(Barbados Nation) The presence of United States Attorney General Eric Holder in Barbados and its Caribbean neighbours this past week has stirred intense right-wing Republican and Tea Party anger in Washington.
And Holder’s critics on Capitol Hill and conservative media commentators are so upset that they are demanding that the attorney general either resign or be dismissed by President Barack Obama.
Describing the week-long trip to Barbados, the Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago to discuss Caribbean and Western Hemisphere security concerns during an Organization of American States meeting of security ministers as everything from a “junket” and a waste of public funds to a demonstration of poor judgment, Republican lawmakers in particular, many of whom are among Holder’s sternest critics, are questioning his decision to go to the region at a time when Obama is preparing to announce stiff austerity measures that would drastically cut public spending.
As if those criticisms weren’t enough, the Republicans – who were criticizing Holder even before he decided to go to the Caribbean – are portraying the countries he has visited as poverty-stricken and are complaining that the hotels – Hilton and Hyatt – where he stayed were far too expensive for a United States attorney general and for the American taxpayers to pay for at this time.
A commentator has gone so far as to question the ocean-view rooms Holder occupied in Barbados and elsewhere, forcing a Holder aide to defend him for having dinner at a small, inexpensive fish restaurant in Barbados, a place which is cooled by a mechanical fan.
To top it off, the aide was quoted as saying that when a “monsoon approached, waiters dropped plastic drapes to keep the deck from floating” in Barbados.
There is no record of a monsoon ever striking Barbados or any of its neighbours.
Congressman Darrel Issa, a Republican of California and chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee of the House of Representative, questioned why Holder would opt to spend five days in the Caribbean to sign security agreements designed to crack down on drug trafficking, gun running and money laundering.
“One would think that agreements could be signed on a more abbreviated schedule that saves the attorney general time he continually indicates he doesn’t have, as well as taxpayers’ money,” complained Issa.
The criticisms have grown so loud that a member of Holder’s party felt it necessary to fight back by saying the attorney general didn’t go to the beach but saw the ocean and the Caribbean Sea from his hotel window.
“We’re not going to the tourist parts of these places,” said a Holder aide.
Daniel Stone, a White House correspondent for Newsweek, and John Solomon, editor of investigations for Newsweek and the Daily Beast, have charged in a column on the Daily Caller that both “the White House and the Justice Department have continued ignoring the surge of calls for Holder’s immediate resignation”.
But Republicans were up in arms over Holder’s performance as attorney general long before he arrived in Barbados. They accused him of either lying to Congress or misleading the American people over an anti-gun campaign called Fast And Furious in Mexico and the United States. They charged that he was responsible for the death of a United States border patrol agent.
Congressman Alan Nunnelee, a Republican of Mississippi, said it “has become apparent that the attorney general is simply not being honest with the American people”.
“His admission last week in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that he misled Congress in previous hearings was the final straw for me. He has repeatedly changed his story and stonewalled Congressional investigators’ effort to get the truth. The American people deserve better from its top law enforcement official.”
Congressman Joe Walsh, a Republican of Illinois, has joined the call for Holder’s resignation and is circulating a letter on Capitol Hill asking for Holder to resign or for Obama to fire him.
“In intentionally letting over 2 000 firearms ‘walk’ across the border into Mexico, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, BATFE, under the leadership of Attorney General Holder, carried out an operation that left a United States border patrol agent dead, broke federal law, and attempted to build a case for gun control,” stated Walsh in the letter which has so far been signed by 46 Congressional Representatives.