings, however, will have none of that nonsense:

Rep. Elijah Cummings warned Rep. Darrell Issa against turning a potential contempt resolution against Attorney General Eric Holder over the Fast and Furious scandal into “an election-year witch hunt,” he wrote in a letter late last week.

“Holding someone in contempt of Congress is one of the most serious and formal actions our Committee can take, and it should not be used as a political tool to generate press as part of an election-year witch hunt against the Obama Administration,” the Maryland Democrat wrote Friday to Issa, the California Republican who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Congressman Cummings was incensed that the draft citation was leaked to the press:

“Leaking a draft contempt citation that Members of our Committee have never seen suggests that you are more interested in perpetuating your partisan political feud in the press than in obtaining any specific substantive information relating to the Committee’s investigation,” he wrote. “These actions undermine the credibility of the Committee, as well as the integrity and validity of any contempt actions the Committee ultimately may choose to adopt in the future.”

Cry me a river. A congressman complaining about leaks to the press is about as credible as Captain Renault being shocked to find gambling in Rick’s cafe.

No, what’s really going on here is a hack congressman trying to spin a message about unfair Republicans (2), in order to protect a cabinet officer and his president. The truth of what may have happened in Operation fast and Furious, including possible massive violations of federal and state laws, matters less than Obama’s electoral chances.

We’ve seen this show before: it was called “Watergate.” Only no one died that time.

Meanwhile, 300 (and counting) Mexicans and federal agents Brian Terry and Jaime Zapata still have no justice.

RELATED: Earlier posts on Operation Fast and Furious.

Footnotes:
(1) I say “somehow,” since, without any tracking devices or, indeed, any effort at all to trace the guns once they were in Mexico, it remains a mystery as to just how the DoJ, ATF, and other involved agencies ever expected to link these weapons to their buyers. The only way to ever see them again was to recover them at crime scenes, which usually meant people had been killed, too.
(2) I’m sure we won’t have to wait long before accusations of “racism” are made, too.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Oh, my. House drafting contempt citation against Attorney General Holder

**Posted by Phineas

It’s on:

Republican House leaders are finally holding Attorney General Eric Holder accountable for some of his actions. Representative Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, drafted a 48-page contempt of Congress citation against him. The charge? Repeatedly obstructing and slowing the investigation of Operation Fast and Furious.

This means the top House leaders are on board. The top committee officials met for most of the day in Speaker John Boehner’s office and he gave them permission to move ahead. Finally!

If adopted, the resolution will be sent to the US attorney’s office in DC or to an independent counsel. This will force the DOJ to hand over the tens of thousands pages they still owe the Oversight Committee. Mr. Holder and other officials claim they are cooperating, but they’ve only turned over 6400 documents, most of them heavily redacted. In February Rep Gosar told me a lot of them are repeats.

All I can say is 300 dead Mexicans and two murdered US federal agents demand justice. Good job, Chairman Issa and Speaker Boehner! Now file it, vote on it, and pass it.

Don’t. Let. Up.

RELATED: Earlier posts on Operation Fast and Furious.

UPDATE: In a later report, CBS’ Sharyl Attkisson (aka “The only MSM reporter to seriously cover this scandal”) corrects an earlier article to say that Boehner’s office hasn’t approved the Contempt of Congress vote — yet:

CBS News has confirmed that House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, was provided a 48-page long draft by Issa, who heads the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

“While there are very legitimate arguments to be made in favor of such an action, no decision has been made to move forward with one by the Speaker or by House Republican leaders,” a Republican leadership aide told CBS News.

Congressional staffers involved in the discussions say leadership approval is not needed for the Oversight panel to proceed. However, Boehner would have to okay any vote taken by the full House of Representatives.

via Tabitha Hale

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Gunwalker: Why is the White House “hiding” a key witness?

**Posted by Phineas

In an article last July about possible White House knowledge of Operation Fast and Furious, I quoted the following from a CBS report:

At a lengthy hearing on ATF’s controversial gunwalking operation today, a key ATF manager told Congress he discussed the case with a White House National Security staffer as early as September 2010. The communications were between ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix office, Bill Newell, and White House National Security Director for North America Kevin O’Reilly. Newell said the two are longtime friends. The content of what Newell shared with O’Reilly is unclear and wasn’t fully explored at the hearing.

It’s the first time anyone has publicly stated that a White House official had any familiarity with ATF’s operation Fast and Furious, which allowed thousands of weapons to fall into the hands of suspected traffickers for Mexican drug cartels in an attempt to gain intelligence. It’s unknown as to whether O’Reilly shared information with anybody else at the White House.

Congressional investigators obtained an email from Newell to O’Reilly in September of last year in which Newell began with the words: “you didn’t get this from me.”

“What does that mean,” one member of Congress asked Newell, ” ‘you didn’t get this from me?’ “

“Obviously he was a friend of mine,” Newell replied, “and I shouldn’t have been sending that to him.”

Newell told Congress that O’Reilly had asked him for information.

Now, however, the White House is blocking access to O’Reilly, hiding him behind claims of “executive privilege:”

White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler sent a letter Thursday to Republican lawmakers Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley, refusing their request to speak with Kevin O’Reilly, a former National Security staff member whose emails place him in the middle of the unfolding scandal. Issa and Grassley had written to Ruemmler on March 28, asking the White House to step aside and let O’Reilly talk to investigators.

