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01/07/2012 | US - Score One for the Gun Lobby

Editorial

The House’s 255-to-67 vote on Thursday to hold Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress said more about how far lawmakers will go to pander to the gun lobby in an election year than about any improper conduct by Mr. Holder.

 

He was cited for refusing to hand over some documents in an investigation of a botched gunrunning sting operation known as Fast and Furious. President Obama was on weak constitutional ground in invoking executive privilegelast week on the disputed documents. Mr. Holder had turned over more than 7,600 documents to the House oversight committee, which is conducting the inquiry.

The public interest and the principle of Congressional oversight would have been best served if the committee’s chairman, Darrell Issa, and the Justice Department had reached a deal for production of the requested documents, or some version of them, to avert the showdown.

But it now seems clear that negotiations were never really possible. Beyond the usual hyperpartisanship on Capitol Hill, the National Rifle Association and the even more strident Gun Owners of America wanted a vote in order to push their bizarre theory that Fast and Furious was part of a secret Obama administration conspiracy to further a gun-control political agenda. They wanted it to be a recorded vote that could be used in their ratings of House lawmakers and potentially help defeat some Democrats in conservative-leaning districts. Sadly, 17 Democrats felt compelled to protect themselves by going along with the contempt citation, though many Democrats walked out in protest.

There is little chance that Mr. Holder will be prosecuted for criminal contempt, but a second House vote authorized Mr. Issa’s committee to pursue a civil court action against him — energy and effort much better spent developing a workable plan to stem the flood of American guns to Mexican drug cartels that gave rise to the disputed Fast and Furious Operation. This was a shameful exercise in political gamesmanship. House Republicans and the gun lobby, in making Mr. Holder the first sitting cabinet member in history to be held in contempt, came out looking a lot worse than their target.

NY Times (Estados Unidos)

 


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