Fast and Furious over Fast and Furious
By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard about Operation Fast and Furious, which actually is not an effort to catch illegal drag racers. Instead, it’s an operation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) where it’s been alleged that BATFE agents let tons of firearms flow south of the border by people they knew to be buying for the Mexican drug cartels. One of these guns was reportedly used to kill US Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.
The gun rights community, predictably, is up in arms (pun unintended) about it. Some are going so far as to claim it is all part of an effort to push forward increased gun regulations here. Yesterday, President Obama claimed executive priviledge regarding documents that Congress and subpenoaed. They had ordered them eight months ago.
Now, first let me address the conspiracy theory regarding using Fast and Furious being a way to push forward regulations here. I might have had something to do with that one. Months ago, on a blog that is no longer up on the net, I wrote that if I were inclined towards conspiracy theories, I would believe such a thing. After all, the use of American guns by drug cartels was cited by both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as reasons why we needed tougher gun regulations in the US. This was while Fast and Furious was going on and sending a proverbial buttload of guns down to Mexico…guns that BATFE knew about and did nothing to prevent.
Of course, a report from CBS News from December, 2011 looks like I might have been on to something:
ATF officials didn’t intend to publicly disclose their own role in letting Mexican cartels obtain the weapons, but emails show they discussed using the sales, including sales encouraged by ATF, to justify a new gun regulation called “Demand Letter 3”. That would require some U.S. gun shops to report the sale of multiple rifles or “long guns.” Demand Letter 3 was so named because it would be the third ATF program demanding gun dealers report tracing information.
On July 14, 2010 after ATF headquarters in Washington D.C. received an update on Fast and Furious, ATF Field Ops Assistant Director Mark Chait emailed Bill Newell, ATF’s Phoenix Special Agent in Charge of Fast and Furious:
“Bill - can you see if these guns were all purchased from the same (licensed gun dealer) and at one time. We are looking at anecdotal cases to support a demand letter on long gun multiple sales. Thanks.”
Um…oops? Probably should have handled that one over the phone. Not quite as bad as some have suspected, but still pretty disturbing. However, for some this was more than enough.
The report also goes into detail regarding a gun dealer and his concerns about these guns ending up in nefarious hands. This is from a guy who’s trying to cooperate with BATFE, but they are just telling him to not worry. I suspect there are a lot of people who wish they had worried. You know, just a bit.
Second, let’s take a look at Obama’s Executive Priviledge stunt. Yes, I think it’s a stunt. Congress wants answers, and he’s trying to shield Holder who was staring down the barrel of a contempt charge. Personally, I think “comtempt of congress” isn’t a legal charge, but a civic duty. That’s not the point though. He was supposed to provide the documents, and didn’t. He stalled, and then Obama claimed Executive Priviledge. Sounds kind of funny if you ask me. Obama’s had Holder’s back from the start, and I suspect that’s mostly what this is. Until we see the actual documents involved though, this is nothing but pure speculation on my part.
Of course, a House panel still found Holder in contempt.
Part of the problem some have with the coverage of Fast and Furious is that it seems to be driven by partisan sites like Brietbart’s fleet of websites. However, it should be noted that some of the best reporting on this case actually has been from the mainstream media. My initial coverage was spurred mostly via CBS News.
So what’s the big deal?
First, we have a man who claimed he was going to be the most open president in history proving the lie to that claim by trying to shield documents from ever seeing the light of day.
Second, we have an Attorney General who claimed repeatedly that he knew nothing about the BATFE operation. So? Well, he’s responsible for what happens in the Justice Department. Either he knew about it, he’s not paying attention to what’s going on in his department, or his subordinates aren’t letting him know what’s going on. None of those three are good things folks. None of them.
Third, we have firearms - illegal ones at that - going south into Mexico that are being used to arm brutal drug cartels while those who bear ultimate responsibility were making speeching about restricting the rights of American citizens because of guns going south. While I do not believe that there was a concerted effort to use Fast and Furious to justify new gun laws in this country. However, there’s a problem when Obama and Clinton are calling for new laws to try and stop something while BATFE was letting people slide who they knew were breaking existing laws.
Make no mistake, Fast and Furious is a disaster. BATFE isn’t exactly known for being a bunch of “smooth operators”. Pretty much everything they touch turns to crap (Waco, Ruby Ridge, etc.).
One question though. If this had happened under Bush’s watch, where would the outrage come from? I’m willing to bet it wouldn’t be the same players. Any takers?