Skip to comments.Fast and Furious 'scandal' is a Republican red herring: What we really need are tougher gun laws
Posted on 11/20/2011 5:12:46 PM PST by neverdem
Eric Holder is being blamed for a program that is not his creation
Miller Elisa/Elisa Miller for News
Republicans are roasting AG Eric Holder over an ATF program that precedes him by several years.
Operation Fast and Furious, the attempt to stop gun trafficking into Mexico gone horribly wrong, is now providing political fodder for a Washington game of gotcha that underscores everything wrong with our political system.
In Fast and Furious, federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents allowed guns illegally purchased at American gun shops by Mexican gun-runners to be taken back to Mexico, with the hope that the low-level buyers would lead ATF agents to trafficking kingpins.
But this initiative, which was identical to one launched under the Bush administration, spiraled out of control, with ATF agents losing track of the guns as soon as they crossed the border. Two of the weapons were later recovered at the scene of the December 2010 murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.
Yes, this operation was ill-conceived. Americans who are outraged at Terrys death rightly want to know whether it has been scrapped and whether Attorney General Eric Holder, who oversees ATF, is aggressively investigating Fast and Furious. I can report that the answer to both of those questions is a resounding yes.
But for Republican congressional leaders, one botched operation is not enough to serve their political goals. They need a scandal and are desperate to create one.
In testimony in May before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on which I sit, Holder said he learned about Operation Fast and Furious several weeks earlier. He had ordered the Justice Departments inspector general to investigate it and made clear that the tactics used in the program would not be tolerated. But in subsequent weeks, Republicans produced documents sent to the AGs office the prior year containing references to the operation. So a scandal was born.
As with all Washington scandals, one must look behind the allegations. Holder explained that some of the weekly reports reviewed by his staff did occasionally mention Fast and Furious, though none of the documents (which he provided to the committee) gave any indication of controversial tactics or that these had gone wrong. Multiple officials from Justice and ATF testified they didnt know about illegal guns flowing to Mexico, either.
(Page 2 of 2) Of course, Republicans quickly alleged that there had been a coverup. The head of the National Rifle Association called it the biggest coverup since Watergate, while a Republican congressman said that top Justice officials were accessories to murder.
But this is pure politics. After all, House Republicans have yet to haul before Congress former AG Alberto Gonzales, even though the controversial tactics used in Fast and Furious began under his watch. According to recent media reports, another Bush-era AG, Michael Mukasey, received a detailed Fast and Furious briefing in 2007. But only Holder took decisive action in response to these dangerous tactics.
This political sideshow is obscuring a vital issue: the ongoing violence in Mexico, which has claimed the lives of at least 35,000 people since 2006 and is fueled, in large part, by illegal weapons smuggled in from the U.S. According to Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Mexico has seized approximately 100,000 guns in the last four years; 84% of them originated in America.
Straw purchases, in which low-level operatives buy guns on behalf of others (the practice targeted in Fast and Furious), are one of the primary methods traffickers use to obtain weapons, often 10 or 20 at a time. These purchases are made possible by lax gun laws in the U.S. laws supported by most of my Republican colleagues.
This is an actual scandal. Yet at a hearing this spring, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) tried to prevent me from asking an ATF agent whether current criminal penalties are so weak that federal prosecutors are discouraged from pursuing cases involving straw purchasers. I asked the question; the agent agreed that our weak gun laws are, in fact, helping funnel weapons into Mexico.
My GOP colleagues have done little to help law enforcement counter this vast criminal enterprise. A bill I introduced this summer to prohibit firearms trafficking and increase penalties for straw purchasers currently has zero Republican co-sponsors.
In a June 3 video released by Al Qaeda, a spokesman urges would-be jihadists to obtain guns in the U.S., saying: This is a golden opportunity. America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. Given the ongoing violence on our border and the glaring loopholes in our gun trafficking laws, its time for Congress to drop its witch hunts and get serious. We cannot continue allowing weapons to end up in the wrong hands.
Maloney, a Democratic congresswoman, represents parts of Manhattan and Queens.
like my grandchild - who with an honest, chocolate-covered face, can tell me “No Pa-Pa I did not eat the pudding”, the Dems when caught proclaim - “well we need more gun laws”.
Tougher gun laws will cause our federal law enforcement agencies to obey the laws they were already breaking?
The greatest foley is thier ability to be void of any resposibility what so ever.
Logic has no place in this administration or the democRAT party.
We have tough laws regulating gun dealers up the wazoo and Caroline Maloney completely ignores the fact one more law would in no way end the black market trafficking in guns. We have 30,000 gun control laws on the books in this country and they’re all ineffective. One more law isn’t going to give them real teeth.
ROT IN HE’LL MALONEY!!!
I watched this silly woman(no sexism I am a woman) talking on c-span this week-end when they had a committee metting regarding the nation wide concealed carry bill. She really, really showed her ignorance. She was just babbling on and on about nonsense. I really is sad such ignorant people can be elected. I mean she made NO sense. It was embaressing watching her.
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Decisive action??? Well yeah, if you call "Duck, deflect and dissemble" decisive action. Holder is pond scum.
He's covering up something. I'd bring him in for interrogation. Or, hand him over to the Mexicans.
Gee. A moonbat, northeastern liberal hag Democrat from New York rationalizes everything the administration does and explains it isn’t their fault, someone else did it first and they had the best intentions.
Could’a knocked me over with a feather there.
The ATF ignored the very laws it was supposed to enforce. Maloney should have been led if anything to the opposite conclusion: its time to abolish this corrupt and useless agency and put it out of business for good. Hey, let’s make life harder for America’s gun dealers even though they didn’t run a single gun down to Mexico!
Remember how the Democrats tried to conjure "scandals" out of thin air during the George W. Bush administration--notably "Plamegate" which they hoped to use to destroy Vice President Cheney.
Carolyn Baloney either did not bother to research this piece or is a deliberate liar.
Yep, and it appears the FBI and State Dept were also complicit.
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