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June 27, 2012 2:37 PM   Subscribe

"The truth about the Fast and Furious scandal: A Fortune investigation reveals that the ATF never intentionally allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. How the world came to believe just the opposite is a tale of rivalry, murder, and political bloodlust." posted by andoatnp (63 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
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Fast And Furious: Issa No Longer Suspicious Holder Knew Of Gunwalking
Issa also said he had no specific knowledge that the White House knew of the gunwalking tactics and said the committee wasn’t looking to the president.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), ranking member of the Oversight Committee, butted in as Issa was being questioned by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO).

“We are now about to find in contempt the attorney general of the United States of America after you just heard that,” Cummings said.

“Sure,” replied Issa. “It’s not for what the attorney general knew about Fast and Furious, it’s about the attorney general’s refusal to provide the documents.”

Issa’s position on Holder’s knowledge of the tactics used is a reversal of what he claimed when he began his investigation last year. Issa claimed the tactics went “all the way to the very top. Issa has admitted to exploring “blind alleys” during the course of his investigation.
What You Don't Know About Fast & Furious
I assumed that I at least knew the basics: F&F was a program run by the Phoenix branch of the ATF in which they deliberately allowed "straw" purchasers to buy guns, hoping to later track those guns to the drug lords and other higher-ups who used them to arm their gangs. Then, via rank incompetence, ATF lost track of the guns, one of which was eventually used to kill ATF agent Brian Terry.

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.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:55 PM on June 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is my surprised face.
posted by Freen at 3:03 PM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]




Ousting an Obama appointee because of some silly, made up issue? I'm shocked!
posted by Garm at 3:05 PM on June 27, 2012




Whitewater 2.0.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 3:14 PM on June 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think we need a new name for this particular type of non-controversial controversy. I propose "Whatwater".
posted by Freen at 3:19 PM on June 27, 2012 [11 favorites]


I think we need a new name for this particular type of non-controversial controversy.

Gategate?
posted by goethean at 3:20 PM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]




So wait...

1. There are ostensibly no documents that show that Holder or anyone else knew about Fast and Furious because...

2. Issa doesn't suspect anyone of a cover up, and...

3. The whole Fast and Furious "gun walking" thing probably didn't happen, anyway, so again, there's not even an issue to cover up if they wanted to...

...sooooo...

The US Congress is going to take time out of its busy schedule passing new job legislation. or whatever they're doing, to hold the Attorney General in contempt for not handing over communications that probably don't exist, and wouldn't be dispositive of anything untoward even if they did?

It seems that the only real issues here to investigate are:

A. The US Attorney gun nut who let guns essentially walk because he didn't want to prosecute straw purchasers and

B. Issa's grotesque mismanagement of his office.
posted by darkstar at 3:31 PM on June 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


I like how, between "Obama's Watergate" and "Obama's Katrina", the Republican's are re-branding their failures on to a Democratic President.
posted by peeedro at 3:36 PM on June 27, 2012 [24 favorites]


Gatewater?
posted by sexyrobot at 3:41 PM on June 27, 2012


I think we need a new name for this particular type of non-controversial controversy. I propose "Whatwater".

Republican investigation.
posted by dirigibleman at 3:50 PM on June 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


If there's really nothing to this why did Obama exercise privilege to protect those documents?

This is an honest question; I haven't been able to RTwholeFA yet because it's long.
posted by Aizkolari at 3:57 PM on June 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


This just in: Politicians act politically.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 3:58 PM on June 27, 2012


Aizkolari: "If there's really nothing to this why did Obama exercise privilege to protect those documents?

This is an honest question; I haven't been able to RTwholeFA yet because it's long.
"

AFAIK the White House is only witholding executive branch documents that were created after the investigation started. The documents aren't germane to the F&F operation but to the White House's internal deliberations about how to deal with the investigation.
posted by mullingitover at 4:02 PM on June 27, 2012


Aizkolari: Additionally they are documents related to an ongoing investigation into the inner workings of drug cartels.
posted by Freen at 4:04 PM on June 27, 2012


Republican action plan #79351

1. Cripple gun regulation so illegal gun trafficking is almost impossible to prosecute and carries a light penalty.
2. Accuse the ATF of walking guns when thanks to republican efforts they could rarely do anything to stop the transfer of guns to drug cartels (see step 1)
2b. Alternate plan: when the ATF does intercept guns, accuse them of being part of a liberal/UN/lizard people conspiracy to subvert the 2nd amendment.
3. Disingenuously slander the democratic White House with implications of conspiracy with the ATF in "walking guns".
4. Paint administration efforts to shut down the manufactured controversy (an unwinnable fight based on unreliable and disgruntled agents and vague internal memos) as guilt by silence.
5. Quietly retract slander in step 3, knowing few will hear of the retraction, and that the republican news organ is hard at work continuing the propaganda of step 3.
6. Regain the Presidency, continue working on weakening gun regulation and enforcements, receive backrub from NRA in return.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 4:13 PM on June 27, 2012 [13 favorites]


Keep in mind while all this is happening Issa doesn't want to investigate possible criminal offenses related to Murdoch's Newcorps hacking scandals- because he doesn't want to "bother the media."
posted by Max Power at 4:17 PM on June 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


This just in: Politicians act politically.

