Op-Ed: Why the Nation Has Lost Confidence in Our Attorney General (February 9th, 2012)

 

February 9, 2012

Contact: Apryl Marie Fogel

AprylMarie.Fogel@mail.house.gov

By Congressman Paul Gosar, D.D.S., AZ-01

                                            

                        Why the Nation Has Lost Confidence in Our Attorney General
 

Transparency, accountability, honesty and integrity - these are key words to describe what the American public deserves from public administrators. The United States Attorney General, Eric Holder, and Department of Justice are not exempt. In fact, of all cabinet level positions, the Attorney General is expected to operate with the highest level of integrity. The Attorney General Holder has failed our country in the now infamous Operation Fast and Furious.  

As a the only member of the House Committee of Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) from Arizona, I have closely participated in the investigation of Holder, the Department of Justice and this operation, leading the charge for transparency and accountability. Despite the efforts of the Committee, Attorney General Holder has been evasive about facts, loose with the truth, and obstructionist with information. Where there should be transparency, we have stonewalling. One Department ofJustice attorney is even refusing to testify, instead pleading his Fifth Amendment rights. 

This is why nearly 101 members of Congress have called for Holder’s resignation. Additionally, nearly one hundred House members have co-sponsored my House Resolution of No Confidence (H.Res.490). The American people deserve much better from their attorney general.

Mr. Holder has used a wide variety of tactics to reduce transparency including skewed timelines related to when he and his top officials became aware of actions about this operation. He has failed to produce documents or has produced severely redacted documents with little to no worth to the investigation, and has gone so far as to play the race card to avoid responsibility.

Almost as bad as Holder’s evasion is the House Minority’s coddling, hand holding and false justifications of his actions. Rather than attempt to help Congress get to the bottom of a tragically failed government program, the Minority used its time to insinuate that this issue is simply a partisan attack and that the “solution” is stricter gun control laws. Let me be clear:  the federal government’s failures in Fast and Furious is not a just a Democrat problem. It is not a Republican campaign issue. It is an American problem that has cost lives and tarnished our international reputation.  The Minority is in serious denial.

Just this past week, a report issued by the OGR Democrats attempted to divert the public’s attention from the Attorney General’s culpability. The Democrats attempt to tie a Bush-era gun walking program, “Wide Receiver” with the failed Fast and Furious operation. The Democrats serve weak tea. After three years of Obama in power, one would think “Blame Bush” had lost cachet. Not with the Minority on OGR, however. Operation Wide Receiver involved far fewer firearms, was run with the knowledge and cooperation of the Mexican government, and made a serious attempt to track the weapons, including equipping some weapons with tracking devices. Most importantly, Operation Wide Receiver has not been linked to the death of a federal law enforcement officer. These distinctions are all in contradiction to Operation Fast and Furious, which was initiated after Attorney General Holder took the helm of the Department of Justice. If only Holder had learned from Wide Receiver, the deaths that have now occurred may have been avoided. 

Attorney General Holder has repeatedly stated that he did not know about information contained in briefing materials submitted to him. He has said that individuals within his executive office, had information that he did not, and has repeatedly blamed subordinates for spearheading and hiding this operation though none have been disciplined or had their employment terminated as a result.      

Attempting to shield the administration and the Attorney General from responsibility through faulty comparison to the closely monitored Operation Wide Receiver neither brings these victims back nor does it excuse those at fault. The families, the victims and the American people deserve better. Attorney General Holder’s foot dragging must stop now.

Rep. Gosar (R-Ariz.) serves on the Committee on Govermnent Oversight and Reform