Well, that wasn’t really Eric Holder’s intent when he answered an allegation of intentionally misleading Congress from James Sensenbrenner, but the circumstances fit almost perfectly in this moment gleaned from the Boss Emeritus’ live blog of his testimony today. Holder’s aides didn’t lie or mislead Congress when they sent over false information — including Holder himself. You see, they talked with the people who they thought knew what was going on, and simply passed along what they said.
You know — just like when George Bush listened to every Western intelligence agency when they warned that Saddam Hussein was working on weapons of mass destruction:
Now, there are a couple of key differences between the two instances. Fast & Furious didn’t take place around the world in a nearly-impenetrable Arab dictatorship — it got conducted by ATF personnel that report in the same chain of command as Holder himself. The data that Congress demanded wasn’t an assessment of intel on a program run in the Middle East, but the actual information on a program run by Holder’s team. And the inability to produce accurate data on this would indicate that either Holder and his team are a group of incompetents who don’t have any real management control over the ATF and DoJ, or that people intentionally misled Congress by feeding the House committees with false and misleading information.
Considering that the latest memo has ATF and DoJ officials plotting how to use Operation Fast and Furious as a political tool to push for more restrictive gun-control legislation, I’m pretty sure I know which way I’m betting on the question. If Holder wants to argue mens rea, then I’m just as satisfied by the alternative of total incompetence — and await his resignation.