This is a postscript to the story I did early last week about the overly aggressive partisan pursuit by congressional Republicans of Attorney General Eric Holder, for his supposed involvement in Operation Fast and Furious, the botched gun-smuggling program sponsored by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Again, it’s not that this investigation is entirely without merit, it just never rose to the level that met the burden of contempt.
This was confirmed by the Justice Department Friday as it declared Attorney General Holder’s refusal to comply with the document request from Congress did not constitute a crime and he would not be prosecuted for contempt of Congress.
In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, (R-OH), Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole wrote, that the Justice Department will not bring the congressional contempt citation against Holder before a federal grand jury or take any other action to prosecute the attorney general.
Absolutely Operation Fast and Furious was an ill-conceived strategy, but it wasn’t some high-profile centerpiece of U.S. policy. This was a regional operation, supervised out of Arizona.
It wasn’t even on the radar in Washington.
Unfortunately, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry had to be murdered before the profile of Operation Fast and Furious was elevated to the point that Washington took notice.
This is a tragedy, and I feel for Agent Terry’s family.
That being said, it’s not like the bandits who killed Terry would have showed up with no guns even had the ATF not lost track of those 1,000 weapons.
This operation began under the Bush administration, and continued under Obama. Once the bright light of political scrutiny shined down upon Fast and Furious, it was rightfully shut down.
End of story.
But Republicans like Sen. Charles Grassley, (R-IA), Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-CA), and Speaker Boehner, decided to take a shot at the proverbial gold ring in a presidential election year, by attempting to taint Democrats and the Obama administration with this blundered program after the attorney general withheld documents from Congress.
Here is yet another example of taking something simple and consciously churning it up into a political mess.
This in essence is the problem with our entire legislative system right now – both parties are so polarized they seize upon non-issues and try to make them Armageddon.
In this particular instance it failed miserably for Republicans.
First because there really was no case, especially after President Obama invoked executive privilege; and second, Republicans had the misfortune of scheduling the contempt vote in the House shortly after the landmark decision from the Supreme Court upheld President Obama’s signature health care reform legislation.
This stole all the thunder from the contempt vote, and made it look like amateur hour, as Republicans were obviously caught off-guard by Chief Justice Roberts stamping his conservative approval upon Obama’s universal health care law.
This left the public to watch Republicans cry about losing in court, and then minutes later start whining about how the president wasn’t playing fair by denying them access to requested documents.
Republican members and their presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, approximated spoiled school children that didn’t get their way, throwing tantrums and looking decidedly un-presidential.