This just in: Republicans engage in long standing fishing expeditions and take disproportionate actions on incidental findings.

Not politics... humans acting as scumbags to game the system.
posted by edgeways at 4:26 PM on June 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


So now the investigation will turn to Obama's "fast and furious" sex life, right?
posted by dirigibleman at 4:26 PM on June 27, 2012


I think we need a new name for this particular type of non-controversial controversy. I propose "Whatwater".

Whatgate?
posted by zardoz at 4:51 PM on June 27, 2012


So, uh, where are the oh so concerned Tea Partieres on this blatant waste of our precious body fluids tax dollars?

anyone?
posted by edgeways at 5:06 PM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Doesn't Issa have a bunch of dirty laundry of his own, which has been hung out and found insufficiently offputting by the Orange County voter?
posted by mwhybark at 5:11 PM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]



I want to know how Obama thought he could order such an operation to even take place. He wasn't even President in 2006.

It's like he'll stop at nothing.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:13 PM on June 27, 2012 [12 favorites]


Clear evidence of Obama's time travel machine and mastery of mind control!

Igor! Gear up the Republican Investigation Machine!

*throws sacrificial bunny rabbits into the cogs of the infernal machine to grease the wheels with their blood and feed its dark engine with their plaintive cries*
posted by darkstar at 5:21 PM on June 27, 2012


Voth returned to Phoenix fully expecting his team to unite for the work that lay ahead. But instead he found a minor mutiny—over the schedule for the wire, which needed to be monitored around the clock. Dodson didn't want to work weekends. Casa felt his seniority should exclude him from the effort.

Are you fucking kidding me.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:24 PM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I read the article earlier today. The first thing that came to mind was Reno 911. I mean that's what it sounded like. These guys had no money, no authority to do anything (due to the prosecutor) and seemed to all hate each-other.

They even wrote sarcastic memos smack talking each other.

The whole thing is pretty hilarious. And it sounds like, in typical Obama administration fashion, rather then have a conflict over something and actually fight back on the facts, they just accepted the basic (and false) premise hoping it would go away.

But it also really paints a seriously problematic picture of media as well. Rather then look at the details of what was really going on, people just accepted whatever story politicians (or bitter parties in office grudges) were spewing.

The basic premise of what F&F was even about was distorted: The media made it sound like the ATF was buying guns and giving them to drug dealers. In fact, what was happening was that the ATF was going up to look up gun purchasing records after the fact to see if any common names were coming up and if those people might be selling those guns on to criminals. But those sales were all legal, at least in the view of the local federal prosecutor (who was herself an NRA type)

The other crazy thing is that there may be some other huge scandal going on anyway just not in the way we think:
New facts are still coming to light—and will likely continue to do so with the Justice Department inspector general's report expected in coming months. Among the discoveries: Fast and Furious' top suspects—Sinaloa Cartel operatives and Mexican nationals who were providing the money, ordering the guns, and directing the recruitment of the straw purchasers—turned out to be FBI informants who were receiving money from the bureau. That came as news to the ATF agents in Group VII.
So that could be an explanation for the prosecutor jerking these guys around as well: not wanting to mess with FBI operatives.

But congress isn't interested in that, they just want to look at the documents generated after the scandal broke to see what people in the white house were saying about it. Rather then actually getting to the bottom of what happened, they're only looking to see what dirt they can dig up.
posted by delmoi at 5:35 PM on June 27, 2012 [12 favorites]


So once again, the Republicans and the NRA are the cartels' best friends.

Is there an analog of the NRA in any other country? A powerful political lobby aligned with the far right and funded by armament manufacturers. Is this a real example of American exceptionalism? What other country has a gun lobby, fer chrissake?
posted by warbaby at 5:50 PM on June 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Whatwater

Whatgate?


Whatwhat?
(in the butt?)
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:36 PM on June 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


What other country has a gun lobby, fer chrissake?

Funnily enough, they do. It's called the NRA. Yes, the American NRA spends money pushing its agenda in other countries. I'm not sure why, but if pressed to outright guess, I'd think it's partly "fighting the good fight", partly "prevent other countries doing things / having successes that will give ideas /ammunition to gun-control advocates ideas in the USA", partly international sports stuff. Maybe there are also larger membership / money opportunities?

