Friday, June 29, 2012

Blumenthal, The Other Attorney General

Both of Connecticut’s U.S. Senators, Joe Lieberman and Dick Blumenthal, would seem to have a great deal in common with besieged U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Mr. Lieberman, due to retire from the Senate at the end of his term, clawed his way into the U.S. Senate from his previous position as Connecticut’s Attorney General, as did Mr. Blumenthal.

Mr. Holder was cited for contempt by the two senators’ congressional colleagues in the House on Thursday, June 28. The charge brought against Mr. Holder is that the Attorney General has refused to surrender to Congress documentation the Congress has determined it must review to discover what role Mr. Holder’s Justice Department may have played in “Fast and Furious,” a disastrous scheme in which agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, a department under the supervision of Mr. Holder’s Justice Department, facilitated the purchase of guns by Mexican drug dealers. One of the guns, it was later determined, was used by drug dealers to murder U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. Somewhat like Antigone, his family is calling out for justice..

Mr. Blumenthal had the opportunity to question Mr. Holder last November.

The following is a transcript of Mr. Blumenthal’s interrogation of Mr. Holder:

“Sen. Richard Blumenthal: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Mr. Attorney General for being here today. I’ve listened to all the questions and all of your answers, and I want to thank you for effectively addressing many of the questions surrounding Fast and Furious and dispelling any doubt that you are determined to uncover all the facts surrounding some of the very regrettable circumstances here. Just so we understand a lot of names have been mentioned here – Attorney General [Michael] Mukasey, Kevin O’Connor who happens to be a former U.S. Attorney in Connecticut, and others in the department now – there’s no evidence before us here that they knew or participated in any wrongdoing, is there?” 
“U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder: Yes, I hope my testimony was clear. I just don’t know. 

“Blumenthal: It has been. Thank you. Also that there’s an ongoing investigation, which eventually will disclose whether or not and who knew about what was going on. I want to thank you for being so candid and straightforward on that point. I want to join my colleague, Sen. [Chris] Coons in expressing my determination that there should be more assistance and sufficient support for our police on the streets of Connecticut, in our neighborhoods, as well as the firefighters and other personnel that I would regard as law enforcement, which are really in more than one sense the cops on the beat who protect us day in and day out. Despite the very excellent performance by the FBI, they’re the ones who do the bulk of the law enforcement for our nation, and I appreciate and thank you for your support. I think perhaps for me one of the most important aspects of your testimony today is really the vigor and intensity that the Department of Justice is devoting now to stopping gun trafficking and drug dealing and gang violence on our borders and throughout the country, but most particularly in connection with the Mexican gangs that pose such a threat to Americans as well as Mexicans. As I understand your testimony, there have been record numbers of seizures, arrests, prosecutions, convictions, and extraditions, is that correct?”


“Holder: That is correct. We have moved substantial number of resources to the border in an attempt to stop the flow of guns into Mexico, to stop the violence along the border. We have worked in the interior of Mexico with our Mexican counterparts in training, in trying to come up with ways in which we could fight the cartels. Our Mexican counterparts have sacrificed a great deal and even with their lives in this fight, and we have tried to be good partners in their struggle.

“Blumenthal: Would it be fair to say that the Mexicans are increasingly becoming good partners in this effort?

“Holder: Yes. I think so. I think through the use of vetted units, through the use of other techniques that we have shared with them, through their growing sophistication with the use of electronic devices, I think they are becoming more proficient in this battle.

“Blumenthal: There’s no question that the Department of Justice under your leadership will continue to work on disrupting and dismantling these gang-led efforts or other efforts on drug trafficking and gun dealing and so forth.


“Holder: Yes, this will continue to be a priority. Too often when we describe it as a southwest border problem when the reality is that it’s a national problem. What happens along the southwest border can have an impact in Connecticut, can have an impact in Chicago. And the person, his name has been mentioned a lot and I think deserves a little bit of credit here. The person who has been leading the effort for the Department of Justice is Lanny Breuer, the head of our criminal division. He has devoted an inordinate, a huge amount of time to this fight, has established good relationships with counter-parts in Mexico, and has been a person who really stood for in this country in developing good techniques to reduce that level of violence and the danger that the cartels pose to this country.
This pitiful excuse of an interrogation is what one of Mr. Blumenthal’s former associates at the attorney general’s office might call “a walk through the roses.” No one would have been surprised if Mr. Blumenthal had reached over and planted a wet kiss on Mr. Holder’s cheek. Perhaps if Mr. Holder had been a small entrepreneur who owned an herbal distribution business in Connecticut or a pellet sales business, Mr. Blumenthal might have sunk his vampire fangs into Mr. Holder’s neck. This is, after all, the bully who gets off on breaking butterfies on wheels.

Considering the seriousness of the House's citations – two actions, one criminal the other civil were brought against Mr. Holder by Mr. Blumenthal’s colleagues – Mr. Blumenthal’s interrogation of Mr. Holder was, some would say, much more mild than most of the interrogatories initiated by Mr. Blumenthal when he was Attorney General of Connecticut. Then he was a man on fire to uncover the truth and right moral wrongs. Since his elevation to the senate, 99 percent of the man’s pluck has gone out of him.

The criminal contempt charge could be referred to Obama appointed U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen, who answers to Mr. Holder, an obvious dead end. Flunkies, when their patrons are under attack, tend to use the law as a shield to protect them from legal arrows shot in their direction. A deputy attorney general already has written to House Speaker John Boehner that he would not pursue prosecution because the Justice Department does not consider the withholding of information from Congress to be a crime.
Mr. Blumenthal is not incapable of criticizing the highly politicized Justice Department. In March, 2012, according to a CBS report, Mr. Blumenthal chastised Mr. Holder for failing to investigate energy speculators, many of whom are hedge fund operators living and paying exorbitant taxes in his state. Heggies were one of Mr. Blumenthal’s targets when he was plying his trade as Connecticut’s Attorney General and vowing as U.S. Senator to represent his state’s interests rather than narrow partisan interests.

Alas, collegiality and acute partisanship soften the stiffest of spines.
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