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Posts tagged "Operation Fast And Furious"

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

crooksandliars:

If old HuckaJesus really thinks that North Korea is that great, I would welcome him joining Dennis Rodman and moving over there so we could be rid of both of them here. From this Saturday’s “Freedom Summit,” sponsored by Citizens United and Koch-backed Americans For Prosperity.

Huckabee hit on everything from the issue with the rancher that he and his network continue to toss gasoline on, to Fast & Furious, to Benghazi, to the IRS, before finally going after the TSA and airport security, and then making the ridiculous comparison between citizens having the right to vote and the security required to enter the White House:

Speakers at the New Hampshire Freedom Summit, which was sponsored by Citizens United and Koch-backed Americans For Prosperity, included Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, all of whom would be top tier presidential contenders should they run.

Donald Trump also spoke.

read more

h/t: Mark Gongloff at HuffPost Politics 

A Republican Congressman derided President Obama as a vengeful liar who lacks the “moral compass” during a scathing speech on the House floor on Monday, just as some party leaders are cautioning the GOP against overreaching in their response to the controversies surrounding the administration.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) referenced the Fast and Furious operation, Obama’s response to the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the Justice Department’s seizure of journalists’ phone records, the Internal Revenue Services’ (IRS) targeting of conservative groups, and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ efforts to promote enrollment in the Affordable Care Act to argue that Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are “not fit to lead.”

Mr. Speaker, the President’s dishonesty, incompetence, vengefulness and lack of moral compass lead many to suggest that he is not fit to lead.

The only problem is that his vice president is equally unfit and even more embarrassing.

Appearing on The Mark Levin Show on Tuesday, Bridenstine said he has “gotten great encouragement” for his remarks from fellow Republicans.

h/t: ThinkProgress

A few weeks ago, we started listening to Rick Wiles’ “Trunews” radio program because we discovered that he regularly interviews a variety of Religious Right activists that we monitor here.  But since then, we’ve begun listening just because his show - “the only newscast reporting the countdown to the second coming of Jesus Christ” - is also a cavalcade of insanity.

And yesterday’s program was no exception, as Wiles’ grew increasingly worked up about North Korea’s latest threat against the United States, which he blamed on “gay rights fanatics.”

Elsewhere in the program, Wiles declared that the “Fast and the Furious” scandal is part of an effort by the Obama administration to arm Mexican gangs who will then wage war on Texas and Arizona while the administration stockpiles ammunition to supply “Obama’s commie army.”

Wiles is definitely THE craziest religious right broadcaster in existence, beating out Bryan Fischer AND Buster Wilson for the title (so far).

H/T: Right Wing Watch

While the White House, governors, Congress and other public officials grapple with policy responses to last month’s mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school, many Americans wonder whether the massacre of young children will provide momentum for more effective laws that previous killing sprees – even one that gravely wounded a member of Congress – have not. 

Some assume, wrongly, that nothing can be done.  Politicians’ fear of the $200+ million National Rifle Association (NRA) is generally cited as the reason for weak gun laws that undermine law enforcement and put citizens at higher risk from gun crimes.  The power of the NRA to determine the outcome of elections may well be more myth than reality, but even the perception of such power can give the group tremendous political muscle, along with its aggressive lobbying and strong-arm political tactics.

The NRA is not alone in attempting to prevent effective regulation of guns and promoting reckless policies that leave Americans vulnerable to crime.  Its efforts are supported by the same kind of coalition that undermines the nation’s ability to solve a wide range of problems.  Corporations, right-wing ideologues, and Religious Right leaders work together to misinform Americans, generate unfounded fears, and prevent passage of broadly supported solutions.

Understanding the extremism and dishonesty at the heart of right-wing obstructionism is crucial to overcoming it.  

Who’s Extreme?

Opponents of stronger gun laws portray any effort to regulate the sale of even military-style weapons as radical assaults on American freedom.  For instance, Matt Barber of the Liberty Counsel, a Religious Right legal group, called President Obama a “slime ball,” claiming falsely that Obama used his remarks at a memorial service for the Connecticut shooting victims to push “radical” gun control and saying of Obama, “His extremism knows no lows.”

