Congressman Darrell Issa was my guest in studio for the first hour of Tuesday’s show, and the transcript provides a roadmap to where the House Governmental Affairs and Oversight Committee has been since Issa took the gavel and where it is going in the next few months. Read the whole thing, but if you haven’t begun to study up on the DOJ/ATF operation branded “Fast and Furious,” start now. The key excerpt on that investigation:
HH: “Fast and Furious.” If you do not know this, this is going to be an enormous story. I was stopped by a young Mexican law student in Phoenix yesterday at the Alliance Defense Fund who said “Professor Hewitt, what do you think is going to happen in Mexico?” and I said we cannot allow a failed state to exist there. But Darrell Issa, this Fast and Furious program run by the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is just stunning. Would you explain to people what it is and what your committee is looking into?
DI: Well, Hugh, this is often called Project Gunrunner, because it was really about knowingly, deliberately letting guns be sold to straw purchasers who were going to supply them to the narco-terrorist groups on both sides of the border, and they did. And even at our discovery, our investigation, which is now, you know, 20 subpoenas, incredible amount of depositions, leading up to the office of the Attorney General, has shown us that this was authorized at the highest level. They regret that it went badly, that two American agents are now dead, and countless Mexicans are dead, and 2,000 weapons, 1,600 of them are still unaccounted for. They regret it, but they’re probably still doing similar programs. And that’s why this is such a big thing. If you think you can let guns walk in order to “lead to the bad guys”, you’re missing the whole point of law enforcement. You don’t let drugs walk, you don’t let the money walk, you don’t let guns walk. You do that, you’re part of the crime.
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HH: You know, there’s a tremendous novelist, lives maybe in your district, T. Jefferson Parker, and he has written a number of books, and I’ve interviewed him about the gun trade from north to south. It’s vicious, and it’s violent. But when did this Fast and Furious program start that countenanced, basically, Americans selling guns with the effort to sting someone on the other side? When did it start?
DI: It started with this administration.
HH: It is?
DI: It started with, literally, the political appointees, many of whom had to approve specifics of this, including funding. And understand, there were agents at the ATF who have testified that they believe this was a good program. And there are agents who gave up their careers, basically, by refusing to be involved in it. So it was controversial. But it’s not about the agents in Arizona, or a similar program in Texas. It’s about the approvals all the way back in Washington. This is the Iran Contra decision. The Iran Contra decision was made by people around the President in the White House. This decision was made at least by people in the Office of Attorney General Holder. And they’re hiding behind every delay tactic they can, claiming that we’re going to interfere with an investigation. I’ve got to tell you, Hugh, I don’t want anyone to walk because of our investigation. But if some meth addict doesn’t get a strong sentence for buying guns, that’s probably not the worst damage if this kind of program continues, and we believe it continues to today.
HH: Is there any evidence that Attorney General Holder approved the selling of these guns?
DI: There is evidence all the way up to Lanny Brewer in the office, a very famous name from the past. And he is an immediate assistant of Eric Holder. President Obama, as a good lawyer, used his terms very carefully. He said neither I nor Attorney General Holder authorized this program. There’s a long way between authorized and knew.
HH: Has Attorney General Holder appeared in front of your committee yet?
DI: He has not. As a matter of fact, they have been refusing to even go through depositions voluntarily. We had a deal with them, and candidly, they reneged on it the moment my plane was off the ground. So far, we have had to issue more subpoenas on this than all others combined in all other investigations. This has been the real investigation where you can see the stonewalling, and you can see it for a reason. People got people killed, and they were people who are appointed by this President.
HH: So American agents may have been murdered as a result of this program?
DI: Their guns were found, with those serial numbers, at the scene, and by the way, long time after emails indicate that they knew this program was out of control.
HH: And so in terms of that chain of command, have you subpoenaed the Attorney General yet to come?
DI: We have not. One of the natures of this investigation is we’re going through this step by step, because we want to understand is there a problem at Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire all the way up to Washington? Is there a problem at Justice? The one thing I can tell you today is this was a joint task force operation. So DEA, Justice Department, the U.S. attorney in Arizona, all these elements had to be part of it, which is what should really tell you there’s something wrong at the highest levels, but there may be something wrong in the ability for somebody at a operative level to pull the stop cable. It doesn’t appear as though we had it. And candidly, that’s what concerns me. There should be a culture in a law enforcement that says if something’s really wrong, you don’t just obey the orders.
HH: Now…I’m talking with House Committee Chairman Darrell Issa about the Oversight and Governmental Reform Committee, and the various investigations there. The Department of Justice has been a source of a lot of surprises, Darrell Issa, in the first two and a half years of the Obama administration, including the attempt to try terrorists in New York, including the attempt at closing Gitmo. Eric Holder was not in the Situation Room the night that bin Laden was killed. Were you surprised by that, that there was no DOJ official in the Situation Room?
DI: It’s pretty obvious that this administration did a U-turn and didn’t bother to use their turn signals. Guantanamo is still open, there’s a fine dead and execute order on an American citizen who’s a radical cleric in Yemen. Many of the things that would have been absolutely rioted over under Bush are commonplace under this administration. And it’s the hypocrisy that bothers me. I supported the Bush administration, didn’t always agree with them, but at least they were honest about what they believed and what they were doing. This administration does one thing, takes the Nobel Peace Prize, and then sends a billion dollars worth of missiles raining down on other people’s heads.
HH: But is the DOJ its most radical department? Are the ideologues congregated there to a greater extent than they are elsewhere?
DI: I think to a certain extent they are, although I don’t think they hold a candle to EPA. Very clearly, though, Eric Holder, Lanny Brewer, and these other political appointees, have a strong record of having justice be whatever the President wants.
HH: Now I have a question that is more in perspetive.
DI: …and by the way, not since Nixon has someone been able to say that and had no one argue back.
HH: Yeah, well that’s, it’s, that which is obvious is not arguable.
I also cover the debt ceiling and the House GOP’s propensity to cave, Congressman Weiner, Elizabeth Warren, other czars, federal workforce reduction and the EPA among other subjects. Chairman Issa, like Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan, shows the rest of the GOP leadership how to advance the agenda, which is long form interviews covering multiple subjects allowing for follow-up.
Every chairman as well as Speaker John Boehner, GOP Leader Eric Cantor and GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy ought to be seeking out the venues in which they can make their case, not waiting for the MSM to fairly and fully report the true nature and stakes of the debates underway –which is never going to happen.