Fast and Furious: Treason?

Eric Holder
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This morning, Americans expected a House committee to debate and vote whether to hold the Attorney General in contempt of Congress. Holder refused yet again to turn over documents about Operation Fast and Furious. But then the putative President, Barack H. Obama, claimed executive privilege and locked up those documents. That provoked a Tea Party activist to accuse Obama of treason.

Contempt of Congress

Last week, Chairman Darrell Issa of the House Oversight Committee warned Attorney General Eric Holder that his committee was about to hold him in contempt of Congress.

No, Mr. Attorney General. You are not a good witness. A good witness answers the questions asked of him. Now I ask you again…

The above was just a sample of what Issa and his colleagues gave Holder, the last time he sat before them.

So on Monday, Holder made a last-minute offer. He would meet Issa in private and go over what documents he had about Operation Fast and Furious, and why any of them were too sensitive for Holder to hand over.

Holder and Issa did meet yesterday afternoon at 5:00. Issa came away angry and adamant about holding a hearing, or “markup,” about Holder and his attitude. He told reporters that Holder had offered him nothing but empty promises. Worse, he demanded that Issa not ask for any more documents after the so-called “briefing.” In holding his “markup,” Issa faithfully followed this “user’s manual on contempt of Congress.”

The “markup” began at 10:00 a.m. today. And then the putative President said something that changed everything.

Executive privilege

Eric Holder pours contempt on Congress on Operation Fast and Furious

Eric Holder, Attorney General. Photo: US Department of Justice

Before today, Holder always said that the papers Issa wanted would breach “deliberative privilege.” That is close to the traditional professional-client privilege, that protects all that passes between a professional (like a lawyer or a doctor) and his client. In this case, Holder was saying that the papers touched on sensitive things that passed between him and his own advisers.

But today Barack Obama said that the papers broke executive privilege. According to CNN, that claim came in a letter from Deputy Attorney General James Cole to the committee. (See also this report in The Washington Post. Note the headline: the Post, for the first time, called Fast and Furious a “scandal.”)

Executive privilege protects certain matters that pass between the President and his advisers. It applies when those matters involve protecting the United States against invasion, infiltration, or other such danger.

That claim hit official Washington like a thunder-clap. The reason: Obama has never admitted that he knew anything about Fast and Furious until he started reading about it in the newspapers. But Issa wants documents of things that happened before the mainstream media started to cover Fast and Furious.

Fast and Furious background

Operation Fast and Furious grew out of Project Gunrunner. In it, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) ordered gun dealers to let known gangsters buy guns for the gang, and not report them through the usual channels. ATF’s field office in Phoenix, AZ, told those dealers that they would trace those guns to the gangsters, and Mexican authorities would arrest the gangsters, and get the guns back, in Mexico. This did not happen. Then on December 10, 2010, Border Control Agent Brian Terry died in the line of duty. Authorities recovered two or three guns at the scene that were part of Fast and Furious.

In February of 2011, AG Holder said that ATF had never sat and watched gangsters buy guns in this country and carry them back to Mexico. But later in the year, Holder had to take that back.

(Today, Holder had to take something else back. Last week he petulantly told Issa’s committee that the Bush administration had let guns “walk,” too, in Operation Wide Receiver. A receiver is the main body of any gun, that one attaches the stock, barrel, scope, and other moving parts to; hence the name. Today Holder sheepishly admitted that Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious were not the same, or even remotely similar.)

Darrell Issa took over as Chairman of Oversight and Reform in January of 2011. He started investigating Fast and Furious almost at once.

Today, at about 4:30 p.m., the committee took its vote. By an almost party-line vote of 23 to 17, with no member abstaining, the House Oversight Committee cited Holder for contempt of Congress. Issa will refer this matter to the full House of Representatives.

Angry and bewildered

Nick Purpura is still challenging Obama’s place on election ballots in New Jersey. Today he flatly accused Obama of treason.

Are you kidding me? This is the Reichstag all over again!

And:

You can’t use executive privilege in a criminal investigation! He is hindering a Congressional investigation, and he is hindering a criminal investigation. If he gets away with this, Congress might as well crown him king and go home!

