As expected, Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, and Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, paved the way for Eric Holder to attempt to weasel his way out of the hot seat over the Project Gunwalker scandal today.
Leahy introduced the Attorney-General with a litany of Holder's supposed 'accomplishments.' And despite rather intense questioning by Charles Grassley and other Republicans, Democrats who control the committee (and the Senate) made sure that Holder was shielded from taking too much blame for the Fast and Furious debacle.
Holder's response was basically 3-fold.
1. He stated that Fast and Furious was wrong and should have never happened. His goal, he said, was to make sure it never happens again.
2. He refused to apologize for the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, killed in the line of duty with one of the guns the Holder Justice Department, and its agency the ATF, sent across the border to Mexican drug cartels. Holder even asserted that Terry was NOT killed by a Gunwalker firearm. Very convenient, given that the gun the whistleblowers identified as the Gunwalker weapon, found at the scene of the murder, disappeared, never making it to the lab for analysis.
3. He blamed the Bush Administration for Gunwalker, citing a program in 2007 called 'Wide Receiver' which is widely viewed by ATF whistleblowers as a 'dry run' for what became Gunwalker. However, during the Bush Administration the Gunrunning operation was a sting set-up designed to catch criminals. Most of the guns were interdicted before they crossed the border. But some of the guns got away from agents into Mexico, at which point the operation was designated as a failure and stopped. Project Gunwalker, or Fast and Furious, was implemented in 2009 under Obama and Holder, involving thousands of guns, most of which have not been recovered. And not a single arrest of a criminal has been made resulting from the illegal scheme.
Holder will not have it so easy when he appears before Darrell Issa's House Committee next month.