David Limbaugh Column: Katie Pavlich's 'Fast and Furious'
Of all the myriad scandals of the Obama administration, there is one, largely ignored by the mainstream media, that could actually be its worst.
That scandal is the operation run from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the Justice Department, known as "Fast and Furious," through which the federal government actually encouraged and even ordered American gun shops to sell guns — against the store owners' better judgment — to "straw" purchasers who were funneling guns to Mexican drug gangs while the ATF sat back and watched and did nothing.
As Katie Pavlich shows in her remarkable and eye-opening new book, "Fast and Furious: Barack Obama's Bloodiest Scandal and Its Shameless Cover-Up," the whole scheme was either absolutely harebrained or, as some have more ominously theorized, intentionally designed to manufacture "evidence" for tightening gun control legislation.
Pavlich exposes how extreme gun control measures have been a top political goal for President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and other important leaders within the administration — and she draws the lines that link this goal directly to the implementation of Fast and Furious. Just as importantly, she shows how the administration has shamelessly tried to obscure those links.
The operation resulted in the murder of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and the murder or wounding of some 200 Mexican citizens.
In the operation, there was no attempt to track the weapons sold, and some agents who tried to follow the purchasers were told to stand down. Not only that, but our government kept Mexican authorities wholly in the dark about the operation. Allowing these guns to "walk" into Mexico without surveillance and behind the backs of Mexican authorities guaranteed they would end up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels and only be recovered after crimes had been committed, which is exactly what occurred.
As one ATF agent testified to Congress, "you can't allow thousands of guns to go south of the border without an expectation that they are going to be recovered eventually in crimes and people are going to die."
In their reports on Fast and Furious, congressional investigators concluded that the Department of Justice "had much greater knowledge of, and involvement in, Fast and Furious than it has previously acknowledged." Indeed, Attorney General Holder claimed that he had been unaware of Fast and Furious until a few weeks before May 3, 2011, but it was shown that he had received numerous memos about it much earlier, which he later insisted he had not read.
Rep. Darrell Issa has said that the DOJ has spent more time and resources trying to protect the careers of its officials who knew about the operation than in holding accountable those who were involved. In fact, the evidence shows that the only ones who have been punished are those who blew the whistle on the operation, while those who were engaged in wrongdoing have been rewarded — reassigned or promoted with their pensions still intact.
Meanwhile, the DOJ, according to the committee report, "has blamed everyone except for its political appointees for Fast and Furious." Ken Melson, then the ATF's acting director, said that the DOJ is "circling the wagons to protect its political appointees."
Though Holder told the House Judiciary Committee his office was working "tirelessly to identify, locate and provide relevant information" to Congress, Republican representatives and senators say he and his department have been stonewalling their investigation. Sen. Charles Grassley said that Justice was withholding some 74,000 pages of relevant documents from the investigators.
The ongoing investigation also reveals a disturbing lack of coordination and cooperation among the ATF, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI, all of which are under the domain of Holder's DOJ. One deputy attorney general, upon being confronted with this issue, just casually replied, "We will look into it."
The committee's report said that everyone involved was blaming others: The ATF pointed the finger at the Justice Department for encouraging the operation, and Justice blamed the U.S. attorney's office in Arizona for implementing it. DOJ officials who could have stopped the operation blamed their staffs for not bringing critical facts to their attention. Making matters worse, U.S. attorney's office personnel have taken the Fifth Amendment in refusing to testify before Congress, or the DOJ has prohibited them from appearing before Congress at all.
Katie's book is a real reporter's book, loaded with interviews with inside sources, including conscience-stricken government agents who are appalled by the politicization of the ATF. She quotes ATF agent John Dodson, who says, "I have never heard an explanation from anyone involved in Operation Fast and Furious that I believe would justify what we did."
This book, which is the best reporting yet on the Obama administration's bloodiest scandal — and its most unconscionable one — will make your blood boil. You should purchase and read it.
David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His latest book, "Crimes Against Liberty," was No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list for nonfiction for its first two weeks. Follow him on Twitter @davidlimbaugh and his website at www.davidlimbaugh.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.