I can not begin to explain how patently deceptive that statement is. Yes, most of America probably has no idea why the President invoked executive privilege with all the casual breeziness of a Justin Bieber invocation of “baby” nor why the House responded with an invitation to meet them in court. It’s also true that Brian Williams is a big reason for our national ignorance.
Contempt charges do not simply appear out of thin air. Usually, people have to die before Congress pulls that trigger, no pun intended, and a Presidential administration has to button up completely because of it. That’s why no Cabinet official has been found in contempt since Janet Reno and even she wasn’t found in contempt by the full House. Eric Holder almost certainly will be unless he comes clean about Operation Fast and Furious.
The story of the operation and the hundreds of corpses left in its wake ought to be a national scandal. The media mavens, who so love a juicy scandal, should be talking about it the way they talk about Watergate and Iran Contra. They aren’t and that, folks, is another scandal altogether. I have an idea or two about why brigade of Certified Real Reporters shamed so badly on this story by the new media have been so quiet, but first I want to lay out a few facts about that operation, in case you are like those faithful viewers of NBC who have never heard of it.
Here is how it worked. In 2006, federal agents launched an interdiction effort called Project Gunrunner, designed to stem the flow of illegal guns to the violent Mexican drug cartels that were raising holy heck there. The first significant Gunrunner operation, called Wide Receiver, had a pretty simple operational plan. Gun store owners, under the ATF’s direction, would sell weapons to people known as straw purchasers who would then give them to their intended recipients — usually members of one of the drug cartels that have Mexico in complete chaos. The ATF was supposed to keep the weapons under surveillance until they crossed into Mexico where Mexican law enforcement would make the arrest. Wide Receiver, which involved 450 guns, failed because law enforcement here and in Mexico failed to track the guns competently. In short, the good guys lost track of some of the guns, which ended up in the hands of the bad guys. Obviously, this was not a good thing, so the Bush administration shut down the operation in 2007. As of today, fewer than a dozen people are in jail because of it.
The ATF tried a smaller version of Wide Receiver in 2007, which involved about 200 guns and lasted for less than a month. They shut that operation down after Mexican officials lost track of the suspects inside Mexico.
So, we had two attempts at Gunrunner and two failures. Then the Obama administration took over. The new people in charge reviewed Wide Receiver in September 2009 and, a month later, decided to try an operation of its own that would look similar to Wide Receiver, but have fundamental difference. The new operation, called Fast and Furious, would launch out of the same Phoenix, AZ division office and would also rely on straw purchases. As with Wide Receiver, ATF agents knew which straw purchasers were involved, what guns they purchased, and often time to whom the guns would be given. What would be different with this operation is that the “gun walking” would be intentional, not accidental. The ATF agents would simply let the straw purchasers take the guns into Mexico and give them to whomever they pleased without supervision from either US or Mexican authorities. Later, when the guns showed up at crime scenes, or in the hands of people arrested by the police, they’d know who was getting the guns and what they were doing with them. If that sounds a bit…reckless…to you then you’re certainly not alone. Several ATF agents thought the same thing and said as much to their superiors. Their protests were swatted aside as handily as Bryce Harper swats lazy curve balls into the cheap seats.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Justice Department officiants who devised the operation and the person or people who approved it didn’t say a word to the Mexican government about it. Indeed the whole debacle came as a complete surprise to the ATF’s attache in Mexico City, Darren Gil, who was beyond livid when he found out. And, to top of the whole Sundae of Failure with a special Incompetence Cherry, the ATF gave most of the guns to one of the two largest drug gangs in the country — the Sinaloa cartel. The Sinaloas were in open war against their rivals, the Zetas, and both were at war to one degree or another with the Mexican government.
So. Let’s review the Obama administration’s Underpants Gnome theory of law enforcement.
- Let guns walk to violent drug cartel members in Mexico without alerting the Mexican government and without tracking their movements in the hopes that they’ll show up at arrest or crime scenes so we know who is using them and for what.
Between November 2009 and January 2011, when the Obama administration ended the operation, roughly 2,000 guns moved from Arizona into Mexico. Using those guns, the cartel murdered approximately 300 people, one of whom was an American law enforcement officer named Brian Terry. Terry was on duty when he was ambushed and murdered. Shortly after the Department of Justice learned that weapons used to kill Terry were from Operation Fast and Furious, it shut things down. Since the operation began, law enforcement has recovered slightly more than 600 of the weapons — assault rifles, pistols, and a few Barrett .50 sniper rifles.
Weapons from the operation have shown up at several heinous murder scenes including the torture and murder of the brother of a high-profile Mexican prosecutor. A sniper rifle from the operation was used to shoot-down a Mexican military helicopter. Mexican officials say that Fast and Furious weapons have shown up at some 200 crime scenes and there are still plenty of them out there.
Oh, did I mention that the Justice Department hasn’t put a single targeted member of the cartel in jail? Nope. They napped a bunch of the straw purchasers, including one homeless guy on food stamps. No cartel heads. No lieutenants. You might wonder why that is, but before you think too hard about it, go back to the part where the Obama administration didn’t let the government of the nation where all the drug cartel members live know about the operation.
So what’s been done about this? So far, we’ve seen very little from the administration. No one in charge has been punished. No heads have rolled. A bunch of people who were involved in Fast and Furious in Arizona ended up with transfers back to cushy office jobs in Washington. The ATF did fire one guy who happened to be one of the main whistleblowers. Other field agents who spoke up about the operation were transferred to worse assignments and ostracized by command.
Congress has been involved in the story since the beginning of 2011, when Rep. Darrell Issa (R – Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R – IA) launched official investigations from their respective committees (Issa as Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and Grassley as the ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee). Attorney General Eric Holder has testified in front of Issa’s committee twice, during which he made a statement or two that didn’t seem right. So Issa’s committee asked for more documents from the Department of Justice, related to the things Holder said that were, to put it charitably, creative. They haven’t gotten most of those documents despite repeated requests.
That brings us to today’s contempt vote. Holder has refused to answer the lawful subpoena from the Oversight Committee about a DoJ operation over which he had authority that directly led to over 300 murders. To date, he has professed almost perfect ignorance of Fast and Furious and a surprising level of callousness toward the family of Brian Terry.
Which brings us back to Brian Williams and his media pals. Thus far, few MSM outlets have said much at all about Fast and Furious. Only a handful of people, precious few of whom are full-time reporters with a mainstream news outlet, have done any real work on the story: Katie Pavlich of TownHall, Mary Chastain of Breitbart.com, Matthew Boyle of The Daily Caller, bloggers David Codrea and Mike Vanderboegh, Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News, and Richard Serrano of the Los Angeles Times. That’s it. On the other hand, Certified Real Reporter Juan Williams has not only refused to look into this news story but has gone out of his way to excuse the administration. NBC News, Brian Williams’ employer, has mentioned Fast and Furious exactly once before today’s events and Politico can’t be bothered to get the basic facts of the story correct. You could chalk that up to plain vanilla media bias or the near-Godlike esteem with which our MSM holds the current occupant of the White House. Or you could work your ways toward a more sinister, but very plausible, reason.
Regardless of the reason, the Certified Real Reporters to whom we bestow special privileges just so they can dig into instances of government wrongdoing have failed us all. Brian Williams ought to hang his head in shame for what he said tonight along with Certified Real Reporter Juan Williams and every other member of the MSM who have abdicated their responsibilities as truth-tellers, disrespected the Fast and Furious dead, and joined the ranks of the shame brigade.