“Fast and Furious” is back in the news. The reason? In January, Judge Amy Berman, an Obama appointee, ordered the Department of Justice to produce documents relating to the “gun walking” scandal that Congress had been seeking for four years. DOJ finally produced them, some 20,000 pages worth, this month.
For anyone who, thanks to the Obama administration’s years of stonewalling, has forgotten about Fast and Furious, here’s the short version. In 2010, a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Agent was killed while on patrol near the Mexican border. The only two firearms found at the scene were semi-automatic rifles the Obama-Holder Justice Department allowed to “walk” as part of Fast and Furious, a firearms trafficking operation. That operation allowed approximately 2,000 firearms to flow illegally into the hands of Mexican cartel associates.
When the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform tried to investigate the scandal, Team Obama stonewalled. First, it denied that law enforcement officers allowed straw purchasers to buy firearms illegally in the United States with the intent to traffic them without apprehension. Almost a year later, it finally admitted that this is precisely what had happened.
Second, when the Committee subpoenaed relevant documents, Eric Holder’s DOJ refused to produce them, citing “executive privilege.” The House voted to hold Holder in contempt and filed suit to obtain the documents. Three and half years later, Judge Jackson ordered production of the 20,000 pages mentioned above.
Having reviewed these documents, Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has released a memo summarizing what they show. Chaffetz states:
More than previously understood, the documents show the lengths to which senior Department officials went to keep information from Congress. Further, the documents reveal how senior Justice Department officials—including Attorney General Eric Holder—intensely followed and managed an effort to carefully limit and obstruct the information produced to Congress.
Holder and his subordinates:
1. Presumed that allegations about gunwalking in Arizona were false and refused to adjust when documents and evidence showed otherwise.
2. Politicized decisions about how and whether to comply with the congressional investigation.
3. Devised strategies to redact or otherwise withhold relevant information from Congress and the public.
4. Isolated the fallout from the Fast and Furious scandal to ATF leadership and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona.
5. Created a culture of animosity towards congressional oversight.
Chaffetz’s memo goes on to substantiate each of these accusations, citing specific emails.
In cases like this, people often say that “the cover-up is worse than the crime.” I don’t think this applies to Fast and Furious because the Obama-Holder Justice Department’s original malfeasance resulted in death.
More broadly, this case illustrates that, whatever the extent of their moral shortcomings, cover-ups probably succeed more often then they fail. Here, Eric Holder largely succeeded in thwarting the Fast and Furious investigation. Four years later, Barack Obama is completing his second term. Sleazy Eric Holder is back at his top tier law firm that reportedly has represented large banks he declined to prosecute for their alleged role in the financial crisis.
And Fast and Furious is all but forgotten.
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