Top 10 Corrupt Politicians of 2011: Eric Holder Fast and Furious Scandal
Attorney General Eric Holder - a top 10 corrupt politician
from the Curmudgeon's desk: GA Anderson
President Obama's Attorney General Eric Holder has made the list of top 10 corrupt politicians for 2011 put out by Judicial Watch*, and not just for the Fast and Furious gun walking scandal. AG Holder has several issues that helped him make the list, the Fast and Furious scandal is just the most visible. Although it may be the tip of the iceberg, the gun walking scandal may not be the most serious.
Mr. Holder's Justice Department has been accused of racial favoritism and race-based decision making, blatant politicking, selective enforcement of Federal laws, and in the case of the Fast and Furious scandal - orchestrating a political cover-up.
Criticism of his performance as Attorney General has ranged from just plain incompetent, to illegal, to violating his oath of office, and there appears to be plenty of evidence to substantiate all three.
*Judicial Watch, Inc., is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, that promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.
Attorney General Eric Holder
President Obama's Attorney General appointee, Eric Holder, is in his own words; "A big boy, in Washington politics." He is the first African American and 82nd United States Attorney General. His previous Washington experience included; D.C. Superior Court Judge, U.S. Attorney, U.S. Deputy Attorney General, Senior legal Adviser to presidential candidate Barack Obama, and member of Obama's Vice-presidential selection committee.
His self-proclamation of being "A big boy, in Washington politics" is well deserved. And his involvement in apparent political impropriety and scandal started well before his appointment as U.S. Attorney General.
Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder
The Marc Rich Pardon
Holder's first public brush with scandal was a case of apparent impropriety that involved the controversial pardon of major Democratic contributor and fugitive, Marc Rich. Holder admitted that in a meeting with Rich's lawyer - Jack Quinn, a politically connected Washington lawyer, he recommended by-passing the normal pardon request procedures and take their plea directly to the White House. At the urging of Mr. Quinn, Holder made a call to the Clinton White House counsel to discuss his thoughts on the Rich pardon.
Although Mr. Holder describes his recommendation as "neutral, leaning towards favorable," the House Government Reform Committee saw it differently. In their 2003 report on Clinton's pardons, they called his call "significant" to the decision to pardon Rich. Holder admitted as much when he characterized his involvement as a "mistake."
"I wish I had done some things differently with regard to the Marc Rich matter. Specifically, I wish that I had ensured that the Department of Justice was more fully informed and involved in this pardon process", and called his own actions a "mistake".
*More information about the Marc Rich pardon scandal can be seen in this 2008 New York Times article.
The Boricua Popular Army Clemency
As Deputy Attorney General, Holder was also involved in the Clinton administration granting of clemency decision for 16 members of the Boricua Popular Army, a Puerto Rican-based terrorist organization. The clemency decision, and Holder's recommendation to approve it, were controversial because it was opposed by the 1996 U.S. Pardon's Attorney, The U.S. prosecutor, the F.B.I., and the victims.
Attorney General Eric Holder and the New Black Panther Party
Eric Holder's Department of Justice's handling of the charges against the New Black Panthers Party for Self Defense for voter intimidation is currently more of a controversy than an actual punishable scandal. At issue is the DOJ's dropping of the charges just at the point that the courts would have ruled on a conviction.
At issue is the claim that two members of the party stood outside a polling place in 2008, and acted in a manner that intimidated voters trying to enter to cast their ballots.
No overt threats appear to have been made, and whether or not charges should have been filed is a coin-toss, but what is controversial is that civil rights violation charges were filed, and the defendants did not show to defend against the charges. The Justice Department lawyers handling the case moved for a default judgement, but were overruled by two of their department superiors, Loretta King who was acting Assistant Attorney General and Steve Rosenbaum, Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General
The case then escalated into more of a controversy when DOJ attorney Christian Adams turned whistle-blower with accusations that under Holder, the DOJ's civil rights division had adopted an informal policy of not pursuing civil rights cases that involved minorities as the defendants.
Adams stated "I was told by voting section management that cases are not going to be brought against black defendants on [behalf] of white victims."
Two other attorneys who worked alongside Adams in the in the DOJ's Civil Rights Division, Hans A. von Spakovsky and Karl Bowers, have submitted affidavits to the Civil Rights commission corroborating aspects of Adams' testimony.
In 2010 a report released by the Civil Rights Commission concluded that their investigations had uncovered "numerous specific examples of open hostility and opposition" within the Department of Justice to pursuing cases in which whites were the victims.
As a scandal, this case is portrayed as a "he said - she said" matter of perspective, but it is another indication of the Department of Justice's controversial changes in policies under the leadership of Eric Holder.
The Fast and Furious Gunwalking Political Scandal
The Fast and Furious Gun-walking political scandal appears to be much more of a real scandal for AG Eric Holder. It involves alleged illegal DOJ complicity in an operation that facilitated the illegal purchase of guns in the U.S., and then allowed those guns to be transported to drug cartels across the U.S./Mexican border. It further alleges a political cover-up effort reminiscent of Nixon and the Watergate scandal.
In brief, the Fast and Furious Gun-walking operation was a joint task force effort operation involving several government agencies, primarily the ATF, (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms), DEA, (Drug Enforcement Agency), and DOJ, (Dept. of Justice). The ATF instructed selected gun shop owners to cooperate and allow illegal straw purchases* of weapons, the majority of which were semi-automatic assault rifles and automatic pistols. The ATF then monitored, and even video taped these activities.
*Straw purchase - a surrogate buying for someone else
Initially the intent was to determine the identity of the "real" end buyers of the weapons, but stop the transactions before the weapons actually crossed the Mexican border, which would be an illegal act under both U.S. and Mexican law, and also a violation of an earlier U.S./Mexican treaty.
In reality, although it is unclear where the decision was made and authorized, it was decided to let the guns "walk" across the border so the "real" buyers, (the drug cartels), could be caught.
Unfortunately, this was a failed concept because once the guns actually crossed into Mexico the agents of the operation lost all control and trace of the guns. It is alleged that the ATF allowed as many as 2500 guns to "walk" across the border into the hands of the drug cartels.
It is well documented that "on the ground" ATF agents involved in the operation continually and properly complained about allowing the guns to enter Mexico, but were overruled by their superiors in the ATF, and DOJ. The operation "blew up" and became a public issue when a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed in a border shoot-out that involved, (allegedly), at least two, and perhaps three automatic assault rifles that had been involved in the Fast and Furious operation, and allowed to "walk" across the border into the hands of Mexican Drug cartels.
The real scandal of the Fast and Furious Operation
The real scandal of the Fast and Furious Operation began after the public outrage over the "gun-walking" aspect of the operation erupted.
The cover-up started.
High officials at the ATF and DOJ first denied that guns had been allowed to "walk" into Mexico, but that was soon shown to be untrue by a string of "on the ground" ATF agent's testimony, ATF & DOJ memos, and internal DOJ documents. Congress wanted answers, and since Eric Holder's Department of Justice was responsible for overseeing the ATF, Mr. Holder was called to testify.
Did the cover-up turn into lies?
A flurry of internal memos at both DOJ and ATF discussed how to deflect any inquiries, and, the denials to be used. Then when AG Holder testified in May that he had only heard about the operation "a few weeks" earlier when it hit the public airwaves, pandemonium ensued. How could the head of the U.S. Justice Department not be aware of an operation that allowed over 2000 illegal guns to enter Mexico - under the video cameras of the ATF, and an operation that resulted in over 200 deaths in Mexico that were directly attributable to the "walked" guns, and the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent? The Congressional committee openly doubted Mr. Holder's testimony.
Further personal testimony from both ATF agents, and DOJ personnel clearly showed that Mr. Holder had been told of the operation as early as July 2010. A fact he still denies.
His explanation - " I don't read every single memo that comes to my desk."
For most folks, this seems like a replay of former president Clinton's contortions to clarify what the definition of "is" is, and to say the least, the circumstances seem to indicate gross incompetence - as stated by one Congressional hearing member, but to another Congressman it harkened back to the Nixon years and John Mitchell's Watergate cover-up efforts.
Eric Holder a top finisher on the corrupt politian's list
As if that wasn't enough to justify Attorney General Holder's inclusion, there is more. He has also directed his department not to enforce certain Federal laws, one being the Defense of Marriage Act. His department, by his direction, will not enforce compliance with that law because he does not feel it is right. Even though his oath of office required his pledge to uphold all Federal Laws.
See more GA Anderson Political articles
About the Author
Writing for the Daily Constitutional, and commentary from the Curmudgeon's desk - GA Anderson
"Seeing it does not make it real, and reading it does not make it true. Use a little common-sense and trust your instincts." - GAA
*Composite image component source citations: Creative Commons images from:commons.wikimedia.org, flickr.com/creativecommons, search.creativecommons.org, http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2009/06/find-creative-commons-images-in-google.html. *photo and image source credits: divider and separation images - http://gaanderson.hubpages.com