Three Key 'Fast and Furious' Questions Still Unanswered
The congressional investigations into the gunwalking plot known as Operation Fast and Furious largely faded from the public eye over the past month, yet there is a growing conviction among legislators of both parties that a grueling political battle is ahead.
Those determined to uncover the truth behind Fast and Furious are being opposed by Democratic congressmen and Obama administration officials such as Deputy Attorney General James Cole. Cole has objected to the House Oversight Committee's investigation and the actions of Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa. His recent combative letter to Issa received sympathetic coverage at progressive site TPMMuckraker:
Rep. Darrell Issa's drive to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt is "unwarranted," "unprecedented" and "ill-advised," a top Justice Department official said in a letter to the California Republican, who is chair of the House Oversight Committee, on Tuesday.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole also wrote that the committee's "core questions" on the flawed gun trafficking operation known as Fast and Furious "have been answered."
Cole suggested that the lack of documents showing high-level discussions about the tactics used in Fast and Furious show the problem grew out of offices in Arizona and that top Obama administration were not aware that ATF agents were telling gun shop dealers to sell large quantities of weapons to individuals they suspected were "straw purchasers" for Mexican drug cartels.
"Far from reflecting a 'cover-up,' as some have claimed, the lack of documents makes clear that these tactics had their origin in the field in Arizona and not among Department leaders in Washington," Cole wrote.
Cole's assertions would be laughable, were it not for the hundreds of bodies linked to Fast and Furious weapons and their almost certain role in a recent spike in violence in northern Mexico that has resulted in bodies turning up by the dozens.
The deputy attorney general -- who is also suspected of having a role in the plot -- is correct when he claims the congressional investigation is "unprecedented." Never in American history has an administration stood accused of facilitating the smuggling of thousands of weapons in an attempt to generate murders as propaganda for undermining the constitutional rights of Americans.
Multiple Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents have testified under oath that the explicit intent of the operation was to have guns purchased by straw purchasers be smuggled over the border and recovered at Mexican crime scenes. The entire plot hinged upon Mexican citizens being killed with walked guns. As one supervisor said to an agent complaining about the deaths that would occur: "If you're going to make an omelette, you've got to break some eggs."
Cole did not try to refute these facts: he simply lied in stating that "core questions" about Fast and Furious "have been answered." More than 18 months after Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was gunned down by a cartel "rip team" led by an FBI informant, the Department of Justice has refused to answer the three most basic questions about the gun-walking plot:
- Who conceived this radical departure from normal law enforcement practices? Who conceived an operation requiring the deaths of hundreds or thousands of Mexican nationals for its success?
- Which Department of Justice officials saw that Operation Fast and Furious needed hundreds or thousands of firearms to be 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?
- 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 to call for Eric Holder and his direct reports to resign?
We don't know who came up with this obviously dangerous and illegal scheme that relied upon the murders of allied foreign citizens to function. Who conceived it? We know that such a high-risk operation would never be conceived of or executed by low-level bureaucrats, as it required coordination across four cabinet-level departments and at least a half-dozen federal law enforcement agencies. Who approved it?
The most damning question may be the most revealing: why won't President Obama appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate Fast and Furious? Secret Service agents (and now DEA agents) that were "serviced" by Colombian hookers were investigated and terminated in weeks. Are we to believe that the DOJ Inspector General's Office cannot conclude their Fast and Furious investigation in more than a year and five months? That a coverup is in effect within the Obama administration is obvious to all but the most incredulous Democratic allies of the president and a complicit media.
Perhaps the tide is turning against the Obama administration's coverup, with Attorney General Eric Holder first on the firing line:
The embattled attorney general is losing support. On Wednesday, 142 Democrats joined with 239 Republicans in approving an amendment to the Justice Department budget prohibiting the use of funds for the purpose of lying to Congress. The vote could be Democrats’ way of signaling they, too, are tired of Team Obama’s stonewalling over Fast and Furious.
Speaker of the House John Boehner has now stepped forward to pressure President Obama to force Holder to stop stonewalling the investigations.
Despite hopes that the scandal would fade, Fast and Furious seems primed to become a separation of powers battle that may peak at the worst possible time during Obama's reelection campaign.
Image courtesy shutterstock and jörg röse-oberreich