Thursday, June 21, 2012
US attorney-general censured over botched gun sting
And an Obama coverup
A congressional committee has voted to hold United States attorney-general Eric Holder in contempt of congress for not releasing critical documents which reviewed a failed gun trafficking investigation.
Over a two-year period US federal agents allowed more than 2,000 guns to cross the border into Mexico, in an operation known as "Fast and Furious". The agents hoped to track the guns to a drug cartel but lost track of most of them.
A committee investigating the botched operation asked Mr Holder to release all relevant documents. He released thousands of documents but said certain other documents were classified and it would be against the law to release them.
In a party-line decision, the committee voted 23 to 17 to have him held in contempt of congress.
Darrell Issa, a Republican congressman from California, said the operation contributed to the deaths of countless Mexican citizens.
"It has soured our relationship with our neighbour to the south," he said. "It has created an ongoing safety problem here in the United States in which even the attorney-general has admitted more lives could be lost. "The Department of Justice has fought this committee's investigation every step of the way."
The committee will now send its report to the floor of congress for a full vote on its adoption next week.
An official charged with contempt could be punished with a fine or jail, but the more likely result is weeks or months of controversy feeding into the presidential election campaign.
The vote came after an intervention from president Barack Obama, who invoked executive privilege to allow Mr Holder to withhold the documents. It was Mr Obama's first use of executive privilege in response to a congressional investigation.
Republicans have used the situation to portray Mr Obama as a participant in a cover-up. "Until now, everyone believed that the decisions regarding Fast and Furious were confined to the Department of Justice," said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House speaker John Boehner.
"The White House decision to invoke executive privilege implies that White House officials were either involved in the Fast and Furious operation or the cover-up that followed."
Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican and former federal prosecutor, said it had been a sad but necessary day. "The notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress no matter whether you are the party in power or not in power is wrong," he said. "Respect for the rule of law must mean something irrespective of the vicissitudes of political cycles."
Even before the vote, the White House criticised the panel. "Instead of creating jobs or strengthening the middle-class, congressional Republicans are spending their time on a politically-motivated, taxpayer-funded election-year fishing expedition," White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said.
TX: Clerk shoots fleeing robber: "The clerk said he was behind the counter at B&J Grocery in the 2800 block of Chihuahua Street about 1:45 p.m. Tuesday when a man walked into the store, bought some items and left without incident. He told police the man returned to the store and brought an 18-pack of beer to the counter. As the clerk was ringing up the purchase, the robber punched him in the face and opened the register. He ran away from the store with cash and the 18-pack, the clerk said. The employee said he reached for a .38-caliber pistol and fired five rounds at the man, but was unsure if he hit him. Police caught up with a man who matched the suspect's description and who had been shot in the abdomen and hip. The suspect, Edward de Leon, 37, was taken to University Hospital with injuries not considered life-threatening."
FL: Owner of gold store shoots alleged robber: "A man who police say robbed a business on Archer Road that buys gold got the worst of the deal Wednesday afternoon when the owner followed him outside and shot him in the leg. About 15 minutes after the shooting, a man identified as Kouvaris Roberts, 23, showed up at North Florida Regional Medical Center dressed only in boxer shorts with a gunshot wound to his right thigh. The Gainesville Police Department was alerted, and officers arrived at the hospital to detain Roberts for the attempted robbery. Police say Roberts demanded cash and gold from owner Timothy Howlett at gunpoint. Robbers left the store and Howlett followed, police said. At that point (Roberts) points his gun at (Howlett), and that’s when he shot,” said GPD spokeswoman Cpl. Angelina Valuri."
AR: Manager Pulls Gun on Alleged Teen Robber: "A teen was arrested Tuesday night in Fort Smith after police say he attempted to rob Chaffee Liquor with a knife. The store manager pulled a gun on the attempted aggravated robber then called police. Cpl. Steven Dooly says the 16-year-old went into Chaffee Liquor on the corner of Massard and Zero Street around 8:20 p.m. Manager Jerry Hurlocker told police the teen walked to the counter with a folding lock blade knife and threatened him with it saying, ‘Give me all your f—ing money!’ according to the report. After a second threat, Hurlocker reached under a shelf and picked up his revolver. He then pointed it at the boy and told him to drop the knife, said Cpl. Dooly. Police say the teen dropped the knife while Hurlocker called 911 and held the suspect at gunpoint until officers arrived"