In the wake of the House vote to find Attorney General Holder in contempt of Congress, Democratic Perspective addressed the many misconceptions and lies surrounding the ATF operation known as Fast and Furious.
Of course, the Congressman Darrell Issa and the GOP would have you believe that the ATF intentionally allowed thousands of guns to “walk” across the border to be used by the Mexican drug cartels. They also want you to believe that Eric Holder was aware of the operation and that the Obama administration tried to cover it up.
With those accusations in mind, let’s look at the facts. According to an exhaustive investigative report for Fortune magazine by Katherine Eban, we have learned that:
1) No guns were intentionally allowed to “walk” across the border.
2) The ATF seized 68,000 guns from 2006 through 2011.
3) The seven-member ATF team in Phoenix that was responsible for Fast and Furious was frustrated by Arizona gun laws that allow any non-felon over the age of 18 to purchase any number of guns and re-sell them to anyone they want.
4) The ATF team had repeatedly requested indictments on obvious “straw buyers” recruited to purchase guns for the cartels, but were refused by the Assistant US Attorney.
5) The ATF team was hopelessly divided between those loyal to the by-the-book supervisor and a group of insubordinates calling themselves “Renegades.” This included the so-called whistleblower who claimed to be outraged by gun-walking.
6) The only guns that were not recovered were six guns purchsed by Agent Dodson, the whistle-blower. After giving them to a suspected gun trafficker, he left for vacation.
In the rush to break a sensational story, most of the media never interviewed any of the key players in the operation other than the whistle-blower who had an axe to grind with his supervisor.
Moreover, the House Oversight Committee, in its determination to embarrass the administration, never sought testimony from any of the ATF team other than the whistle-blower. Indeed, even before he gained the chair of the committee following the 2010 elections, Issa was quoted as saying that he was going to “make the administration play by the rules,” ostensibly his rules.
Issa was itching to “get” the administration. He held hearings on Solyndra, Fannie Mae and the FDA without any major revelations. He then turned to Fast and Furious which was easier prey given that ATF has been broadly disliked since Ruby Ridge and Waco. In addition, the National Rifle Association has long wanted to kill the agency. As a result of NRA bullying, the Senate has not confirmed a permanent director of the ATF since it was spun off from the Treasury Department in 2003.
In order to comply with the Kangaroo Court-like hearings, the Attorney General testified publicly 9 times and privately several other times. He turned over more than 7,600 documents to the committee and complied in every way legally possible. In return, he was the first member of a president’s cabinet to be cited for contempt.
Holder shouldn’t feel bad. According to the polls, it would appear that most of America is contempt of this Congress.
(For more information, read Katherine Eban’s follow-up article in Fortune magazine.)