Fast & Furious was a DOJ operation, which Holder claims was regional to Phoenix, and was meant to track guns as they moved south of the border to members of the violent Mexican drug cartels after being bought by an alleged straw buyer. However, agents rarely pursued the weapons after they were bought.
Seventy-four percent of the guns sold during the Fast & Furious botched gun walking operation have not been recovered. Hundreds of guns have turned up at crime scenes.
The House Judiciary Committee met today to question Eric Holder about Fast & Furious and other matters. The Democrats described the meeting as an oversight hearing and praised Holder. The Republicans concentrated on grilling Holder about Fast & Furious. Solyndra and Pigford were briefly discussed.
Republican Representative Jim Sensenbrenner said about Fast & Furious, “Some heads should roll.”
“What are you going to do to clean up this mess?” Sensenbrenner asked. “The answers that we’ve been getting so far are that ‘Well, somebody else did it,'” he said.
Holder did say that gun walking is not acceptable practice, especially since his pronouncement against it this year. Throughout the questioning about the operation, Holder provided no specific answers.
Rep. Goodlatte asked what Holder was doing to track down the guns. Holder said he agrees that the weapons must be tracked and he fears the weapons will show up for years. Holder said he is using the tools he has to try and find them, but they don’t have all the information, he doesn’t know how many have been recovered, how many are out there. Holder agreed that the flaw in the operation was the fact that they couldn’t track the weapons.
Several congressmen asked about a letter sent the previous week to Congress which was replete with falsehoods and Holder withdrew it.
Thirty minutes into the hearing, Rep. Maxine Waters delved into her opposition to the second amendment and a new bill she wants passed to restrict gun sales, temporarily turning the hearing into an anti-gun opportunity.
Rep. Hank Johnson, who is famous for his fear that Guam might “tip over and capsize” due to overpopulation, is still painful to listen to. One thing he said was clear and that is he does not like extreme right radicals (all NRA members) and is concerned that these radicals have left Holder rudderless without an ATF head. Republicans want more answers to Fast & Furious before they approve a new head.
Issa questioned Holder as to why there isn’t one existing email between him (Holder) and Lanny Breuer, Assistant Attorney General. Holder didn’t answer but did say he applied the standards that have always existed.
Issa asked Holder how Gary Grindler, his Chief of Staff, who knew about Fast & Furious on March 12, 2010 according to emails, did not share the information with Holder. Holder claimed Grindler did not have intimate details about Fast & Furious.
Issa brought up the fact that he has received very few documents responsive to Fast & Furious from Holder and asked him if there were more existing documents. Holder said the only documents he has not shared are confidential because they are part of an ongoing investigation. In other words, he cherry picked the documents he would release and the committee is not getting the remaining documents.
Holder could not tell Rep. King how many weapons were missing, how many were found, how many were sold…
About 1:30 into Pt. 2 of C-Span tape of the hearing, Rep. Franks read emails that suggested the ATF was looking for ways to use the guns to limit the second amendment. Holder had originally said he didn’t read the emails, but then admitted some of the emails were read to him in part. Holder went back-and-forth as to whether he read them or not. Franks asked Holder if there were additional emails and Holder admitted he has not given the committee all the pertinent emails and did not intend to because they were involved in an ongoing investigation.
Rep. Chaffetz brought up press releases about a case that was highly likely involved in Fast & Furious, and which exposed the fact that AG Holder and Sec. Napolitano had conversations about the matter. Holder said that he and Napolitano did not discuss Fast & Furious because the meaningful conversations take place at lower levels.
When asked, Holder said he has never spoken to the President about Fast & Furious. Chaffetz said the President stated that Holder had nothing to do with Fast & Furious and how would the President know that if they never discussed it. Holder said the President has many ways of getting this information.
Chaffetz asked why Holder has not talked with his counterparts in Mexico to this day. Holder did not directly answer the question and said he has taken steps to solve it and repeated a line about having opened an investigation and having made personnel changes.
At the end of a the testimony, Rep. Issa compared Holder to disgraced Nixon-era Attorney General John Mitchell. Holder shot back that Issa was like Sen. Joe McCarthy, the Wisconsin Republican who led what critics called a Communist witch hunt.
“As they said in the McCarthy hearings, have you no shame?” asked Holder, referencing a famous retort to McCarthy.
In the end, Holder gave general, evasive answers and came prepared to answer in a general, evasive manner.
The Pigford II settlement came up and Rep. King asked about the cap of $100 million. King added that the claims are for billions of dollars. King said he wanted to know the cost of Pigford to date, including attorney fees. Holder said he would get him the information.
According to Wiki, Pigford v. Glickman (1999) was a class action lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), alleging racial discrimination in its allocation of farm loans and assistance between 1983 and 1997. The lawsuit ended with a settlement on April 14, 1999, by Judge Paul L. Friedman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. To date, almost US$1 billion has been paid or credited to more than 13,300 farmers under the settlement’s consent decree, under what is reportedly the largest civil rights settlement to date. As another 70,000 farmers had filed late and not had their claims heard, the 2008 Farm Bill provided for additional claims to be heard; and in December 2010, Congress appropriated $1.2 billion for what is called Pigford II, the second part of the case.
The problem with Pigford is that, while some black farmers were possibly deprived of their rights, many, maybe most of the suits are bogus and some applicants for the compensation admitted to having no valid claim. For all the alleged bias by the USDA, not one person has been fired. Read more here: Pigford exposed
When Solyndra came up, Holder said it’s an ongoing investigation so he can’t say too much. Listen to Holder’s testimony on C-Span here if you must.
The entire hearing was an exercise in verbal obfuscation.