The tick-tock, as we say in Hollywood, is about to run down for Eric Holder, fast and furious. From my New York Post column today:
It’s not the crime, it’s the coverup, goes the old Washington cliché. In the case of the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal, it’s both.
As Attorney General Eric Holder gets ready to face more congressional grilling Thursday, something’s clearly rotten at the Justice Department. The stench goes all the way to the top — to Holder.
Friday, the feds disclosed documents that show that despite Holder’s claim during congressional testimony that he’d only learned of F&F “a few weeks” earlier (a claim later amended to “a couple of months”), he has known (or should have known) about it all along.
That information came in a series of e-mails in which the former US attorney in Arizona, Dennis Burke, discussed the F&F’s first fatality, agent Brian Terry, with a Holder deputy. The e-mails were sent in the early hours of Dec. 15, 2010, the day Terry died of wounds received the day before in a shootout 18 miles inside the US border, near Nogales.
The deputy, Monty Wilkinson, responded: “Tragic. I’ve alerted the AG.”
As the Holder–Issa caged death match continues this week, the outcome can no longer be in doubt. One way or the other, Holder is going to have to go, if only to save his boss’s hide. Given the new evidence — released at the White House’s orders — Holder has been aware of the “gunwalking” program at least since Border Patrol agent Brian Terry’s death in December 2010, and probably since its inception the year before.
In an administration filled with them, Holder is an especially unlovely character, a second-rate intellect wrapped inside a third-rate temperament. Whiny, petulant, accusatory, obfuscatory, unhelpful, and deceitful, he never convincingly defends himself but instead reflexively accuses his critics of racism – truly, the last refuge of a liberal scoundrel – and never should have been brought back to the Justice Department after his disgraceful service in the Clinton administration regarding the Marc Rich pardon.
But now here he is, up to his eyeballs in the Fast and Furious scandal. One by one, his facilitating subordinates in this blatant scheme to criminalize law-abiding American gun dealers have fallen away, including the former Democratic golden boy Dennis Burke, who as U.S. Attorney in Phoenix supervised the operation, and former acting head of the ATF Kenneth Melson, who was bum-shuffled into the wholly imaginary gig of “advisor on forensic science” in order to buy his silence. Just last week, a Burke functionary named Patrick Cunningham defenestrated himself, bureaucratically speaking, by pleading the Fifth to avoid giving a deposition to Issa’s investigators and abruptly returning to his first love, the tax-paying private sector. Next in line: Assistant AG Lanny Breuer.
But if Holder thinks the bus stops with the supernumeraries, he’s got another think coming. The e-mails handed over to Issa on Friday were evidence somebody in the White House wanted Congress to see; if Holder knows anything about organized crime — and he should, since he’s part of a bipartisan crime ring based in Chicago that goes back to Big Jim Colosimo and Alphonse Capone by way of Big Bill Thompson and the Daley Family — he ought to know that he just got il bacio della morte.
With a tough re-election fight, President Obama doesn’t need F&F to become a campaign issue. But surely even he realizes that the nation has had enough of Holder’s polarizing tenure at Justice. Given a choice between himself and Holder . . . well, there’s always room for one more under the Obama bus.