Yesterday, the DOJ Inspector General’s Office released their report on the findings of their (internal) probe into the DOJ’s, at best, unbelievably incompetent and reckless handling of the deadly gunwalking operation Fast and Furious. Although the report insisted that Attorney General Eric Holder had no personal knowledge of the operation until after it ran afoul, it was also clear that he staffed up his department with (again, at best) nonproficient buffoons — two DOJ officials have already stepped down.
House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa, who’s led the pursuit of this investigation for months in the face of relentless executive stonewalling, appeared on Fox News last night to break down strengths and shortcomings of the more than 400-page OIG report and to react to AG Eric Holder’s victory dance:
“It’s a good report. There were a few things they weren’t able to get to, and they’re still looking for them, including White House officials who were briefed but not made available to the IG. But overall, what they did, they outlined what went wrong at ATF, what went wrong in Phoenix, and then went up the chain to show what went wrong all the way to the very top of Justice. … Well, certainly, the coverup goes further. …[The Terry family] want the answers, and they want everyone held accountable for the initial failure, but they also want answers on the coverup, where for ten months the American people were told that ‘they don’t let guns walk.’ Those false statements came from Justice, all the way to the very top, including Lanny Breuer and ultimately Eric Holder. … One of the critical people in his office, required to brief him, handpicked by him, resigned today, and it’s still only the tip of the iceberg. The fact is that, just because you’re not convicted, doesn’t mean you’re vindicated. Attorney General Holder didn’t ask the questions, didn’t read the memos, and up and down the chain, the people who worked for him, the political appointees responsible to him, failed to do their job, including denying reading wiretaps that they were responsible for signing. There’s no question there needs to be real reform at Justice. …”
As I wondered yesterday, though — none of this adequately explains President Obama’s issuing executive privilege to shield the Justice Department from having to comply with Congress’s investigation. Okay, fine, even if it wasn’t to protect Eric Holder’s guilt, it was meant to help protect him from having to take responsibility for his (at best) egregious negligence and his imbecilic hand-selected appointees. Jim Geraghty has more on the wildly strained plausibility of this whole sketchy affair:
A suspicious mind could look at this strange pattern of underling, after deputy, after staffer not mentioning critical information, and information getting all the way to Holder’s office but not being seen by the AG himself, and conclude Holder’s staffers were keeping him in the dark. Would that be to preserve his “plausible deniability”? Another conclusion might be that someone just wasn’t honest with the inspector general.
We now know that the best that can be said about Holder is that he was oblivious to a major, exceptionally dangerous operation going on within his organization. And the most generous interpretation of that is that he had staffed his office with professionals who had epically flawed judgment in deciding what the nation’s top law-enforcement officer needed to know.
There are still some big questions that remain – including whether this should stand as the final investigation of the subject; and whether it is appropriate for a government official assigned to sniff out mismanagement, corruption, and cover-ups to be reporting to the exact officials he’s investigating.
Eric Holder might not have personally designed this dangerous and fatal scandal, but his department and the people he hired are certainly suspect — and hey, remind me who it was that hired Eric Holder?