But it's annoying to giant foreign lobby groups meddling in your country.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:37 PM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


This quote from the article completely sums up the hypocrisy here:

"Irony abounds when it comes to the Fast and Furious scandal. But the ultimate irony is this: Republicans who support the National Rifle Association and its attempts to weaken gun laws are lambasting ATF agents for not seizing enough weapons—ones that, in this case, prosecutors deemed to be legal."

It's the first thing I thought of when I heard about the whole investigation. The world is full of assholes, some are just bigger than others...
posted by Eekacat at 6:46 PM on June 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


@Eekacat,

"It's the first thing I thought of when I heard about the whole investigation. The world is full of assholes, some are just bigger than others..."

Tory Lane has a pretty big asshole..just saying.
posted by RedShrek at 6:53 PM on June 27, 2012


Whatevergate, obviously.
posted by "Elbows" O'Donoghue at 7:11 PM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


In fact, what was happening was that the ATF was going up to look up gun purchasing records after the fact to see if any common names were coming up and if those people might be selling those guns on to criminals.

Well, not exactly:

In the fall of 2009, ATF agents installed a secret phone line and hidden cameras in a ceiling panel and wall at Andre Howard's Lone Wolf gun store. They gave him one basic instruction: Sell guns to every illegal purchaser who walks through the door.

For 15 months, Howard did as he was told. To customers with phony IDs or wads of cash he normally would have turned away, he sold pistols, rifles and semiautomatics. He was assured by the ATF that they would follow the guns, and that the surveillance would lead the agents to the violent Mexican drug cartels on the Southwest border.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:43 PM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The other crazy thing is that there may be some other huge scandal going on anyway just not in the way we think:

Yeah, that's my feeling too. The political stuff is obscuring that there really has to have been some sort of scandal here, even if it's just the scandal that the ATF and the prosecutors are just incredibly incompetent or the same inability of federal agencies to communicate and cooperate that contributed to failures to stop terrorism before 9/11.

As much as the Reason article insists the prosecutors couldn't do anything, the ATF seems to have been saying that they didn't do anything because of a strategy to take out the bigger fish in the cartels instead of the straw purchasers and the whole reason it became a scandal is that ATF whistleblowers definitely thought they were letting guns walk when they didn't have to.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:52 PM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


whatthefuckgate
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:53 PM on June 27, 2012


"I hereby pardon the Attorney General for contempt of Congress." - THAT should keep the court-watchers busy for a few months.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:02 PM on June 27, 2012


So, the NRA killed Brian Terry. Indirectly, but still, they have blood on their hands. And if Issa is successful in further aiding and agitating the anti-regulation Wild West crowd and silencing the safety lobby, he'll have blood on his hands, too.

Congratulations, guys.
posted by univac at 9:01 PM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the horses mouth: White House Press briefing.

Essentially, the office of inspector general has all of the documents and is inspecting them.

Apparently I was incorrect, it is not documents relating to further investigation of the drug cartels.
posted by Freen at 9:09 PM on June 27, 2012


wow lol. 20 year viewership lows will do that to you.
posted by wallstreet1929 at 9:22 PM on June 27, 2012


What other country has a gun lobby, fer chrissake?

Australia has political parties and advocacy groups focused on firearms- I'd imagine other countries do as well.
posted by zamboni at 8:09 AM on June 28, 2012


Katherine Eban, the author of the Fortune magazine piece, was on Democracy Now this morning: Amidst Holder Contempt Vote, New Investigation Undermines Key GOP Claims on "Fast and Furious"
posted by homunculus at 9:21 AM on June 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's the thing about F&F. I haven't been following it. It's quite possible that there is something here to get upset about; it's not like Obama is an innocent babe with clean hands.

But the right wing has been shrieking so long and so loud about everything (and nothing), so I really am not in a rush to conclude that this is a big deal that needs to be addressed. That's what you've done, GOP. I've concluded that there's only so many hours in the day, so I really can't be bothered to look into everything you're pointing at and yelling about.
posted by Legomancer at 11:47 AM on June 28, 2012 [2 favorites]






@daveweigel: Pelosi brings the sarcasm, mentioning GOP pposition to Holder on voting rights/DOMA. "It may just be a coincidence -- I don't know."

I think she may be on to something.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:54 PM on June 28, 2012


This is an example of the Republicans exploiting the bogus historical argument about how Nixon's Watergate was more about the cover-up than the crime. They've been doing this since the Clinton administration:

1. Make up non-existent crime.
2. Demand evidence in investigation of non-existent crime.
3. When evidence of non-existent crime fails to appear (because the "evidence" is as nonexistent as the "crime" is), charge the Democrats with a cover-up.
4. Repeat as necessary until back in the Oval Office again.
posted by jonp72 at 1:09 PM on June 28, 2012 [1 favorite]




What other country has a gun lobby, fer chrissake?

Do you want europe first. We could use an african example but gun lobbies tend to be pro so?

