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The Attorney General’s not a crook; he’s just incompetent

A week ago, Bruce posted a piece suggesting that the Fast and Furious scandal was worse than Watergate.  Perhaps, it’s not that bad, not a question of administration malfeasance, but just one of bureaucratic incompetence.

Yesterday, Republicans grilled Attorney General Eric Holder when the Democrat testified before the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee.  He might have taken his cues in handling testimony from Johnny Friendly‘s (Lee J. Cobb) cronies in On the Waterfront. He was deaf and dumb about what was going on in his outfit.

Well, maybe he really didn’t know.  And if he didn’t, well, the best term to describe his leadership at Justice is incompetent.  So, he claims, he didn’t read the memos (addressed to him) detailing the “operation run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to allow straw buyers to smuggle guns into Mexico“, a program which “resulted in the deaths of more than 200 Mexican citizens and U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.”

Now, of course, the Attorney General is a busy man and can’t read every word of every 100-page memo addressed to him.  But, that’s why he has a big staff.  And you’d think one of his aides would alert the government’s top law enforcement official to a program allowing buyers to smuggle guns — without tracking devices — into Mexico.  Oh, yeah, and the ATF wasn’t informing the Mexican government about this program.

You’d think that when word of this program became public (or at least became known to the Attorney General), he’d fire  — or at least severely discipline — those on his staff who didn’t alert him to a program which resulted in the deaths of Mexican citizens — and a U.S. law enforcement official.  But, as Michelle Malkin reported yesterday Holder only offers a vague statement about making personnel changes and it’s not all he’s “possibly” going to do.

Today, in the Washington Examiner, Conn Carroll details the similarities between the Attorney General and the cronies of Lee J. Cobb’s celebrated union boss. He knew nothing:

Asked if he knew who approved the decision to let illegal gun sales go through untraced, Holder said, “I don’t know.” Asked if he knew how many illegal gun sales to Mexico his administration allowed, Holder said: “I don’t know how many guns from Fast And Furious are out there.”

He doesn’t know.  What kind of people does he have working for him?  Who has hired to keep him informed?

“There you have it,” quips Michael Walsh:

One of the most incompetent (at best) and murderous operations ever undertaken in the name of the Justice Department, and all the attorney general can do is say they’ve closed the barn door now that the horses have fled, taking the guns and ammo with them.

Oh, and promise to get to the bottom of things . . . someday.

Via Instapundit.

RELATED: Holder refuses to fire aides from Fast and Furious operation



  1. F&F not worse than Watergate? IIRC, the Watergate scandal had no body count.

    Comment by alanstorm — December 9, 2011 @ 1:43 pm - December 9, 2011

  2. alan, do hope you recognize the reference in the first clause of my title. 🙂

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — December 9, 2011 @ 2:16 pm - December 9, 2011

  3. Incompetence or Malice? Well, I suppose it depends on what your definition of Malice is, and your mental state while lying to Congress.

    I have a feeling that the reason Holder is not passing the buck and bashing subordinates, is because their silence on what he was told is his lifeline to avoid jail time. The minute after he opens his mouth and says “Bob knew of this program, but failed to inform me!”, Bob will be talking to reporters saying “Well, we had a meeting where we told him about it on X, and on Y, and on Z, and here is a copy of the meeting minutes, and here is a copy of his email saying what a good job we were doing….”

    Comment by Georg Felis — December 9, 2011 @ 2:43 pm - December 9, 2011

  4. Great…
    First we provide the Cartels with advanced automatic weapons.
    Then we open the US border to their heavy drug-smuggling Big-Rigs.
    Finally, we launder their drug money for them.
    What’s next?

    After demob’ing from Afghanistan we should re-station two full-strength US Army divisions to the Mexican border to establish and maintain a cordon sanitaire with shoot-on-sight ROE’s for smuggling operations and tough border enforcement. Posse Comitatus shouldn’t apply to the National Borders themselves.

