Seriously, this is no laughing matter, Watergate was, in my opinion, not as bad by comparison.
(If you would like to see more hard info and not blogging, go here: http://issues.oversight.house.gov/fastandfurious/)
Setting the table:
An investigation on an ATF-”Gunwalking” program started about two years ago. To this date, we do not know who authorized this program, what they knew about it, when they knew about it, who carried it out at what levels, who reported to who, who was notified about what, etc. We do know that Department of Justice officials need to sign off on wiretaps, which several happened with this program. The administration has attempted to claim this is equal to a very different program that was started (and ended) under the Bush administration, and has released thousands of documents on this program. We know everything about it, and media coverage done on this made a lot of mention of this. But of 90,000 documents requested by Congress, 7,600 heavily redacted documents, many of them worthless, were released. Many of them were about the Bush Administration. All the big questions remain unanswered.
An abridged timeline
Operation Wide Receiver
-Under Bush a program was started with the hopes of catching guns coming from America and going to cartels in Mexico.
-Specific guns were outfitted with tracking devices in the guns.
-”Sketchy” individuals would purchase 5-10 guns at a time.
-Law enforcement would then begin following these tracking devices.
-Mexican Law enforcement, who was informed of this plan, and in on it, would be waiting for these gun runners at the border.
-Bad guys apprehended for gun-running. One less bad guy on the street.
-As I understand it, the program was ended because the tracking devices were not perfect. They were also allowing many guns to go to bad guys, in the event that they do not catch them, this is very bad.
-Apparently roughly 400 guns had been “run”, before the program was ended under the Bush administration
Fast and Furious
-Not long after the election of Obama, a new version of Operation Wide Receiver started.
-No tracking devices were placed in the guns.
-Mexican Law enforcement was never informed of the operation.
-Straw buyers would buy 10 to 20 of these guns from gun stores at a pop. They would return and buy many guns.
-Gun dealers are on microphone recordings, and on public record as saying they would ask the ATF what’s going on. “This guy looks like a bad guy, he’s buying a lot of street legal AKs, what should I do?” In all cases, they were told to continue selling the guns.
-Apparently ATF agents would also manually give tracker free guns directly to the bad guys.
-Problem: By the time many of these buyers were known “bad guys”, known gun runners, they were not apprehended. They were being allowed to continue their operations, despite the protests of low level ATF agents and American gun dealers.
-These guns were turning up in crime scenes at Mexico. Emails show that ATF personnel were “happy” when their guns were turning up in Mexico.
-Coincidence: Around this time, Eric Holder gave a speech on strengthening gun laws on law abiding American gun owners, due to American guns turning up in Mexico. “Main stream media” shows mild interest in this narrative, rolling out retreads of their “assault weapons” crusade from the 90s. The one responsible for the kinds of laws in NJ, CA, and NY which have failed to produce the results the laws promised to produce, in anything other than rhetoric of course.
-March 26, 2009: Speaking in Mexico, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claims, “The guns that are used by the drug cartels against the police and the military, 90 percent of them come from America.”
-Pictures of .50caliber heavy machine guns and anti-tank weapons makes “the gun crowd” question the narrative, as these are items not at all readily available at gun dealers.
-The 90% figure is later proved to be false. 90% of the guns that were submitted to the US government to run the serial number (as they were believed to be from the US), turned out to be so. This % of the guns that turn up at crime scenes that come from America, is actually 6% of guns found. (Note: How many of them are “Fast and Furious” guns, that were not tracked, being sold by dealers who were waiting for sting operations on the bad guys, that never occurred? Hmm…)
-ATF officials have forced gun dealers in Arizona through Texas to report sales of certain firearms, namely guns some would arbitrarily name “assault weapons”, on the grounds of: American guns turning up in Mexico.
-Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry dies in a gunfight with Mexicans in Arizona. Many do not know of this. One would think that criminals coming over the border and shooting a police officer after a massive gunfight would be big news. It was not. Everyone knows about Trayvon Martin’s shooting, something that is, in my estimation, a clear cut case of self defense. There isn’t even an interest in the death of Brian Terry by this same media.
-It was discovered that the gun used to shoot Brian Terry was a “Fast and Furious” program gun.
-Total guns run is estimated to be around the 4,000 mark. We do not know as the ATF made little effort to seriously track or record those gun sales… (botched sting operation right?)
