Last month he appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee, during which he refused to apologize for the DOJ’s lack of oversight and mishandling of the Phoenix-based operation that sent approximately 2,000 firearms across the US-Mexico border.
Many of those firearms ended up in the hands of known Mexican drug cartels and two of those guns were found at a site where Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed in December 2010.
And this past Thursday, Holder testified before a GOP-controlled House Judiciary committee. At times, things got heated.
“The president has said he has full confidence in this attorney general,” Rep. Darrell Issa, the point man of the House investigation, said. “I have no confidence in a president who has full confidence in an attorney general who has in fact not terminated or dealt with individuals, including key lieutenants who from the very beginning had some knowledge and long before [U.S. Border Patrol agent] Brian Terry was gunned down, knew enough to stop this program.”
“Mr. Attorney General, the blame must go to your desk and you must today take the real responsibility,” Issa said.
But Holder did not take responsibility. Instead, and as with his Senate testimony, Holder did his best to prevaricate and play up his alleged ignorance about the operation – as if ignorance was an excuse for gross incompetence (see video below for some additional analysis on this topic).
When asked about a DOJ letter sent to Congressional investigators that contained false and misleading information, Holder insisted that there was no intentional deception.
“It all has to do with your state of mind and whether or not you had the requisite intent to come up with something that can be considered perjury or (a) lie,” Holder said.
He also echoed the same platitudes he’s been spouting in recent months. He continued to condemn gunwalking, “The use of this misguided tactic is inexcusable. And it must never happen again,” while arguing that tougher tracking measures on multiple purchases of long-guns would help reduce the flow of illegal arms into Mexico.
Of course, Holder made no mention of the fact that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was using the ramifications of Fast and Furious to build a case for gun control.
Additionally, Holder attempted to frame the investigation as a political witch-hunt. He characterized Rep. Issa as the infamous Sen. Joe McCarthy and accused his GOP critics of engaging in “inflammatory and inappropriate rhetoric … in an effort to score political points.”
It’s time to end “politically motivated ‘gotcha’ games,” he said.
But it’s not political. And Holder should recognize this. After all, he admitted to the fatal consequences this operation has had and will continue to have in the future.
“It is an unfortunate reality that we will continue to feel the effects of this flawed operation for years to come,” Holder told the House Committee. “Guns lost during this operation will continue to show up at crime scenes on both sides of the border.”
“More people are going to die, probably,” said Rep. Ted Poe, a Texas Republican.
“Unfortunately, I think that’s probably true,” Holder replied.
So, what’s the next step?
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) offered a fair suggestion. He told Holder on Thursday that “heads should roll” over the matter.
“There is really no responsibility within the Justice Department,” Sensenbrenner said.
“The thing is, if we don’t get to the bottom of this — and that requires your assistance on that — there is only one alternative that Congress has and it is called impeachment.”