Too fast, too fu­ri­ous

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

The Jus­tice Depart­ment’s ef­fort to con­tain the Op­er­a­tion Fast and Fu­ri­ous gun­run­ning scan­dal is crum­bling. Mem­bers of Congress are de­mand­ing full dis­clo­sure re­gard­ing the bizarre scheme to fun­nel guns to Mex­i­can drug car­tels, sup­pos­edly to help sniff out the high­er­level bad guys.

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric H. Holder Jr. isn’t help­ing con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tors un­der­stand the ra­tio­nale be­hind this breath­tak­ingly dumb idea.

The so-called Fast and Fu­ri­ous pro­gram fit right in with the White House con­tention that gun shops in the South­west have been con­tribut­ing to vi­o­lence in Mex­ico.

The Bu­reau of Al­co­hol, To­bacco, Firearms and Ex­plo­sives (ATF), part of the Jus­tice Depart­ment, started the op­er­a­tion as a sting to ar­rest pur­chasers in bor­der states who pur­port­edly were en- gag­ing in il­le­gal cross-bor­der arms traf­fick­ing.

The scheme spun out of con­trol, and the agency re­port­edly wound up telling gun deal­ers to pro­ceed with sales even af­ter deal­ers had raised red flags about cer­tain buy­ers.

In this way, the ATF may have be­come an ac­com­plice to the smuggling of some 1,700 weapons into Mex­ico, al­legedly lead­ing to the death of U.S. Bor­der Pa­trol agent Brian Terry near No­gales, Ariz., in De­cem­ber 2010.

Two Fast and Fu­ri­ous weapons were dis­cov­ered at that crime scene, and other such weapons have been found af­ter the deaths of un­told num­bers of Mex­i­can cit­i­zens.

The botched op­er­a­tion pro­vided am­mu­ni­tion for ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials in­tent on ex­ploit­ing any ex­cuse to de­mand ex­panded gun-con­trol mea­sures.

The White House of­ten claimed that 90 per­cent of the weapons used in Mex­i­can crimes had been traced to the United States, but the num­ber has never been sub­stan­ti­ated.

By all ap­pear­ances, Fast and Fu­ri­ous de­liv­ered sta­tis­tics to back up the fig­ure. Not sur­pris­ingly, the Jus­tice Depart­ment pounced on the is­sue on July 11.

It is­sued a reg­u­la­tion re­quir­ing gun shops in Ari­zona, New Mex­ico, Texas and Cal­i­for­nia to re­port pur­chases of mul­ti­ple ri­fles made within a five-day pe­riod.

The tim­ing of the new man­date­seems a lit­tle too con­ve­nient, as it’s not yet clear how much of this sup­posed gun­run­ning “prob­lem” orig­i­nates in Wash­ing­ton.

Fox News re­ported on July 11 that the fam­ily of slain agent Terry is con­sid­er­ing su­ing the fed­eral gov­ern­ment for neg­li­gence in his death.

If the suit goes for­ward, Mr. Holder could find him­self tes­ti­fy­ing un­der oath about his role in Op­er­a­tion Fast and Fu­ri­ous.

Al­ter­na­tively, Rep. Allen B. West, Florida Repub­li­can, has called for the ap­point­ment of a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor to cut through the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s in­for­ma­tion block­ade re­gard­ing the agency’s com­plic­ity in the smuggling plot.

Since the Water­gate scan­dal nearly four decades ago, po­lit­i­cal em­bar­rass­ments have been tagged with a “gate” moniker to re­call the episode that brought down Richard Nixon’s ad­min­is­tra­tion.

To be sure, Mr. Holder doesn’t want to be sad­dled with “Gun­gate” or any other de­scrip­tion the me­dia de­vises.

Bet­ter that he come clean now and co­op­er­ate fully with the over­sight ef­forts of Rep. Dar­rell E. Issa, Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can, and Sen. Chuck Grass­ley, Iowa Repub­li­can.

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