But it is Barber and NRA officials who are staking out an extreme position. They emphatically do not speak for the American people.  More strikingly, the NRA leadership and its allies do not speak for the group’s own members.  Huge majorities of NRA members support sensible policies that the group opposes. For example, 82 percent of the public, and 74 percent of NRA members, support requiring a criminal background check of anyone purchasing a gun.  NRA leaders strongly oppose requiring background checks for gun sales.  And a recent poll taken after the Newtown shooting found that a majority of people who live in gun-owning households support a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines.

At the urging of NRA officials, Congress has even passed laws that undermine law enforcement officials’ ability to fight gun crimes, forcing the Justice Department to destroy within 24 hours records about the buyer in approved purchases and making it harder for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to track sales of certain guns used in crimes.  How do anti-gun-regulation activists prevent action in the face of broad public support?  They deploy a range of strategies and tactics that right-wing activists use on a variety of issues:

Denying and Masking Reality

On issues from gay rights to climate change, right-wing activists stick stubbornly to their ideology even when it is clearly controverted by scientific consensus and other reality.  On gun violence, NRA officials  and their allies refuse to acknowledge that the availability of assault weapons and high-volume ammunition clips, or the lack of background checks for private sales of guns, are problems that make it easier for a shooter to kill more innocent people quickly.  They ignore evidence that stronger gun laws can and do reduce gun crimes. According to an October 2012 report from the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, “When states expand firearm prohibitions to high-risk groups, and adopt comprehensive measures to prevent diversion of guns to prohibited persons, fewer guns are diverted to criminals, and there is less violence. ”

One way to mask reality is through rhetoric that distorts or hides the truth.  Tea Party leaders and their allies rallied opposition to federal health care reform by portraying “ObamaCare” in lurid end-of-freedom, America-destroying rhetoric. They were successful in building public opposition to the generic “ObamaCare” – even though there was strong majority support for most of the substantive elements of the plan.  By portraying advocates for stronger gun regulation as government thugs who want to take guns from hunters’ hands, NRA leaders and their allies have been able to generate some poll numbers indicating opposition to “gun control,” but the more relevant fact for policymakers is that huge majorities of Americans, and of NRA members themselves, back many of the most commonly discussed approaches to reducing gun violence.  Stronger efforts to keep dangerous guns out of the hands of dangerous people are simply not attacks on the right recognized by the Supreme Court under the Second Amendment of law-abiding citizens to have guns for hunting or self-defense.

Shifting Blame

The speech by the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre a week after the Connecticut shootings was a memorable display of blame shifting.  He attempted to cast blame for the killings on everyone but his own group’s resistance to stronger controls on assault weapons and the firearms or ammunition themselves.

Religious Right leaders and right-wing pundits played their usual parts in the spin. Religious broadcaster James Dobson said the shooting was God’s judgment for the country turning its back on scripture and on God.  Franklin Graham said much the same: “This is what happens when a society turns its back on God.”  Radio host Steve Deace blamed public schools for promoting a “culture of death” and teaching students “there is no God and thus no real purpose to their lives.”  American Family Association spokesperson Bryan Fischer said God wasn’t there to protect students because schools were not starting the day with prayer.  Newt Gingrich blamed “an anti-religious secular bureaucracy and secular judiciary seeking to drive God out of public life,” along with video games.  Culture warriors Ted Baehr and Tom Snyder wrote in Movieguide:

By removing God, the Bible, God’s Law, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit from society, including the mass media and the schools, we are raising generations of people with no faith in God or Jesus and, hence, no moral conscience, and no self-control.  If so many people have no faith, no moral conscience and no self-control, then it’s no wonder our society is suffering from all these mass murders by evil lone gunmen.

Tea Party Nation blamed teachers’ unions, liberals, and an “over-bureaucratized society.”  The Oathkeepers, a Tea Party offshoot for military and law enforcement officials, argued that the federal government was “complicit in the deaths of these children, and in fact an accessory to their mass murder, by forcibly disarming (with the very real threat of prison) all the teachers, all the staff, and any parent who may have been on school property.”

The consequence of such blame-spreading is that it creates distractions from addressing the real problems.  One Religious Right leader appearing on American Family Radio called the shooting a “gracious” act of divine punishment designed to “bring us to our senses and bring us back to Him.” 

