It's time for Congress to impeach Attorney General Eric Holder.
Congress may remove from office "all civil officers of the United States" if they are convicted of "treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors," the Constitution says (Article II, Section 4).
Only the House of Representatives can impeach, which is comparable to indictment. The official is then tried by the Senate, where a two-thirds vote is required for conviction.
The Constitution doesn't say what constitutes "high crimes and misdemeanors," but perjury surely is among them. So is obstruction of justice.
Mr. Holder told the House Judiciary Committee on May 3 that he had "probably" heard about the Gunwalker scandal "for the first time over the last few weeks."
On Monday, Sharyl Attkisson reported on CBS that "new documents obtained by CBS News show [Mr. Holder] was sent briefings on [Gunwalker] as far back as July 2010. That directly contradicts his statement to Congress."
Gunwalker involved the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives permitting more than 2,000 guns to "walk" across the border to Mexican drug cartels in a misbegotten effort to figure out where the cartels were getting weapons.
"Allowing loads of weapons that we knew to be destined for criminals, this was the plan," ATF Agent John Dodson testified June 15. "It was so mandated."
Among the guns were 34 .50-caliber sniper rifles, "approximately the number of sniper rifles a Marine infantry regiment takes into battle," noted ATF Agent Carlos Canino.
More than 200 of their citizens have been killed by Gunwalker guns, according to the Mexican attorney general. They've been found at 11 crime scenes in the United States.
Background checks were bypassed so "straw buyers" could purchase guns for the cartels. And in a June 1, 2010 letter, an ATF supervisor ordered a gun shop owner to sell four guns directly to an ATF agent, who resold them to known illegal buyers.
The documents which contradicted Mr. Holder's testimony were part of the Justice Department's response Sept. 30 to Congress' request for documents. Among them was an email from William Newell, the ATF agent in charge of the Phoenix office, to a White House aide.
Mr. Newell's email contained an arrow chart of where Gunwalker guns ended up. It contradicts his testimony to the House Oversight Committee in July that he hadn't discussed specifics of the case with the White House aide. His testimony "lacked clarity" and wasn't complete, Mr. Newell has admitted.
ATF whistleblowers have been fired or transferred to dead end jobs. Agent Newell was promoted.
There is so much damaging information in the documents included in the Friday night data dump that one wonders what could be in documents still being withheld. The chairman of the House Oversight Committee expressed frustration with the administration's sluggish responses to subpoenas.
"There is an ongoing coverup of a pattern of wrongdoing," Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif, said in a conference call with journalists Sept. 20. The inspector general of the Justice Department has undermined and obstructed the congressional investigation, Mr. Issa charged the next day.
The arrow chart "is damning evidence of a massive coverup," asserts Investor's Business Daily. "The trail of spent bullets leads all the way to the White House."
It certainly leads to the attorney general. Mr. Holder has claimed Gunwalker was a "rogue operation" of which he knew nothing. Since there is evidence of gunwalking operations in Phoenix, Tucson, Dallas, Houston, Tampa and Indiana, this strained credulity even before discovery of the incriminating memos. Multiple operations involving several federal law enforcement agencies had to be initiated from and coordinated by Washington.
Officials at the White House and the Justice Department have screamed at her for reporting on Gunwalker, Ms. Attkisson said Tuesday. "They say the Washington Post is reasonable, the LA Times is reasonable, the New York Times is reasonable, I'm the only one who thinks this is a story, and they think I'm unfair and biased by pursuing it," she told radio talk show host Laura Ingraham.
What "reasonable" means in this instance is that The Washington Post and The New York Times apparently would rather help Justice cover up Gunwalker than expose it.
The Democratic-controlled Senate never would convict Mr. Holder, no matter how high the bodies pile up. But if the House impeaches him, even the "reasonable" news organizations will be forced to cover one of the bloodiest scandals in American history.
Jack Kelly is a columnist for the Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio ( firstname.lastname@example.org , 412 263-1476).