Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Asking The Right Questions in the Fast and Furious Scandal

Yesterday the Arizona Republic became the first mainstream media outlet to ask what may be the most important question of the Fast and Furious scandal: WHY?

Today, I would like to unpack that question by applying it to specific aspects of the story:

Defenders of the administration have been quick to point out that guns "walked across" the boarder in a Bush era program known as "Wide Receiver". This was in spite of the knowledge and cooperation of the Mexican government, the placement of tracking devices in the guns and surveillance of the smugglers. Why then would the Obama DOJ conduct a program in which all of these safeguards were expressly forbidden?

Why did William Newell conduct such a program only months after sending a memo to all agents in his division stating that due to the failure of Wide Receiver they would never conduct such an operation again?

In Wide Receiver, the program was canceled because about 400 guns got away. Why did the Obama administration continue to conduct the program when more than 2,000 guns went to the cartels?

Why was the agent in charge of the program "elated" and "giddy" when weapons from the program were recovered at Mexican murder scenes?

Why did this program begin at virtually the same time that multiple sources discredited the administration's claim that most cartel guns came from "US gun shops"?

Why did William Newell, who was running the operation out of the Phoenix ATF Office, have extensive and detailed communication regarding the operation with White House aide Kevin O' Riley?

When the scandal broke, why was Kevin O' Riley "unavailable" to Congressional investigators because he had been reassigned to a position in Iraq?

Why did AG Eric Holder know so little about this program when every one of his immediate subordinates clearly knew of the program?

Why is Eric Holder not responsible for information in memos addressed directly to him? Why is he not responsible for the failures of his personal staff? If he cannot correctly run his own personal staff, how is he competent to run the Department of Justice? As head of DOJ, why is he not responsible for the worst scandal ever to take place in the department?

Finally, the biggest question: How could any program that intentionally allowed firearms to cross the boarder into Mexico without the knowledge or cooperation of the Mexican government serve any law enforcement purpose?

It is wonderful that at least one mainstream news outlet has begun to ask the right questions. Hopefully more news organizations will have the courage and integrity to ask these questions - but no matter what the news media does, Eric Holder is very likely to face many of these questions before a joint hearing of the House Oversight and Judiciary committees on December 8th.

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