Hostility to Compromise

The absolute refusal to compromise – indeed, the vilification of the very idea of compromise – is at the heart of the right-wing movement and much of the modern Republican Party.  That has been the story of GOP obstructionism on tax policy, judicial nominations, and more.  Just as the Tea Party and its corporate backers have gone out of their way to punish Republicans they see as insufficiently “conservative” – even when it meant nominating extremists who could not win a general election – leaders of the NRA and other groups like the Gun Owners of America react with fierce hostility to talk of compromise.  Their political power comes largely from the fear they have created among elected leaders that the group will spend lavishly to punish even the tiniest dissent from its ideological dogma.  The NRA’s leaders loudly pulled out of current conversations convened by the White House, denouncing the effort to find policy solutions to gun violence as “demonizing” the Second Amendment, and they launched a “Stand and Fight” campaign even before the details of the White House proposals had been announced.  Rep. Steve Stockman from Texas even threatened to file articles of impeachment.

One way Religious Right leaders justify their opposition to compromise is claiming a biblical mandate for their favored policies, something Religious Right leaders do on issues like taxes as well as issues involving privacy and sexuality.  Discredited Religious Right “historian” David Barton calls the Second Amendment “the biblical right of self-defense” and says it requires that individual Americans have access to any weapon the federal government has.

Smearing Opponents

Just as Religious Right groups smear political opponents as hostile to religious liberty, anti-gun-regulation groups smear as enemies of liberty anyone who advocates for stronger oversight on the purchase of weapons capable of mass violence.  Even though polls show that NRA members believe support for the Second Amendment goes hand in hand with preventing gun crimes, the group’s leaders falsely equate any effort to strengthen gun laws to advance public safety with a desire to confiscate Americans’ handguns and hunting rifles.

Religious Right leaders are prone to make claims that only fellow believers are capable of moral action and decision making.  Snyder and Baehr, in their post-shooting column, wrote, “Without God, without faith and values, we are just soulless meat machines who can kill without mercy.”

Promoting Conspiracy Theories

The right-wing base of the Republican Party is fed a steady diet of conspiracy theories about liberals and other perceived enemies.  That’s why so many Republicans believe President Obama is a secret Muslim bent on the destruction of the US, or that he was not born in the United States. During the Obama administration, right-wing websites have circulated conspiracy theories about the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security administration stockpiling ammunition intended to be used against Americans and building concentration camps for conservatives.

National Rifle Association leaders claimed during the 2012 election that President Obama’s lack of action on gun issues during his first term was an elaborate ruse to mask his radical intentions to disarm gun owners.  Larry Pratt of the Gun Owners of America insisted that the federal health care reform law was meant to “take away your guns.”

Some went even further: Christian radio host Bradlee Dean, a close ally of Rep. Michele Bachmann, suggested that the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, like earlier murders at a theater in Aurora, Colorado, were actually orchestrated by the government to create a pretext to ban guns.

Extremist Interpretations of the Constitution

A Wyoming legislator has introduced legislation that would make it a felony to enforce a federal ban on assault weapons or high-capacity ammunition.  The idea that a state could imprison federal agents for enforcing a federal law may excite right-wing activists, but it doesn’t reflect a reality-based view of our constitutional system of government.  And that’s a widespread problem.  David Barton insists that the founding fathers’ view of the constitutional right to bear arms means that any weapon the government possesses must also be available to the population at large: “…whatever the government’s got, we’ve gotta have the same thing, because if they’ve got an AK-47 and come through and we’ve only got a BB gun on the inside, this is not a deterrent.  So the whole purpose of the Second Amendment is to make sure you have equal power with whatever comes against you illegally.”  If Barton is really saying that citizens have a Second Amendment right to anything that is in the U.S. military arsenal – chemical weapons, fully automated machine guns, bombs, and more – that is emphatically not a view endorsed by the Supreme Court.

Ted Cruz, a new U.S. senator from Texas elected with major support from Tea Party activists said recently that efforts to restrict the sales of assault weapons and ammunition are unconstitutional.  In fact, even the conservative Supreme Court has said clearly that regulating the sale of dangerous guns is not prohibited by the Second Amendment.  According to Justice Antonin Scalia, “the Second Amendment does not protect those weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, such as short-barreled shotguns.”

