Friday, June 22, 2012

Why Invoke Executive Privilege? (Pt. II)

Yesterday we raised the question why the president would invoke executive privilege to prevent documents associated with Operation Fast and Furious from being released to the House Oversight Committee. It would seem that doing so just casts suspicion on the White House and smells of a cover-up of involvement at the highest levels of government.

Today we'll consider one possible answer to that question, an answer I doubted when I first heard it several months ago but which makes more sense as time goes on. But first a little background.

When Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) agents first alerted us to Operation Fast and Furious, the rationale offered by DoJ for the fiasco was that it was designed to allow BATF to track and prosecute the leaders of the Mexican drug cartels. As more information surfaced from the Mexican government and the BATF's Mexican bureau chief specifying that none of them knew anything of this operation this explanation became increasingly incredible and untenable.

If the Mexican authorities had not been notified of the operation, if even the BATF's own agents were not authorized to operate in Mexico, then the DoJ's justification made no sense for the simple reason that once those guns made it into Mexico, there was no procedure in place to track them to their supposed targets. The illogic of this made reasonable people suspect that something else was afoot in the DoJ about which Mr. Holder wasn't willing to be forthcoming.

Russ Vaughn at American Thinker argues that F&F was part of a surreptitious plan to undermine Americans' opposition to gun control. I quote him at length:
For those who keep a constant wary eye on the left's never-ending war on our 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms, the increasingly fishy smell emanating from Washington led to connecting the dots back to the year-earlier revelations in the liberal media that weapons being used in Mexican crimes were traceable back to American sources more than 90% of the time. That false meme had spread quickly through the major liberal media, along with calls for stricter gun control laws in this country by...our president, our secretary of state, our attorney general, and other notable Democrats....

Here we had an operation mounted by the executive branch of the United States, an operation which had as its stated goal -- after being outed, that is -- the targeting of Mexican drug lords on sovereign Mexican soil. Yet this was done without the knowledge of anyone in the Mexican government. Quite clearly, a secret and subversive operation had been conceived and implemented against our sister nation to the south -- subversive because, again, quite clearly, the American government was subverting the sovereign authority of Mexico without that nation's knowledge.

If the goal was, as stated later by DoJ, to track guns into Mexico to the purchasing sources in the cartels, then was there not some diplomatic requirement to notify the Mexican government that we were arming their most violent criminal elements? And what was the need for keeping our own BATF agents in Mexico -- the only American agents with Mexican presence to conduct such surveillance and tracking operations on Mexican soil -- equally in the dark?

For those who haven't really followed the Fast and Furious scandal, here's a five-step summary of how the operation was supposed to work:
  1. Allow guns to flow freely to criminal elements in Mexico, where they are naturally used in the extremely violent and deadly criminal activities of the drug cartels.
  2. When sufficient guns of American origin have been used in such criminal activities, enlist the willing services of the liberal media to announce the discovery thereof to the world.
  3. Enlist multiple prominent Democrats to untruthfully proclaim that 90% of the guns used in Mexican crimes originate in the U.S.
  4. Use steps one through three to substantiate the liberal fallacy that private gun ownership leads to increased gun violence by gun owners.
  5. With the compliance of a thoroughly duped American public, enact increasingly restrictive gun ownership policies through federal agencies, bypassing Congress and the Supreme Court.
When looked at this way, doesn't Obama's statement to a group of gun control advocates in March 2011 that he was taking steps to further gun control restrictions, but "under the radar," now seem less cryptic than it did at the time? For those who still don't believe Fast & Furious was an end-run on the 2nd Amendment by a liberal, gun-averse administration, here are five questions to consider:
  1. Could the possibility that this plan was concocted at the very top of the administration, putting it on par with Watergate, explain Eric Holder's entrenched refusal to release the tens of thousands of documents being sought by congressional investigators?
  2. Is the liberal media's refusal to investigate this scandal due to the fact that they suspect that the acts of this administration may rise to criminal and impeachable offenses?
  3. Has the reluctance of the Republican leadership to more aggressively support the House investigation been attributable to the same possibility -- that full exposure could lead straight to the Oval Office and the politically unsavory possibility of impeachment of the nation's first black president?
  4. Does anyone really think an ambitious politician like Holder would risk career-ending contempt of Congress charges to protect some incredibly stupid subordinates who supposedly, all by themselves, planned and implemented such a boondoggle?
  5. In an administration known for its quickness in throwing friends and associates under the bus in matters of self-preservation, is it not remarkable that rather than being so dispatched by Holder, many of the key players in F&F have been promoted despite denials by their bureau?
Fast and Furious bids fair to become this generation's Watergate, but no one lost their lives in Watergate. The weapons this operation "walked" into Mexico were used in the murders of two American agents and at least two hundred Mexicans.

If it turns out the White House okayed it, and especially if they did so for political reasons, Mr. Obama will join, even surpass, Richard Nixon as among the most disreputable presidents of the last hundred years. If that turns out to be the case it'll be no wonder that, like Nixon, he has invoked executive privilege to keep the evidence from being made public.


You may have heard of the defection of a Syrian air force pilot on Thursday morning who flew his jet to Jordan and requested asylum. Debkafile has some interesting details:
Syrian President Bashar Assad Thursday night, June 21, ordered his entire Air Force fleet of fighter bombers grounded, for fear that more pilots might defect after Col. Hasan Merhi al-Hamadeh flew to Jordan aboard a MiG-21.

Syrian officials are convinced that the defection of the pilot with his plane was organized by the Americans and that more are in the pipeline in an attempt to show the Syrian people and Arab world that even the Syrian air force, the part of the armed forces most loyal to Assad, was in fact slipping out of his hands.

Debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report that, early Thursday, Col, al-Hamadeh flew out of the Khalkhala air base, which is situated between the southern towns of Deraa and Suweida not far from the Druze Mountain.

While his MiG belonged to the 73rd Air Brigade, he was a member of the Syrian Air Force’s 20th Division and commander of the MiG-21 test squadron, which regularly inspects those aircraft at southern air bases to check if they are flight worthy.

That is why no one at the Khalkhala base saw anything amiss when this officer climbed aboard one of the aircraft and suddenly pivoted the plane at a sharp angle - even when he failed to respond to control tower signals. But before they could catch on, the MiG-21 was gone over the border to Jordan, a flight of no more than 90 seconds.

Because the Jordanians were not forewarned about an incoming Syrian air force plane, Col. Al-Hamadeh requested permission from the control tower at Al Hussein air base in northern Jordan to make an emergency landing. As soon as the MiG came to a stop on the runway, the Syrian colonel jumped out, shed is uniform and prayed.

Our sources disclose that the defector came from the village of Meles in the Idlib district of northern Syria where he has left his wife, four children and family. This village is one of the few parts of the embattled district to remain in Free Syrian Army rebel hands. Their agents were certainly involved in helping to arrange his escape.