By Teresa Welsh |
The answer as to whether Eric Holder should resign or be blamed is: categorically no.
The facts contradict accusations that Attorney General Eric Holder was untruthful about the flawed "Fast and Furious" program - facts of which Republican members of congress are or should be aware.
First, it is a matter of public record that this is not the first time this type of ATF gun-tracking program in search of Mexican drug cartel higher ups has gone wrong.
A similar program with similar tracking problems -- an operation called "Wide Receiver" -- began during then Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez's tenure in 2007. As CBS News investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson reported that during the latter operation, hundreds of guns "walked" across the Mexican border. Why didn't the Republicans criticizing Eric Holder remember to mention this?
Second, Republicans know Holder was asked a question during a congressional hearing about when he first learned about this program in the context of prior questions concerning the mismanagement of the program. His answer was truthful - he said he first learned about it — meaning the problems and faulty tactics — in the spring of 2011. If anyone doubts the truth, then how come the former U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona, the jurisdiction in which ATF was implementing the program, and the former acting director and deputy director of ATF supposedly in charge, have said they also did not know about the problems in Fast and Furious until just recently? And they also have said that they had not briefed the attorney general until this year--just as Mr. Holder testified.
Third, it is literally silly to suggest that the AG "lied" because the program "Fast and Furious" was referred to in general terms in 2010 buried among hundreds of pages of reports from 24 departments regularly delivered to the office of the attorney general. Only a hyper-partisan politician looking to score cheap political points would criticize Mr. Holder for not remembering every line of reports that traditionally are screened by senior staffers, not by the Attorney General. The Republicans also know that even if Mr. Holder had read and remembered those references to "Fast and Furious," not one disclosed any of the misguided tactics and errors of the ATF, including the failure to track the guns over the border. As Mr. Holder stated, he first learned about those serious errors in the spring of 2011.
Finally this should be a law enforcement issue, not a political one. Ironically many of the same congressional Republicans challenging Mr. Holder have failed to support legislation that would enhance the ability of the ATF to control the flow of guns across the borders.
Mr. Holder recognized the serious problems that occurred here as soon as he learned about them, called the operation seriously flawed, and obtained a DOJ Inspector General investigation.
But for some Republican members of congress to blame Mr. Holder for not preventing these mistakes ahead of time -- while conveniently ignoring that similar problems had also occurred during the prior Republican administration -- is just the type of double-standard politics that has so alienated Americans in both parties.
About Lanny Davis Crisis Management Attorney
Judson Phillips Founder of Tea Party Nation
Lara Brown Professor at Villanova University