In the previous entry, I outlined the case against Obama regarding circumvention of immigration laws. I ended that entry by stating that the blood of a Mrs. Chavez in Santa Clara County, California was on the collective hands of this administration. The murder of a private citizen is bad enough because an administration fails to enforce immigration laws, but when federal agents are killed, the story gets worse.
In all fairness, the bone-headed ATF operation known as "Fast and Furious" had its roots in the Bush administration. In an effort to attack Mexican drug cartels operating along the border, in 2006 the Bush administration started Operation Wide Receiver. Along with cooperating gun dealers in Arizona and Texas, the government began tracking straw purchases of firearms in the hopes of them leading to high level drug cartel members. The Obama administration would have us believe that their operation was started under Bush and that they were merely following through.
However, there were significant differences between the two programs. First and foremost, no American law enforcement officials were killed as a result of the Bush operation. Secondly, the Bush administration traced guns as opposed to letting guns walk. Many of the guns in Operation Wide Receiver were equipped with electronic tracers, and purchasers were under surveillance. The scale of the operation has to be considered also. In Wide Receiver, a mere 300 guns were allowed to walk. In Fast and Furious, over 2,000 guns walked with about 1,400 never recovered and another 700 showing up at crime scenes. Wide Receiver was shut down by the Attorney General in 2007 because it was deemed a failure. This was two years before Obama was in office. Finally, unlike Fast and Furious, the Bush program involved the help of Mexican officials while the Obama administration deliberately kept Mexican officials in the dark. The assertion that Fast and Furious was merely an extension of a Bush administration program is spin on the story gone completely awry that it makes one's head spin.
The problem is that the Department of Justice's involvement in the program led to many of the problems. Under Wide Receiver, the goal was gun interdiction and confiscation. In their zeal to trace the guns further up the feeding chain in Mexican drug cartels, the Obama administration made no effort whatsoever to interdict any firearms. In some cases, illegal transfers of firearms were observed, but the DOJ prosecutors held back on arrests. Some of it was discretion, but most of it was politics.
As unfortunate an incident this was, the more egregious aspect was Eric Holder's stonewalling on the issue before Congress. There were misleading interpretations and renditions of events- so much so that Holder appeared some seven times before oversight committees to explain the role of the Department of Justice in the death of two border patrol agents. Certainly, Congress was within their rights to hold him in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over documents related to the case and when DOJ learned of its operation. And here is another difference between the Bush and Obama DOJ: Bush's Attorney General shut it down; Eric Holder claims unawareness.
In an effort to bypass that eventuality, Obama has trotted out the old canard for the president- executive privilege. To be sure, executive privilege is not something to be taken lightly. Bush invoked it six times while Clinton did it 14 times. The Supreme Court recognizes the doctrine although it is not specifically mentioned in the Constitution. Under the theory that revelation of discussions or documents would impair the Executive Branch's ability to formulate policy in an open manner with all sides presented, the doctrine has largely been left alone in the area of foreign policy. Clinton was the first to lose an executive privilege assertion in court when aides were forced to testify in the Lewinsky scandal.
In this instance, the deaths of border patrol agents should take priority over illicit use of cigars in the Oval Office and stains on dresses. Or so one would think. Obama himself claimed on Univision that he would do everything in his power to get to the bottom of this story, yet he has run to the aid of his ally- Eric Holder- by claiming executive privilege in an area where both the Attorney General and the President assert they were unaware of the program until things went terribly wrong. If they were unaware, then the proof should be in the materials they refuse to turn over under the Congressional subpoena.
We are left with three options here. First, Holder is telling the truth and this was, in effect, a lower level decision to go forward with and follow through on a sting operation with potential violent endings. The second option is that Holder was somehow aware of the operation and had, through his silence or even his explicit condoning, allowed a potentially dangerous gunwalking operation to proceed. In this scenario, Obama was not aware. The third option is that both Holder and Obama were aware of the operation to some degree.
Regardless, it is difficult to believe that higher level DOJ officials were totally in the dark about the operation. Whether they made it to the top of the chain of command is unknown. One would hope that Holder would not be so asleep at the wheel that he was unaware totally. Then again, he was probably looking for some state to sue over voter ID laws.
While I seriously doubt that Obama was aware of the specifics of Operation Fast and Furious and the potential dangers it involved which, sadly, came to fruition, his further actions- namely, invoking executive privilege- amount to a potential criminal cover up, including perjury before Congress by Eric Holder. In essence, he is aiding and abetting that perjury by resorting to a tactic normally reserved for the area of foreign policy.
The question then becomes whether this is an impeachable offense. It certainly was for Richard Nixon and lest we forget, no one died in the Watergate affair. And no one is denying this president and any future president the right to invoke executive privilege. If invocation of executive privilege were an impeachable offense in and of itself, then practically every president- including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, both Roosevelts, and Truman- could be impeached.
Instead, this is evidence in the overall sense of the president flouting the law and giving the middle finger to Congress. If there is truly nothing to hide, turn over the requested material in executive session before the requesting committees. But, Obama has instead decided to circle the proverbial wagons around a member of his administration in an effort to save his skin. Per se, this is not impeachable (although it is for Holder), but it is certainly another piece of evidence that Barack Obama sees himself and the office of president as somehow above the law.