Saturday, October 08, 2011

Eric Holder tries to change the subject

Under fire for a botched operation to track guns smuggled to Mexican drug cartels, Attorney General Eric Holder said on Friday his critics seek to score political points, but will not try to stem the flow of weapons across the border.

He lashed back at Republican criticism in the Congress over when and what he knew about the operation in which as many as 2,000 guns were sold to suspected gun traffickers. The guns were not properly tracked and ended up at crime scenes in the United States and Mexico.

In a scathing five-page letter sent to lawmakers, Holder said many in Congress adamantly oppose efforts to reform U.S. gun laws that would make the United States and Mexico safer, while at the same time criticizing the operation.

"It seems clear that some in Congress are more interested in using this regrettable incident to score political points than in addressing the underlying problem," Holder wrote.

"Too many in Congress are opposed to any discussion of fixing loopholes in our laws that facilitate the staggering flow of guns each year across our border to the south."

The letter came a day after President Barack Obama, who appointed Holder, told a White House news conference that he fully supported Holder and has "complete confidence" in him.

The operation has become a headache for the Obama administration and complicated diplomatic ties with Mexico. Known as "Fast and Furious," it ran from late 2009 through 2010.

The chairman of the House of Representatives Oversight Committee, Darrell Issa, and the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley, have been the leading critics.

They have cited memos they said showed Holder was given details about the operation in 2010 and questioned whether Holder lied when he said in May 2011 that he only recently became aware of the operation.

Holder in the letter replied that his testimony was truthful and accurate and said he has no recollection of the operation's misguided tactics until the public controversy.

Once he learned of the flawed operation, Holder said, he took several steps, including referring it to the Justice Department's inspector general for investigation.

"If Attorney General Holder had said these things five months ago when Congress asked him about Operation Fast and Furious, it might have been more believable," said Frederick Hill, a spokesman for the House Oversight Committee.

"At this point, however, it's hard to take at face value a defense that is factually questionable, entirely self-serving, and a still incomplete account of what senior Justice Department officials knew about gun walking," he said.

Two weapons from the operation were found at the scene where a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed in a shootout with illegal immigrants.

One Republican House member has said that law enforcement and government employees could be considered "accessories to murder." Holder denounced the statement. "Such irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric must be repudiated in the strongest possible terms," Holder wrote. [Why?]


Jury accepts battered-wife defense, acquits N.Y. woman of murder: "Was Barbara Sheehan a battered wife who shot her husband, a retired police sergeant, in self-defense, or was she a calculating killer determined to collect on his life insurance? After three days of deliberations, a jury Thursday chose the former. Sheehan, 50, was convicted of a weapons charge for her use of a gun in the 2008 slaying and could face three to 15 years in prison when she's sentenced in November. But family members, friends and supporters who packed the courtroom in the New York borough of Queens erupted in cheers and wept in relief when the acquittal on the murder charge was announced. It came a day after jurors had declared themselves deadlocked, only to be sent back to the deliberating room by the judge."

Appeals court upholds DC semi-automatic rifle ban: "A ban on semi-automatic rifles and large-capacity ammunition magazines in the capital city got a boost on Tuesday from a U.S. appeals court that upheld the prohibition as constitutional, a setback for gun rights activists. The ruling upheld a lower court decision that found the ban and regulations by the city of Washington did not violate the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment that permits individuals to possess firearms. The U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled 2-1 in favor of the city's ban, which is one of the toughest in the United States and also includes a prohibition on semi-automatic pistols and shotguns." [Back to revolvers?]

1 comment:

C. S. P. Schofield said...

I find the court ruling on the DC case interesting, since as I recall, the Supreme Court's reasoning for accepting the law that banned sawed off shotguns and rifles was that they had no legitimate military use, and thus were not central to the reasoning included in the Second Amendment for the existence of a right to bear arms.

I will await further action on this suit with some interest.