Fast and Furious and in contempt
The investigation into the failed gun sting called “Fast and Furious” has now gotten the Attorney General in hot water.
But what exactly is all the shouting about?
Named for the popular movie, Operation Fast and Furious is at the center of a political firestorm involving the Administration, Republicans in the House, the gun lobby, even the Mexican government.
This operation by the Phoenix office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, was the last of four such attempts to stem gunrunning from the US to the Mexican drug cartels.
They began back in 2006, when the first was called Operation Wide Receiver.
The premise was similar to drug cases. Let the small fish go and follow them to the big fish.
In this case, the small fish were buying hundreds of guns, many of them AK-47’s, in Arizona, and carrying them across the border to the big fish in the Sinaloa drug cartel.
But the small fish got away through a combination of bad planning and simple incompetence.
When the operation came to light, the first instinct was to deny the Department of Justice knew about it. Then admit it.
The back and forth on that…who knew what when, has prompted House Oversight Committee hearings and subpoenas.
When Attorney General Holder contended some documents were off limits, Republicans suspected a cover-up.
Thus, what should have simply been a mea culpa for a botched sting has turned into a crisis.
There will be a vote in the House on a Contempt charge against Holder, and the President has intervened citing Executive Privilege to protect both Holder and the documents.
It is his first use of the power, but congressional reactions are the same as when his predecessors used it. Congress never likes it.
There, the stalemate stands.
There have been some exotic gun control theories floated about this case, but since similar operations like Fast and Furious go all the way back to 2006, that is unlikely.
And Committee Chairman Darrell Issa said as much.
As the saying goes, never ascribe to conspiracy things that can be simply explained by incompetence.