Wednesday, June 20, 2012

House Oversight Committee Votes Attorney General Eric Holder in Contempt Over DOJ's Fast & Furious Gunwalking

Despite a last-minute move by President Obama to invoke executive privilege over certain documents requested by the House Oversight Committee regarding a 'gunwalking' program from the ATF, the committee chairman went ahead with a vote to find Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.

The oversight committee, chaired by Congressman Darrel Issa [R-CA 49], had been investigating the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Operations Fast & Furious where field agents were ordered to stand down as illegally purchased guns in Arizona made their way across the border to Mexico. In December 2010, US Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed by a gang of heavily armed smugglers along the Arizona border. Two guns from Fast & Furious were recovered from the crime scene. Hundreds of guns from Fast & Furious have also been recovered at crime scenes across Mexico and by Holder's own admission, there are more than 1700 unaccounted for weapons from the ATF gunwalking program. These firearms will likely continue to surface at crime scenes in both the USA and Mexico.

Obama's 11th hour invocation of executive privilege on Wednesday came before the Oversight Committee was supposed to rule on whether or not to move forward with contempt of congress proceedings against Eric Holder.

While Attorney General Holder insists he's turned over all the documents that the committee has requested over the last 15 months, a number of the documents were heavily redacted and Holder has contradicted himself while appearing before Congress- Fast & Furious began in 2009 and Mexican officials weren't even alerted by the DOJ to the weapons being smuggled into the country.

On Wednesday afternoon, the panel voted 23-17 in favor of holding the Attorney General in contempt of Congress- with the vote being split along party lines. Democrats on the Oversight Committee claimed that the hearings are a politically motivated witchunt and that the Fast & Furious gunwalking happened under the Bush Administration as well- a claim that Holder himself eventually retracted.

However, Wednesday's vote does not mean that Holder is automatically in contempt of Congress- but rather a contempt motion goes before the rest of the House of Representatives. Speaker of the House John Boehner [R-OH8] and majority leader Eric Cantor [R- VA7] have indicated the contempt of congress vote is scheduled for sometime next week.

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