Why Congress holds Holder in contempt
By Isaac Yetiv, Ph.D.
LA JOLLA, California — It was revealed by whistleblowers that the Department of Justice had sold, or given, 2000 weapons to the Mexican drug cartels which ended up killing one American Border Patrol agent, Brian Terry, and hundreds of Mexicans.
This ill-conceived, and apparently ill-executed, adventure involved spending taxpayer money –we still don’t know how much and from what budget– the loss of life of an American law-enforcer, and international ramifications. It was a clear case that warranted investigation, and the Oversight Committee of the US House of Representatives duly decided to do just that, on behalf of the people who have the right to know the truth about whose idea it was, who knew about it, how much it cost, who approved it,what, when, and why.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was called to testify at the Committee’s hearings. He first denied the program existed, as his office wrote in a letter dated February 2011. Then, in March,he retracted the denial, but continued to stonewall and to refuse to produce the documents demanded by the Committee. It was reported that his office gave the Committee about 7,000 documents out of 140,000 , that is 5 percent.
After about 15 months , and many warnings, the Committee found the Attorney General ” in contempt of Congress,” and the plenum of the House confirmed it by a majority vote including many Democrats. This was the first time in history that such an action had been taken.
To complicate matters, the Attorney General asked President Obama, in a letter, to declare an “executive privilege” to protect the documents of the Department of Justice. And Obama immediately obliged, thus interjecting himself , gratuitously in my opinion, in the dispute in what many see as a coverup. This bizarre , and uncalled for, interference of the Chief Executive in a routine confrontation between the Legislative and part of the Executive which played within the framework of the constitutional “checks and balances,” has escalated the conflict to a political fight in an election year.
One may also ask: How can the president invoke executive privilege to protect the Department of Justice documents after he said he didn’t know anything about them? And why did the Attorney General ask the president to protect the documents after he, or his subalterns, said that they had given all the documents?
It is ironic that the administration that has disclosed many state secrets is now covering up, under the guise of “executive privilege,” information that should be disclosed, especially to a Congress committee. Classified information ,if any, could still be protected in many ways.
It is very disturbing that Obama himself , in 2007, strongly opposed Bush’s claim of executive privilege, calling it ” a scheme that went sour.” And the president should know that, in the Watergate scandal , Nixon’s claim of executive privilege was rejected because “it can’t cover wrongdoing.” “Fast and Furious” certainly qualifies for that appellation.
This president and his attorney general are working in tandem, as they should, but they are both guided by ideology far-to-the-left of the mainstream Democratic party , and for the Attorney General, political considerations take precedence over impartial administration of the Law. This has been shown in many instances,and it casts strong doubts as to the ability of the A.G. to do his job. Here are the most salient examples:
.- The A.G. declared that his office will no longer uphold and defend the DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act ), signed by President Clinton in 1996, that defines “marriage” as a union between one man and one woman. This is still the Law, but since Obama, after supporting it, has changed his “political”mind, and now supports gay marriage, his A.G. flouts the law which he was sworn to uphold and defend.
.- He decided NOT to prosecute the New Black Panthers, in fact to drop the charges (of “voters harassment, in Philadelphia…) against them just because he can, and for political racial reasons.
.- He sued four states, clearly for political reasons.
.- He decided to prosecute Khalid Shaikh Mohamed and four other 9/11 terrorists in a New York civilian court , and only after a massive public backlash , especially from Democrats, the president intervened, and changed his mind in two steps: first by accepting a civilian court but not in New York, and then ,on the day he announced his re-election campaign, he accepted the idea of a military court in Guantanamo where the terrorists are being detained.
.- He came strongly against those, like me, who want to require the voters to show an ID card, because of past fraud and abuse: It was discovered that 53,000 DEAD people were registered voters in Florida (maybe a million nationwide?) As you may remember, ACORN was defunded by the Congress because of fraud when thousands of illegal immigrants and dead people were registered by
ACORN, as well as young men who voted many times and admitted that on TV. ACORN was heavily financed by you, the taxpayer, in the hundreds of millions.
A few days ago, the Attorney General, with his cool, cynical demagoguery, re-launched the attack, claiming that the proponents of the ID-for-voting have only one purpose in mind: to disenfranchise the poor who couldn’t afford the expense of obtaining an ID, which was not true.
Most egregious of all his acts of flagrant chtuzpah , is that he played the race card by comparing this situation to the “poll tax” reminiscent of the old, overt, and odious racist laws of yesteryear.
How can Holder still cry racism after the election of a black man as president…by a majority of white people, who chose him , a black person as Attorney General? Is the race card, now, the last refuge of the incompetent, the failing, the felons? He ought to be ashamed. It is not a matter of complexion but of compliance with the law, common sense and decency. Eric Holder should go.
Yetiv is a freelance writer and lecturer in La Jolla. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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