Harnessing Corporate Money

Right-wing causes, including the Tea Party, anti-unionism, and anti-environmentalism, have benefitted from a flood of corporate money in the wake of Supreme Court decisions gutting the nation’s campaign finance laws.  In addition, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a right-wing group that acts as matchmaker between corporate interests and lawmakers eager to do their bidding, has produced literally hundreds of model bills that right-wing legislators have enacted into law – attacking unions and public education and otherwise supporting the predatory privatization of public assets and government services.  Among the model bills ALEC has previously promoted is the so-called “stand your ground” law originally adopted in Florida.  ALEC deemed it a national “model” law, and it was enacted in more than two dozen states.  The Florida law was cited initially to prevent the prosecution of the man who killed Trayvon Martin.

Some analysts believe the NRA has morphed from a grassroots group teaching marksmanship to a trade association for gun manufacturers – a “lobbying, merchandising and marketing machine.”  Business Week reported in January 2012 that more than 50 firearms-related companies had given at least $14.8 million to the group.  The NRA has boosted gun makers several ways: its rhetoric about gun confiscation has spurred binge buying by gun enthusiasts; it has pushed a federal law that limits liability against gunmakers as well as state laws that bar cities from suing gun manufacturers (in conjunction with ALEC); and the NRA’s legislative arm has also “helped ensure the end of the federal assault weapons ban” in 2004 (which the NRA and ALEC opposed in 1994).  Business Week quotes the former NRA President Sandy Froman claiming that it “saved the American gun industry from bankruptcy.”

Anything Goes

A hallmark of right-wing activism over the past four years has been a willingness to say and do anything to try to undermine the effectiveness of the Obama presidency and to try to prevent the president’s re-election (as well as his initial election).  Rhetorically, that has meant equating health care reform and other initiatives with tyranny.  In response to recent reports that some aspects of gun regulation could be strengthened by executive order, the right-wing Drudge Report posted photos of Hitler and Stalin. 

Before the 2012 election, NRA leaders portrayed President Obama as conspiring to abolish Americans’ Second Amendment rights.  But NRA efforts to bring down the Obama administration went well beyond political rhetoric and campaign spending.  The NRA leadership played a significant role in the failed effort by congressional Republicans to turn the ATF’s botched “Fast and Furious” operation into an administration-destroying scandal.  NRA officials even announced that the group would “score” a House vote on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt, getting votes from Republicans and some Democrats eager to preserve a 100-percent NRA rating.

Money, Power, and Perception

Back in August, Daniel Webster, co-director of the Center for Gun Policy and Research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore said, “Democrats have decided, I think wrongly politically and morally, that it’s only an issue they can lose on.”  Indeed, even though the group’s recent political spending is heavily weighted toward Republicans, the lack of desire to cross the NRA’s lobbyists and activists is bipartisan.  In 2009, a Democratic Congress complied with demands for federal laws allowing people to bring guns onto Amtrak trains and into national parks; in 2010 the group demanded, and got, a special exemption from identifying its donors in the DISCLOSE Act under consideration.


h/t: People For The American Way

With days–perhaps hours–to go before President Obama announces recommendations from Vice President Biden’s gun violence task force, battles lines have already been drawn.

Most dramatically, with the heartrending burials of 20 innocent first-graders and six of their heroic educators as a backdrop, NRA top lobbyist Wayne LaPierre issued a belligerent and self-pitying demand for yet more weaponry, and the posting of armed guards at every school in America. But as the nation debates Obama’s proposals—and LaPierre’s—it will be important to reexamine the NRA’s greatest PR victory of the last few years: the greatly overworked, shamefully distorted Fast and Furious scandal. 

As Fortune reporter Katherine Eban revealed in an outstanding investigation published last summer, much of what Republicans have claimed about the scandal—including the headline-grabbing assertion that the US government intentionally provided guns to Mexican drug cartels—is false. The real story is of an agency sabotaged by the same pro-gun mania which led to the Newtown tragedy.

