Now you play the loving woman
I’ll play the faithful man
But just don’t look too close, baby
Into the palm of my hand
—Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Brilliant Disguise
In October 2008, then-Senator and Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama campaigned on the premise that “we need to end an era in Washington where accountability’s been absent.” He followed that up in January 2009, shortly after taking office, by signing an executive order setting ethics guidelines for his administration, promising “a new era of openness,” and that “[t]ransparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”
Amazingly, he even said these things with a straight face.
Fast forward to 2012, where Attorney General Eric Holder last week was once again hauled before Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) House Judiciary Committee on Department of Justice Oversight. Holder claimed that a series of 2010 emails did not in fact pertain to the disastrous Operation Fast & Furious, but instead to the Bush-era Operation Wide Receiver, despite the fact that the emails repeatedly and specifically referred to “Fast & Furious” and “F and F”.
These aren’t the ‘droids you’re looking for.
To reset the issue, in December 2010 U.S. Border Agent Brian Terry was murdered in Arizona. Guns linked to the killing were traced to Mexican drug cartels, which had acquired the guns from weapons smugglers in the United States. The Department of Justice had the opportunity to intercept the guns, but under Operation Fast & Furious the guns were allowed to “walk” in an effort to track where the smugglers’ traffic was going. Representative Issa has been trying for over a year to get to the bottom of who was responsible for this. Although Holder has admitted that the program was unacceptable and should never have happened, no one has yet been held accountable for it, and the DOJ has given Issa little but the finger in his quest to obtain information.
For all the trumpeting about this administration’s commitment to transparency and accountability, all evidence is they’re much more interested in deflecting blame and covering their asses than in getting to the truth:
February 2011: DOJ sends a letter responding to an inquiry from Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) of the Senate Judiciary Committee effectively denying the existence of any “gunwalking” operations, and claiming that every effort was being made to prevent the traffic of guns into Mexico.
Doesn’t exist. Nothing to see here. Move along.
May 2011: When the February letter unraveled and the existence of Fast and Furious became too well-documented to deny, Holder admits that the February letter was “inaccurate,” but testifies before Issa’s committee that he didn’t know anything about it, and had only learned of the existence of Fast & Furious “for the first time over the last few weeks.”
OK, maybe it existed, but we only found out about it around April of 2011.
November 2011: Confronted with yet another set of documents clearly demonstrating earlier knowledge than he previously disclosed, Holder admits that he probably should have said “couple of months” instead of “last few weeks” when he testified in May. His defense against the documents? They consisted of reports he couldn’t possibly be expected to have read.
Um, maybe we actually knew about it in February or March of 2011.
So what about these new emails? They consist of a string from late October 2010—i.e., before Brian Terry was killed—in which not only is Fast & Furious repeatedly mentioned by name, but the topic of conversation was how much flak the administration was going to catch over “gunwalking” when the operation became public, which was expected to be soon. More importantly, the emails were between Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, and James Trusty, at the time the Principal Deputy Chief for Litigation. These aren’t field personnel in Arizona—these are people with the Justice Department in D.C. So we have people fairly high up in the DOJ considering the degree to which there needed to be damage control over Fast & Furious becoming public. They knew the operation’s name and its nature.
Does this mean Attorney General Holder knew about the operation that far back? Not necessarily.
But it begs the question why he keeps dodging the issue and changing his testimony as to when he did know. More importantly, why does he keep getting all indignant about being dragged back before Issa’s committee instead of getting to the bottom of who in DOJ did know about it and firing them? This would have been over months ago had he done that.
But he hasn’t. And he won’t.
Instead he tries to claim that “Fast & Furious” isn’t talking about Fast & Furious, it’s talking about George Bush.
What? This man is the Attorney General of the United States, and that’s the best he can come up with?
Once again, we see there is simply no substance to this administration. From the top down, they are almost without exception completely out of their depth, which is why they are reduced to cheap semantic games and sophomoric political pranks. You thought it depends on your definition of “is” was bad? These people think it’s all a big game, that if they just wink and smile they can say anything and it’ll all be OK.
Smile and wave, boys. Just smile and wave.
Consider that this President has attended 191 fundraising events through early March of this year. He’s played 93 rounds of golf—an average of right at one every two weeks. His bi-monthly vacations—transportation courtesy Air Force One, sometimes with a separate private 747 for the Mrs.—to ritzy playgrounds for the uber-wealthy are well-documented. Less well-known, although Mark Levin frequently reads from these on his syndicated radio show, Obama’s published schedule almost invariably shows his work day beginning no earlier than 10:00 a.m. and ending by 4:30 p.m. (when he has anything scheduled at all). Meanwhile, he hasn’t submitted a single serious budget since taking office; his last two budgets have failed to net even a single aye vote, even from the Democrats. Other than Obamacare—which he’s about to lose in the Supreme Court—he hasn’t managed to enact a single significant initiative, despite having a sympathetic supermajority in both houses of Congress for two years of his presidency. The President screams bloody murder when members of Congress on both sides of the aisle question where the New York Times keeps getting its steady diet of classified intelligence information, yet doesn’t even say boo when the Russians are shipping materiel to Iran for its nuclear program.
He’s been all about being the President instead of doing the job of the President. He has plenty of time to make NC-17 jokes about his wife—hello, NOW, anyone home?—but no time to order his attorney general to get to the bottom of who is responsible for an official DOJ program that has been directly linked to the death of a federal border agent. I guess it's a matter of priorities.
This was supposed to be the most transparent and accountable administration of all time. Yet with Fast & Furious, it has stonewalled and dodged an investigation that it should have been leading itself. Ironically, while it’s been doing everything it can to prevent anyone from looking under the skirt on this, I see it’s been accumulating a terrifyingly detailed cache of information about you, from what you read, to where you shop, who your friends are, and how you vote.
This administration is transparent, all right. We may have just misunderstood which direction the two-way mirror runs.