Republican Reps. Reid Ribble of Wisconsin and Bob Goodlatte of Virginia have signed on to a House resolution of “no confidence” in Attorney General Eric Holder over his role in Operation Fast and Furious.
With their signatures, a total of 120 U.S. House members have now either publicly demanded Holder’s resignation, expressed no confidence in his job performance via a formal House resolution, or both.
That amounts to more than a quarter of the U.S. House of Representatives and nearly half of the Republican caucus. Three U.S. senators — Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Jim DeMint of South Carolina and James Inhofe of Oklahoma — have also called for Holder to resign. So have two sitting governors, Rick Perry of Texas and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, and all major Republican presidential candidates.
The Obama administration’s Fast and Furious “gunwalking” program — 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, or people who purchased guns in the United States with the intention of illegally trafficking them somewhere else.
At least 300 people in Mexico were killed with weapons provided by Fast and Furious, as was U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. The identities of the Mexican victims are unknown. Allegations are now surfacing that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata was also murdered with weapons the Obama administration allowed to “walk” into the hands of drug cartel members.
It has been more than a year since Terry was murdered with weapons his own government gave to his murderers, but not one government official has yet been held accountable.
Despite the ire directed at Holder by House members for his role in Operation Fast and Furious, there has been little media coverage of the calls by Republican legislators for his resignation. Most news outlets have either ignored the scandal completely or made cursory mention of it.
Despite a lack of coverage of the issue from the establishment media, The Hill reported over the weekend that local tea party groups are pressing members of the House leadership to take a more active role in demanding accountability from the Obama administration over the issue.
Holder and some Democrats on Capitol Hill have accused those pushing for accountability on Fast and Furious of playing partisan politics. But while no Democrat has yet called for Holder’s resignation over the program, many have condemned it and asked the DOJ to cooperate with the investigation into it.
Michigan Democratic Rep. John Dingell — the Terry family’s lifelong congressman — has been a vocal critic of the program and a supporter of the investigation.
“As I mentioned in my previous statement, Operation Fast and Furious was grossly irresponsible,” Dingell said in a statement to TheDC in December. ‘
“Over the years, I have been a harsh critic of ATF. It is clear in my mind that ‘gun-walking’ tactics are illogical and should never have been used. I was outraged the day I learned about this behavior, and I am still outraged to this day.”
“Furthermore,” he added, “the fact that a constituent of mine, Agent Brian Terry, was killed in the line of duty because of this gross negligence on behalf of ATF makes this situation even more serious.”
Additionally, 31 other House Democrats penned a letter to President Obama in June 2011 asking the president to direct Holder and the DOJ to comply with the congressional subpoenas and document requests pertaining to the scandal. To date, Obama and Holder have essentially ignored the request.
Out of 80,000 pages worth of documents House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa has lawfully subpoenaed, the DOJ has only provided between 6,000 to 7,000 pages to Congress. The DOJ has, however, given all of those documents to its internal investigator, the Office of Inspector General.
Holder has not provided any legal reason for withholding these documents from Congress, but the attorney general has claimed he is not covering anything up.
Obama has stood by Holder, issuing statements through spokespeople at key moments indicating that he has full confidence in his attorney general.