AP Photo/Susan Walsh
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa, yesterday.
That the headline above has a double meaning is not an accident. Considering that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and his fellow Republicans in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have just voted along party lines, 23-17, in favor of holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt, the question for many who haven't been following the "Fast and Furious" scandal closely remains, "Why?" It, like most procedural issues turned political, depends upon who you ask, and whose interpretation you believe. But this is a good summary of how this all began, and what has happened since:
During the committee's year-and-a-half-long investigation, the department has turned over 7,600 documents about the conduct of the Fast and Furious operation. However, because Justice initially told the committee falsely the operation did not use a risky investigative technique known as gun-walking, the panel has turned its attention from the details of the operation and is now seeking documents that would show how the department headquarters responded to the committee's investigation.
In Fast and Furious, agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Arizona abandoned the agency's usual practice of intercepting all weapons they believed to be illicitly purchased. Instead, the goal of gun-walking was to track such weapons to high-level arms traffickers, who had long eluded prosecution, and to dismantle their networks.
To sum up, they gave up a ton of documents already, but it seems as though it was never going to be enough for Issa -- whose purpose seems to be exposing the corruption of Democrats, which is hilarious, because, it is. But Republicans winning the House back in 2010 gave him this power, and now we'll have to see what happens next. The President invoking executive privilege this morning to hold back the very documents Issa sought promises that this is far from over.
Still, I tend to side with Kevin Drum's view of this: that all this sound and fury is an invented Republican scandal in the vein of Solyndra: something made "important" by impetuousness. All that said, it poses the possibility of a headache for the Obama administration in an election year. Then again, you typically take a couple of Tylenol for your headache and wait a little while for it to go it away. So we'll see if the Obama administration and Holder consider this more of a problem, or an annoyance. Also, we'll see if any Republican voters give half a damn about whether or not Eric Holder is considered in contempt of a Congress whom they despise.
One Democrat whom I spoke to today, Rep. Adam Schiff, Democrat from California, had some choice words for Issa and his fellow Republicans before the vote. We'll have more on today's events, and that interview, on the blog
later today on Thursday morning.