Operation Fast and Furious: Obama partisans seem to think any given example of abuse or ineptitude by their man stopped being a “scandal” the moment it seemed clear he wouldn’t be impeached over it. Operation Fast and Furious, the Obama administration’s insane program to use American gun dealers and straw purchasers to arm Mexican drug lords, is a scandal with a huge body count, prominently including Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jamie Zapata, plus hundreds of Mexican citizens. Agent Terry’s family certainly thinks it qualifies as a scandal.
It is difficult to imagine any Republican administration surviving anything remotely close to Fast and Furious. The media would have dogged a Republican president without respite, especially when it became clear his Attorney General was putting political spin ahead of accountability and the safety of the American people. Remember, AG Eric Holder escaped perjury charges by claiming he didn’t know what his own subordinates were doing – a pioneering, but sadly not unique, example of an Obama official using his or her incompetence as a defense. For years afterward, we would hear some version of “I’m not a crook, I’m just completely inept” everywhere from the Department of Health and Human Services to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
But this was Barack Obama, so the media downplayed Fast and Furious news… to the point where viewers of NBC News learned about the scandal for the first time when Holder was on the verge of being held in contempt by Congress for it.
The relatively benign explanation for the astounding Fast and Furious scandal is that Obama’s Justice Department wanted to release guns into the Mexican wild, like so many radio-tagged antelope on a nature show, and follow them to arrest the big fish of organized crime. (In case you were wondering, no, the guns didn’t actually have radio tags in them – that was tried in the much smaller, and utterly disastrous, Bush-era program Obama’s team used as a model for their vastly larger and more careless program.) This explanation becomes more difficult to believe, the more you know about how careless the program was, and how abruptly it was shut down after Agent Terry’s death.
The more sinister take on Fast and Furious is that the Obama administration wanted to create gun crimes in Mexico so they could complain about lax regulations on American gun sales – “for the purposes of creating a narrative that they could use in America to try and thwart our Second Amendment constitutional rights,” as Andrew Breitbart put itduring a 2012 interview.
No matter which interpretation you subscribe to, or how much you think Barack Obama knew about the program when he made scurrilous claims of executive privilege to shut down investigations, it’s an insult to a large number of murder victims to claim it wasn’t a scandal. Unfortunately, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives hasn’t learned as much from the OFF debacle as we might have hoped.
Incidentally, the Border Patrol named a station in southern Arizona in Agent Brian Terry’s honor. On New Year’s Eve, persons unknown fired rifle shots at a Border Patrol vehicle near the station.