Lieberman launches Senate probe of Fast and Furious
posted at 12:45 pm on December 22, 2011 by Ed Morrissey
Connecticut independent Sen. Joe Lieberman has directed the staff of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, which he chairs, to investigate miscommunication between law enforcement agencies related to the Justice Department’s Operation Fast and Furious.
A spokesperson told The Daily Caller Wednesday that Lieberman “believe[s] that the lack of interagency coordination along the border merits further examination, and as Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, he has directed his staff to follow up with the relevant federal agencies on that topic.”
Fast and Furious was a program of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, overseen by Holder’s DOJ. It sent thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels via straw purchasers — people who legally purchase guns in the United States with the known intention of illegally trafficking them somewhere else.
In one sense, the context of Lieberman’s probe is relatively mild. It takes the best possible conclusion about the implications of Operation Fast and Furious, which is that the Department of Justice under Eric Holder has been run incompetently. That, however, still provides a lot more bipartisan credibility to the investigation of how and why the ATF allowed thousands of weapons to cross the border into the hands of drug cartels with no way to track them, and without informing the government of Mexico about the operation. Holder’s claims that the investigation is motivated by bigotry and ideological grudge matches will be a lot more difficult to sell when Lieberman heads up a Senate investigation.
This puts the White House in a tough position. The best outcome they can expect is to have Holder and his team exposed as incompetents, right in the middle of a re-election campaign. The worst outcome they would dread is a Senate investigation that confirms all of the allegations being made in the House as to the motivation of Holder and his team in conducting OF&F. Furthermore, Holder won’t have the political cover to withhold communications as he has from the House when a Democrat demands those e-mails and internal memos, and since they haven’t been produced, one is inclined to think that some of those might prove embarrassing to the White House.
This looks like a signal from Lieberman that it might be time to start looking for the next Attorney General and to have Holder start planning on spending more time with his family, before this probe starts hitting the West Wing. It might be a little late to prevent that, as the Media Research Center reminds us today:
On March 24, 2009, David Ogden, who was Deputy Attorney General at the time,announced new efforts with Project Gunrunner “as directed by the president.” Ogden says he and Attorney General Eric Holder are taking “several new and aggressive steps as part of the administration’s comprehensive plan.”
“The president has directed us to take action to fight these cartels and Attorney General Eric Holder and I are taking several new and aggressive steps as part of the administration’s comprehensive plan. The first steps include the following: DOJ’s Drug Enforcement Administration which already has the largest US drug enforcement presence in Mexico, with 11 offices in that country, is placing 16 new DEA positions in southwest border field operations- specifically to target Mexican trafficking and associated violence. The DEA is also deploying 4 new mobile enforcement teams to specifically target Mexican methamphetamine trafficking, both along the border and in US cities impacted by the cartels”, says Ogden.
He continues, “DOJ’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is increasing it’s efforts by adding 37 new employees in 3 new offices using $10 million dollars in Recovery Act funds and redeploying 100 personnel to the southwest border in the next 45 days to fortify it’s Project Gunrunner- which is aimed at disrupted arms trafficking between the United States and Mexico. ATF is doubling it’s presence in Mexico itself, from 5 to 9 personnel working with the Mexicans specifically to facilitate gun tracing activity which targets the illegal weapons and their sources in the United States.”
In other words, the notion that Holder and the White House were unaware of the ATF’s operation will be rather difficult to swallow.