The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) opened up the Fast and Furious case to monitor American teenagers, who had been tapped by Mexican drug cartels to help arm the war in Mexico by becoming straw purchasers or front buyers. Our laws permit a teenager with no prior criminal record to pay cash and buy an unlimited number of military assault rifles. Their favorites included AR-15 variants like the Bushmaster .223 rifle used by Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Were Lanza in Arizona, he could have walked into nearly any federally licensed firearms dealer, plunked down $10,000 in cash, and left with 20 AK-47s in his hands—as do so many straw purchasers.

In a sane country, the inquiry into Brian Terry’s death would have examined all the tools that the ATF agents lacked in trying to build a case against the straw purchasers in Fast and Furious. There is no firearms trafficking statute, which would have allowed the ATF to build a swifter case that targeted the straw purchasers and their recruiters as a group. There is no comprehensive database of firearms purchases, which would have given the agents a much-needed real-time look at their suspects’ activities. In fact, the laws are so lax that the buyers didn’t even need to resort to a favored avenue for shady purchases: our totally unregulated gun shows, which require no background checks at all. (A sane country also would not have left the ATF to languish without a permanent head for fully six years—an unacceptable situation that Mayor Michael Bloomberg has rightly called on the president to address with a recess appointment.)

The Republican-led House, acting in lockstep with the NRA, twisted the facts of the ill-fated gun trafficking investigation in Phoenix to complete almost every item on its political To Do list. It used the scandal to bludgeon and destabilize the ATF, the agency charged with enforcing the nation’s gun laws. It diverted attention from the ineffective gun laws that made the ATF’s job in Fast and Furious nearly impossible. And it emerged with a cherished talking point: that the gun laws on the books right now are more than adequate, and it’s only their enforcement that has flaws.

The effort by the NRA and its friends in Congress to stymie any discussion of our permissive guns laws during its Fast and Furious investigation was made plain by the lead sled dog, Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), who at multiple hearings openly silenced Democratic members from even asking questions about the strength of the laws or potential legislative solutions.

If the NRA and Republican congressmen really cared about Brian Terry or his tragic death, they would have probed the actual causes underlying it, instead of proliferating a lot of phony conspiracy theories so wild, they almost left Stephen Colbert at a loss for words.

Early on in the investigation, the few reality-based ideas came from Representative Elijah Cummings, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s ranking Democrat. Cummings held a hearing on the state of the gun laws and issued a report with recommendations including the enactment of a federal firearms trafficking statute. But the 36-month Republican-led investigation into Fast and Furious yielded not a single suggestion for strengthening the laws or empowering the ATF. Instead, it was a blueprint for reducing what passes as gun enforcement to rubble. As we’re tragically reminded over and over, that comes at a tragic price.

h/t: Katrina Vanden Heuvel at The Nation

nbcnews:

Investigation finds no evidence AG Eric Holder knew of ‘Fast and Furious’ gun-running sting

A long-awaited report on the U.S. government’s controversial gun-trafficking operation known as “Fast and Furious” released Wednesday found no evidence that Attorney General Eric Holder knew of the botched effort to trace the flow of guns to Mexico’s drug cartels prior to its public unraveling in January 2011. 

(via nbcnews)

The Department of Justice is telling Congress that it won’t prosecute Attorney General Eric Holder for contempt of Congress over his decision to withhold information about the “Fast and Furious” gun-tracking operation.  

In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, the department says that it will not bring the congressional contempt citation against Holder to a federal grand jury and that it will take no other action to prosecute the attorney general.   

Yesterday, the full House approved a precedent-setting resolution to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in criminal contempt of Congress.  It was the first time a sitting Cabinet member has been held in contempt.

The final vote was 255-67, with only two Republicans voting “no.” 108 Democrats abstained from voting on what they have long argued is a politically motivated stunt.  Many walked out of the Capitol in protest.  

Republican lawmakers can still take Holder to court to enforce their demand for documents.

WASHINGTON — Barring a last-minute deal, House Republicans plan historic votes Thursday to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in civil and criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents related to a bungled gun-tracking operation.

A sitting attorney general never has been held in contempt and Republicans picked an odd day to set a precedent. They scheduled the votes the same day the Supreme Court was deciding the legality of President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Passage of the contempt resolutions was not in doubt. Republicans control the House, and are likely to pick up Democrats who support the National Rifle Association. The NRA said it’s keeping score on how members vote, partly because the gun owners’ group believes the Obama administration wanted to use the program – called Operation Fast and Furious – to make the case for more gun control.

