Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fast And Furious

How depraved is the Obama administration?  Look no further than the Fast and Furious program:

"When did you first know about the program, officially called, I believe, 'Fast and Furious'?" That question was asked of Attorney General Eric Holder in congressional testimony on May 3, 2011. Fast and Furious was an effort of the Arizona branch of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to allow the straw purchase of American weapons that would then be transferred to Mexican drug cartels with the supposed purpose of tracking those weapons and taking down those cartels. The plan has been an unmitigated disaster, costing the lives of two American agents and possibly hundreds of Mexicans. Inquiring minds want to know why.

Holder answered that question in May, saying, "I'm not sure of the exact date but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks." Later he told reporters, "The notion that this reaches into the upper levels of the Justice Department is something that at this point I don't think is supported by the facts and I think once we examine it and once the facts are revealed we'll see that's not the case."

The truth is that Holder was first briefed on the operation in July 2010. When CBS News asked about this discrepancy, "The Justice Department told CBS News that the officials in those emails were talking about a different case started before Eric Holder became Attorney General. And tonight they tell CBS News, Holder misunderstood that question from the committee -- he did know about Fast and Furious -- just not the details." Also, he doesn't always read his memos. Why he lied to reporters was left unanswered.
A July 5, 2010, memo to Holder specifically notes the "1,500 firearms that were then supplied to Mexican drug trafficking cartels." Holder didn't find that -- or four other similar memos -- worthy of his attention? Please. In fact, it appears that Holder perjured himself, and Justice is covering for him. Furthermore, last week's Friday evening news dump revealed that there was extensive communication between the White House and the ATF on the matter. Maybe that's why Barack Obama said Thursday that he has "complete confidence" in Holder.

The administration is circling the wagons, as well. CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson claims that she took significant heat from Justice for daring to inquire. She said the White House and Justice Department "will tell you that I'm the only reporter -- they told me -- that is not reasonable. They say the Washington Post, the LA Times is reasonable, the New York Times is reasonable. I'm the only one who thinks this is a story, and they think I'm unfair and biased by pursuing it." Not only that, but Attkisson also said that when she asked questions, "The DoJ woman was just yelling at me. The guy from the White House on Friday night literally screamed at me and cussed at me."

The "other case" that Justice mentioned to CBS in passing was evidently a Bush administration effort called Operation Wide Receiver. Like Fast and Furious, Wide Receiver was indeed an operation to track smuggled guns headed to Mexico. The difference is that Wide Receiver failed on a technical level, whereas Fast and Furious seems to have been intentionally criminal. Once Wide Receiver efforts to actually track and stop them failed, the operation was canceled. Altogether 450 guns ended up in Mexico. In Fast and Furious, however, agents deliberately continued running more than 2,000 guns into Mexico -- that was the plan, not a failure of tracking. The administration's intent in Arizona, as well as Tampa, Indiana, Dallas, Houston and elsewhere, seems to have been bolstering the false claim that 90 percent of guns recovered in Mexico are American and, therefore, we need tougher gun laws.
The idea that they were going to take down Mexican drug cartels seems less likely to me than the suggestion that I've heard in more than one corner: they were trying to push the 2nd amendment issue and force even more gun regulations onto the American people.

Regardless of the true intention (which we'll probably never know unless some more documentation comes to light), among the various efforts to cover up and hide what went on and who knew what is this:

CBS News investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson -- who's been covering the scandal from the beginning -- says in an interview on the Laura Ingraham Show today that the White House and Justice Department have taken to screaming at her for reporting on the story. You can listen to the full interview below, but here are the key excerpts from Attkisson:
In between the yelling that I received from Justice Department yesterday, the spokeswoman--who would not put anything in writing, I was asking for her explanation so there would be clarity and no confusion later over what had been said, she wouldn't put anything in writing--so we talked on the phone and she said things such as the question Holder answered was different than the one he asked. But he phrased it, he said very explicitly, 'I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.'
Ingraham: So they were literally screaming at you?
Attkisson: Yes. Well the DOJ woman was just yelling at me. The guy from the White House on Friday night literally screamed at me and cussed at me. [Laura: Who was the person? Who was the person at Justice screaming?] Eric Schultz. Oh, the person screaming was [DOJ spokeswoman] Tracy Schmaler, she was yelling not screaming. And the person who screamed at me was Eric Schultz at the White House."

What the heck??  I thought this administration was supposed to set new standards for openness and transparency...!

Now there is (well deserved) pressure on Holder to own the debacle, including calls for his resignation.  Some are even saying that those responsible are accessories to murder.  At the very least, it's hard to argue with the idea that the administration has shown “an intentional, wanton disregard for the law.”

On top of all of that, though, perhaps the most astounding thing about Fast and Furious is that the administration -- meaning, Barack Obama -- is steadfastly refusing to take responsibility for any of it:

Jake Tapper interrupted the repetitive and dull conference with the live-wire question that should have been uppermost in the minds of all the reporters in the room.

“As you’re watching the Solyndra and Fast and Furious controversies play out, I wonder if it gives you any pause about any of the decision-making going on in your administration,” Tapper said. “Are you worried at all about how your administration is running?”

Shorter BHO answer: “No. It’s my administration, so why would I be worried about it?”

What he actually said was this:
With respect to Solyndra and Fast and Furious, I’ve been very clear that I have complete confidence in Attorney General Holder and how he holds his office. He has been very aggressive in going after gun-running and cash transactions that are going to these transnational drug cartels in Mexico. There’s been a lot of cooperation between Mexico and the United States on this front. He’s indicated that he was not aware of what was happening in Fast and Furious. Certainly, I was not, and I think both he and I would have been very unhappy if someone had suggested that guns were allowed to pass through that could have been prevented by the United States of America. He has assigned an inspector general to look into how this has happened and I have complete confidence in him and I’ve got complete confidence in the process to figure out who exactly was responsible for that decision and how it got made.
Solyndra — this is a loan-guarantee program that predates me and historically has support from Democrats and Republicans, as well. It’s a pretty straightforward idea: If we are going to be able to compete in the 21st century, then we’ve got to dominate cutting-edge technologies, we’ve got to dominate cutting-edge manufacturing. Clean energy is part of that package of technologies of the future that have to be based here in the United States if we’re going to be able to succeed. … We knew from the start that the loan-guarantee program was going to entail some risk. If it was a risk-free proposition, then we wouldn’t have to worry about it. … There were going to be some companies that did not work out — Solyndra was one of them — but the process by which the decision was made was on the merits. It was straightforward, and of course there were going to be debates internally when you’re dealing with something as complicated as this, but I have confidence that the decisions were made based on what would be good for the American people and the American economy.
His answer speaks for itself: The president is unwilling to take responsibility for any problem in the nation right now even those confined completely to his administration.
I have the feeling that we haven't heard the last of Fast and Furious.  Despite the reality of this all coming back to Obama himself, I'm guessing Holder's time as AG is limited.  Someone will have to take the fall for this, and it's not going to be the President.  My hope is that whoever the GOP candidate is will hammer away at this and force Obama to answer why he is either so incompetent that he let this go on under his nose, or explicitly allowed something like this to happen.

If only...

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