Representative Darrell Issa, the California Republican, heads the House Oversight and Reform Committee. Congress features several such subgroups tasked with an array of duties. Issa’s ensures that tax dollars are well spent and that the government delivers factual disclosures to its citizens in a timely manner. But alas, the committee can do neither; Attorney General Eric Holder has refused to turn over a number of documents related to the ATF’s Fast and Furious gun walking operation.
The recommendation that Holder undergo a contempt of Congress vote has not stemmed from a trivial partisan pickle. The House Oversight Committee is obligated to collect information pertaining to federally funded agencies. Moreover, the deaths of agent Brian Terry and untold numbers of Mexican citizens renew the moral necessity for establishing what went wrong. Yet again, the committee cannot do its job; Obama has asserted executive privilege to protect Holder’s documents from subpoena.
A similar tactic of selling and then tracking firearms was implemented toward the final years of the Bush administration, only, as Guy Benson of Town Hall points out, the transactions were controlled deliveries with the Mexican government’s involvement. Or were they? The Fatally Flawed report issued by Representative Elijah Cummings in 2012 contradicts Benson (as well as Katie Pavlich, the author he cites) by claiming poor cooperation between Mexican and American authorities resulted in the loss (to the cartels) of some 450 weapons. Holder’s documents, one imagines, might improve the public’s understanding of the program. Consider:
- On December 15th, 2010, Brian Terry dies of wounds received in a shootout with Mexican Cartel Members. The weapons—AK 47s—were of American origin.
- A few hours later, Monty Wilkinson (a counselor to Holder) responds to an e-mail from Former Phoenix attorney general Dennis Burke regarding Terry’s death. Wilkinson replies: “Tragic. I’ve alerted the AG, acting DAG, Lisa, etc.”
- Holder testifies on May 3rd, 2011, that he only knew about the Fast and Furious operation “for a few weeks.”
If released, the documents will either vindicate Holder or show him guilty of perjury. In the latter scenario, the case will go to the attorney general of the District of Colombia (the next rung down the ladder behind Holder) who will then have to decide whether or not to prosecute his boss. For Obama—Holder’s boss—the House’s vote of contempt will mark the third time in as many weeks that that the president has endured a particularly unfavorable turbulence. Holder’s inconsistencies have only raised the temperature and forced the Obama administration into a highly compromising position.
But perhaps the most intriguing point in all this concerns the mechanics of the drug war which proceeds without the slightest regard to Brian Terry, Eric Holder, or Barack Obama. Black markets operate on similar supply and demand economics like their legal counterparts, except illegality in one market increases demand in the other. This is exactly the case with semi-automatic assault weapons (illegal in Mexico) and narcotics (illegal in the United States). US legalization and regulation of, say, marijuana would deflate the demand for Mexican imports, and perhaps ameliorate the needless deaths that prohibition indirectly perpetuates. Traditional conservatives jilt at the mere suggestion of legalization, but surely it’s a better idea than allowing American firearm dealers to market weaponry to known criminal organizations.