Fast and Furious: Three Questions Not Asked
Attorney General Eric Holder provided a sixth unsatisfactory performance in front of Congress this past week, dodging questions about the nation's deadly gunrunning scandal.
To date, the media has largely buried the story of the Department of Justice scheme that contributed to the deaths of a federal agent and more than 300 Mexican citizens. Such a story would have held front-page, top-of-the-hour focus until answers were provided and officials had been hounded out of office or imprisoned had it occurred under a Republican administration.
But Barack Obama is a Democrat, and black. Also, Eric Holder is a Democrat, and black. It is inconceivable for the mainstream media to grill the decisions, motives, or goals of black Democrats for fear of being "racist" according to their own definition of the term, which is criticism of a minority member who professes the "correct" political ideology. Radically different rules apply for minority Republicans.
Whether Operation Fast and Furious was a legitimate law enforcement operation, as the Department of Justice claims, or was part of a plot to impose gun control, it was radically different from all other border gun operations in one crucial way. Operation Fast and Furious was the only border gun operation that was undertaken with the full intention of the straw-purchased guns leaving the control of law enforcement officers and reaching the armories of drug cartel murderers. That fact alone should lead to the impeachment or administrative removal of everyone, from field agents to political appointees and elected officials that knew or should have known about the plot.
But that is only half of the horror story.
Operation Fast and Furious was specifically conceived so that "walked" guns would be recovered at crime scenes in Mexico. Their serial numbers would be provided to the ATF by Mexican authorities for tracing. Regardless of motive, the entire operation was premised on weapons being recovered at crime scenes in Mexico, and law enforcement agencies are well aware that criminals primarily abandon weapons only after they've been used in serious felony crimes such as murder or attempted murder.
Operation Fast and Furious was conceived knowing that Mexican nationals would be sacrificed in significant numbers if the tracing operation had any chance of working.
Operation Fast and Furious allowed more than 2,000 weapons to "walk," indicating that those in charge of the operation were willing to let thousands of Mexican nationals die in an effort to identify the ringleaders of a cartel's weapon acquisition team.
The Department of Justice claims that they did this so that they could trace the weapons to higher-ups in the cartels and take down entire gun-smuggling networks. Decent people can disagree on many aspects of crime fighting and the amount of risk we should be willing to absorb to fight crime, but we should all agree that no criminal network is worth sacrificing the lives of hundreds or thousands of victims. Yet that is precisely the way Operation Fast and Furious was designed to work.
The first question is obvious, and yet remains unasked by the media and unanswered by the Obama administration and Department of Justice:
- Who conceived this radical departure from normal law enforcement practices? Who conceived an operation that depended upon the deaths of hundreds or thousands of Mexican nationals for its success?
But as disturbing as the conception of the plot was, it was merely an idea, if one that most would agree is objectively evil in design. It should have died stillborn on the proverbial drawing board. Somehow, this idea was not just allowed, but someone with significant political and operational clout within the Justice Department was able to shepherd this high-risk and inarguably lethal program from idea through planning and budgeting into execution. This strongly suggests high-level sponsorship within the Department of Justice. This demands answers to a second question:
- Which Department of Justice officials saw that Operation Fast and Furious was dependent on hundreds or thousands of firearms being given to the cartels and recovered at the scenes of crimes, knew that the crimes in question were likely to be murders of Mexican nationals or U.S. citizens along the Mexican border where the cartels operate, and approved the operation anyway?
We know that Operation Fast and Furious depended entirely upon hundred or thousands of walked weapons being recovered at crime scenes so that weapons could be traced, and that those crime scenes would almost certainly be murders. We know that such a high-risk, low-reward program could not have been conceived or approved at a local level, and that it must have had high-level sponsorship within Justice. It is reasonable to make the assumption, unless proven otherwise, that such approval could only come from the level of a deputy attorney general or higher.
President Barack Obama is the very definition of a "political creature," vaulting through local and state politics to the U.S. Senate and into the presidency at phenomenal speed. He knows that liabilities are to be relentlessly purged, and he did so repeatedly to separate himself from old allies and even mentors in his 2008 political campaign. Sentimental he is not.
He is also well aware that an ongoing, long-term political scandal is just the kind of public relations nightmare he does not need as he enters his reelection campaign season in earnest. Once the Republican primary battle is over and the stage is set for the general election battle, the political and legal spectacle of Operation Fast and Furious will be brought to the forefront by the Republican challenger or by one of the super PACs. Operation Fast and Furious is a serious and unresolved problem that endangers his second term as seriously as a problematic economy.
Any competent political operative within the Obama campaign would want the scandal surrounding Operation Fast and Furious resolved as quickly as possible to remove it as a weapon against Obama's election. Fair or foul, cutting your losses is how the game is played, and it is miraculous that Attorney General Eric Holder still retains the president's support after the allegations of Operation Fast and Furious and various other scandals that are emerging at precisely the wrong time.
This leads us to a third question:
- Knowing that Operation Fast and Furious could be the political and criminal albatross that drives away moderates and Latino voters and destroys his chances of winning a second term, why does President Obama refuse to appoint a special prosecutor or, at the very least, call for Eric Holder and his direct reports to resign?
Considering the president's close relationship with the attorney general, it is possible that Mr. Obama simply does not want to turn on a friend and political ally. There is also the possibility, however, that Mr. Holder is quite well below the person who approved the operation and was aware of it. Evidence suggests that White House officials may have been briefed on the operation. It is conceivable that the attorney general holds evidence that assures he will not be forced out.
These are intriguing questions, and each demands a thorough explanation.
If the media were interested in some sort of objective view of reality that most non-ideologues could easily confuse with something akin to truth, they would only need to relentlessly seek the answers to these three questions on which a presidency may indeed turn.