“Fast and Furious? You mean those terrible Vin Diesel movies, right?”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten this response from friends and family as I grumble on about bureaucratic incompetence and negligent homicide. Frustrating, yes, but I usually just chuckle and think sarcastically to myself “Oh wait, that’s right…you’re not supposed to know about this!” And sure enough, if they do know about Fast and Furious its just those sneaky Republicans trying to orchestrate the downfall of the Obama administration by taking racial and political potshots at Eric Holder and the President…right? Wrong.
In the wake of the failed gun-walking program Operation Fast and Furious, House Republicans have been organizing themselves to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of congress. Holder, who presumably knew everything about the operation his department oversaw “except for the details,” has found a persistent ankle-biter in Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee. Unfortunately, it looks like Rep. Issa is having trouble unifying GOP support for the proceedings. Support for the measure within his own committee has become weary and tepid. A startling 8 of 23 Republican members of the committee have expressed their neutrality, and have refused to offer comments on the scandal or support for the investigation. This doesn’t bode well for the contempt proceedings, or justice for the human lives lost as a result of Fast and Furious. If Rep. Issa isn’t able to rally the troops in his own committee, how can he expect the rest of congress to follow? The Hill’s Jordy Yager is of the opinion that “the Republican leadership’s hesitance to fully back the contempt measure is due in part to the drastic nature of the rarely used maneuver and those members’ desire to make certain all other diplomatic attempts at getting the documents are exhausted.” I don’t completely disagree. But the clock is ticking.
Issa and other house Republicans have subpoenaed the Justice Department twice in an attempt to recover documents related to the approval of and leadership behind Fast and Furious. The DOJ responded by sending thousands of irrelevant documents (many of which were blank or blacked-out pages), while at the same time sealing and withholding a myriad of documents that could potentially shed light on the administration’s knowledge of the failed operation. Needless to say, there’s something fishy here. In 2008, Barack Obama claimed that his administration would be the most transparent in our nations history. Yet another promise not kept.
House Democrats and liberal pundits alike have consistently cried foul over the entire investigation, citing its motives as political in nature. Not surprisingly, Eric Holder played the race card in the investigation’s early stages. As he stammered through a congressional hearing, Holder boldly claimed the entire investigation “is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him,” Holder said, according to the Times. “Both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American.” Ah yes. Of course. That must be it. For the record, Holder also supports using millions in public funds to prosecute baseball players for perjury.
The fact is, everyone citing prejudice and politics as the motives behind GOP attacks on Holder are actively politicizing the issue themselves rather than owning up to the grisly downstream consequences of rampant bureaucratic incompetence. In my eyes, as well as the eyes of Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), the race card has absolutely no place in this discussion, especially when considering the dignity of Mexican citizens. As a “race” or “ethnicity” (whichever you prefer), Mexicans and Mexican-Americans on both sides of the border have lived in fear of brutal narco-insurgencies for years. The last thing they want is for the US government to be the new arms dealer on the block, especially while simultaneously hearing American politicians bicker about prejudice and political motives instead of issuing sincere apologies, assuming responsibility, and cooperating with Mexican officials to ensure that something like this never happens again. The US-Mexico border is the longest border in the world between a supposedly “developed” country and a “developing” or “underdeveloped” one. Ironically, the aftermath of Fast and Furious smells very much like the flavor of corruption commonly found in the underdeveloped countries that we try so hard, culturally speaking, to distance ourselves from.
Liberal pundit Juan Williams compares Rep. Issa to Captain Ahab, claiming “a contempt citation for the top law enforcement official is a monstrosity breaking apart public trust and dragging the nation’s already polarized politics to the bottom of the sea.” This is an interesting metaphor, to say the least. But what about the facts? What about responsibility? Man up, Holder. Man up, ATF. Comments like these from Williams and Holder only cheapen the loss of human life that has come as a direct result of the DOJ/ATF’s incompetence.
Speaking of which, the DOJ is yet to officially apologize to the Mexican government, who had no knowledge of the ATF-run operation. Cue the smug-faced comparisons to gun-walking programs run by the Bush administration. Operation Wide Receiver, conducted by the ATF during the Bush administration, looked quite similar to Fast and Furious. That is, except for a few key facts. First, about half of the weapons straw-purchased and walked across the border in Wide Receiver were recovered. I’ll take partial success over total failure any day of the week, and I think most would agree. Second, under Bush, similar gun-walking programs enjoyed the full support of the appropriate Mexican federal agencies. Third, and most obviously, no American citizens were shot and killed with ammunition fired from Wide Receiver weapons.
If I lived in Nogales, or El Paso, or any other border town for that matter, I could care less about which party was spearheading the investigation of the DOJ. Border security, much like immigration, is a bipartisan issue. When your government (or the government next door) is walking automatic weapons from one side to the other and placing them in the hands of murderous criminal organizations, race and politics no longer matter. Security matters. Dignity matters. “Oops, won’t happen again” doesn’t quite cover it.
Sigh. Once again, the Obama administration shoots itself in the foot (so to speak), proving yet again that we are just as much a part of the narco-trafficking problem as we are a part of the solution. Here’s to hoping Darrell Issa laces up his boots, and doesn’t let Fast and Furious get swept under the rug for the second time.
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