Rock 'em sock 'em liberal Ed Schultz continues doing his darndest to unintentionally help conservatives by the simple act of opening his mouth and letting words spill out.
On his radio show yesterday, Schultz finally caught up with the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal that's been brewing for 18 months since the murder of border agent Brian Terry (audio clips after page break).
Unlike other leftists in the media intent on keeping their distance from Fast and Furious as if from a stench, the ever-optimistic Schultz sees a silver lining to the fatally flawed program (audio) --
It always takes Americans a couple of days to get all the facts in before they render judgment on exactly just how bogus something is or is not. And I think we're about there on this Eric Holder situation, the attorney general. Now Marco Rubio is the Florida senator saying that, you know, I think he ought to resign. This is all about getting the president. You've got the right-wing jugheads out there and about, trying to tell the head-shaking crowd that really, President Obama is at the center of all of this. He is the one.
He's the, look, I say keep talking about it. This is what the right wing ought to do. Just keep on talk-, because you know what? It keeps the focus off the economy.
Clearly the last place Schultz and other Obamists want voters focused, especially in a tough election year. How odd indeed that Schultz suggests voters turn their attention instead to a scandal that may eventually cost Holder his job.
In an attempt to bring his listeners up to speed on Fast and Furious, Schultz invited Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland, ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on his radio show Thursday.
Alas, Cummings was less intent on clarifying the specifics than he was he was in muddying the waters -- and man, did he muddy them. This post to be updated with clips from his remarks, stay tuned ...
Updated at 5:06 p.m. with remarks from Congressman Cummings --
Introducing the Maryland Democrat, Schultz praised him for speaking with "tremendous clarity" about Fast and Furious -- followed by Cummings doing just the opposite (audio) --
SCHULTZ: When did this all start and who started it?
CUMMINGS: Well, first of all, you know, it started with the, uh, actually it started back in 2006, uh, when there was folks in the ATF, the Phoenix office, uh, that were, uh, in their efforts to help with, uh, you know, the war on drugs in, in Mexico. What they wanted to do was try to, uh, see where guns, when guns came out of the United States and were bought at, bought mainly in the border states and then flowed to Mexico, they wanted to see where those guns, you know, where they ended up. Well, they made a big mistake. They stopped following the guns and, uh, so basically that's what's called gun walking.
In other words, they were watching (them) be purchased at a, a, uh, like a, uh, gun shop and they would see people maybe buying a hundred guns at a time, they would follow 'em, follow 'em to the border. The aim was, they were supposed to follow 'em beyond that but they didn't. So, about 2000, so then, let's fast, fast forward. That was done under the Bush administration. There were several of these programs that were done. And then when the, uh, Obama administration came about, uh, these folks down in Phoenix were still doing this gun running, this gun walking, allowing this gun walking that happened to take place.
So, so, what happened is that, uh, eventually, uh, there was a border agent who was killed about, a little bit over a year and a half ago and his name was Brian Terry. And they found two of these guns that had bas-, walked over the border at the scene of his murder. And we've been trying to, our committee has taken it upon itself, to look into that. That's the background of how this all got started.
Got that? Guns don't kill people, guns walking across borders do. "Tremendous clarity" indeed.
Cummings's account of Fast and Furious and its Bush era precedent, Operative Wide Receiver, bears little resemblance to a far more coherent account from Andrew C. McCarthy at National Review Online. More to follow ...
Updated again at 5:50 p.m. --
McCarthy writing at NRO --
Wide Receiver actually involved not gun-walking but controlled delivery. (emphasis in original). Unlike gun-walking, which seems (for good reason) to have been unheard of until Fast & Furious, controlled delivery is a very common law enforcement tactic. Bascially, the agents know the bad guys have negotiated a deal to acquire some commodity that is either illegal itself (e.g., heroin, child porn) or illegal for them to have/use (e.g., guns, corporate secrets). The agents allow the transfer to happen under circumstances where they are in control -- i.e., they are on the scene conducting surveillance of the transfer, and sometimes even participating undercover in the transfer. As soon as the transfer takes place, they can descend on the suspects, make arrests, and seize the commodity in question -- all of which makes for powerful evidence of guilt.
... To the contrary, Fast & Furious involved uncontrolled deliveries -- of thousands of weapons. (again, emphasis in original). It was an utterly heedless program in which the feds allowed these guns to be sold to straw purchasers -- often leaning on reluctant gun dealers to make the sales. The straw purchasers were not followed by close physical surveillance; they were freely permitted to bulk transfer the guns to, among others, Mexican grug gangs and other violent criminals -- with no agents on hand to swoop in, make arrests, and grab the firearms. The inevitable result of this was that the guns have been used (and will continue to be used) (emphasis added) in many crimes, including the murder of Brian Terry, a U.S. border patrol agent.
