Rat in a drain ditch, caught on a limb, you know better but I know him.
Like I told you, what I said, Steal your face right off your head. -- He's Gone, by the Grateful Dead.
Barack Obama will give us a press conference today. It will be his first in three months. Since then, the Gunwalker Scandal has grown from a whisper to a low roar in the background. I think it is certain he will be asked about the Gunwalker Scandal by someone, perhaps several someones. He will be judged harshly, even by some of his media friends, if he comes up with an answer as lame as his press secretary gave the other day to CNS News: White House Won’t Say If Obama Wants ATF Director to Resign.
Bryan Preston, commenting on Bob Owen's piece, "Gunwalker: What Will Happen When Ken Melson Testifies?," wrote at the PJ Tatler about the deal between Grassley and Patrick Leahy to break the logjam of nominations and Gunwalker documents and testimony, hereinafter referred to as The Melson Deal.
ATF interim head Ken Melson has been itching to testify before Rep. Issa’s committee so that he isn’t turned into a convenient fall guy, even hinting that he could say interesting things about his boss, AG Eric Holder. Now there’s word that he will testify, but it’s thanks to a deal between Sens. Grassley and Leahy.
Grassley and his fellow Republicans were given full access to ATF documents, Melson, and other key witnesses; and in return, Grassley agreed to release three Obama administration nominees he had been blocking, according to correspondence obtained by NEWSWEEK and THE DAILY BEAST.
Tactically, this is very smart on the part of the Republicans and we need to see more of it. It works like this: Senator A puts a hold on X number of Obama nominees, which Senators can do for any reason. Keep that hold in place as long as the administration stonewalls on Gunwalker or another issue the Senator is working. Release the hold once you get the administration to play ball. That’s what Grassley has apparently done here. It sounds like hostage taking, but as long as the administration is going to ride roughshod over Congress’ authority and oversight, Congress has to use what powers it has to force the administration to open up. The confirmations process, which the Democrats militarized over Robert Bork back in the 1980s, is fair game.
Gunwalker is a big deal. Not only did it lead directly to the death of a US Border Patrol officer; guns from the operation have turned up on US streets. And as Bob Owens has written, it looks like it may have been a political operation to soften support for Americans’ Second Amendment rights. Owens handicaps the possible outcomes from Melson’s testimony, which range from Melson taking the fall to meltdown in the DOJ. Stay tuned.
"Very smart on the part of the Republicans." Yes. Well. I did not comment on Owen's post myself yesterday because I wanted time to analyze this turn of events and, more importantly, get the analysis of folks I trust.
To understand what is happening behind the scenes, you need to know a little bit more about Senator Patrick Leahy.
"See to it that Senator Leahy is comfortable." Batman comic fan Patrick Leahy in his big role.
First and foremost, remember that Leahy is an Obama kool-aid drinker, having braved the wrath of Hillary Clinton to endorse Obama early on in the Democrat presidential primary process.
Remember too that Leahy has been around Mordor on the Potomac for a looong time, and understands every dirty nuance of how the real game is played. For example, while he was Vice-Chairman of the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 1987, Leahy showed an unclassified draft report on the Iran-Contra affair to a news reporter -- and got caught. At a press conference, Leahy stated, "Even though it was declassified, I was way too careless about it," and accepted blame. As Wikipedia reports, "Disclosure of that information was against the Intelligence Committee rules, and Leahy said he hastened his already planned departure from the committee because he was so angry at himself. . ."
Right. In other words, it was important to the Democrats that the information be leaked, so he leaked it and was willing to fall on that sword in the interests of his party.
So he's canny AND tough. This is also worth remembering. Not that he's not a diligent practitioner of hypocrisy too.
In 2004, Leahy was awarded the Electronic Privacy Information Center's Champion of Freedom Award for efforts in information privacy and open government and is regarded as one of the leading privacy advocates in Congress.
Yet, as TechDirt reported in April of this year:
As expected, Senator Patrick Leahy, who continues to be Hollywood's favorite Senator, has made it clear that he's going to reintroduce the COICA censorship bill, and he appears to be completely ignoring the very real First Amendment concerns that people have been raising by saying:
"There's no First Amendment right that protects thieves. It protects speech."
Seeing as he's a Senator, it would help if he were familiar with the law. As such, he would know that (1) copyright infringement is not "theft," and (2) yes, the First Amendment protects all kinds of speech, even speech made by criminals and (3) the Free Speech issues that many of us are concerned with are the takedowns of legitimate non-infringing content, which we've seen happen repeatedly by Homeland Security -- which is the type of program Leahy is looking to expand with COICA.
It's immensely frustrating that someone like Senator Leahy would flat-out mislead over these very serious concerns. Though, of course, I have some ideas why. Perhaps the fact that Time Warner and Walt Disney are the two largest contributors to his campaign, and Vivendi (owners of Universal Music), General Electric (until recently owners of Universal Studios) and Viacom are not far behind has something to do with it...
Ah, yes, Hollywood and Leahy.
