I already expended all of my related outrage over this when we first learned that it was the probable eventuality — “this” meaning the fact that the head of a department that oversaw a thoroughly irresponsible and lethal gunwalking operation resulting in the deaths of at least two Americans and countless Mexicans through, at-best, credulity-pushing incompetence, and then had to hide behind executive privilege provided by his good buddy the president to excuse all of the stonewalling, and is now somehow brazenly not taking the proffered opportune moment to duck out quietly? …Well, perhaps I hadn’t expended my outrage.
But Attorney General Eric Holder’s continuing tenure is about more than diversity, or convenience, or a righteous job rightfully done, or even merely policy alignments; as BuzzFeed points out, Holder has fulfilled a specialized and invaluable role as President Obama’s “heat shield” on multiple fronts:
“Holder is not a lackey in the mold of Bush ’43 A.G. Alberto Gonzales,” said Lloyd Green, a New York lawyer who was an aide to President George H.W. Bush. “But, Holder lacks the independence of Bush A.G. John Ashcroft and the professionalism of Holder’s immediate predecessor, former federal judge Michael Mukasey. Holder is and remains very much about politics.” …
“One thing that people never understood about Holder’s importance in this administration is how he has absorbed so many attacks that could otherwise land in the White House,” said one former administration official who admires the Attorney General, and noted that the Justice Department dealt with such politically unpalatable questions as the Guantanamo Bay detention center and detainee trials. “Think of the three issues he’s taken the most heat on: terrorism (KSM), race (Black Panther controversy, voting rights), and guns (Fast and Furious). Those are some of the most polarizing issues in politics, and he’s been a heat shield on all of them.” …
“President Obama probably could not have found a more pliant attorney general,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton, who accused Holder of looking the other way on Administration scandals.
And the Attorney General’s role may become even more pertinent to Americans at large as the White House searches for ways in which “executive action can be taken” on furthering the gun-control agenda, much of which will come down to the ways in which the Department of Justice decides to enforce those policies and run his department’s various agencies — and there’s no reelection campaign to get in the way now.
“The president is going to act,” Biden told reporters on Wednesday, without getting into specifics. “Executive orders, executive action, can be taken. We haven’t decided what this is yet, but we’re compiling it all with the help of the attorney general and all the rest of the Cabinet members.”
Obama could direct the Justice Department to start prosecuting people who lie on their background checks when trying to purchase a weapon. In 2009, the FBI reported 71,000 cases. The DOJ only prosecuted 77 of them.
In August 2011, Justice began requiring gun dealers in four states bordering Mexico to report when a single buyer bought multiple semi-automatic weapons, POLITICO reported in December. That power could be expanded to other states or otherwise broadened by executive action. They also tweaked the F.B.I.-run federal background check system, automating the upload of federal charge and conviction information and informing states of actions taken in another state that could impact a person’s eligibility to buy guns.