What is the political bursting radius of “Operation Fast and Furious”?
Right now it seems that the Mexican/ATF gun running scheme has blown up in the face of the administration and, unless the media tries to ignore it, has the potential of being a very damaging scandal. The NY Post gives a good summary:
The ATF’s acting director, Kenneth Melson, has been singing like a canary to congressional investigators as he pushes back against administration pressure for him to resign and take the fall for something that, at the very least, had to include the US Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and possibly the Homeland Security Department.
In a letter to Holder released yesterday, Rep. Daryl Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley accused the Justice Department of blocking their investigation into the burgeoning scandal (which has resulted in the deaths of at least two American agents and countless Mexican civilians), muzzling the ATF and involving other federal agencies, including the FBI and the DEA, in funding the crackpot scheme.
"The evidence we have gathered raises the disturbing possibility that the Justice Department not only allowed criminals to smuggle weapons, but that taxpayer dollars from other agencies may have financed those engaging in such activities," they wrote.
"It is one thing to argue that the ends justify the means in an attempt to defend a policy that puts building a big case ahead of stopping known criminals from getting guns. Yet it is a much more serious matter to conceal from Congress the possible involvement of other agencies in identifying and maybe even working with the same criminals that Operation Fast and Furious was trying to identify."
That’s the key to this mess — and the reason that Operation Fast and Furious might turn out to be the biggest Washington scandal since Iran-Contra.
If all of this is true, then yes, it should be. Melson had been prohibited by AG Eric Holder from appearing before Congress in his official capacity. But Holder can’t prohibit private citizen Melson from appearing and that’s how Melson is appearing. He obviously knows a bad op when he sees one and is refusing to be the fall guy.
The ostensible purpose of “Fast and Furious” was to identify the “higher ups” in the Mexican gun trafficking circles. But here’s the problem:
As Issa and Grassley note in their letter, had the other agencies shared information — theoretically the goal of the post-9/11 revamp of the intelligence and law-enforcement agencies — "then ATF might have known that gun trafficking ‘higher-ups’ had already been identified."
In fact, inter-agency coordination – something the 9/11 reorganization was supposed to fix – should have revealed those names the ATF sought. So if that isn’t really the reason for the operation, what is?
Well that’s where the speculation occurs, and the administration doesn’t help itself by stonewalling Congress.
Melson testified behind closed doors on July 4, but the country needs to hear him speak — loudly and publicly. "Let me be clear," Issa wrote to Melson in April, "we are not conducting a concurrent investigation with the Department of Justice, but rather an independent investigation of the Department of Justice."
So what’s the purpose of the operation then? If the higher-ups were already known, what is the possible reason for doing this? Then NY Post throws out a possibility:
Law-abiding gun owners and dealers think they already know. With the Obama administration wedded to the fiction that 90 percent of the guns Mexican cartels use originate here — they don’t — many suspect that "Fast and Furious" was a backdoor attempt to smear domestic gun aficionados as part of its stealth efforts on gun control by executive fiat.
"I just want you to know that we’re working on it," Obama was quoted as saying to gun-control advocate Sarah Brady in March. "We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar."
Unfortunately for the administration, this one’s out in the open now.
Now you may be saying, come on, isn’t that a little far fetched? Not really. This is an administration that talks out of both sides of their mouth so anything they’ve said in the past supporting gun rights has to be taken with a grain of salt. And, you have to remember this is an administration that comes from the Chicago tradition of politics. So combined with the DoJ stonewalling and refusal to turn over documents to Congress (you know, the “transparent administration), one has to suspect there may be some fire causing the smoke.
Maybe there’s a better answer – but I haven’t heard it yet. I can understand something like passing traceable funds/"marked bills" to suspects to help expose networks, and even temporarily allowing those suspects freedom of movement to facilitate that. But this – the transfer of weapons – is another matter entirely. Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence is an axiom especially true of government work, but in this case it’s hard to imagine someone that incompetent. That’s obviously a factor, along with stupidity, ignorance, hubris and a host of other character flaws Americans can only tolerate to a certain extent in government officials (a vague line well crossed here) – but even all of those flaws combined fail to describe motive.
It think his point is well taken. At the moment, it is the most plausible explanation given the facts we have. With the fact that the names were known within the law enforcement community, it is up to the administration to explain why doing such a stupid thing. And as Greyhawk mentions, it is hard just to write this off to incompetence, unless you believe in total incompetence and, in fact, stupidity, all up and down the line of those who would have to approve an operation like that.
So it’s up to the administration to explain this fiasco. The “plausible” explanation is out there. And right now it is as good an explanation as any. If that’s the case, as Confederate Yankee explains, the consequences could be dire:
If it is confirmed that the worst suspicions are true—that the Obama Administration supplied weapons to narco-terrorists, in order to undermine U.S gun laws—there will not be a stonewall big enough for them to hide behind, and both impeachment and jail time must not be just possible, but probable for those involved. They are, after all, accessories before the fact who aided and abetted the murders of two U.S. federal agents, and an estimated 150 law enforcement officers and soldiers, and an unknown number of civilians, in Mexico.
We’ll see what the administration can come forward with a better one, but I think this scandal has the potential to really shake up this bunch and expose the DoJ for the travesty it has become.