Free Markets, Free People

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.

As Greyhawk says:

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.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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17 Responses to What is the political bursting radius of “Operation Fast and Furious”?

  • I’d say the kill zone of this bomb could extend to the White House.
    I think it certainly reaches to Holder, who is already riddled with holes and seems to be heading for a bad end.

    • Course it extends into the White House.
       
      It has all the hallmarks of an Obama administration around the back door, under the radar operation, the arrogance, the disdain, the hubris, and most of all the childish incompetence.
       
      And yeah, it’s not about stopping guns to Mexico, it’s about stopping guns, period.
       
      Now the idea that a non-porous border would also prevent weapons from drifting south?, well screw that idea, the geni from the Ivy League schools have it all under control.

    • /sarc Ah, now, we’re gettin all wee-wee’d up over nuthing here, this is just partisan racist politics.
       
      Move along, nothing to see.
      /sarcoff
       
      Is it too early to talk about impeachment?  because the wind smells and the last time it smelled like this, it was blowing out of the Watergate complex.

  • I’ll say it won’t do a thing to them.  They still have the press flacking for them and this won’t be allowed to get big enough to do the White House any damage.

    • Not only that, but the press will use this as an opportunity to push the gun running narrative.  Why not double down when the other option is to lose.

  • After MonicaGate, I’m cynical.  MiniTru will bury this for as long as they can, then make it all about Issa just as they made Whitewater all about Ken Starr.  Holder MIGHT have to resign (maybe they can get him a job at Freddy or Fanny), but I doubt it.  And the only way Captain Bullsh*t is going anywhere is if he gets booted out of office in the next election or somehow chokes to death on a piece of arugula.

    Anyway, why do racists use these trumped-up, NRA-sponsored ravings to try to hurt our first black president and first black AG?

    / sarc

    • The story has been out for months.  Only now because holder is implicated, its gained some new legs.  It will be buried again soon.

  • As if the story wasn’t bad enough, observers are now making it known that Project Gunrunner was funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, otherwise known as the Stimulus Plan.

    Below is one link, but I first saw it discussed on Free Republic, being tipped there by Rand Simberg.

    http://hotair.com/archives/2011/07/07/too-bad-to-check-project-gunrunner-was-funded-by-the-stimulus/
    —Tom Nally, New Orleans

  • The gun running narrative isn’t just about gun control.  Its tied to the Violence and Criminalization of northern Mexico and how it interconnects more and more with the human trafficking.
     
    The narrative is basically why should we expect Mexico to do anything to help against the illegal alien trade and the para military gang activity when guns are ‘flooding in’ from the US.
     
    The idea this program was to create evidence to give this narrative validity crossed my mind when this first came out.   Unfortunately the media will say the rest of us are trying to make out that they were trying to make the trafficking a reality to ridicule the accusers.

  • As hackneyed as it might be, this is actually a very good case to compare to Watergate.

    In any rational evaluation, it’s worse. The initial break-in, while illegal and toxic to the integrity of the electoral process, was not apparently known to or sanctioned by Nixon. Then the coverup began, and that’s where the Washington Post pounded relentlessly until Nixon resigned.

    We don’t yet know how high up this stupid scheme was hatched, but it looks pretty high up. People were killed as a result. It looks like a coverup on a larger scale than Watergate. There are more verified facts about it right now than we knew about Watergate when Nixon resigned.

    So where’s the Post on this? 

    Well, a search of their site for “gunwalker” turns up no results. A search for “Operation Fast and Furious” turns up 13 results, which fall into the following categories:

    Articles that have nothing to do with the ATF: 2 (including, for example, one about how everyonw is working “fast and furious” to clean up after a tornado)

    Articles containing just a link to somewhere else: 1

    Articles reprinting something from the Associated Press: 2

    Article by a reporter named Jerry Markon, slamming Representive Issa for… I’m not sure. Hypocrisy, I guess, since the thrust is that Issa didn’t object to some things last year, but is objecting this year. Hmm, could it be that he learned some new things in the interim, Jerry? (June 21): 1

    Article by Jerry Markon about Obama’s nominee to lead ATF, and about how the acting director Ken Melton is under pressure to resign (June 20): 1

    Article by Jerry Markon about Ken Melton talking to Congressional investigators July 4 that’s a rehash of what we’ve seen a bunch of other places and appears to contain no original reporting: 1

    Article by a reporter named Sari Horwitz (who also contributed to some of hte Markon articles) highlighting a Democratic Congressman (Elijah Cummings) bitching about Issa (June 29): 1

    Editorial on making the ATF tougher (June 26): 1

    A column by Joe Davidson recounting some aspects of Agent Terry’s death (which is generally sympathetic to the fact that the ATF screwed up, but offers no new details): 1

    A blog entry that was actually about someone named Cole being confirmed as deputy AG: 1

    A blog entry from “The Fact Checker” quibbling about whether the phrase “act of war” was used by the Mexican Government over the operation (May 18) : 1

    This indicates that the post has known about the operation since at least May 18, but has done zero original reporting on the ATF itself. Their only attempts at anything faintly resembling original reporting has been to go after the Republicans raising the flag on this.

    On this issue, the Washington Post is achieving New York Times levels of bias, and that’s saying something.

    • Their actions – or lack of them – is disgusting.  But if Palin or Bachmann (the new target) makes a faux pas, thirty articles in the span of a week covering it! 

      When a Democrat is in office, media bias is more expressed in what they DON’T report.

      • Aren’t there some more emails they can review?  Inquiring minds demand information!

  • The blast radius will not reach any farther than Holder. US Attorneys General fly the same sorts of flights as US Secs of Commerce, don’t they?

  • Holder knew.
     
    h/t/ Billy Beck

    • Knew!?  Hell, he bragged to the Mexicans we were running the operation.

  • Can you say “Special Counsel” ?
    The law for a “special persecutor” has run out, but there are procedures for a “Special Counsel” to be appointed when there is a conflict of interest for the US AG … like in this case.  The last “Special Counsel” looked into the “outing” of “Ms Flame,” so we all know this doesn’t come with some political baggage.

  • Most of the major media is trying very hard to ignore it; happily, thanks to this here innernets, that’s not working the way it used to.
    It’s now been noted there was ANOTHER operation of the same type running guns to Honduras:
    http://www.examiner.com/gun-rights-in-national/breaking-news-source-claims-atf-s-tampa-sac-walked-guns-to-honduras
    Which will, I would think, make it even harder for Holder to deny knowledge(“Sir, you’re telling us there were TWO such operations going, with AG staff briefings, and you’re so out of touch or incompetent you knew NOTHING about them?).
    And the administration is now planning to announce some gun control measures by executive fiat(that ‘under the radar’ he promised some people?); I suspect this was originally going to be the last-ditch “Since Congress won’t act, I will act to save you” action if, after all the publicity Gunwalker was supposed to generate, Congress wouldn’t pass his laws.  Now, he wouldn’t seriously think of doing it this way unless it’s feared the damage from Gunwalker will be widespread and hugely damage any chance of legislation.  And I guarantee there are a lot of Democrats and liberal Republicans wondering just how many votes- and seats- this will cost them if he rams this through.