Purpura called on Obama to resign at once, saying that Obama abused executive privilege. Purpura also called on Rep. John Boehner (R-OH-8), the Speaker of the House, to resign also. The reason: Boehner, yesterday, had forced Issa to demand less than he wanted even before the 5:00 p.m. meeting. (In that light, Holder is even less able to explain why he refused to hand over anything.) Boehner had earlier tried to order Issa to stop investigating Fast and Furious. He relented only after some “whistleblowers” from inside ATF hinted that Holder not only knew about Fast and Furious but even ordered ATF-Phoenix to do what they did. Purpura believes that someone, perhaps Holder, or perhaps someone in the Obama campaign, is blackmailing Boehner.

RoseAnn Salanitri, head of the New Jersey Tea Party Caucus, also said that Obama could not use executive privilege.

Executive privilege is appropriate for protecting the United States. It is not appropriate for protecting an administration.

The Fox News Channel covered the “markup,” the executive privilege letter, and reaction to it, all day. Several commentators mentioned earlier Presidents who claimed executive privilege. George Washington claimed it once. But the most infamous claims of executive privilege came from Richard M. Nixon. Today, the Watergate spectacle seemed to play out as it did forty years ago—except that the Republican and Democratic parties now have reversed their roles of prosecutor and defendant.

Related Fast and Furious articles:

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

16 Responses to Fast and Furious: Treason?

  1. It should be very discomforting for Americans to know that we have a White House occupier – a putative president who is a serial liar. This whole episode and now the invoking of executive privilege for the wrong reason, is just another example of this unpatriotic Mr. Hyde in the White House who calls himself “president.” As I say, “another example:”

    Serial Liar White House Occupier

    http://moralmatters.org/2012/06/20/serial-liar-white-house-occupier/

  2. CJFREEDOM says:

    Anyone who watched the hearing on C-SPAN will get a true sense of what this is all about. The left will always remain dedicated to the left…regardless of how corrupt and deceiving they are. All of a sudden they wanted to back track to questions about why certain AFT leaders were not interviewed, even though they were and how this all started on Bush’s watch….and what about questioning them? No matter how many times it was explained….they could not get them off the track of “lets do this over”…before you sink the almighty Eric Holder and his illustrious leader the commie in the Oval office. The vote was strictly Party line…regardless of the facts. All of a sudden….. there’s no problem here, so they claim…..this is just an election ploy to get Mr “O” ousted. I could hardly believe my ears and was mesmerized by the entire process. I was waiting for the race card….but it never popped up. It will, before this is all over….you can bet on it. Even Boehner folded like a cheap camera at the 11th hour. Forget the 70,000 documents….or should I say the actual 140,000 documents. Just give us 1,300 documents and we’ll be happy. That was not to be. Not even one piece of paper was given. They should be arrested and not only held in contempt…..they should be charged with the murder of Brian Terry and the hundreds of other innocents in Mexico, who lost their life because our government thought it was a brilliant idea to run guns to the drug cartels. They screwed up….and many people are responsible….including those in the Bush Administration. They should ALL be held accountable. Enough already with this nonsense. To see them in action yesterday was an awakening and a bit of insight about how our government works….or better yet….how it doesn’t work.

  3. […] Treason? […]

  4. rpeh says:

    So we can add “treason” to the ever-growing list of terms that Terry doesn’t understand. Good.

  5. JT says:

    It’s not the first time Terry’s accused Obama of treason. Of course, when pushed then, he couldn’t equate his charge to the definition of treason – Terry said Obama was ‘aiding and abetting the enemy”… except there is no enemy. Of course, this just means that Terry will be first on the trucks when the FEMA death camps open for business.

    In this case, given the definition of “Violation of allegiance toward one’s country or sovereign, especially the betrayal of one’s country by waging war against it or by consciously and purposely acting to aid its enemies.”

    Just how exactly did he commit treason?

    For that matter, if he did, why don’t you lay a charge? I believe that not reporting a federal offense is in itself an offense, yes?