Gun-walking long has been barred by Justice Department policy, but federal agents in Arizona experimented with it in at least two investigations during the George W. Bush administration before Fast and Furious. The agents in Arizona lost track of several hundred weapons in Fast and Furious.

Two of the guns turned up at the scene where border agent Brian Terry was killed in Arizona in a shootout with Mexican bandits.

Ironically, the documents at the heart of the current argument are not directly related to the workings of Operation Fast and Furious. Rather, they are internal Justice Department communications after February 2011, when the Obama administration falsely told Congress that guns were not allowed to “walk” to Mexico. The department has given the Oversight Committee’s chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., 7,600 documents on the operation itself.

Fast and Furious had been shut down by the time of the false information, but Issa wants documents showing deliberations during the 10 months it took for the administration to acknowledge the error.

h/t: Huffington Post

What happens when the country’s first black attorney general decides to defend voting rights? He’s held in contempt of Congress. At least that’s what House Democrat Nancy Pelosi is claiming about a House vote scheduled for Thursday on whether to hold Holder in contempt.

House Committee last week decided to make a recommendation for a full vote for contempt, related to a “gun-walking” operation that began during the Bush era, when federal agents knowingly allowed arms dealers to purchase guns for Mexican drug cartels. After President Obama took office, Holder continued the program through 2011, but also began an investigation into what he has called the flawed and unacceptable gun-walking tactic.

Keep in mind that some 50,000 people have died as a result of the US-supported drug war in Mexico. But it wasn’t until a gun from the so-called Fast and Furious program was involved in the murder of a US border agent that the committee decided to go after the Obama administration. After Obama evoked executive privilege to protect Holder from the committee’s request for additional documents related to the program, a recommendation was made to vote to hold him in contempt in the full House.

In the meantime, Holder has made no secret of the fact that the Department of Justice will vigorously defend voters’ rights. From speeches to clergy groups to lawsuits to stop Florida’s purge of its rolls, Holder has been transparent about the Justice Department’s commitment to combat voter suppression in local, state, and federal contests. Queens County and Orange County, New York, primary elections are being monitored today to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act, as are many other elections this season.

But is Pelosi correct in asserting that Holder’s actions in favor of voting rights are prompting the move to hold him in contempt?

h/t: Voting Rights Watch 2012 at The Nation

On paper, Thursday’s vote on a resolution finding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress is about a subset of internal Justice Department documents and whether such executive branch communications are subject to legislative oversight.

In reality, as Democrats argue, and even some Republicans will admit, the vote is about much more: Targeting a top administration official who has been a long time target of the GOP’s ire.

Whether it is his initial decision to try Khalid Sheikh Muhammed in federal court in New York City, or to reopen an investigation into torture during the Bush administration, or DOJ’s legal opposition to state voting restrictions, or their refusal to defend a federal law banning same-sex marriage, Holder has been a lighting rod for much of his tenure.

But it’s an issue that caused problems for Holder in the first months of the Obama administration — gun control — that overshadows the entire vote over what is theoretically a deep-in-the-weeds debate over the limits of executive power.

Complicating the matter is the fact that the Justice Department was, at the time Fast & Furious documents were sent to Congress, working on a separate gun safety initiative in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords.

TPM’s review of recently disclosed public documents show that Holder, who was told by the White House to stop talking about the assault weapons ban in early 2009, appears to have played a larger role in the early 2011 project than publicly acknowledged.

The National Rifle Association (NRA), which referred to President Barack Obama as “gun ban Obama” during the 2008 campaign and claims that the administration has a secret plot to single-handedly destroy the Second Amendment if he is reelected, is warning members of the House that voting against contempt will cost them points on the NRA’s candidate evaluations. While the organization has promoted the conspiracy theory that the Obama administration launched Fast and Furious to inflate statistics about how many guns were going to Mexico, the NRA’s evaluations can mean a lot to Democratic members, especially those in swing districts.

At the time of the meeting the administration still hadn’t approved a measure require dealers in four border states to report sales of multiple rifles to the ATF (as they are already required to do with handgun sales). Henigan said that showed the administration was willing to cross the NRA.

