The Must-Read Article on Fast & Furious & Furiouser Right Wing NutteryPosted: June 27, 2012
I tucked the link to this incredible Fortune article down thread on the Morning Reads. However, I think it’s worth front paging it and emphatically suggesting you read it. Its the result of a six month journalistic investigation that’s definitely Pulitzer-worthy. Plus, it’s Fortune. Republicans cannot call this a magazine with a liberal bias without sounding batty. The article is full of analytical gems like this one.
“Republican senators are whipping up the country into a psychotic frenzy with reports that are patently false.”
Not that we didn’t suspect that already with BostonBoomer’s previous foray into to the topic. My only hope is that some of this information will stop the witch hunt against Eric Holder and get down to the actual problem. Here’s a bit from MoJo to motivate you to read it.
But Fortune’s Katherine Eban has a long piece about F&F in this week’s issue, and if she’s even close to right, then everything I thought I knew was wrong. F&F wasn’t a gun walking operation. Nobody deliberately allowed guns to be shipped to Mexican drug lords. Nobody stupidly lost track of the guns. It just didn’t happen.
Eban’s story is too long and detailed to be excerpted, but when I started reading I couldn’t stop. My mouth was hanging open the whole time. The real story, according to Eban, is about weak laws, incompetent prosecutors, juvenile bickering within the ATF’s Phoenix division, a CBS reporter who basically got played, and a craven bunch of managers and politicians who decided to throw the operation under the bus because it was too politically risky to just tell the truth. If you have even the slightest interest in this case — I’m talking to you, Jon Stewart — you need to read Eban’s story. Now.
I actually sent the article off to my Dad in Seattle because he’s been spewing Fox News propaganda on this at me and I was getting really sick of it. There’s even a book the right wing is pushing along with its meme that it’s all a conspiracy to take their guns away from them. This bit of investigative journalism actually avoids the Washington set and goes straight to people involved. Again, it’s real journalism for a change.
Quite simply, there’s a fundamental misconception at the heart of the Fast and Furious scandal. Nobody disputes that suspected straw purchasers under surveillance by the ATF repeatedly bought guns that eventually fell into criminal hands. Issa and others charge that the ATF intentionally allowed guns to walk as an operational tactic. But five law-enforcement agents directly involved in Fast and Furious tell Fortune that the ATF had no such tactic. They insist they never purposefully allowed guns to be illegally trafficked. Just the opposite: They say they seized weapons whenever they could but were hamstrung by prosecutors and weak laws, which stymied them at every turn.
Indeed, a six-month Fortune investigation reveals that the public case alleging that Voth and his colleagues walked guns is replete with distortions, errors, partial truths, and even some outright lies. Fortune reviewed more than 2,000 pages of confidential ATF documents and interviewed 39 people, including seven law-enforcement agents with direct knowledge of the case. Several, including Voth, are speaking out for the first time.
How Fast and Furious reached the headlines is a strange and unsettling saga, one that reveals a lot about politics and media today. It’s a story that starts with a grudge, specifically Dodson’s anger at Voth. After the terrible murder of agent Terry, Dodson made complaints that were then amplified, first by right-wing bloggers, then by CBS. Rep. Issa and other politicians then seized those elements to score points against the Obama administration, which, for its part, has capitulated in an apparent effort to avoid a rhetorical battle over gun control in the run-up to the presidential election. (A Justice Department spokesperson denies this and asserts that the department is not drawing conclusions until the inspector general’s report is submitted.)
This should clear up a lot of confusion over the situation and hopefully stop the political bunraku orchestrated by well-documented Thug Issa which is now being enabled by at least 4 DINO representatives.
The Justice Department also offered to conduct a briefing, give Congress documents related to whistle-blowers in the case, and work with the committee to respond to any questions it had after reviewing the materials.
In the summary, the Justice Department maintained the offer would give Congress “unprecedented access to deliberative documents.” The administration official said the documents would “dispel any notion of an intent to mislead Congress.”
“This was a good-faith effort to try to reach an accommodation while still protecting the institutional prerogatives of the executive branch, often championed by these same Republicans criticizing us right now,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz told CNN. “Unfortunately, Republicans have opted for political theater rather than conduct legitimate congressional oversight.”
Boehner, however, said a failure to cooperate by the Obama administration forced House Republicans to take up the contempt measure.
1. Issa Has No Case: Issa’s uncovered no evidence showing Holder bears any blame for the botched operations begun under George W. Bush, even though the Justice Department turned over thousands of pages of documents concerning the operations. Instead of accepting this fact, Issa has requested many more documents containing confidential information regarding ongoing law enforcement investigations, and is now threatening to hold Holder in contempt if these documents are not turned over. Holder is entirely correct to withhold these documents, however, because Justice Department documents are not subject to congressional subpoena if they would reveal “strategies and procedures that could be used by individuals seeking to evade [DOJ’s] law enforcement efforts.”
2. Reagan’s Justice Department Agreed With Holder: President Reagan’s Justice Department warned in the 1980s that the Constitution’s separation of powers prevents the kind of documents Issa is seeking from being revealed to Congress because of the risk that the legislature could “exert pressure or attempt to influence the prosecution of criminal cases.”
3. Law Enforcement Rejects Issa’s Witchhunt: Issa’s efforts to embarrass Holder are an unnecessary distraction that hinders the Department of Justice’s ability to do its real job. As an organization representing numerous senior law enforcement officials warned Issa, his efforts are “an impediment to the vigorous enforcement of violence and crime.”
4. Even Top Republicans Think Issa Goes Too Far: After Issa leaked his plans to pursue contempt charges to the media, the House Republican leadership pressured him to back off. Indeed, even House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has indicated that Issa is overreaching.
5. Issa Is Fixated On A Conspiracy Theory: Perhaps the most bizarre aspect of this affair is what Issa once suggested his investigation will uncover. In an interview with Sean Hannity, Issa claimed that the Obama administration “made a crisis” when they continued the Bush-era gunrunning operations because they wanted to “us[e] this crisis to somehow take away or limit people’s Second Amendment rights.” This accusation originates from a former militiaman who supports violent resistance to imagined government attempts to seize his guns. And it amounts to an accusation that a series of botched gun stings that begun during the Bush Administration were actually part of a secret Obama plot to release guns to Mexican drug lords, so that those guns could then be used to kill federal agents, which would then cause a national uprising in support of gun control.
We need to replace the right wing propaganda with facts.