And here’s the transcript, just to reinforce the point:
Congressman: Do you believe the program was a mistake?
Holder: I think it was a good, it was a bad attempt at trying to deal with a very pernicious problem where guns are flowing from the United States to Mexico. It was, in its execution, in its conception, it was fundamentally flawed. But, I understand what they were trying to do, but it just did it extremely, extremely poorly.
Congressman: If you had a chance to do it over again, would continue the program or would you have eliminated it before they proceeded?
Holder: I certainly would have modified the program. I mean, allowing guns to walk is a procedure that doesn’t work, it’s bad law enforcement. I think that is the heart of the problem with regard to Fast and Furious. On the other hand, coming up with ways to stop the flow of guns from the United States to Mexico, we need to be aggressive, we need to be creative, and we need to help our Mexican counterparts to the extent that we can.
The short version of my response: the answer that Attorney General Eric Holder should have given to the first question should have been “Yes, and I take responsibility for what happened.” Anything else would simply make it glaringly obvious that Holder is fundamentally unfit for his job… which is what happened here.
Longer answer: Eric Holder still doesn’t get the basic problem. The basic problem is not that a badly thought-out government program got implemented by political appointee hacks over the advice of field personnel; that’s a recurring problem. The basic problem is not even that said program ended up getting people killed; that’s a possible horrific result of arrogantly assuming that one knows more than the specialists, simply – and solely – because one’s ultimate boss won an election. No, the basic problem here is that Eric Holder is trying to treat this disaster as… a snafu. A regrettable crossing of wires. Mistakes were made. But intentions were good!
Not acceptable. One purpose of the US government – of all decent governments, really – is to try to keep as few of the good guys from getting killed as possible. With Operation Fast & Furious, we failed to do this. We gave guns to Mexican drug cartels, and didn’t even try to keep track of those guns. We let those guns slip over the border, without telling the Mexican government that we were doing so. We gave the drug gangs the guns that they used to murder innocent Mexicans. We may have given the drug gangs the guns that they used to murder US law enforcement personnel. We certainly have caused an international incident that is in fact a legitimate casus belli*.
And all of this happened under Eric Holder’s watch. And Holder’s defense is that he just… let it happen. That Operation Fast and Furious festered under the Attorney General’s nose for a year without Eric Holder ever really realizing whjat was happening, because nobody ever told him anything – and Eric Holder thinks that this is a valid enough excuse to let Eric Holder keep his job.
It is not.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*That the Mexican government has prudently decided not to start a war with us that they cannot in fact win does not let us off of the hook. If anything, it makes things worse: this is the United States of America. We’re not supposed to do things like this.