Sunday, December 11, 2011

Darrell, Why Persecutest Thou Me?

Attorney General Eric Holder is shown during one of many trying moments for him during Thursday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing into Operation Fast and Furious. Since Holder last appeared before a Congressional committee on the subject, multiple e-mails, memos and notes from Justice Department staff became available to Congress. It is over the differences in these documents from Holder’s former testimony that he was brought back to testify.

Things didn’t go well for Holder from the get-go. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California), chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, asked that Holder be placed under oath. Issa is somewhat suspicious of Holder’s veracity, to say the least. Holder had earlier refused to take the oath, and Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) did not want Holder to escape without answering questions, so he merely ruled that Holder was “deemed” to be under oath since he had sent Holder a letter reminding him of his responsibility to be truthful.

Lying under oath is perjury—a felony. But if a court were later to decide that Holder’s refusal to be placed under oath protected him from a perjury charge, he could still be found guilty of other statutory violations such as lying to Congress and impeding a Congressional inquiry. If a later Justice Department official were to pursue the matter, Holder would not get off entirely scot free. Smith’s compromise kept Holder in the room, and probably made him very nervous as well.

During the questioning, the proceedings got very heated more than a few times. Some of the various committee members threatened Holder with everything from impeachment to charges of contempt of Congress for his evasiveness. Issa called Holder’s testimony “outright lying,” and he had stacks of documents in front of him that seem to support that conclusion.

In one exchange, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) took a very combative line. “Do you think the buck stops with you?” he asked. Then, as Holder seemed to shrink behind the witness table, Sensenbrenner went on to remind Holder that lying to Congress is a federal crime. But he softened the charge by following up with “I don’t want to say you lied, but what are you going to do to clean up the mess?”

In his answer to the not-too-veiled charges of lying, Holder channeled Clinton’s “it all depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” Confronted with serious inconsistencies between known fact and supporting evidence and Holder’s prior testimony, he punted. His Justice Department had made a very unusual move a few days earlier by “withdrawing” a letter it had sent to the committee in answer to certain committee questions. The DOJ actually called its answers “misleading.” That withdrawal followed earlier testimony by ATF Special Agent William Newell that was also “withdrawn” as Newell termed his answers as “lacking completeness.”

Facing questions about these major inconsistencies and DOJ backtrackings, Holder was then asked by Sensenbrenner how “misleading” and “lying” were different from each other, if they are indeed different. Holder said that the difference between “lying” and “misleading” was state of mind. But Holder was merely tossing out a legal distinction that, though true, doesn’t apply to this matter. He hoped nobody would notice.

If one “misleads” because he has himself been misled or misinformed, and has a reasonable excuse for not knowing the true facts, there is no intent to lie. But if one misleads, knowing that the words used to mislead are incorrect, then “misleading” becomes “lying.” The DOJ, ATF and DEA testimony that Congress had already determined was intentionally misleading was available to Holder and his department long before Congress ever saw it. Ergo, he lied.

During the testimony, Democratic committee members frequently attempted to protect Holder from hard scrutiny and/or turn the investigation of Holder’s part in Fast and Furious into a forum on gun control. The spin was marvelous to behold. Attempting to prove how dangerous all weapons in the hands of individuals are, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Georgia) asked “how many firearms had been sold to Al Qaeda terrorists, to other convicted felons, to domestic violence perpetrators, and to white supremacists.”

He neglected to ask about how many had been sold to the Crips or the Bloods. But even if he had been an equal opportunity disarmer, the question would have been entirely irrelevant, given what the hearing was actually about. The hearing is about Operation Fast and Furious, why it was so poorly-planned and deadly in execution, and most importantly, who knew what, and when. But that didn’t stop Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California) from asking why there is no requirement for a federal firearms dealer to report, say, the sale of 100 AK-47s.

The final exchange was between Issa and Holder. Issa suggested contempt of Congress for Holder’s refusal to release committee-requested document without citing Constitutional or case law to support the refusal. Holder responded: “We will respond as other attorneys general and other Justice Departments have done.” Issa snapped back with: “That’s how John Mitchell responded (referring to the Watergate hearings of the Nixon administration).”

Holder, who has the same ability as Obama and Nixon to play the victim rather than the perpetrator, channeled McCarthy hearing defense counsel Joseph Welch and pleaded: “As they said at the McCarthy hearings, have you no shame?” Quick, get me a hankie. I need to wipe away the tears I’m shedding for poor, innocent, persecuted Eric Holder.

At the end of the hearings, Rep. Dan Lungren (R-California) summed up Holder’s testimony and the attempts of the Democrats to change the subject: “You screwed up, you admit you screwed up, but don’t use your screw-up as an attempt to justify your actions and extend your authority.”

21 comments:

BevfromNYC said...

"...ATF Special Agent William Newell that was also “withdrawn” as Newell termed his answers as “lacking completeness.”

So, if his answers are just "lacking completeness", why didn't he just send supplemental answers that would "complete" them? I know, I know, they weren't so much "lacking completeness" as much as "lacking veracity".

And I would think that the AG would ALWAYS be under oath, since he had to take an oath to assume office, didn't he? But then the oath he took does not require him to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth..."

Tennessee Jed said...

It is a sorry spectacle to be sure. It always (almost seems that way) turns out the Democrat get away without major penalty. Clinton survived being convicted (probably a good thing; think President Gore) Scooter Libby goes down and this ass hat skates. We get virtually no help from the media. He needs to go down just as John Mitchell did.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: If his answers were really incomplete, he'd have to complete them if he didn't withdraw them. Which would have meant remembering which lies he already told, and how to continue with them without tripping himself up. Oh, what a tangled web we weave, and all that.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: I start to twitch and froth at the mouth at the thought of what was done to Scooter Libby. And I still haven't forgiven Bush for not pardoning him instantly. Libby misstated a fact about something he had to come up with from memory. The "fact" made no difference whatsoever, and was entirely unrelated to the issue involved in the matter he was testifying on. Pure railroad job.

