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Bipartisan Votes for Holder Contempt

June 29th 2012

Eric holder

The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Thursday to find Attorney General Eric Holder, the nation's top cop, in contempt of Congress for his and his department's withholding of documents regarding a gun-running sting dubbed Operation Fast and Furious.

While President Barack Obama continuously tells audiences he desires bipartisan cooperation with his Republican rivals, the House contempt vote against Holder was probably not what Obama the campaigner had in mind, said conservative political consultant William Fitzpatrick.

Although the talking points emanating from the White House and the Democrat Party blames the Republicans for playing politics in the Holder case, 17 Democratic congressmen voted for criminal charges to be brought against the Attorney General and 23 Democrats voted for civil charges.

The case involves an operation in which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) allowed guns -- some of them military-grade weapons -- to be smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border into the hands of Mexican drug cartel members, according to House and Senate investigators. The ATF agents claim they lost track of the weapons and the firearms were used to kill more than 150 Mexicans and at least one American law enforcement officer -- 40-year-old Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry -- before the operation was terminated by Holder's Justice Department subordinates, according to testimony given during the House Oversight Committee probe.

For more than a year, members of the House Oversight Committee, especially its chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, and the Senate Judiciary Committee's ranking Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, had verbally requested documents, written letters of request to the Attorney General, and have gone to the news media in their attempt to garner information on the gun-running operation and the identities of those responsible for the snafu.

When the lawmakers advised Holder that his failure to provide subpoenaed documents to their panel could result in a contempt of Congress vote, Holder's boss, President Barack Obama, responded that the documents will be withheld under executive privilege.

Members of the news media are complaining that high-level legal jousting has become a virtual blood sport in Washington, where partisan warriors look for any way to attack their foes. "It's the height of hypocrisy when you consider that during the Bush administration these same critics from the news media practically wanted documentation of the White House staff's bowel movements. Have they forgotten the Valeria Plame multi-million dollar special prosecutor's investigation? The list of attendees at a meeting with Vice President Cheney?" political consultant and attorney Mike Baker noted.

Legal experts appearing on the cable television news shows on Thursday predicted there would be no criminal charges brought against Holder nor would a civil case go forward until possibly after the November election. "On previous occasions when Congress went to court, the plaintiffs were Democrats and the targets were Republican and the cases did have success against the Bush administration," said Baker.

Jim Kouri writes for the Examiner, from where this article is adapted.

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