The Attorney General of the United States has been held in contempt of Congress, both civil and criminal. For the first time in our nation’s 236 year history, the top law enforcement officer of this country has seen fit to arrogantly ignore the mandates of Congress. He has blatantly refused their subpoena to produce documents necessary for them to complete their investigation into potential criminal activity which directly led to the death of U.S. Border Patrol Officer Brian Terry and hundreds of Mexican citizens. Reasonable suspicion exists that the guns were used in the murder of ICE Agent Jaime Zapata in a roadside attack in northern Mexico and the wounding of fellow agent Victor Avila.
Attorney General Eric Holder is the 82nd Attorney General and the first African American to be appointed to that position. He is the highest law enforcement officer in America. It is his job, his oath, his sworn duty, to uphold the law and the Constitution – all of the laws and all of the Constitution, not just the parts he or the President like. His oath does not give him the power or authority to break the law. It is the job of the Congress and the White House to ensure that the Attorney General does his job.
We are a nation of laws. It is neither in the interest of justice nor the maintaining of order when those sworn to uphold it unashamedly break the law and try to cover it up. Imagine a police officer who breaks the law. Imagine the effect on court cases when an officer gets caught lying on the stand or is held in contempt. Now put it on a national scale. We will all suffer from the actions of Eric Holder.
Many Democrats claim that the reason Holder was found in contempt because he is African American. They are wrong. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) even went so far as to try to link the contempt resolution to the nationwide effort to pass voter identification stating, “It is no accident that.. the Attorney General of the United States is the person responsible for making sure that voter suppression does not happen in our country. That issues related to civil liberties of the American people are upheld. These very same people that are holding him in contempt are part of a nationwide scheme to suppress the vote “
Several incidents early in Holders term as AG raise questions about his impartiality. The New Black Panthers were allegedly involved in a voter intimidation issue in Philadelphia during the November 2008 Presidential Election. Despite numerous complaints and video proof of the violation, Holder declined to prosecute the case.
During a meeting with a House subcommittee discussing this issue, Holder argued that the behavior from the New Black Panther Party was not comparable to historical voter intimidation against minorities, stating “When you compare what people endured in the South in the ’60s to try to get the right to vote for African Americans, to compare what people subjected to that with what happened in Philadelphia… I think does a great disservice to people who put their lives on the line for my people.” This comment has been viewed by many as evidence of racial bias on Holder’s part.
Holder announced that accused September 11 conspirators would be transferred to the U.S. District Court of New York for trial in the criminal court system just blocks from Ground Zero. Interestingly, at the time of his appointment as AG, Holder was a senior partner at the Washington, D.C., law firm Covington & Burling, which represented 17 suspected Yemeni terrorists who were being held at Guantanamo Bay and Holder’s firm was leading the push to close Gitmo and move the trials to civilian courts.
Holder was concerned that Arizona’s immigration law “might lead to racial profiling.” He testified during a House Judiciary Committee hearing that he had not read the Arizona law and that he had formed his opinions on the basis of news reports. Instead of protecting Arizona from illegal immigration and the criminal activity associated with it, Holder chooses legal action against Gov. Jan Brewer, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and others who fight the illegal immigration war in their States.
In September 2009, the Department of Justice through ATF launched an operation to combat the drug cartels working along the border of Arizona and Mexico including the straw purchases and transportation of guns across the borders. Deputy AG David Ogden stated, “The president has directed us to take action to fight these cartels and Attorney General Eric Holder and I are taking several new and aggressive steps as part of the administration’s comprehensive plan.” Funding was supplied through stimulus funds allocated to “Project Gunrunner.”
In this operation, guns were bought by straw purchasers and were allowed to “walk” across the border into Mexico instead of being seized by ATF agents. The aim was for ATF agents to follow the guns from the straw purchasers to the Mexican drug cartels. The weapons would be used as evidence to pin larger crimes against the cartel or at least eliminate the gun-trafficking routes. But according to whistleblowers and investigators, agents never made the attempt to actually trace the guns.
ATF instructed gun dealers in Phoenix to sell weapons to buyers, even if gun dealers suspected those purchasers might be affiliated with Mexican drug cartels. Though concerned, gun dealers in Phoenix followed orders and sold hundreds of AK-47-type semi-automatic rifles and .50 caliber rifles to suspicious buyers, even those without any form of identification.
The ATF told gun dealers that the government would use an eTrace system to find the whereabouts of Mexican drug cartels. However, the eTrace system was not implemented since the tracing chips had not been placed in the weapons. The Justice Department has not tried to recover the guns that crossed the border and failed to inform the Mexican government about the plan or seek any assistance from Mexico. They did not even inform the ATF liaison in the U.S. embassy in Mexico City.
