Larry Bell

Serial abuses of justice by America’s top law enforcement official should be enough to make just about any tinhorn banana republic dictator blush. Yet regarding any embarrassment evidenced by the leader of the free world… not so much. Despite the fact that our attorney general has been indicted for contempt of Congress on both felony and civil charges, has repeatedly lied under oath, and has routinely turned a blind eye to laws that he is duty-bound to enforce, Mr. Holder continues to serve at the behest of his presidential mentor. At least he has so far.

Apparently not so very much of that promised transparency after all:

On September 30, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman turned down Holder’s Justice Department request to dismiss a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee lawsuit seeking “Operation Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal documents hidden by the self-proclaimed “most transparent administration in history”.

Up until now, Obama and company have refused to do so after the president asserted executive privilege. Their position argued that the oversight committee’s demand for information had been settled by a February 4, 2011 letter to Congress in which Assistant Attorney General Ron Welch stated that “the allegation that ATF ‘sanctioned’ or otherwise knowingly allowed the sale of weapons…is false”. DOJ pleaded that since their letter contended that they had done nothing wrong, and that there was nothing more to see following its issuance, the matter should be settled. Congress should just accept their word… get over it… move on.

Call them a disagreeable lot, but the House oversight committee chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) wasn’t sufficiently trusting to do that. After they sued to obtain the outstanding records, the administration filed for dismissal. They maintained that if the lawsuit were allowed to proceed, every new document request would be unjustifiably subject to litigation.

But then a pesky problem arose. It seems that that February 4 letter that was supposed to end the House committee inquiry was…gasp…untruthful after all. As Deputy Attorney General James Cole was compelled to admit in another letter to Congress: “Facts have come to light during the course of this investigation that indicate the Feb. 4 letter contains inaccuracies.”

“Inaccuracies”? That’s one way to put it. Welch had contended that The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives “makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico.” Another document dump at the same time confirmed what agent testimony and other information had already shown… that the letter, and almost everything in it, was a complete fabrication. It was well known at the time that Fast and Furious was much more than simply a “botched” but well-intentioned operation in which the government simply “lost track” of thousands of weapons that eventually wound up in the hands of the Sinaloa cartel. Instead, it was actually intended to let guns be delivered to Mexican drug cartels.

As reported by Fox News at the time, ATF Agent John Dodson was provided with a letter allowing him to purchase semi-automatic weapons from federal firearms dealers without filling out required forms and was ordered to do so. Dodson then sold the guns to illegal buyers who took them to a stash house. Dodson’s request for 24-hour surveillance was disapproved, and he and his surveillance team were ordered to stand down. Violating those orders, Dodson stayed behind. A week later, when a vehicle showed up to transfer the weapons to their ultimate destination, he called for an interdiction team to move in, seize the weapons and arrest the traffickers. Again, his request was refused, and the guns disappeared without surveillance.

Appearing before Issa’s committee, Dodson testified: “Allowing loads of weapons that we knew to be destined for criminals — this was the plan. It was so mandated.”

On May 3, 2011, three months after the Feb. 4 letter, the attorney general was asked when he first heard of “Operation Fast and Furious”. In response, he falsely testified to Congress: “I’m not sure the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.” Yet the head of the National Drug Intelligence Center, Michael Walther, had clearly informed Holder about Fast and Furious in a July 2010 memo, and subsequent revelations show he knew all along. This being the case, he obviously did nothing to stop the illegal operation.

Tragically, two of the weapons linked to Fast and Furious were recovered from the murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2011 where he had been shot by illegal immigrants who were smuggling drugs. Two other of those weapons were found at the scene of the murder of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata in Mexico on February 15, 2011. Three more turned up at a violent crime location in Mexico where a local police chief and his bodyguard were killed by cartel members.

In June 2012, following a 16-month investigation, the House of Representatives voted to hold Holder in Contempt of Congress for his continued refusal to produce requested documents about the scandal. He was the first-ever sitting Cabinet member to be held in contempt…including both criminal and civil violations.

Obama’s grant of the DOJ’s 11th -hour request to hide the sought-after documents was issued on the eve of that vote. Yet it was not made known to Congress until just before the scheduled hearing and vote Issa received a letter from Deputy AG Cole stating : “I write now to inform you that the president has asserted executive privilege over the relevant post-Feb. 4, 2011 documents.” Remarkably (or perhaps not), it reportedly wasn’t mentioned during a last-minute meeting between Issa and Holder on that evening before.

Judge Jackson’s recent finding rejected the White House argument that the House oversight committee lawsuit to obtain documents would somehow threaten the separation between branches of government and inundate the courts with litigation in subsequent disputes. While clarifying that she wasn’t ruling on the merits of the lawsuit, she disagreed with arguments offered for dismissal. Her decision stated: “The court rejects the notion that merely hearing this dispute between the branches would undermine the foundation of our government, or that it would lead to the abandonment of all negotiation and accommodation in the future, leaving the courts deluged with subpoena enforcement actions.”