-Emails show that when Arizona’s Gabrielle Giffords was shot, that ATF officials were panicking, thinking this was a Fast and Furious gun. The program soon ends, with around 20 straw buyers being indicted. They had this group of 20 for over a year. Some of these people had purchased hundreds of guns when lower level ATF agents (Who eventually blew the whistle) and gun dealers started to protest. ATF’s leadership allowed these guys to purchase several hundred more guns. (It’s like being a bank security guard, and allowing the robbers to get ALL the money out of the bank, juuuust to be sure they’re really bank robbers…)
-ATF agents blow the whistle on the operation.
-(Roster: Republican House member Darrell Issa and Senator Grassley have been handling the investigation and the hearings on this matter. Republican Trey Gowdy has been another face in the process)
-Department of Justice releases a public statement saying they didn’t know anything.
-Eric Holder says he was not aware of Fast and Furious, more or less until the media story started on it.
-Of all documents supplied, not one of the Emails are from Eric Holder. None of them. Was he never informed of what was going on? Or is this information that’s being with held?
-Documents come out showing that Eric Holder did know about it well before the hearing.
-DOJ forced to retract their statement. The DOJ would later retract 2 more statements it would make during the investigation for inaccuracies. Had Eric Holder played Major League Baseball, he would be tried for perjury the same way Roger Clemens was.
Here’s how a lot of the hearings went down, complete with that idiot Sheila Jackson Lee interrupting Republicans out of turn repeatedly.
Skip to 3 minutes 30 seconds if you’d like – it’s particularly embarrassing when the investigators had screenshot – proof:
-Eric Holder states that no one in his department was aware of the “Specific tactics” (gunwalking) at a congressional hearing. Darrel Issa then holds up a picture of a gun-safe house with Lanny Breuer (his deputy attorney general, the man who reports to him)’s signature on the picture. I’m not saying that’s a false statement…
This is tough to believe as in order for wiretaps to be approved by the Department of Justice (which in this case occurred), detailed briefs have to be filed with DOJ. Either someone knew, or the DOJ is not at all following procedure on these wiretaps, and is handing them out like candy to anyone who asks. Both of these are concerning.
-Obama uses “executive privilege.” This is something an administration can do to protect the country from harm, not an administration from embarrassment, and most especially not from governmental oversight. Obama can only do this if his administration is heavily involved in it. Either his administration did know about this program, which means a half dozen officials lied to congress during hearings, or that his administration does not know and was not heavily involved in the operation and the exercise of executive privilege is flat out unconstitutional in this case.
-Eventually the House has a contempt vote on Holder. Holder is found in contempt by a large margin, with 17 democrats voting with the Republicans 255-67
This leaves a few options:
1) Rogue elements of the ATF signed off on a program to walk un-trackable guns to guys who saw people in half and leave body parts in the streets. Eric Holder hasn’t fired people associated with this program, because after 2 years he is incapable of finding out who was responsible for al lthis.
2) Holder does know who was responsible for this, and simply does not feel like firing them, because Government officials are apparently not accountable to their people. Not when the Department of Justice is unconcerned with actual justice.
3) Holder knows damn well who signed off on this, because this program originated with his knowledge, this is a flat out cover up. In order for it to stay covered up he’s done everything possible to prevent information from coming out, and had his protectors in the legislative bodies use political rhetoric.
American law enforcement agents were killed, hundreds of Mexican civilians were killed with guns walked from the US under this program, international arms trafficking took place, political opportunism started to raise its head, there is currently a cover-up going on, many of the ATF officials involved have been promoted, and there’s been no accountability for any of this. You would think the media would go ballistic on this on principle, after all they worship at the alter of Woodward and Bernstien right? No. In fact they seem mostly uninterested in even mentioning this on their newscasts, even as this has gone from “a botched operation” to a historic contempt of congress vote. Remember: When Democrats do it, it’s historic. When Republicans do it, it’s “unprecedented and dangerous”. This story has been ongoing for about 2 years, and many outlets ended up covering this for the first time, having to catch up to the story when Holder was held in contempt this week.
ABC gave it 30 seconds: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Journalism/2012/06/28/ABC-30-Seconds-on-Holder-Contempt-Full-Segment-on-Airport-Baggage-Auction
IIRC NBC didn’t cover it at all. CBS apparently gave it good coverage and a fair shake.
The clowns at Media Matters have been as predictably ridiculous about this as possible. They’ve gone after a gun-blogger whose blog I’ve read before – with criticisms that are really unfounded. They might as well be called a propaganda arm of this administration.
A final thought:
If a gun maker had walked thousands of guns into Mexico and put them into the hands of merciless Drug Cartels, where those guns were later used to kill American Law Enforcement Officers and hundreds of Mexican civilians, then hid documents from congress and refused to asked questions for 2 years – would this media cover it night and day until something happened?