Tuesday, October 11, 2011

When Will We See Some Definitive Action Against Eric Holder?

The slowly unfolding train wreck that is Operation Gunwalker, Fast and Furious edition, is building in intensity. The traditional media have been very slow to pick up this story and to their credit, the dedicated men and women of the alternative media have pressed forward with reports on the case. I’d be remiss if I didn’t provide a special mention to Bob Owens over at PJM for his yeoman efforts to report on F&F and keep it current. After a couple of months of information dribbling out in little spurts, late yesterday we learned that Mr. Issa and Mr. Grassley are working on drawing up subpoenas for Mr. Holder and other administration officials to cause them to provide more testimony about the who, why, where what and when of their failed guns programme. At the same time, the stone well of resistance on the part of the traditional media is starting to crumble as the stories ramp up in importance and become "too big to ignore". As most newshounds probably know by now, CBS News has taken a leading role in publicising this story, and more stories such as this are popping up in other media sources, one suspects that it's really only a matter of time until Mr. Holder finds himself fully embroiled in a broad national controversy under a full media spotlight.

I would encourage every citizen to seek out whatever news he or she can find on this story because this is the story of government gone wild. It's also a story which is unfolding day by day and it's well beyond the reach of this column to bring you all the latest facts. The longer this farce goes on, the more it appears to be a case of multiple law enforcement agencies conspiring to violate Federal laws and the laws of another sovereign nation in order to arm drugs cartel members with high-powered weaponry for the ostensible purpose of building a case for more stringent gun laws in this country. As a result of their 'efforts' as many as 200 people have died including at least two American law enforcement personnel. This isn't just a minor problem for this administration - this is felony criminality on display here. This is the important story for our times and for that reason it deserves your attention.

However, what I wanted to address here is not so much the facts of the case, but rather what has become the obvious conclusion at which more and more analysts who discuss this case are arriving - Mr. Holder is either dishonest, or he's incompetent, or very possibly both. In any instance, however, the consequences for Mr. Holder should be the same.

If his denials are to be believed, he is self-admittedly unaware of a programme conducted jointly by multiple agencies under his remit. Setting aside for a moment the internal documents which show that Mr. Holder received at least five written briefings on F&F, four of those in successive weeks, we're still left to struggle with how a senior executive remains completely unaware of what not one agency, but three agencies are doing over the course of more than a year. If the "I didn't know" excuse is to be believed, then either the heads of the three agencies all withheld information about F&F from their boss, either individually or in concert, or Mr. Holder failed to ask the sort of questions and demand the sort of information which executives normally demand from their direct reports. Which is it? In most organisations, Senior Executives not only seek information directly from their subordinates, but they reach out to people at a variety of levels around the entire organisation to elicit feedback about what their people are doing and how they're doing it. I know within my organisation, I receive a steady stream of information about my department and the staff within it from other VP's, department heads, managers and line staff from all throughout the organisation. It's been that way in every executive position I've held during my career.

Now, it's entirely possible that for some period of time, Mr. Holder might legitimately have not known about programmes conducted by his people - that happens. But for it to happen with three of his agencies and for such a long period of time, it's a sign that there's a deeper problem. Either his subordinates are complete snakes who're bent on deceiving him, or Mr. Holder isn't asking the right questions. But in either case, if he's being truthful that he didn't know about F&F for all those months, he's shown himself to be in over his head - unable to handle the responsibilities of his office. His boss, Mr. Obama should be demanding an accounting from him about how this happened and he should be formulating an action plan about what action to take.

The other alternative for us to consider is that Mr. Holder is being and has not been honest with the investigators and with the public. As I noted above, the latest tranche of emails released by the government clearly reveal that Mr. Holder received written briefings about F&F. Five of them. Four of them were provided on a weekly basis. Now, it's plausible and possible that as a busy Senior Executive, he might not have read one of those. Or even two. But seeing those recurring briefings in his email queue had to pique his curiosity at the very least. Either that or he thought someone in his own department was spamming him. Given that he was provided with more than enough information and more than enough opportunity to read it, his denials amount to purposeful and intentional distortions of the truth intended to duck any responsibility for the events which have occurred. Or at the very least, that's how it looks. But if that's the case, then he has committed perjury and has misled the American people. Or even worse, he's conspired with subordinates to conceal and deceive. In the end, I think that most people would agree that if the top law enforcement official in the country is lying about substantive matters to Congress that it's time that (s)he was terminated with immediate effect. It really is that simple. Again, Mr. Obama should have an action plan already in place, ready for the eventual possibility that Mr. Holder is found out to be a perjurer and a liar.

Whether Mr. Holder is incompetent at his job, or whether he is dishonest in discharging his duties, we end up at the same place - he needs to be separated from his job. Under most of the circumstances which I can imagine, Mr. Obama might well prefer to afford him the opportunity to resign with at least some shreds of dignity. You know, let him have the opportunity to read a carefully written letter of resignation in front of the cameras in which he's able to depart with his final face-saving excuse and the chance to say something nifty like "I realise I've let a lot of Americans down by my actions/inactions, and I'd like to take this opportunity to extend my deepest apologies to each American." Allowing Mr. Holder this opportunity will at least give him the chance to step away under his own terms.

But there's also the very real possibility that with an election looming and persistent rumours/allegations of his own incompetence floating about, Mr. Obama might wish to hold Mr. Holder up as an example and unilaterally dismiss him. Assuming that Mr. Obama is going to want to quickly assert some distance between himself and Mr. Holder, it might be more politically expedient for him to schedule an "all network" speech to announce the termination. Doing so would play to his ego and allow him the luxury of making himself look as though he's watching out for the welfare of the nation. It would provide him with a "new look" offence to take out onto the campaign trail. He knows, as most of his critics also know, that he's at his best when his has a straw man or two to fight. That's his style and he could very easily turn Mr. Holder into one of those.

But however we get there, for the sake of our beleaguered nation, we need to get to the end of this drama as quickly and surely as we can. We're already a nation at war with itself. We're already stressed by years of economic strain and slow social unraveling. The longer this whole saga drags on, the more destructive it will end up being.

Bottom line?

It's time for Eric Holder to go.

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