Yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder had the opportunity to set the record straight with respect to the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives’ botched sting operation known as Fast and Furious when he testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing.
Although the BATFE was at the helm Fast and Furious, Holder could have still accepted responsibility for the operation’s flawed tactics that permitted approximately 2,000 firearms to cross the US-Mexico border with no discernible means of tracking them down, especially since the Department of Justice was apparently aware of earlier operations that used the same failed tactics.
At the very least, he could have said, “After hearing news of the failed operation, I didn’t act quickly enough to investigate what was going on.”
Moreover, he could have apologized for the deadly ramifications Fast and Furious is largely responsible for, i.e. the death of US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and the deaths of an unknown number of Mexican citizens (there have been estimates that suggest as many as 100 Mexicans have been killed by weapons that are linked to Fast and Furious).
And lastly, he could have apologized for his prevarication and other attempts to stonewall congressional investigators.
But, after reviewing his testimony, it’s evident he did none of those things. Instead he seemed to skirt responsibility and deflect blame.
At the hearing, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) slammed Holder and the DOJ for lying about their insistence, in a February letter, that the agency was doing everything possible to stop the flow of illegal arms into Mexico.
“In the nine months since then, mounting evidence has put the lie to that claim,” Grassley said to Holder. “Documents contradicting the department’s denials came to light.”
Sen. Grassley added that the Lanny Breuer, the head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, failed to correct the record for several months even though he knew it was inaccurate to claim the agency had done everything it could.
Instead of admitting fault, Holder responded with generic answers.
“I want to be clear: Any instance of so-called gun walking is unacceptable,” Holder said, calling Fast and Furious “flawed in concept as well as in execution.”
“Unfortunately, we will feel its effects for years to come as guns that were lost during this operation continue to show up at crimes scenes both here and in Mexico,” he added. “This should never have happened. And it must never happen again. “
At one point, Holder even tried to shift the discussion to one about the need for more gun control.
“Of the nearly 94,000 guns that have been recovered and traced in Mexico in recent years, over 64,000 were sourced to the United States,” he said.
“We must be careful not to lose sight of the critical problem that this flawed investigation has highlighted: We’re losing the battle to stop the flow of illegal guns to Mexico,” Holder added.
But perhaps the most telling part of the hearing came when Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) asked Holder, who hadn’t apologized to the family of slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, if he would like to give an apology on the spot. Holder refrained.
“I certainly regret what happened to Agent Terry,” he said.
“I can only imagine the pain that his family has had to deal with, particularly his mother…We are not programmed to bury our kids. It pains me whenever there is the death of a law enforcement official, especially under the circumstances. It is not fair, however, to assume that the mistakes that happened in Fast and Furious directly led to the death of Agent Terry.”
Holder mentioned that he would bring those responsible for this failed operation to justice.
“I will certainly await the report that comes out of the inspector general and I will assure you and the American people that people will held accountable for any mistakes that were made in connection with Fast and Furious,” he said.
The truth is Holder doesn’t need to wait for the inspector general’s report to come out, he knows where at least part of the blame lies. He’s just too cowardly to admit it.
(Photo courtesy of AP)