Operation Fast and Furious: The Scandal that Can No Longer be Denied

by ROGER ARONOFF September 30, 2011
 
The usual truism is that many politicians make the mistake of not coming completely clean when allegations of wrongdoing surface. The cover-up, it is said, is often worse than the underlying crime or ethical violation. This has often been cited as the mistake made by people including Richard Nixon (Watergate break-in), Bill Clinton (Lewinsky, not to mention Filegate and Travelgate), and John Edwards (love child and cheating on his cancer-stricken wife). More recently, Anthony Weiner. There is a long list.
 
But in some cases, the crime, or lapse in judgment, is definitely worse than the cover-up. That appears to be the case in a simmering scandal engulfing the Obama administration that the mainstream media have tried their best to ignore for many months. It is known as Operation Fast and Furious.
 
It involves the Obama Justice Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). It involves some 1,500 guns, about 1,000 of which ended up in Mexico, and a Border agent, Brian Terry, who was murdered with weapons found near the scene of the crime in Arizona. The weapons were among 57 linked to Fast and Furious which have been tied to at least 11 violent crimes in the U.S., including the Terry murder. The Justice Department, while largely stonewalling, has admitted this much to Congress, as reported by The Los Angeles Times. In addition, at least 200 people have been killed or wounded in Mexico with weapons linked to the operation.
 
There has been some reporting on the incident in the mainstream press, but not much. Congressional hearings have taken place under the chairmanship of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA). Charles Grassley has led the way in the Senate. But they have mostly been met by a stonewalling Justice Department.
 
There has been some good reporting by Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News, and Brian Ross of ABC News. Fox News has been all over the story, and Sean Hannity had a one-hour special back in July devoted to this emerging scandal. Others in the conservative media have done an excellent job, including Pajamas Media, Michelle Malkin, Andy McCarthy of National Review Online, American Thinker, WorldNetDaily, the Heritage Foundation and Andrew Breitbart through his many platforms, among others. This has perhaps been why the mainstream media have largely ignored the story. Even when they have reported it, they have gone to great lengths to be sure that it didn’t implicate President Obama, much less his Attorney General Eric Holder, for anything other than being out of the loop.  
 
But that may have ended with recent revelations that the federal government apparently purchased weapons and sold them directly to criminals in Mexico. As Michael Walsh of the New York Post wrote, “the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives apparently ordered one of its own agents to purchase firearms with taxpayer money, and sell them directly to a Mexican drug cartel. Let that sink in: After months of pretending that ‘Fast and Furious’ was a botched surveillance operation of illegal gun-running spearheaded by the ATF and the US Attorney’s office in Phoenix, it turns out that the government itself was selling guns to the bad guys.”
 
This revelation may prove to be the game changer, and force the Obama administration to turn this over to an independent counsel.
 
Last night the story gained critical mass in the establishment media. CNN decided it can no longer duck and cover, and shield the Obama administration from a scandal that has the potential to make Whitewater and Watergate pale by comparison. Anderson Cooper deserves a lot of credit for putting this story together. In a long overdue report that I urge you to watch, he detailed much of what is known so far, including comments from Rep. Issa talking about the stonewalling he has met from the Justice Department, and from Sheriff Paul Babeu of Pinal County in Arizona, who talked about the betrayal and potential criminal activity perpetrated by U.S. government officials.  
 
Cooper’s reporter on this story, Drew Griffin, tried to explain a possible motive for Fast and Furious. He said that “the operation makes no sense.” So in attempting to explain it, he invoked the usual bogeymen. “So what's the real purpose?,” asked Griffin. “The lack of sense, the apparent cover-up has opened the door now for these conspiracy theorists. And you got to follow this. They believe this was part of a convoluted plan for the Obama administration and the attorney general to actually increase the level of violence on the Mexican border with assault weapons purchased in the U.S. in an apparent attempt to rekindle interest in an assault weapons ban. As wacky as that may sound, I must tell you that theory is gaining traction, not just among the second amendment crowd, because this operation makes no other sense.
 
Griffin is correct that such theories are out there. But until some independent entity can get to the bottom of this, hopefully with the cooperation of the Obama administration rather than the stonewalling and obstruction that has characterized their response up to now, the reasons for the operation might remain theoretical. Let’s see if the cover-up proves worse than the crimes.
 
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Roger Aronoff is a media analyst with Accuracy in Media, and is the writer/director of the award-winning documentary "Confronting Iraq: Conflict and Hope." He can be contacted at roger.aronoff@aim.org.
 

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