    Comment by Ted B. (Charging Rhino) — December 9, 2011 @ 3:11 pm - December 9, 2011

  5. Dan, I will defer to your scholarly legal training in the use of the term “malfeasance.” I will defer in advance to the scholarly legal use of the terms “misfeasance” and “nonfeasance” as well.

    That said, the public trust, particularly at the friggin’ Justice Department, clearly assumes that the Attorney General of the United States of America has the power, the will and the determination to find out who, what, where, why, when and how the Fast and Furious Program was carried out under his auspices.

    Holder’s testimony clearly states that the President knew more about Fast and Furious than he (Holder) did!!!!

    The next time Congress drags the CEO of Toyota before them to get to the bottom of sticking accelerator pedals, the CEO should just say he doesn’t know anything about the problem. Right?

    Being in the official position of holding the public trust bends the workaday meaning of the three “feasances.” “Incompetence” on the part of an official holding the public trust certainly extends to the President if he permits the incompetence to exist once discovered. In my limited understanding of Constitutional Law, the “misdemeanors” in the impeachment clause boils down to “abuse of authority” and is not excusable by any “plausible deniability” defense.

    The President swears an oath to uphold the Constitution and, essentially, the public trust. Each officer of the United States is sworn in with an oath of the same understandings and a solemn promise to help the President uphold his oath.

    Holder has a narrow window of opportunity to put the finger on a fall guy or two and try to escape his “incompetence.” But, very much like Watergate, Obama is ultimately open to being called to the judgement of the Senate over this whole dismal mess.

    Clearly, the House is not going to start up impeachment proceedings against Obama in this political season. Clearly, Obama is not going to take the responsibility for Holder’s inaction/incompetence.

    Equally as clearly, Issa has the reins and he can continue to subpoena Holder and his cohorts and presenting them with evermore damning evidence. Eventually, Holder will either start a pissing contest with Obama or take a fall or produce enough bodies from Justice to get Issa off his back.

    The Democrats are masters at forcing people down by making them defend themselves until they give up and quit. My sense is that Issa is one of the few Republicans willing to give the Democrats a strong dose of their own techniques.

    This is not your typical Herman Cain type smear job. Holder is indeed a prime candidate for impeachment and he should be given the opportunity to wake up and smell his own burning flesh.

    Comment by Heliotrope — December 9, 2011 @ 4:51 pm - December 9, 2011

  6. I would also add that it’s becoming obvious that Issa sees this as a prime opportunity to get Obama Party members up for re-election in front of the cameras and allow them to debase themselves in their attempt to defend Obama and Holder to the death.

    More precisely, the more that Dianne Feinstein is up in front of the mike spinning and blabbering how it’s OK to kill Mexicans if the goal was to taking guns away from white people in the United States, the more likely it is that California will have a Republican Senator next year.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — December 9, 2011 @ 5:42 pm - December 9, 2011

  7. Holder is incompetent AND a crook, and he needs to go. Just like his boss.

    Comment by Seane-Anna — December 9, 2011 @ 9:32 pm - December 9, 2011

  8. Mr Holder is the Attorney General for the United States and as such he is obligated to serve all Americans equally. When he singles out “his people: for special treatment then he is no longer serving all of us and he has, in fact, robbed us of due protection under the law and consequently is most definitely a crook.

    Comment by Not Always Right — December 9, 2011 @ 9:58 pm - December 9, 2011

  9. When he whines “Have you no shame?”, I would’ve asked if he felt no shame in finding out people have been killed by these weapons. If I had been on that committee, I would’ve blown a gasket and lit into him in such a way that C-SPAN would cut to a test pattern or something.

    Dirty rotten squalling little bitch.

    I crap bigger’n you.” -Curly Washburn

    Comment by TGC — December 10, 2011 @ 4:02 am - December 10, 2011

  10. we should re-station two full-strength US Army divisions

    No, you should just form two new ones. If Iran gets much more bellicose, or Pakistan more unstable, you will need them.

    Comment by perturbed — December 10, 2011 @ 7:00 am - December 10, 2011

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