California Republican Elizabeth Emken, who is challenging 20-year incumbent Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein for her seat in November, told The Daily Caller that her opponent is “protecting Washington insiders” with regard to Operation Fast and Furious.
“Rather than Feinstein trumpeting her own gun control agenda here, she should be working to the get the truth out to the American public,” Emken said in a phone interview. “And, I think [House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell] Issa is very meticulous in ensuring that this is a fact-based investigation. Where will it end? I think you and I both have a pretty good guess, based on the obfuscation, deflecting and delay — everything that they can do rather than actually produce the records.”
The Department of Justice program claimed the lives of at least 300 Mexican civilians, Border Patrol agent Brian Terry and, possibly, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata. Feinstein has used the incidents as a platform to promote her gun control agenda. (RELATED: Sen. Feinstein: Lax gun control is real ‘problem’ with Fast and Furious )
“My concern, Mr. Chairman, is there’s been a lot said about Fast and Furious, and perhaps mistakes were made, but I think this hunt for blame doesn’t really speak about the problem,” Feinstein said during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last November that Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer testified at. “And the problem is, anybody can walk in and buy anything: .50-caliber weapons, sniper weapons, buy them in large amounts, and send them down to Mexico. So, the question really becomes, what do we do about this?”
Feinstein proceeded to make a case for new gun control regulations. Feinstein made a similar argument during Attorney General Eric Holder’s Nov. 8, 2011 appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
It’s unclear, though, how Feinstein believes that more gun laws would stop government officials who are charged with enforcing gun laws from breaking the laws they’re supposed to enforce — which is exactly what happened in Operation Fast and Furious.
During the program, rather than interdict weapons that were being trafficked into Mexico by “straw purchasers,” the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed the weapons to “walk.” In Fast and Furious, those straw purchasers turned around and trafficked about 2,000 weapons to Mexican drug cartels. Straw purchasers are people who buy weapons in the United States with the known intention of turning around and illegally selling them to somebody else.
ATF officials knew what these straw purchasers were doing in Fast and Furious, and chose to allow these transactions to continue instead of intervening. That means the ATF allowed the guns to get into the hands of the drug cartels — or let them “walk” — instead of seizing the weapons beforehand.
In the months that have ensued since Feinstein began using Fast and Furious to advocate for gun laws, she has ignored several requests from TheDC that she clarify her position.
Emken said she thinks Feinstein’s argument is “illogical.”
“It’s a completely illogical answer, I’m sure because she doesn’t have a good one,” Emken told TheDC. “She hasn’t shown any leadership on this issue. … A senator from a border state, you would think that she would be showing some leadership and she hasn’t. She’s clearly protecting Washington insiders and it’s not surprising. She’s trying to obfuscate and deflect away from the real issue, which is accountability into whether a U.S. border guard was killed because of an inept government program.”
There are currently 103 members of the U.S. House of Representatives who think Holder should resign or be fired, have signed an official resolution expressing “no confidence” in him, or both, as the two lists don’t perfectly overlap. In addition, three U.S. senators, two sitting governors and all major Republican presidential candidates have demanded Holder’s resignation or firing.
Emken hasn’t called for Holder’s resignation yet because she wants to see everything play out first. “My take is that Congressman Darrell Issa is on it, and I’m going to follow his lead on this because I think he is doing it exactly right in that he is forcing the issue and forcing the release of appropriate documents,” she said. “I like the way he’s handling it because he’s not making this a political play, he’s making it an investigation.”
Emken said that Feinstein has a responsibility to demand Holder provide Issa’s committee with all the documents that have been lawfully subpoenaed related to Fast and Furious. Holder has given the Department of Justice’s inspector general approximately 80,000 pages worth of Fast and Furious documents, but has withheld all but about 7,000 pages of those documents from Congress.
“She has an obligation as our senator from California. And, especially, she’s pulled into this because California is a southern border state. It’s her responsibility to ensure that we Californians and the American public at large know the truth about this,” Emken said. “Her personal gun control agenda is not the concern here. We are asking about a program and an investigation that is being delayed by the administration. She is complicit in that at this point by continuing to obfuscate and point in different directions. I want her to stand up and ask Eric Holder to produce the key documents that are being requested. As our senator, I expect her to add her voice to that choir [demanding] Eric Holder produce the documents.”
Feinstein did not return TheDC’s requests for comment.