In November 2009, a whistleblower, ATF special agent John Dodson and his teammates watched Uriel Patino and Jaime Avila, two of the most notorious people in the gun-trafficking ring, buy automatic weapons. ATF agents did not stop them.
In January 2010, Dodson spoke to Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, about Fast and Furious. The Senate Judiciary Committee began investigating and questioned ATF Special Agent Bill Newell, who oversaw the operation. He denied gun-walking was taking place.
The Operation became publicly known after Avila shot and killed Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry just 18 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border on December 14, 2010. Two of the weapons found at the scene had been sold through Fast and Furious. At Terry’s funeral, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano offered his mother, Josephine, condolences on behalf of Obama for her deceased son. Holder only expressed his condolences in November 2011 after leaking a letter to the press.
On Feb. 15, 2011, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata was killed in a roadside attack in northern Mexico and fellow agent Victor Avila was wounded. Evidence indicates weapons used in this attack are suspected to have been obtained through Fast and Furious.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and Grassley sent the ATF a letter in March 2011 asking for details about Operation Fast and Furious. The agency did not comply with their request. On March 27, 2011, Obama was asked about Fast and Furious on television in Mexico and denied that he or Holder knew about it.
Issa and Grassley sent Holder a letter asking for details about Operation Fast and Furious. On May 3, 2011, he appeared before the House Judiciary Committee, claiming that he had heard about Fast and Furious within the past few weeks. In October 2011, documents were released that indicated Holder was sent memos in regard to Operation Fast and Furious in 2010 contradicting Holder’s sworn testimony before the House Judiciary Committee in which he said he was unaware of Operation Fast and Furious until April 2011. On Nov. 8, 2011, Holder appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee and admitted for the first time that gun-walking occurred.
Grassley and Issa have repeatedly urged Holder to cooperate and turn over subpoenaed records that would reveal the scope of the government cover-up.” But on Feb. 2, 2012, before the House Judiciary Committee, Holder said DOJ is not involved in a cover-up.
In April, Issa announced that his committee was drafting a Contempt of Congress resolution against Holder in response to the committee being “stonewalled by the Justice Department.” On June 20, 2012, the Oversight Committee voted 23-17 along party lines to hold Holder in contempt of Congress for not releasing documents the committee had requested. A memo from Holder’s office said of the vote: “It’s an election-year tactic intended to distract attention.”
On June 28, 2012, Holder was held in criminal contempt by the House of Representatives in a 255-67 vote, with 17 Democrats voting for the measure and civil contempt by a vote of 258-95 with 21 Democrats voting for the measure.
As House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was calling the vote, about 100 Democrats led by Congressional Black Caucus members and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), marched quietly out of the House chamber expressing solidarity with Holder and the president. This action was a purely partisan move and a slap in the face to Brian Terry, Jaime Zapata, their families and their brothers and sisters in law enforcement.
Holder responded to the vote stating, “Today’s vote is the regrettable culmination of what became a misguided and politically motivated investigation during an election year.” He added that the debate and votes were “good political theater” but also “a crass effort and a grave disservice to the American people.”
Politically motivated? Perhaps by Holder and President Obama. A political move designed to convince the American people, whom this administration believes to be stupid, that they did no wrong. These documents were requested well over a year ago. The situation only culminated in an election year because the Committee exercised incredible patience with Holder so they could not be accused of playing partisan politics. Holder was given every opportunity to come clean. He chose not to.
This situation is not a political ploy. Holder committed a criminal action in direct violation of the laws of these United States, of the individual States, of the Constitution. It is a violation of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the Oath of Office that each of these men took and the Rules of Professional Conduct they are bound by in the legal profession.
If anyone other than the Attorney General committed these acts, if it were a lowly patrolman, prosecutor, civilian, detective, they would have quickly become an inmate facing charges of perjury on top of contempt as well as fines and incarceration and most certainly the loss of their career. It should be no different for Eric Holder – no matter what lame, unsupportable defense or excuse he may attempt.
Robert was raised by a 28 year police veteran in Marple Township PA where his parents taught him love and respect for the law and others. Robert served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the early 1980s as a Military Police Officer. After his discharge, he pursued a career as a municipal Police Officer in suburban Philadelphia in Radnor Township. He was involved in an on-duty vehicle accident which caused him to leave law enforcement after 7 years on the force. Robert enrolled in college earning his Associates Degree, Summa Cum Laude, in Paralegal Studies with a minor in Administration of Justice from the Delaware County Community College, a Bachelor’s Degree, Cum Laude, and a Certificate in Paralegal Studies from Widener University in Chester PA and his Juris Doctor from the Widener University School of Law. During Law School, Robert served a clinical internship with the Delaware County (PA) District Attorney’s Office. He currently volunteers his assistance with photography services to the Delaware County Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial Foundation and the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation. Robert is currently not licensed to practice law and does not intend any information presented to constitute legal advice.