The entire video is riveting, but if you’re short on time, I have transcribed the best parts in this post, complete with time stamps so can you skip ahead to the good stuff. Issa lays out the basic problem at :49:
ISSA: Mr. Attorney General, we have two Border Patrol agents who are dead, who were killed by guns that were allowed, as far as we can tell, to deliberately walk out of gun shops under the program often called Fast and Furious. This program, as you know — and the President’s been asked about it, you’ve been asked about it – allowed for weapons to be sold to straw purchasers, and ultimately, many of those weapons are today in the hands of drug cartels and other criminals. When did you first know about the program, officially, I believe, called Fast and Furious? To the best of your knowledge, what date?
HOLDER: I’m not sure of the exact date but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.
I doubt Holder’s claims that he just recently learned about it, but we’ll see. Asked whether Deputy Attorney General James Cole authorized the program, Holder at first stutters and says he didn’t hear the question, and then weakly says “my guess would be no.” Way to take the bull by the horns, Holder! You’re really banging heads together over there, aren’t you?
Issa gets a similarly evasive answer when he asks whether Lanny Breuer, the head of the Criminal Division, authorized the program. Make sure to watch at 2:13 as Holder nervously says he’s not sure, and then immediately launches into a lecture about how DoJ works. Issa stops Holder in his tracks:
ISSA: How about the head of the Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer. Did he authorize it?
HOLDER: I’m not sure whether Mr. Breuer authorized it. You have to understand the way in which the Department operates. Although there are operations, this one has become — has gotten a great deal of publicity.
ISSA: Yeah, there are dead Americans as a result of this failed and reckless program. So I would say that it hasn’t gotten enough attention, has it, Mr. Attorney General?
It’s nice to see that Issa isn’t backing down. When Holder claims that “there is an investigation that is underway” and that he is taking it seriously, Issa, obviously angry, baits the trap at 2:55:
ISSA: Mr. Attorney General, do you take seriously a subpoena signed by the Clerk of the House?
HOLDER: Of course.
ISSA: After 14 days of waiting for a letter to be signed or acknowledged or responded to, we sent a subpoena signed by the Clerk of the House. 32 days later, last night, your people responded by giving us 92 pages representing 3 documents that were public records already.
Ponder that one for a moment. So far, Issa’s people, after issuing a subpoena, have been given only documents that are already publicly available!
Congressmen exercising oversight responsibility do not issue subpoenas to get links to material on the Internet. Holder demonstrates almost Obama-like arrogance in responding in this fashion, while claiming to have no idea whether his top lieutenants greenlighted this irresponsible operation.
Holder and Issa then spar over whether further documents will be produced or merely made available for inspection. At 5:30, Issa asks a key question:
ISSA: Do you stand by this program? In other words — and it’s not a hypothetical, really. If you knew about this program 90 days ago, 180 days ago, would you have allowed it to continue, and if not, then what are you going to do about the people who did know and allowed it to continue?
Holder fails to answer the question about what he will do to the people who authorized the operation, but he does acknowledge that letting guns cross the border unmonitored is not something that is supposed to happen. Holder pontificates about the investigation he is conducting — but at 6:50, Issa makes it clear that the real investigation that needs to be undetaken is an investigation of Holder and Holder’s DoJ:
ISSA: We’re not looking at the straw buyers, Mr. Attorney General. We’re looking at you. We’re looking at your key people who knew or should have known about this and whether or not your judgment was consistent with good practices and whether or not instead the Justice Department is basically guilty of allowing weapons to kill Americans and Mexicans. So will you agree to cooperate with that investigation both on the House and Senate side?
HOLDER: We’ll certainly cooperate with all the investigations, but I’m going to take great exception to what you just said. The notion that somehow or other this Justice Department is responsible for those deaths that you mentioned, that assertion’s offensive. And I want to tell you that —
ISSA: But what if it’s accurate, Mr. Attorney General?
Boom! That, of course, is the real issue, and for Holder to pretend to be offended is an insult to the families of the victims who really should be offended at what the U.S. Government allowed to happen.
After Holder filibusters for a while about how offended he is at Issa’s question, Issa brings it home at 7:58: “What am I going to tell Agent Terry’s mother about how he died at the hand of a gun that was videotaped as it was sold to a straw purchaser fully expecting it to end up in the hands of drug cartels?”
Holder’s weak response is that “we’ll have to see exactly what happened with the guns that are at issue there.”
Yes, we will. But we won’t find out if Holder’s DoJ keeps stalling.
Luckily, it looks like Issa is going to stay on the case.
UPDATE: There will be a Senate oversight hearing tomorrow featuring Holder. Hopefully Chuck Grassley will get to ask Holder a few questions about the way that DoJ has totally stiff-armed Grassley, arguing that they typically respond only to questions propounded by the party in power. (Yes, they really said that, albeit in fancier words.) Now that Holder has agreed to cooperate with “all” the investigations — never mind that he was just saying anything to shut up Issa because Holder is an empty suit — we’ll see if he and his Department start treating Sen. Grassley with more respect.