Meanwhile, these suborners of perjury, who are themselves liars are being treated like oppressed heroes by the press. Libby went to prison for misstating a minor fact in a minor area of a case with which he had little to do and had done nothing to cause. These jerks are walking around free as a bird, and are likely to stay that way (at least for now), having lied, misstated, distorted and spun material facts in a case which has resulted in multiple deaths, including a Border Patrol agent. Justice Department my arse.

rlaWTX said...

I was walking through the living room this weekend when this story came up on the news. My grandparents remembered why they instituted the "rla can't watch the news in the living room" rule as I began to explain to the TV commentators and all within actual hearing range why Holder is a lying piece of trash who should be in jail.
Go, Issa!!!!!!!!!!

LawHawkRFD said...

rlaWTX: My grandkids head for the back bedrooms to watch cartoons or some such when the news comes on in the living room. It's not the profanity that sends them scurrying. It's the flying objects aimed at the television whenever I see Obama's or Holder's face preparing to spew out more lies and venom.

Individualist said...

What really irks me about this whole mess is why set it up to begin with.....

The Justice department decided to allow gun sales on the auspices of tracking them and they did not even have the capacity to do that.

Why!

What is there to gain by anyone in the Justice Department let alone the Attorney General.

The answer that I am coming to I don't like. That is that they intended the Cartels to have these guns and commit crimes with them without their involvement being made public. Then they could claim that the guns were coming from the US to support Draconian laws. It is really distrubing.

LawHawkRFD said...

Indi: I hate to think that people would be that evil. Yet I can't help thinking that at least some of the gun-grabbers would consider their cause so important that a few deaths would be acceptable losses or merely collateral damage. I have no doubt that Holder expected that they could control Fast and Furious and make their anti-gun point. But even if they were merely negligent in the implementation (which I doubt), real, breathing people died during this botched attempt to score a few points for gun control.

AndrewPrice said...

Holder is a disgrace.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: Agreed.

Joel Farnham said...

LawHawk,

I get the strong feeling Holder and other notorious Democrats are destined for jail time. At least I hope it works out that way.

LawHawkRFD said...

Joel: I share your hope. Normally I see trials of former administration officials by the new administration of a different party as smelling of banana republics. But this administration is so out-of-control and lawless that failure to prosecute some of the worst offenders would be nothing less than a rejection of the fundamental American concept of the rule of law rather than men.

tryanmax said...

It's no surprise that the Dems would try to spin this about gun control. After all, that is what many suspect
Fast and Furious was aimed at justifying all along. Probably it's a sort of last ditch effort.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: They lost the will of the people a long time ago, and now they have been dealt a near-mortal blow by the Supreme Court in the DC and Illinois Second Amendment decisions. Democrats don't care about the people or the Constitution. They want gun control for the sake of gun control, and they're determined to get it any way they can. They have totally adopted the Marxist theory that the ends justify the means.

tryanmax said...

I don't like to call it a Marxist theory just because too many people are sympathetic to Marxism in name only. Besides, it is a far older justification that the ends justify the means. It is the justification of all of history's villains. Though it is a right simple clue to the true nature of Marxism.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: You're absolutely right. The phrase is as old as philosophy and politics, but it was Marx and Engels who popularized it and brought it to the masses. Previously, the intelligentsia would quote it from Machiavelli, but it didn't have a large audience. Perhaps better phrasing would have been "They have totally adopted that part of Marxist theory that posits that the ends justify the means." It just seems a little overly-wordy. LOL

tryanmax said...

LOL! By all means, call it Marxist theory if that's what works for you!

I just like to turn wheels in liberal heads by pointing out Marxism isn't as new and revolutionary as they think. It's just redesigned packaging on a faulty old product. And even the Marxist packaging is getting tattered. :)

I find that argument appeals to the hipster who desperately wants to be edgy but in an acceptable way. I've actually convinced a couple of people that they weren't really progressives by showing them that it is classical liberalism and the free market that have never been fully implemented.

tryanmax said...

BTW, as my avatar indicates, yes, I totally wear hipster glasses because I am, in fact, a hipster. Or at least I was the last time I checked. I probably lost my cred when I had kids.

Come to think of it, I've been wearing these frames since '98. I can't possibly be hip anymore.

Libertarian Advocate said...

I get the strong feeling Holder and other notorious Democrats are destined for jail time. At least I hope it works out that way.

I get a strong feeling that prophylactic pardons have already been drafted and merely await their issue in due course. Holder and other Demoncrats won't fall on their swords without a safety net.

Frankly, they've got Obama's nuts in a vice if you think about it.

Joel Farnham said...

Libertarian Advocate,

If you have noticed, Issa is doing his level best to NOT indict Holder and Company....yet. If there is justice and a Republican President this next term there will be a few charged with malfeasance and other crimes and misdemeanors. The ability to pardon these guys will go away with the "fuddy duddy prez".

Libertarian Advocate said...

Joel:

I did notice, but think there's not much point in indicting (impeaching) them, as there would be no conviction in the current Senate.

On my point regarding prophylactic pardons being in the works, emphasis is really on prophylactic. There is precedent for that; Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon before Nixon was ever charged with a federal crime.

Ford's explanation - believable or not - was of course that he wanted to put the national nightmare behind us.

I suspect that the motives behind any possible future Obama issued pardons of Holder et al., would be rather more pedestrian in character. Hell, should Obama lose the election, I can even envision him resigning a few days early just so dimwit Joe could pardon him too.

Can you see those men faring well in prison? I can't.

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