Holder may resign or face impeachment over Fast and Furious

Holder Threatened With Impeachment, Contempt in Fast and Furious Probe
Several Representatives are calling for Eric Holder’s resignation over the scandalous Fast and Furious operation that culminated with the death of Border Patrol Agent Terry.  Several more are ready to impeach him.  Whether or not you agree with the policies espoused by the two sides, it is undeniable that the Attorney General has backed himself into a very tight corner over this debacle.

His claims, as well as that of several members of the White House cabinet, are that they were not aware of the policies being put in place by people below them.  While that may be a credible fall-back for upper-level cabinet members (such operations would probably be of little note and therefore missed by the Secretary of the Treasury), it is frankly a stupid claim for the Attorney General to make.  A key purpose of his position is to act as the leader of the federal law enforcement agencies including, but not limited to, the BATFE, the INS, the ICE, the DEA, and the FBI.  To claim that one of the largest operations being performed by one of the largest agencies under his purview, in one of their most active regions, was performed completely without his knowledge paints him in one of two lights.  If true, he’s incompetent and if it’s false, he’s a vicious liar more concerned with saving his own skin over revealing the truth.  One of those scenarios is malicious, but both of them paint a picture of a man not suitable for the position of Attorney General.

What will also be interesting is to see how much damage this can do to the Obama campaign.  As a Democrat from Chicago who voted for every gun control bill as Senator, compounded by his infamous “guns and religion” gaffe, he faced an uphill battle in Red-leaning states in the prior election, and indeed even in states that voted for him, like Indiana, clear demarcations between urban centers and rural areas could be seen.  Fast & Furious gives the opposing side a lot of ammunition to use.  So far, nothing about the operation or the investigation thereof seem to be holding up to the campaign promises.  The “most transparent administration” has been extremely reluctant to turn over documents related to Fast & Furious.

In the end, I do not believe that it will greatly affect Obama’s campaign, but may push a Republican candidate into the limelight or off the stage entirely.  The voters, for the most part, knew what sort of stance Obama had on gun control prior to the 2008 election.  It appeared to not have been enough of an anathema to them last time, so it doesn’t seem likely to hurt Obama this time, either, especially with more pressing concerns on the economy.  The lack of transparency in the proceedings is damaging, but that isn’t something on which he can’t already be hammered by another department of snafu.  It can, however, do significant harm or help to a Republican candidate.  In particular, it could be a very dangerous play for Romney.  Already lambasted by some party members as a RINO (Republican in Name Only) a call for the heads of those responsible for Fast & Furious could endear him to a demographic which historically hasn’t cared for him.  On the other hand, from the safe position of a former Governor and possible Presidential candidate, it could be seen as too-little, too-late and may be read as simply lip-service.

For those not aware, Operation Fast & Furious was an operation undertaken by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) spanning several states and as many months.  The premise of the operation was that the BATFE would allow straw purchasers (people who can legally purchase a firearm but are illegally doing so to circumvent the NICS check that prevents felons and other criminals from buying guns) to purchase large quantities of firearms in border states and then smuggle them back into Mexico.  In theory, the plan was to use the smuggled guns to trace out the paths through which they move and help apprehend smugglers.  But from the beginning, it has been fraught with errors.  Fast & Furious, the BATFE claims, was a continuation of the Bush-era Operation Wide Receiver.  However, Wide Receiver was shut down several months before the end of the Bush Administration which was several months before the start of Fast & Furious.  It was shut down because it was an utter failure.  Under Wide Receiver an estimated 250 guns made their way into criminal hands.  Under Fast & Furious, the number is closer to 3,000.  Furthermore, Wide Receiver made use of various tracking technologies, such as GPS emitter chips embedded within the planted firearms.  However, in order to maintain function, such systems were very small and the on-board batteries died within hours.  Similarly, the plan to use BATFE surveillance planes was easily defeated by driving in circles in the desert for 4 hours, the amount of time the planes could stay in the air before having to leave to refuel.  The end result was an utter failure that was quickly shut down.  Fast & Furious, however, was a much bigger failure, as evidenced by the 3,000 firearms that walked across the border.  The entire operation seems to have been constructed hastily.  None of the, admittedly flawed, technology used in Wide Receiver was improved upon or even reused.  The extent of tracing the BATFE had planned would be to run the serial number of any gun used in a crime and see if it was one they had let into Mexico.  Obviously this is flawed for several reasons, the largest one being that it requires a crime, like murder, be committed before the gun can be retrieved and traced.  But even then, it would only confirm that the user was the last person to receive the firearm.  The BATFE would know who took it into to Mexico and who used it last, but would gain no information whatsoever about how the guns moved.

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