Friday, May 18, 2012

House GOP Leaders Demand AG Holder Cooperate With Congress On 'Fast And Furious'

House GOP leaders sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder demanding that he cooperate with Congress in its investigation of the Fast and Furious scandal, which involved the Justice Department illegally selling over 2,000 weapons to Mexican drug cartels after 'walking' them across the border. Over 300 deaths have been attributed to these weapons, including the murder of Brian Terry, a U.S. border patrol agent. Most of the weapons remain unaccounted for.

House Speaker Boehner and the GOP leadership have threatened to cite Holder for contempt of Congress unless he begins complying with the subpoenas issued by Rep. Daryl Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley's investigative committee. Such a citation for contempt is already being prepared.

The investigation has been hampered but what both Grassley and Issa have termed 'stonewalling' as well as apparently deliberate misstatements of fact under oath to Congress. Attorney General Holder has already had to withdraw Feb. 4, 2011, letter that provided false information to Congress about when he first became aware of Fast and Furious, after memos were discovered that contradicted his statements.

If a contempt motion is issued, it would come to a vote of the full House, where it would almost certainly pass. Once a contempt resolution passes, Congress could seek enforcement through federal courts if the Department of Justice still refuses to comply.

The way this works is interesting and should provide a spectacle in and of itself.

Following a contempt citation, the presiding officer of the chamber is instructed to refer the matter to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. It's the legal duty of the U.S. Attorney to refer the matter to a grand jury for action.

The penalty if convicted is not less than one month nor more than twelve months in jail and a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $1,000.

Ah, but there's a controversy involved.

According to the views of some interpretations of the Constitution, Congress cannot properly compel the U.S. Attorney to take this action against the Executive Branch, because the U.S. Attorney is a member of the Executive Branch who ultimately reports only to the President. Therefore, they see it as a violation of separation of powers to force the U.S. Attorney to act against the executive branch, because it involves forcing a subordinate of the President to act against the branch of government controlled by the president.

Depend on President Obama to shield Holder by making that argument. Of course, President Obama could act in the interest of justice and either compel Holder to cooperate or appoint an independent prosecutor, but based on his actions thus far it appears this president has personal motives for not doing so.

Ultimately, this might be referred to the Supreme Court, which might make the matter irrelevant since it's unlikely they would render a verdict before Holder is out of office. That still wouldn't make him immune from future prosecution should Congress wish to pursue the matter, but it does stop Fast and Furious erupting as a fresh scandal prior to the election.

That, by the way, is akin to how President Nixon dealt with Watergate during his first term. It would be ironic if President Obama were to be re-elected, only to have Fast and Furious explode during his second term.


louielouie said...

the only way fast and furious is going to explode is if someone does a woodward/bernstein & deep throat.
you think that's gonna happen?
didn't think so.

B.Poster said...

A key difference between this and Watergate is a soverign foreign country is involved. As far as I know, no foreign countries were involved with Watergate.

Its vitally important that we get to the bottom of this. I'm sure the Mexican government will want some solid answers to this. I know I would if the roles were reversed. Of course if the roles were reversed, I would not be violating the soverignty of my northern neighbor by actively encouraging illegal immigration into my northern neighbor's homeland. Also, I would not further be violating this neighbor's soverignty by working to undermine this neighbor's efforts to secure it borders and actively demonizing those woh work to do so but that's another topic.

If we don't conduct a fair and honest investigation into this, the Mexicans will likely eventually take this case to organizations like the ICC, the UN general assembly, the WTO, and possibly a number of other world bodies.

The fact that the US does not recognize the ICC has been discussed before. Frankly that fact does not matter. The symbolism alone of a conviction of major US officals would be extrodinarily devestaing against us, as would a UN general seembly resolution. Also, the WTO or others could impose trade sanctions on us.

Conduct a fair and honest investigation. If guilty, punish the appropate offenders in a fair manner. Share all results of the investigation with the Mexican authorities. Even invite them to participate fully in the process. If this is done, we may be able to avoid the unpleasant consequences laid out above.

I wonder if the Mexican authorities would want any part of this? Perhaps not. They may have been actively involved. It does seem uniikely that the US governemnt would conduct an operation of this magnitude without consulting the appropiate Mexian officals. In any event, we need to clean our own house first!!

Finally, this could serve as a "teachable moment." It appears that Mexico's soverignty was violated here. Mexico has violated US soverignty for decades with absolute impunity. As such, it should come as no surprise to them that their soverginty would be violated. This is in accordance with the laws of sowing and reaping. You mistreat others expect to receive the same. This does NOT make American actions right here!! Conduct the investigation in a fair and open manner.

B.Poster said...

It may explode if Mexico pushes the issue. We can avoid much of that possibility if we do a fair investigation of this ourselves and encourage Mexico to participate as an equal partner. Either way it won't be good but a fair investigation will help to contain things. Often times the coverup is worse than the crime itself.

I really doubt Mexico will push the issue for a fair and honest investigation. The likely truth is that high ranking Mexican officials were invovled in this along with the American counterparts. A fair and honest investigation might end up implementing them!! I doubt they want any part of that.

As long as the situation serves their purposes to bash Aemrica and to stir up resentment towards America, they like this. Any thing that might implicate them, not so much.

Arguably our biggest problems right now is we have massive issues and are going to need the help of other nations to solve them. Unfortunately we are the most universially despised country on earth right now. As long as this remains the case, others whose assistance we need are going to be reluctant to help, to put things charitiably.

As such, one of our top priorities, if not our top priority, should be to improve our world image. To say that things like fast and furious are unhelpful in this regard is an understatement.