The early comments regarding Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on Operation Fast and Furious reveal a media both ignorant of the case and eager to defend the Obama administration.
David Ingram of Reuters: “[The report] cleared Attorney General Eric Holder of any wrongdoing. … Screw-ups of ‘systemic’ scope that risked public safety but no cover-up.”
The right-wing media’s conspiracy theory that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Operation Fast and Furious was hatched as a nefarious plot by the Obama administration to impose draconian gun control upon the United States has been debunked by an independent investigation into the failed gun trafficking sting.
Both reactions dishonestly reflect the contents of the 483-page report. It neither clears Attorney General Eri Holder or any of his subordinates of possible criminal action nor addresses possible synchronicity between the gunrunning plot and the desires of key cabinet-level officials to enact gun-control measures.
The report actually spends just 194 pages discussing Operation Fast and Furious itself, after spending considerable time exonerating Bush-era officials from Democratic and Obama administration claims that they ran a similar operation.
What Inspector General Horowitz’s report does not discuss is perhaps more telling than what it shares. Horowitz does not address:
- strong evidence of the existence of other gunwalking operations that happened in parallel with Operation Fast and Furious, including a Texas-based ATF gun-walking operation which supplied weapons used in the ambush of ICE Agents Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila;
- documents showing the existence of an ATF gunwalking operation in Indiana that provided weapons to fuel Chicago’s gang wars, dubbed “Gangwalker”;
- evidence of a parallel State Department program that sent guns to the Zetas drug cartel.
Horowitz doesn’t debunk or refute allegations of these parallel programs. His report expresses no interest in the well-documented parallel operations concurrently run by other elements of the Obama administration.
The Foreign Military Sales program (run by the Defense Department) and the Direct Commercial Sales program (administered by the State Department) provided tens of thousands of weapons to the cartels by providing them to known corrupt state and non-state actors. The latter program saw roughly 25% of the guns diverted to the cartels. The Obama administration responded by dramatically increasing sales to Mexico, to the point that by 2009 we were providing more weaponry to Mexico than we were providing to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Critics of the administration made it clear that these various programs may offer evidence of a widespread desire within the Obama administration to arm criminals using multiple cabinet-level departments. They supplied thousands of weapons to the cartels, perhaps more than enough to arm a U.S. Army division.
Horowitz also glossed over evidence that ATF “targets” of Fast and Furious were FBI informants and DEA moles. The reported ATF justification for sending thousands of weapons to the cartels was to find out who the higher-ups in the organization were that ordering the weapons. Yet the men ordering the weapons were already DOJ intelligence assets, completely undermining the official justification for the gunwalking. This is a major point of conflict, and one that strongly suggests that the alleged purpose of the gunwalking was a poorly contrived cover story.
Horowitz also does not attempt to ask any of the ATF/DEA/FBI/DOJ agents, supervisors, and management familiar with the gun-walking program why any of them thought that senior cartel officials would partake in a task as mundane as weapons acquisition. This is a foundational question which anyone honestly dealing with the scandal would ask.
The executive staffs of legal billion-dollar enterprises do not waste their time personally ordering toner and copy paper and personal computers for their employees, and the leaders of billion-dollar drug cartels are likewise engaged in more pressing matters of policy, alignment, and strategy. No rational person would expect the inner circle of drug cartels to be involved in something as basic as acquiring small batches of weapons from U.S. civilian gun dealers — especially when more powerful military-grade weapons could be imported for far less cost along their existing smuggling routes.
Asking the question would undermine the Department of Justice’s paper-thin justification for purposely walking thousands of weapons over the border. Horowitz simply did not desire to seek the truth.
Other news outlets will offer far more on this whitewash report, noting that Horowitz’s report does not remotely clear Attorney General Holder or other DOJ officials of perjury, nor address the possible criminal violations committed by these gun-walking operations — including felony violations of the Arms Export Control Act, the Kingpin Act, and possible RICO violations.
Horowitz refuses to address the possible criminality of Obama administration officials at all.
Inspector General Horowitz has accomplished precisely one thing with his long-delayed report: further establish that the only way to get to the bottom of this bloody scandal that has cost 300 or more lives so far is a criminal investigation conducted by an independent prosecutor.