Leahy is a fan of the Grateful Dead. He has not only attended concerts, but has taped them, and has a collection of the band's tapes in his Senate Offices. Jerry Garcia visited him at his Senate offices . . .who asked Leahy which Dead song was his favorite, he replied: "... my favorite is "Black Muddy River" but we always play "Truckin'" on election night at my headquarters."
When it seems like the night will last forever
And there's nothing left to do but count the years
When the strings of my heart start to sever
And stones fall from my eyes instead of tears
I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And dream me a dream of my own
I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And sing me a song of my own
And sing me a song of my own -- Black Muddy River, The Grateful Dead.
Now that is revealing. Leahy, who is intimately familiar with all things Dead, has to know that "stones fall from my eyes instead of tears" is a reference to these lines:
I do the wrong, and first begin to brawl.
The secret mischiefs that I set abroach
I lay unto the grievous charge of others.
Clarence,--whom I indeed have cast in darkness,--
I do beweep to many simple gulls;
Namely, to Stanley, Hastings, Buckingham;
And tell them 'tis the queen and her allies
That stir the king against the duke my brother.
Now they believe it; and withal whet me
To be reveng'd on Rivers, Vaughn, Grey:
But then I sigh; and, with a piece of Scripture,
Tell them that God bids us do good for evil:
And thus I clothe my naked villany
With odd old ends stol'n forth of holy writ;
And seem a saint when most I play the devil.--
But, soft, here come my executioners.
[Enter two MURDERERS.]
How now, my hardy stout resolved mates!
Are you now going to dispatch this thing?
FIRST MURDERER: We are, my lord, and come to have the warrant,
That we may be admitted where he is.
GLOSTER: Well thought upon;--I have it here about me:
[Gives the warrant.]
When you have done, repair to Crosby Place.
But, sirs, be sudden in the execution,
Withal obdurate, do not hear him plead;
For Clarence is well-spoken, and perhaps
May move your hearts to pity, if you mark him.
FIRST MURDERER: Tut, tut, my lord, we will not stand to prate;
Talkers are no good doers: be assur'd
We go to use our hands, and not our tongues.
GLOSTER: Your eyes drop millstones when fools' eyes fall tears:
I like you, lads;--about your business straight;
Go, go, despatch.
FIRST MURDERER: We will, my noble lord. [Exeunt.]
-- Shakespeare, The Life and Death of King Richard the Third, Act One, Scene Three.
Identifying with assassins. Interesting.
Leahy is also a friend of Bono and a fan of U2. He is also a published photographer and a big fan of Batman comics. Leahy appeared in cameo roles in the 1997 film Batman and Robin, and in the 2008 film The Dark Knight.
Despite the fact that he has supported the "gun show loophole" and other firearm restriction measures, Leahy is rated "C" by the NRA.
An Obama loyalist. A Deadhead. A Batman freak. A powerful, savvy player of the DC game.
So why would he do The Melson Deal? Why give up on the cover-up of a scandal that may bring down his president and his party just for the mess of pottage that those appointments represent?
According to my sources, they have a plan. It is the Nixonian "modified limited hangout" plan. Whether it works or not is problematic for the Obamanoids, but as one old intelligence operative told me: "At this point with Melson playing for himself and not the team, it's all they've got."
My sources predict that they will attempt to hold the criminal line at Lanny Breuer and the political line at Eric Holder. Under this scenario, Breuer takes the beating for the team in the assumption that he can avoid serious legal trouble and Holder resigns because he "failed to control his people." This, of course, is wild understatement even based on what we know now from whistleblowers and documents already released by the whistleblowers. The Phase Two hearings coming up in the House that deal with Mexico will make this even plainer.
But, my sources say, they have a problem. And the name of that problem is former Deputy Attorney General David "Shorty" Ogden. Ogden resigned his position over unspecified "differences" with Eric Holder and Obama policies. Was one of them Gunwalker? Nobody that I know has a clue.
We do know from the document unearthed by John Solomon regarding the October 2009 meeting at Justice that Ogden, then Number Two at DOJ, was a prime mover in the change of strategy that was the "Gunwalker" plan. Ogden, rather than Melson, could prove to be the John Dean of this scandal, according to the folks that I talk to.
Will Ogden roll? I asked. Probably, came the consensus. Ogden, like Melson, is playing for himself now. "If he's asked the right questions in the right venue (under oath) he'll come clean," I was told.
"But why did they cave so easily?" I asked. "Why now?"
"They know they can't stop a lot of this from coming out, so they want to hurry it up, hold the line at Holder, take the hit and weather it so that it's old news by the time November, 2012, gets here." This is all, my sources say, about protecting Barack Obama's second term now.
"They're desperately holding on to the Iran-Contra example . . . Reagan survived that. They're crossing their fingers and praying to Gaia that Obama can survive Gunwalker. Right now it's all they have."
I laughed at the Gaia reference, and commented that if they were praying it was the same fervent prayer that a gambler utters when he pulls the lever on a slot machine.
"You got it."
So, according to my sources' informed best guesses, Leahy's gambit on The Melson Deal came straight from a White House that is hardly confident that it will work but desperately hoping that it does.
Hope, of course, is not a valid strategy.
I rather suspect that Issa and Grassley will be the rocks upon which the shipwreck of all the White House's hopes are dashed.