DNC dissembles as TheDC presses for answer on Fast and Furious apology
Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse accused The Daily Caller of playing “reindeer games” for pressing him on questions related to the Operation Fast and Furious scandal currently hampering the Obama administration.
The latest question Woodhouse refused to answer concerns whether his boss, DNC chairwoman and Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, thinks President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder should apologize to Mexican President Felipe Calderon for the roughly 300 civilians who were murdered with weapons that crossed the border as part of the ill-fated Fast and Furious program.
TheDC gave Woodhouse and spokespersons for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid until 5 p.m. Thursday to answer whether they think Obama and Holder should apologize to Mexico for the deadly scandal. None of the spokespeople answered the question. It’s unclear if any plan to.
Several Republicans have called on Obama or Holder — or both — to apologize to Mexico. House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, who leads the congressional investigation into Fast and Furious with Sen. Chuck Grassley, told TheDC recently that the Department of Justice “has blood on their hands” and that Holder owes Mexico an apology.
After Obama’s apology to Afghan President Hamid Karzai for an American soldier’s killing rampage that left 16 civilians dead, Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert told TheDC he thinks Obama and Holder owe a similar apology, however belated, to Calderon.
“Absolutely, [Obama] should apologize to Mexico,” Gohmert said in a phone interview. “But in this case it’s not only the president, but Attorney General Holder should [also] be apologizing.” (RELATED: Full coverage of Operation Fast and Furious)
“This was on his watch, it was his responsibility,” Gohmert added, “and even though he continues to refuse to take responsibility, Attorney General Holder, obviously he’s not going to do an honorable thing like President Bush’s attorney general — [Alberto] Gonzales — did when he tendered his resignation, and apparently is just going to try to stick it out until the end.”
“So, if he’s going to stick it out until the end and not do the honorable thing, to resign, then the least he can do is apologize to the families of those that his negligence as the attorney general, the person in charge of Justice, has allowed to happen to their loved ones.”
Obama and Holder have already apologized to the family of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, who, like the hundreds of Mexican citizens, was murdered with a Fast and Furious-trafficked firearm. Obama sent Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to Terry’s funeral with a letter from him to Terry’s family in hand. The president also called Terry’s family shortly thereafter.
Holder didn’t apologize to the Terry family until almost a year after the murder. He sent the family a letter apologizing after Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn pressured him during an early November 2011 Senate hearing.
Shortly after that hearing, Holder wrote his apology letter to Terry’s family — but the Justice Department press office leaked the letter to Politico before the family read it.
Cornyn, too, told TheDC on Thursday that he thinks Obama and Holder need to apologize to Mexico for Fast and Furious.
“Among the litany of apologies Eric Holder and the Administration owe for this botched scheme is one to the people of Mexico, whose government was kept in the dark as federal agents knowingly walked guns into their country and then lost track of them,” Cornyn said.
“Just as important as apologies, however, are answers, and the Administration still has yet to come clean on whether or not similar gun-walking tactics were used in Texas.”
Cornyn also pointed out the Justice Department’s failure to provide answers about Fast and Furious and gunwalking tactics the administration has used. Holder has provided 80,000 pages of documents to his own Office of Inspector General, but has withheld at least 73,000 of those lawfully subpoenaed documents from the House oversight committee.
Holder has not provided any legal justification for withholding those documents.
Congressional Democratic leaders’ non-answers on the question of an official apology to Mexico comes despite their now-public support for Holder amid the surging demands for his resignation. Wasserman Schultz, Pelosi and Reid all went on the record Wednesday, expressing confidence in Holder.
A total of 121 House Republicans, three GOP senators, two sitting GOP governors and every Republican presidential candidate have said they favor Holder’s ouster over the scandal. On Monday, a spokesperson for Oklahoma Democratic Rep. Dan Boren said he has “no comment” on whether he still has confidence in Holder after Fast and Furious.
Operation Fast and Furious, which was organized by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and overseen by the Department of Justice, sent thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels via “straw purchasers” who legally bought guns in the United States with the intention of illegally trafficking them somewhere else. This tactic is known as “gunwalking.”
No government officials have been held accountable for the program.