“It shows some willingness to make the gun lobby angry, but our view is that the administration has nothing to gain politically by angering the NRA,” Henigan said.

h/t: Ryan J. Reilly at TPM

As the House prepares to vote this week on a resolution finding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, House Oversight Committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has once again publicly subscribed to aconspiracy theory stating that ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious was an Obama administration effort to create the political will to enact stricter gun control.

The theory holds that the Obama administration gave weapons to Mexican drug cartels in the hopes that they would commit acts of violence, that the guns would be traced back to the United States and that the public would be scared into accepting tougher restrictions on firearms.

Born on right-wing blogs, boosted by the NRA and subscribed to by members of Congress, it has Democrats banging their heads against the wall.

So, let’s say you want to think the Obama administration sent thousands of guns across the border in a mad plan to keep Americans from owning them at home. Here are five things you’d have to to believe in order to fully subscribe to the theory.

1.) That the Obama administration wanted to spend political capital on gun issues.When Fast and Furious started in 2009, the Obama administration was not talking about guns. There’s been little movement on the issue of guns their whole time in office — even after a member of Congress was shot — and the administration has in fact expanded gun rights in national parks and on Amtrak trains. The idea that they’d even want to touch the issue, or even thought that they could make any progress on it is simply not supported by the available facts.

2.) That DOJ officials contemporaneously created evidence to suggest that they never knew about the tactics being used. There are plenty of emails showing DOJ officials rejecting the first suggestions that guns were allowed to walk during Operation Fast and Furious. For the Republican-backed gun control theory to be true, officials would have had to fake conversations in which they denied that the ATF allowed guns to walk to begin with. In an email sent on Feb. 2, 2011, then-U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke called staffers for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) “willing stooges for the Gun Lobby.” Not exactly the kind of thing you’d write in an email if you secretly knew the allegations were new and could anticipate such an email being publicly released.

3.) That the number of weapons going to Mexico wasn’t already sufficient enough.Plenty of weapons from the U.S. were headed to Mexico before Fast and Furious got underway in 2009. In fact, more weapons were recovered at crime scenes in Mexico before Fast and Furious got underway than after it had been going on for awhile. As Holder told Congress, Fast and Furious was “a flawed response to, not the cause of, the flow of illegal guns from the United States into Mexico.” In short, the few thousands weapons sent across the border as part of the program are a fraction of the total number of American firearms that end up as part of Mexico’s drug war.

4.) The whistleblowers who brought the tactics to light were also in on the gun-control conspiracy. Last spring, ATF agents tried to testify about how “toothless” gun laws weren’t allowing them to do their jobs. Issa tried to shut down the testimony, but it’s important to note that the very same individuals who were upset with the tactic being used also believed that Congress wasn’t doing enough to stop gun trafficking.

5.) The White House pretended not to know about an emergency reporting rule request. The one measure that the Obama administration has implemented since “Fast and Furious” is a minor regulation which treats so-called “long-guns” the same as handguns, but it is only in place in four border states. The measure (which Issa contends wasn’t necessary because he trusts dealers to provide the information voluntarily) was first proposed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in 2010, before Fast and Furious became a scandal and around the same time Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry died. Emailsobtained by TPM though a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request show that officials with the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) chastised the ATF for not notifying them before publishing an emergency request. Under the gun-control theory, they were lying in the email on the off-chance that someone eventually would FOIA the information.

h/t: Ryan J. Reilly at TPM

The House is scheduled to vote on recommendations that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. be held in contempt of Congress on Thursday, according to House Republican aides.

Republican leaders plan to bring the issue to the floor on Thursday, meaning lawmakers likely will vote on contempt charges on the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court is slated to announce its ruling on the constitutionality of the 2010 health-care reform law.

The timing likely deprives advocates for contempt charges of the big headlines they might have received if the vote were held another day this week.

If the House votes to hold him in contempt, Holder would be the first U.S. attorney general in history held in contempt of Congress. The matter would be referred to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia — a Justice Department employee and Obama administration appointee — who would have to decide whether to bring criminal charges against the attorney general, his boss.

h/t: Ed O’Keefe at WaPo