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      In this particular case, by aiding and abetting the withholding of information that figures in the violent deaths of two Americans and hundreds of Mexican nationals. And by so acting, he lays himself wide-open to the charge that he not only knew the full particulars of Operation Fast and Furious, but in fact laid it on deliberately for the reasons I stated in the article.

  6. JT says:

    “House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) contradicted House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Sunday, saying that Congress has found no evidence that President Barack Obama or anyone at the White House had participated in a cover-up involving the Fast and Furious scandal.”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/24/darrell-issa-john-boehner-fast-and-furious_n_1622141.html

    I look forward to reading CNAV’s retraction and apology. Either that, or their assertion that Issa has been bought or coerced into his latest statement.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      You will see that only when the earth’s core loses all the heat it acquired during the Global Flood. The Huffington Post is not a reliable source, and never has been.

      • DinsdaleP says:

        Saying you don’t find the Huffington Post to be a reliable source is dodging the point, Terry. The HP story summarized an appearance by Issa on Fox News Sunday, and provides the video so people can verify the statements for themselves.

        Relevant excerpt #1:

        During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace asked Issa whether he had “any evidence” that the White House had been involved with the matter.

        “No, we don’t,” Issa said.

        Relevant excerpt #2:

        It is not clear if either Attorney General Eric Holder or President Barack Obama were aware of the program, and Issa acknowledged Sunday that he has not found evidence Holder was involved.

        “I did not say that Eric Holder always knew,” Issa said.

        What follows these admissions of fact by Issa is the usual speculation by Issa, which of course carries the same weight with anyone who dislikes the Obama Administration.

        Don’t get me wrong – I’m not happy about the Executive Privilege move. However, sites like CNaV all too easily report speculation as if it were fact, and the two need to be called out for what they are.

        • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

          Here’s the problem: you have a President withholding evidence. So “we don’t have evidence now” does not mean “we have evidence that it wasn’t true.”

          Absence of (or insufficient) evidence of guilt does not constitute positive evidence of innocence.

          And when the government is a player, if the chief executive does not come clean, he lays himself wide-open to the charge that he is deliberately trying to take away the people’s liberties.

          Liberals said that of Richard M. Nixon forty years ago. What has changed, I ask you, except that the partisan affiliations of prosecutor and defendant are reversed?

          • JT says:

            The fact remains that senior Republican party officials – who, let’s face it, are a lot closer to the matter than you are – are basically contradicting everything you’ve said above.

            Also, you’re making it up about the President “withholding evidence” – where’s your proof? If people close to the whole thing are saying no, then on what grounds – besides your blind hatred for Obama – do you say otherwise? You have absolutely no proof at all. Admit it.

            The fact remains – your own party has discredited this story, and unless you publish a retraction and an apology you continue to discredit yourself.

          • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

            No, they aren’t. They’re saying that they haven’t the evidence because the putative President has withheld it.

  7. DinsdaleP says:

    As I said, I’m not happy about the withholding of information by this or any administration. I’d rather have open sunlight, or at least the limited sharing of information with people who have the security clearance and authority to review it. That includes people from opposing political parties like Issa.

    It’s completely legitimate to say that the absence of evidence to make a case at the present doesn’t mean that there isn’t evidence out there waiting to be uncovered. However, in the absence of that evidence, grand conspiracy theories are a poor way to fill the void.

    My personal opinion is that this was an ineptly executed program, and that innocent people have died as a result. Incompetence is not the same as criminal intent, and I have a feeling key evidence is being suppressed to avoid embarrassment and political damage, not felony charges. The suppression is still wrong.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      You should read my later article, wherein I “get to the heart of the matter.” This was not some legitimate operation gone slightly or even drastically wrong. This was a prize example of planting throw-down weapons at the scenes of multiple crimes, to charge a segment of the American people with reckless disregard for the safety of others. And for that they could have had only one motive: to repeal the Second Amendment.

      It is no secret to me that neither Barack H. Obama nor Eric Holder believe that anyone, other than an LEO or military service member, should own, operate, or even so much as tough a firearm.

  8. […] Treason? […]

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