I see the outrage and the article seems a bit gamey. Someone want to give a point by point summation of why congress is wrong...on this issue.
posted by clavdivs at 3:36 PM on June 28, 2012






Becca Glover Watkins, a spokeswoman for House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), issued this statement to TPM on the story:

“Fortune’s story is a fantasy made up almost entirely from the accounts of individuals involved in the reckless tactics that took place in Operation Fast and Furious. It contains factual errors – including the false statement that Chairman Issa has called for Attorney General Holder’s resignation – and multiple distortions. It also hides critical information from readers – including a report in the Wall Street Journal – indicating that its primary sources may be facing criminal charges. Congressional staff gave Fortune Magazine numerous examples of false statements made by the story’s primary source and the magazine did not dispute this information. It did not, however, explain this material to its readers. The one point of agreement the Committee has with this story is its emphasis on the role Justice Department prosecutors, not just ATF agents, played in guns being transferred to drug cartels in Mexico. The allegations made in the story have been examined and rejected by congressional Republicans, Democrats, and the Justice Department.”
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:20 AM on June 29, 2012


What this story fails to do is illustrate how similar things have been occurring under every administration since the drug war was initiated. That the Republicans are politicizing these events should not obscure how the Fast and Furious scheme (any many others like it) have directly contributed to tragedy and death in Mexico. Bill Conroy over at narconews.com has been covering this story far longer than the main stream media and he uses primary sources like GAO reports, witness testimony and public records to write his stories. Check out his work for a glimmer of what journalism used to look like:

http://narcosphere.narconews.com/notebook/bill-conroy/2012/01/fast-and-furious-one-among-many-similar-drug-war-warts

http://narcosphere.narconews.com/notebook/bill-conroy/2012/04/clues-put-fbi-informant-apex-fast-and-furious-scandal
posted by tensegrity at 10:50 AM on June 29, 2012


Fox: In the latest chapter of the gunrunning scandal known as Operation Fast and Furious, federal officials won't say how two suspects obtained more than 360 weapons despite criminal records that should have prevented them from buying even one gun.

Under current federal law, people with felony convictions are not permitted to buy weapons, and those with felony arrests are typically flagged while the FBI conducts a thorough background check.

However, according to court records reviewed by Fox News, two of the 20 defendants indicted in the Fast and Furious investigation have felony convictions and criminal backgrounds that experts say, at the very least, should have delayed them buying a single firearm. Instead, the duo bought dozens of guns on multiple occasions while federal officials watched on closed-circuit cameras.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:26 AM on June 29, 2012


Roll Call: House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) quietly dropped a bombshell letter into the Congressional Record.

The May 24 letter to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member on the panel, quotes from and describes in detail a secret wiretap application that has become a point of debate in the GOP’s “Fast and Furious” gun-walking probe.

The wiretap applications are under court seal, and releasing such information to the public would ordinarily be illegal. But Issa appears to be protected by the Speech or Debate Clause in the Constitution, which offers immunity for Congressional speech, especially on a chamber’s floor.

According to the letter, the wiretap applications contained a startling amount of detail about the operation, which would have tipped off anyone who read them closely about what tactics were being used.

Holder and Cummings have both maintained that the wiretap applications did not contain such details and that the applications were reviewed narrowly for probable cause, not for whether any investigatory tactics contained followed Justice Department policy.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:09 PM on June 29, 2012






There sure does seem to be a lot of retracting, redacting, and withholding:

Holder retracts claim that Bush team knew about Fast and Furious
posted by republican at 11:33 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


That the Republicans are politicizing these events should not obscure how the Fast and Furious scheme (any many others like it) have directly contributed to tragedy and death in Mexico.
Except the fast and furious "scheme" only involved looking at gun store purchase records for legal sales. All the gun purchases monitored by F&F would have happened anyway, they were all legal.
posted by delmoi at 8:08 PM on July 2, 2012


In the fall of 2009, ATF agents installed a secret phone line and hidden cameras in a ceiling panel and wall at Andre Howard's Lone Wolf gun store. They gave him one basic instruction: Sell guns to every illegal purchaser who walks through the door.

federal officials won't say how two suspects obtained more than 360 weapons despite criminal records that should have prevented them from buying even one gun.

The Fortune article is just straight up wrong on that, Delmoi. They let people through while failing criminal checks or with fake IDs. It was anything goes.

And then the Fortune article claims there was no legal recourse to take down a homeless man buying thousands of dollars worth of guns? Because of state law? It's a federal crime, everywhere. The ATF and the prosecutors blew it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:19 PM on July 2, 2012


Actually, the Fortune article says that while agents wanted to arrest these folks, the prosecutors told them that they didn't have the probable cause under Arizona/federal very weak gun laws.
posted by klangklangston at 3:51 PM on July 16, 2012


That sounds like what I said?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:10 PM on July 16, 2012


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