During this “Constitutional Crisis” it’s worth recalling a similar episode a decade ago when the U.S. Government sold 2,000 guns to Mexican drug cartels in a project known as Fast and Furious. We still don’t know why.
While current U.S. Attorney General William Barr is threatened with contempt of Congress for not delivering the total unredacted Mueller report, Attorney General Eric Holder was found in contempt of Congress in 2012 for withholding the far greater number of documents explaining Fast & Furious, which forced gun dealers to sell to well-known criminals in the employ of the drug cartels. The alleged aim was to track the weapons to the big bosses. But that was not done, and it didn’t make much sense in the first place.
The result was U.S. weapons adding to Mexican victims as the cartels carried on their usual slaughter. In one case, a group of hit men mindlessly attacked a teenage birthday party in Juarez, then the “murder capital of the world,” killing 14 young partygoers, wounding twelve. Among the weapons found afterwards were ones belonging to Fast and Furious. Yet, as long as Mexicans were dying, no one seemed to notice. But when a U.S. Border Agent, Brian Terry, was killed in 2010 with a Fast and Furious weapon, there was sudden outrage. What was going on?
The hapless ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) management responsible for this crisis seemed mainly intent on shifting blame, and indeed it headed up the ladder to the Obama White House. That brought Holder before Congress who had little to say. There was an effort to impugn the gun dealers in Arizona who said they would have lost their licenses if they had not done as ATF ordered. One of them, Andre Howard, felt he had been betrayed. After I had interviewed him, he warned: “Be careful.” I thought he would add “of the cartels.” No, “of Holder. His guys are everywhere.” In other words, get your priorities straight as far as power is concerned.
Since the reasons for F&F have been suppressed, theories have sprouted. One is that the administration wanted to show that American guns contribute to the Mexican violence and therefore should be better controlled. But since the government supplied the guns, the lesson is lost. Another theorizes that the government wanted to aid the powerful Sinaloa cartel to take down more dangerous rivals. If so, this simply fractured the cartels leading to still more violence. There’s also a suspicion that drug money went into the Obama Presidential campaign, and the weapons were payback.
Where was the media in all this? Absent as usual with the notable exception of CBS investigative reporter Sheryl Attkisson, who insisted on pursuing the story despite the obstacles thrown in her way – near hysterical rantings from the White House along with technological torture worthy of Dante (“The Inferno”) if he were around. Eruptions day and night in her computers, data erased even as she was watching, classified info inserted to make a possible criminal case. The Deep State was very busy. Eventually, CBS succumbed to the pressure. Attkisson went off to write a book about her experiences, “Stonewalled” and now has a Sunday TV show “Full Measure.”
With the Deep State under fire and in at least partial retreat, it may be time to take full measure of Fast and Furious. I for one voted both times for Obama for President. That said, it’s a scandal that shouldn’t stand.