Black Legal Experts Say Race Not a Factor in Holder Contempt Citation Debate
Washington, D.C. - Attorney General Eric Holder's unwillingness to work with congressional investigators to provide requested information about the failed "Operation Fast and Furious" federal gun-smuggling sting is the reason he is facing a contempt citation and has nothing to do with his skin color, said members of the Project 21 black leadership network.
Despite attempts by Holder's defenders to play the race card, Project 21 legal experts who worked in senior positions on Capitol Hill say that Holder's ethnicity is not a motivating factor in the calls for the Attorney General's resignation and the possible contempt citation.
"Race has absolutely nothing to do with this conflict. This situation is simply a result of two branches of the government exercising their lawful prerogative that the Constitution contemplated," said Project 21 spokesman Horace Cooper, a former constitutional law professor and former general counsel to House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX). "All of this could have been avoided if the Department of Justice simply cooperated to get to the bottom of the Fast and Furious imbroglio."
"This is a story dating back to 2009, when a U.S. government gun-trafficking investigation went horribly wrong -- and some 2,000 firearms ending up in the hands of criminals that may have resulted in the death of a U.S. Border Patrol officer," said Project 21 spokeswoman Cherylyn Harley LeBon, a former senior counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. "Regarding the non-cooperation of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, racism is not a factor. It's about competence, cooperation and leadership."
Obama Administration defenders are trying to make the Holder issue racial. For example, on the June 19 edition of MSNBC's "Hardball," host Chris Matthews led former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown (D) into saying that the proceeding against Holder "has some ethnic flavor to it." Matthews later compared the Fast and Furious investigation to police "stop and frisk" policies, saying about Holder: "They are demanding he empty his pockets, demanding he submit to a body search by a member of Congress."
Operation Fast and Furious was a failed ATF sting operation that allowed straw purchasers to buy guns in the United States that were later smuggled across the border to Mexican drug cartels. Some of these smuggled guns were involved in a 2010 firefight in which U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed.
The U.S. Department of Justice ignored the subpoena of relevant documents regarding Fast and Furious from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. This stonewalling and a failed negotiation between Holder and Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) led to the consideration of a contempt citation against Holder.
In a last-minute development, President Barack Obama is seeking to exempt some of the requested documents from subpoena by declaring executive privilege.
Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for nearly two decades, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research (http://www.nationalcenter.org).