|A Fast & Furious fib(Lie to Congress)|
Holes in Holder’s testimony?
Last Updated: 1:46 AM, January 30, 2012
It’s not the crime, it’s the coverup, goes the old Washington cliché. In the case of the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal, it’s both.
As Attorney General Eric Holder gets ready to face more congressional grilling Thursday, something’s clearly rotten at the Justice Department. The stench goes all the way to the top — to Holder.
Friday, the feds disclosed documents that show that despite Holder’s claim during congressional testimony that he’d only learned of F&F “a few weeks” earlier (a claim later amended to “a couple of months”), he has known (or should have known) about it all along.
That information came in a series of e-mails in which the former US attorney in Arizona, Dennis Burke, discussed the F&F’s first fatality, agent Brian Terry, with a Holder deputy. The e-mails were sent in the early hours of Dec. 15, 2010, the day Terry died of wounds received the day before in a shootout 18 miles inside the US border, near Nogales.
The deputy, Monty Wilkinson, responded: “Tragic. I’ve alerted the AG.”
Burke, an anti-gun fanatic whose appointment as US attorney in 2009 roughly coincided with the start of F&F, goes on to tell Wilkinson later that day: “The guns found in the desert near the murder of the BP officer connect back to the investigation we were going to talk about — they were AK-47s purchased at a Phoenix gun store.”
That’s right. The government’s top law-enforcement officer has been turning a blind eye to a cancer in his department for more than a year.
Yet he’s repeatedly played the innocent in his various appearances before Rep. Darrell Issa’s House Oversight Committee. Watch for Issa (R.-Calif.) to hit him hard on what appears to be close to perjury.
The nearly 500 e-mails and other documents, released by Justice at the direction of the White House, also show that Holder’s deputy, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, suggested in a meeting with Mexican officials in February 2011 — two months after the operation had come to light — that some so-called straw purchasers be allowed to transport weapons illegally across the US border, where they could be arrested and convicted because “it may send a strong message to arms traffickers.”
So, even after Terry’s death, the administration was still pushing the lie that the primary source of Mexico’s gun violence was American arms dealers — and covering its own rear end.
How much worse can this get?
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the supervision of the US Attorney’s Office in Phoenix — and over the vehement objections of field agents — encouraged some 2,000 guns purchased in Arizona gun shops to “walk” across the border to Mexico, ostensibly for tracking purposes.
In reality, the guns promptly disappeared, only to turn up later at murder scenes in both countries. Yet Justice has refused to come clean about its part in the killing spree, offering an ever-shifting array of “the dog ate my homework” excuses and bureaucratic shuffling, instead of providing Issa and the public with answers.
Asked to provide a deposition to Issa’s investigators, the head of the criminal division of the US Attorney’s Office in Arizona, Patrick Cunningham, on Friday pleaded the Fifth and abruptly resigned his government post to take a private-sector job. Cunningham’s actions, says Issa, “suggests possible criminal culpability on the part of a high-ranking Justice Department official.”
Issa has requested that Cunningham’s deputy, Assistant US Attorney Michael Morrissey, provide testimony, instead.
It’s long past time for heads to roll — and not just the couple of small-fry straw buyers who pleaded guilty in federal court last week.
Frustrated with the feds’ stonewalling, Arizona lawmakers have formed their own bipartisan investigative committee.
“We just don’t have cooperation from federal officials,” says one local sheriff.
Still, more is needed.
With a tough re-election fight, President Obama doesn’t need F&F to become a campaign issue. But surely even he realizes that the nation has had enough of Holder’s polarizing tenure at Justice. Given a choice between himself and Holder . . . well, there’s always room for one more under the Obama bus.