Grassley is the GOP ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Issa chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, whose members include Chaffetz.

“[O’Reilly’s] personal attorney indicated that he’s more than willing to talk to the committee, on the record, under oath”” [Rep. Jake] Chaffetz told Kelly during her Friday afternoon broadcast. “It is only the White House and the White House Counsel that is saying they will not make him available.”

(…)

Ruemmler also cited executive privilege and confidentiality as reasons for denying the lawmakers’ request.

Anyone who remembers the Nixon administration is probably having flashbacks right now at the mention of executive privilege. Not that it doesn’t have its place –it’s necessary in order to let aides feel comfortable offering the president their best, most candid advice without fear of a congressional witch-hunt– but it has also been abused to hide embarrassing or even scandalous facts.

The request to speak with O’Reilly resulted from requests and subpoenas demanding all communications between O’Reilly and his friend, Bill Newell. Ruemmler claims the White House has turned over everything it has, while Chaffetz says the emails were never delivered — in spite of the legally binding subpoena.

Hence the desire to speak to Mr. O’Reilly, who is himself willing to talk, if only the Obama White House would let him.

Ask yourself this: If there really is no scandal; if, as Ruemmler claims, the House and Senate investigators have all the documents they need; if O’Reilly has no damaging information to reveal… then why won’t they let him testify? What are they hiding? What are they afraid of?

Executive privilege won’t cut it; we’re not talking about confidential advice offered by a subordinate to the president or a cabinet member. O’Reilly was involved in communications about a program that, probably illegally, provided guns (and other weapons) to vicious criminal gangs in Mexico, arguably an act of war. Over 300 Mexicans and at least one, perhaps two, US federal agents have been killed with these weapons. “Walked” firearms are showing up at crime scenes in the United States. Executive privilege doesn’t cover being an accessory to murder.

Congress has every right under its oversight function to interview O’Reilly to hear what he has to say about Operation Fast and Furious, and the White House should drop its risible claims of privilege. If they don’t, it’s time for contempt proceedings.

The dead and their families are owed no less.

LINKS: More at American Thinker and Hot Air.

RELATED: Earlier posts on Operation Fast and Furious, aka “Gunwalker.”

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Saturday Links Fiesta

**Posted by Phineas

Time to clear out some backlogged links; I think you’ll find something worth reading under each category:

MEDIA:

If you’ve ever doubted that the MSM is full of hypocritical cowards, this should clear things right up: BBC Chief admits Christianity treated worse than other religions. And by “other religions,” I don’t think they mean Judaism… (via Howie)

ECONOMY:

I’ve said before that the Democrats’ policies (“Quantitative easing,” aka “printing money;” a devotion to radical environmental agendas) will cause inflation, for example in the cost of gasoline. But the Consumer Price Index (CPI) pegs inflation at a modest 3.1%. So, was I wrong? No, I wasn’t. Real inflation for the things you buy everyday is at more than 8% for the previous year. And it will get worse. (via Fausta)

Meanwhile, James Pethokoukis rips into Treasury Secretary Geithner’s arrogance and financial ignorance. I’m so glad Turbo-Tax Timmy is watching our money. Aren’t you?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:

The One has warned Iran not to call his bluff over his opposition to their development of nuclear weapons. Ed Lasky asks “Why shouldn’t they?” Hey, it’s worked so well in the past!

In light of the coming election, George Will has argued that Republicans should concentrate on capturing Congress, making Obama a relative lame-duck with a limited opportunity to do harm for the next four years. While I agree we need to take Congress to implement much-needed reforms, I strongly disagree that Obama would be a gelded president. So does Bryan Preston, in a must-read article. Three words: Supreme Court appointments.

As part of his class-warfare campaign to get reelected, Obama likes to excoriate oil companies for the supposedly obscene profits they rake in. And gullible people lap it up. At Power Line, John Hinderaker shows how much ExxonMobil puts back in to the American economy, making them a good corporate citizen, not evil.

OPERATION FAST & FURIOUS:

Here’s an excellent summary of what we know about “Gunwalker’ and the scandalous behavior of the administration, so far. Long, but very worthwhile. (via Moe Lane)

In what is one of the better examples of chutzpah I’ve seen in a while, Attorney General Eric Holder wants credit for stopping Fast and Furious. Really, this guy knows no shame.

CBS’ Sharyl Attkisson, one of the few MSM reporters giving Gunwalker serious coverage, reports that the gun used to kill ICE Agent Jaime Zapata in Mexico in 2010 also came from an ATF undercover operation. That is, it was ultimately supplied by our Department of Justice. That makes two US federal agents and over 300 Mexicans killed by “walked” guns.

I wonder if Eric Holder wants credit for that, too?

Oh, and as Mary Chastain points out, the gun that killed Mr. Zapata came from a second Gunwalker-style operation. Just how many of these fiascoes lie waiting to be discovered? Well…

MEXICO:

A potentially larger problem than Operation Fast and Furious is the danger of our southern neighbor becoming a failed state, or, at the least, the Mexican government losing control of large swathes of its territory on our mutual border. Some say that’s overstating the problem. But, what if the warning is coming from the governor legislators of a Mexican state bordering Texas? “Nuevo Leon on the verge of collapse.”

But, that’s okay. Obama and Napolitano say the border is more secure than ever.

I feel reassured, don’t you?

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)