On the other hand, some additional subpoenas are probably long overdue:

President Obama has steadfastly retained an individual in America’s top law enforcement role who has made other false statements under oath to Congress. Holder previously lied to Congress claiming “decisions made in the New Black Panther Party case were made by career attorneys in the department.” In reality, his Associate A.G. Thomas Perrelli, an Obama political appointee, had overruled a unanimous recommendation for prosecution by DOJ attorneys.

The president stood by Attorney General Holder after he was caught once again lying to Congress about knowing about his DOJ secretly subpoenaing personal phone records and emails in a trumped-up criminal co-conspirator information leak charge against Fox News reporter James Rosen. This action was in direct contravention of the First Amendment. The warrant also approved of tracking Rosen’s movements into and outside the State Department. As it turned out, Holder had personally signed off on that warrant. DOJ then unsuccessfully “shopped it around” to two judges before finding a third who would approve it without allowing Rosen to be notified as required.

The mainstream media finally began to show real signs of concern about DOJ’s breaches of constitutional rights when, during the same month, the AP learned that the DOJ had secretly collected phone records of some of its own reporters and editors. Here, the DOJ chose to avoid the court system altogether by serving subpoenas directly upon phone companies without telling the AP. They did so in exception to their own internal policy of notifying a media company in advance of a subpoena because doing so “would pose a substantial threat to the investigation.”

The attorney general has also failed to enforce legally mandated federal laws. Most recently, he directed federal prosecutors to conceal amounts of drugs seized during an arrest in order to circumvent mandatory minimum sentences set by Congress in 1986.

The AG has violated legally established voting rights and immigration policy decisions as well. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Shelby County v. Eric Holder that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is “unconstitutional”, and that “the formula can no longer be used as a basis for subjecting jurisdiction to preclearance”. But instead of complying with that ruling, Holder’s Justice Department filed suit ordering Texas to submit to preclearance in defiance of Congress’ authority to legislate. DOJ has ignored the Supreme Court’s authority to rule on the constitutionality of the law as well.

Undaunted by the Tenth Amendment which makes explicit the idea that the federal government is limited to only those powers granted in the Constitution, Holder’s DOJ is now once again suing Texas in an attempt to overturn state voter ID laws established to ensure election integrity. In response to Holder’s claim that such laws are racist, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott responded: “Voter IDs have nothing to do with race, and they are free to anyone who needs one.” Abbott also said: “Eric Holder’s outrageous claim that voter ID is a racist plot to disenfranchise minority voters is gutter politics and is offensive to the overwhelming majority of Texans of all races who support this ballot integrity measure.”

There can be no doubt that the Holder DOJ Texas suit to overturn state voting integrity safeguards is only the beginning of a national plan. About 20 states have photo-ID laws on the books or are in the process of implementing them. And by all appearances, DOJ is not alone in pursuing that agenda. The latest Texas litigation came on the heels of the harassment of True the Vote (TTV) founder Catherine Engelbrecht by the IRS, the BATF, and OSHA. As discussed in my May 30 article, this is in addition to separate IRS targeting of TTV and Engelbrecht’s other King Street Patriots non-profit for tax-exempt status interference.

Last year the Obama administration announced that it will stop deporting illegal immigrants under the age of 30 in a “deferred action” policy to circumvent immigration laws. That was after Congress rejected a similar measure about a year earlier. Since then, more than 500,000 illegals have received the deferment, while only 20,000 have been rejected. Meanwhile, law-abiding applicants must wait in line.

In July 2010, the Justice Department sued Arizona for a law requiring state officials to enforce federal immigration laws. Yet attacking a state for upholding federal law would again seem to violate the 10th Amendment which says “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

Arizona didn’t add any new laws. It simply gave local authorities the power to enforce federal responsibilities that were being neglected; failures which were impacting the security and well-being of its citizens. Article 4.4 clearly states that the U.S. shall protect states from invasion. Nothing in the Constitution prohibits states from assisting in enforcing federal laws. Meanwhile, the Justice Department has openly violated federal laws it is supposed to enforce, including allowing municipalities to declare immunity from those laws as “sanctuary cities”. Protecting sovereign borders is a federal responsibility, not an option.

As presumed legal scholars, President Obama and Eric Holder must be aware that our nation’s founding document established three co-equal branches of government, an Executive Branch, a Congress with legislative responsibility, and a Supreme Court with top judicial authority. Article 2, Section 3, Clause 5 of that marvelous document requires that the president “…shall take care that the Laws be carefully executed.”

A central and sustaining purpose of our Constitution is to preserve individual liberties and restrain government from grabbing unlimited power. While the president has authority to check the Legislative Branch by recommending legislation to be passed by Congress, or through presidential veto, neither he/she or the attorney general are permitted to legislate through executive fiat or pick which parts of the law to comply with or decline. Above all, their roles in the highest legal offices in our land are to set lofty standards that exemplify the wisdom of our laws and the character of our system of justice.

Our ancestors, current citizens and future generations deserve far better examples. The families and friends of slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata must certainly agree.