... As Sen. Cornyn pointed out, there is a major distinction between Wide Receiver and Fast & Furious. The former was actually a coordinated effort between American and Mexican authorities. Law enforcement agents in both countries kept each other apprised about suspected transactions and tried to work together to apprehend law-breakers. To the contrary, Fast & Furious was a unilateral, half-baked scheme cooked up by an agency of the Obama Justice Department -- an agency that was coordinating with the Justice Department on the operation and that turned to Main Justice to get wiretapping authority.
So much for Obama and crew cultivating better relations with allies and eschewing Bush unilateralism. More to follow ...
Updated again at 6:40 p.m. --
More from Congressman Cummings on Fast & Furious (audio) --
After that (death of agent Terry), Darrell Issa, who you well know, the chairman of the Oversight Committee, began accusing the attorney general of the United States of having known about this gun-running stuff and having been, uh, you know, basically a part of it. Well, and then he began to subpoena all kinds of records. And all of these rec-, and deposing many people. Uh, when he went through all, deposed all these members of ATF and others, he discovered what I just said, that it was a rogue operation that was operated out of Phoe-, out of the Phoenix office of ATF, and that basically the higher-ups, the ones, the folks in Wash-, Washington, in the Justice Department, knew nothing about it. Keep in mind, ATF comes under the Justice Department.
First apologetic meme from Democrats -- this began under Bush and continued unchanged after Obama took office. Second apologia -- this was a "rogue operation" -- thereby exonerating the Obama administration from any responsibility, even though we're told repeatedly that no wrongdoing occurred. Still, why take chances when one can invoke "rogue" phantoms?
More to follow ...
Updated, 7:38 p.m. Saturday --
Cummings alleges that the ATF office in Phoenix, specifically special agent in charge Bill Newell, provided inaccurate information to the Justice Department about Fast & Furious, which in turn provided fodder for congressional Republicans in their investigation (audio) --
SCHULTZ: Who is the culprit in the ATF office in Phoenix?
CUMMINGS: A fella, fella named Newell, who was reassigned when the, when, I left one very important thing out. When, when the attorney general found out that, about these tactics and found out that what was going on, he immediately brought an end to these tactics, you know, the gun walking stuff, and he himself asked for an investigation by his IG. That's major. He asked that they investigate the whole thing as soon as he found out.
SCHULTZ: Hmm mmm.
CUMMINGS: Well, yeah, so the person who down there in Phoenix, the fella named Newell, he was basically in charge of the Phoenix office of ATF.
... before Newell became acquainted with the underside of the Obama bus.
What Cummings tells Schultz is so "major" that Schultz neglects to ask an obvious question -- did Holder's decision to bring an "end to these tactics" coincide with him learning about the death of agent Terry?
One more clip to follow ...
Final update, 9:11 p.m. Saturday --
Cummings repeats his claim that "rogue" elements in the ATF were responsible for Fast & Furious. Schultz asks about their motives; Cummings's response will make you cringe (audio) --
SCHULTZ: (Congresswoman) Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) told me on TV last night that there's been three or four other programs like this.
CUMMINGS: Yeah and then what I have said that, you know, it started back in 2006, yeah, that was under the Bush administration. There have been, there were three programs like this, again, operated out of basically a rogue, the same, some of the same folks that, uh, did it under the Obama administration, uh, did it under the Bush administration.
SCHULTZ: Were they doing it to make money or did they really want to find out who the, who the drug runners were in Mexico?
CUMMINGS: I think they were trying, I think they were, they, they were trying to, uh, actually, uh, trace, they, I don't know what they were, sure what they were, they thought they were doing. They were supposedly trying to trace these, they were supposed to be tracing these guns ...
SCHULTZ (eager to move on): All right ...
CUMMINGS: ... to see whether or not they ended up in the hands of ...
SCHULTZ : Drug dealers ...
CUMMINGS: ... various cartel members, yes.
SCHULTZ : OK, OK.
To his credit, Schultz then asked Cummings a question based on a claim from a caller earlier in the show who pointed out the differences between Wide Receiver and Fast & Furious. The caller told Schultz that ATF agents working in Wide Receiver placed tracking devices in weapons before they were sold to Mexican drug dealers --
SCHULTZ: Now, were there tracking devices on all of these firearms?
CUMMINGS: No. No. No. No. No. (yes -- five times)
SCHULTZ: Even in Operation Wide Receiver to start with there were no tracking devices?
CUMMINGS (hedging): Not to my knowledge.
Exhibit A on why Republicans in Congress don't believe they've been told the truth about Fast & Furious. How anyone can listen to Cummings's convoluted, meandering mess of an account and believe it is truthful defies comprehension.