Monday, December 12, 2011

How serious is the threat of impeachment for Eric Holder?

During a highly-publicized hearing on Thursday of this week, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, dropped the dreaded 'I' word on Attorney-General Eric Holder. Sensenbrenner told Holder that unless satisfactory answers were provided to 'clean up the mess' left in the wake of the Operation Fast and Furious scandal, then impeachment would be considered as a possible consequence.

The House Judiciary Committee had scheduled testimony from Holder on the scandal, also known as Project Gunwalker, that has the Department of Justice, the ATF, Homeland Security, ICE, the FBI, and the State Department embroiled in a controversy of historic proportions, perhaps bigger than has ever been witnessed in Washington.

At issue are the thousands of U.S. guns the federal government deliberately gave to Mexican drug cartels and the ensuing calls for more firearms control and gun bans in order to 'deal with the problem.' ATF whistleblowers have maintained from the beginning that the end game of the Gunwalker scheme was to give the Obama Administration 'ammunition' with which to call for massive new restrictions on the firearms rights of citizens.

And documents obtained by CBS News this week indicate that this was, indeed, the case.

But despite repeated requests by Congress for Holder and the Department of Justice to provide documents, emails, and other evidence to aid in the investigation into the scandal, Holder and company have instead engaged in stonewalling. Not only that but statements made to Congress by Holder and several other high level Administration officials have been shown to be false.

The fact that falsehoods were told to Congress is only further highlighted by the fact that an official letter to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform by a Justice Department official on February 4 of this year contained false statements. Holder acknowledged that the letter contained falsehoods by his most unusual request to 'withdraw' it.

But Holder himself has told Congress the very same information contained in the letter, that the Justice Department knew of no such operation as Fast and Furious and that no guns were taken to drug cartels, that is, until earlier this year when they were somehow 'informed.'

Official documents, however, show that Holder knew of the operation as far back as mid-2010, not in early 2011 as he claims. Official documents also show that the Justice Department itself was fully aware of the entire operation from the beginning, in 2009.

And then there are the statements to Congress made by Holder, Janet Napolitano, Hillary Clinton, Kenneth Melson, and Lenny Breuer, that '90% of the guns used by Mexican criminals come from the United States.' Even Barack Obama has repeatedly made that statement. But it is patently false and there are no statistics that prove the assertion.

Lying to Congress is a felony. Thus, the Fast and Furious case not only involves a scheme to undermine the rights of citizens to self-defense with firearms, but a breach of international law by failing to inform the Mexican government of the operation, fraud by the use of straw purchasers to buy firearms that were illegally smuggled across the border, aiding and abetting Mexican criminals by supplying them with firearms, accessory to murder in the deaths of Agents Terry and Zapata, and accessory to murder in the deaths of hundreds of Mexican and American citizens with the guns the government gave criminals.

And when Congressman Sensenbrenner used the word 'impeachment' during the hearing on Thursday, this was not a shoot-from-the-hip, wild-eyed, bull-in-a-china-shop threat of a loose cannon in Congress. Sensenbrenner is known for choosing his words most carefully and not overreacting. He is also thorough and meticulous. Sources in Congress say that if Sensenbrenner says 'impeachment,' people sit up and take notice. It means that such a scenario is not only a possibility but a probability unless Holder acts quickly to provide the requested information. And even then he may not escape losing his job and facing criminal charges.

Sensenbrenner also has the 'gravitas' in the House to follow through on his threats, once he gets around to making them, which is rare. He has done so several times in the past with judges and even with Bill Clinton.

Thus, the dropping of the 'I' word during the Holder hearings this week is a bombshell of dramatic proportions, and it is an issue that bears watching very closely.


No comments: