June 23, 2012
By Melissa Bynes Brooks
It’s no secret U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, is in the line of fire of the Republican Party. They continue to lambast him at every opportunity, in the hopes of driving him out of office.
Evidence of this became more apparent in the Congressional hearings about Operation Fast and Furious which grew out of Project Gunrunner, set up by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to combat gun trafficking along the Southwest border in 2006.
For all intents and purposes, all parties involved agree that Operation Fast and Furious was a botched investigation which left much to be desired from the participating agencies. It was a gun trafficking investigation gone awry. It was mishandled, resulting in a threat to public safety and the 2010 border shooting that killed a U.S. border agent, Brian Terry.
Likewise, a 2010 review done by the Office of the Inspector General shows there was poor coordination, collaboration, and inadequate information sharing between ATF and other Department components, as well as the Mexican government in ATF’s overall management of Project Gunrunner.
ATF has since proposed to implement a revised Cartel Strategy for combating firearms trafficking, to increase its dissemination of intelligence information to its Mexican partners, to increase coordination with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and improve its coordination with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Inquiries and investigations to hold people accountable and determine the root cause of the problems in order to prevent them from happening again is to be expected. Furthermore, Eric Holder has made necessary personnel changes in the Department’s leadership and has instituted policy changes to ensure better oversight of significant investigations. Nevertheless, Republicans continue in their quest to discover criminal activity on the part of Mr. Holder.
It won’t play.
President Obama has demonstrated that he is his brother’s keeper. He has pulled out all the stops to protect Eric Holder and his administration by asserting his Executive Privilege to withhold documents related to Operation Fast and Furious, deemed vital to national security interests.
Republicans were admittedly surprised. Conceivably, they got it twisted because in 2007, then Senator Obama opposed President George W. Bush’s assertion of Executive Privilege. White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten wouldn’t testify under oath or provide subpoenaed information about the firings of nine U.S. attorneys. The dispute led to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led by Chairman Darrell Issa (R) California, proceeded anyway with vote for a contempt citation against Eric Holder. The vote was lockstep within party lines. However, it was much ado about nothing in light of President Obama’s prior action.
Perhaps the prelude to the contempt citation really is a dictum of the anxiety Republicans have for Eric Holder in his role as President Obama’s keeper. Likely flashpoints involving Eric Holder come to mind.
There are six examples:
1 — A decision in 2009 to prosecute five men accused as co-conspirators in the Sept. 11 attacks in federal court in Manhattan despite criticism that holding such a trial presented greater risks than a military commission
2 — Support of President Obama’s initial desire to shut down Guantanamo Bay which was believed to drive recruitment for anti-American groups because of the mistreatment of prisoners. The alternative would have been to transfer its inmates to prisons in the United States.
3 — The 2010 challenge of the state of Arizona’s immigration law, S.B. 1070, in federal court as unconstitutional. The law attempted to establish Arizona’s own independent immigration policy and created new immigration crimes that were non- existent under federal law. The law also required police to verify citizenship when a person was believed to be undocumented and provided for their arrest. The private right of action against law enforcement officials failing to fully enforce the law was authorized.
4 — A notice to Congress in 2011, when he informed them of the Executive Branch’s determination that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional regarding the legal definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman when applied to same-sex couples who are legally married under state law. DOMA violated the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment.
5 — An active commitment to fight voter discrimination and fraud across the country, while protecting the integrity of elections systems, and robustly defending Section five of the Voting Rights Act- which contains several special provisions applicable to jurisdictions showing evidence of ongoing violations or a history of interfering with the rights of minorities to vote.
6 — The recent filing on June 12, of a complaint against the State of Florida for violating Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). The State continued to conduct a systematic purge of voters from its voter registration rolls within 90 days of an election for federal office. The complaint included Florida’s use of inaccurate and unreliable voter verification procedures.
While improving standard operating procedures is important, Congress could make better use of its time by working in a bipartisan way to improve the economy and pass the American Jobs Act, Dream Act, and an agreement to prevent the doubling of interest rates on federal student loans, on July 1.
Melissa Bynes Brooks is the editor of BrooksSleepReview.
Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow on Twitter @Mlbbrooks
Bill Text 104th Congress (1995-1996). Retrieved June 22. 2012, from H.R.3396.ENR http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c104:h.r.3396.enr:
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