On November 8,2011, Attorney General Eric Holder testified before the Senate Judiciary regarding Operation Fast and Furious. Holder described the ATF’s efforts to combat the flow of illegal guns into Mexico as “flawed” and said it “should never have happened.” The botched operation carried out by the ATF could be “felt for years to come as thousands of firearms sold to known and suspected criminals are sued in future crimes.” Operation Fast and Furious is emblematic of policymakers throwing money at a problem and the bureaucratic mismanagement.
Operation Fast and Furious was the ATF’s attempt to combat the flow of illegal guns from the United States into Mexico. The overall goal of the operation was to arrest the gun running ringleaders who had escaped prosecution in the United States. Several ATF agents said they “were ordered by superiors to let suspected straw buyers walk away from Phoenix-area gun shops with AK-47s and other weapons believed headed for Mexican drug cartels, rather than arrest them.” Instead, the operation resulted in the loss of 1,400 guns into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. This is a huge blow to American efforts to combat gun and drug trafficking on the volatile southern border.
As a result of the botched operation, Senate and House members are angered at the incompetence of the ATF and Justice Department. Senator John Cornyn of Texas questioned Holder if gun sales where made in other southern states such as Texas, New Mexico, and California. Regardless of their sale point, it is likely that these guns will surface all across our southern border. Even Holder’s own are beginning to question him. Holder is expected to be question by Democrats on the agencies ability to collect information without the knowledge of public officials.
With both Republicans and Democrats coming down on Holder, he responded by asking the Senate to strengthen the authority of ATF to halt gun-running operations. Holder argued that the United States was losing the battle to stop the flow of illegal weapons to Mexico. He highlighted the successes of the DOJ, who extradited 104 suspected criminals from Mexico, including the former head of the Tijuana cartel. In his concluding remarks Holder argued for full funding in order to properly fight gun trafficking.
Eric Holder’s solution to ending gun running is appalling. The Department of Justice allowed the drug wars in Mexico to escalate by giving known traffickers guns. This botched operation demonstrates the failure of bureaucratic solutions to problems. The simple logic behind selling guns and arresting suspects later is idiotic. Eric Holder’s time as Attorney General must come to an end in light of this operation. Holder will soon come before the House Oversight Committee chaired by Republican Darrell Issa. In end one must ask, if it “never should have happened” why didn’t Holder do more to make sure it never happened?