Some media outlets and others claimed yesterday that a Fortune Magazine article is "The truth about the Fast and Furious scandal." MSNBC claimed that on
Wednesday night on Politics Nation, Katherine Eban of Fortune magazine threw a major stumbling block into the GOP’s much-ballyhooed Fast and Furious investigation, in which Republicans are seeking to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt.
Others claim it is written by a very biased writer. The truth about the article and its purposes are largely immaterial. The most important part is the following.
“The agents and the prosecutors say they were following the laws as written," Eban added. "It’s not a question of throwing the laws aside. That’s not what occurred. Nor was it the case that there was actually a tactical plan to let the guns walk.”
The most political statements by the Katherine Eban stem from her position on the issue itself.
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.) “Republican senators are whipping up the country into a psychotic frenzy with these reports that are patently false,” says Linda Wallace, a special agent with the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation unit who was assigned to the Fast and Furious team (and recently retired from the IRS). A self-described gun-rights supporter, Wallace has not been criticized by Issa’s committee.
So, if one is to accept this article at face value, which The Ed Show apparently does, one must treat all of its contents as adequately reported. And the truth is squarely in the article for all to read. If you can pass by the obviously biased position of the reporter herself.
Here are the points, supported by everyone involved including the latest article in Fortune.
1. Despite a letter to the contrary, the Department of Justice knew about the "gun walking" by the ATF, the same agency as the one that burned the Waco compound to the ground and illegally shot women and children on Ruby Ridge.
2. There was "gun walking" unless you define this to be "illegal" and accept the position of the DOJ on this issue. In fact, this issue has never been decided by the courts. The US Department of Justice itself decided that the ATF's "gun walking" was completely legal, including the sale of guns that were known to be for drug traffic and/or other illegal purposes.
3. The Department of Justice has refused to arrest anyone involved in Fast and Furious since its first knowledge of Fast and Furious, which was at least in early 2010. Instead, it claims it is still "investigating" the situation.
The author of the Fortune article claims that the gun walking policy did not exist.
The ATF's accusers seem untroubled by evidence that the policy they have pilloried didn't actually exist. "It gets back to something basic for me," says Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). "Terry was murdered, and guns from this operation were found at his murder site." A spokesman for Issa denies that politics has played a role in the congressman's actions and says "multiple individuals across the Justice Department's component agencies share responsibility for the failure that occurred in Operation Fast and Furious." Issa's spokesman asserts that even if ATF agents followed prosecutors' directives, "the practice is nonetheless gun walking." Attorneys for Dodson declined to comment on the record.
But what is strange is that this entire argument is based on the view that because the Department of Justice claims the actions were legal, there is no "gun walking" defining that term to mean "illegal" or "felonious" "gun walking." And this is the Department of Justice's position as well.
The Fortune article went to print with the author joining the semantic game of "what is gun walking" rather than the facts of what was being done by the Department of Justice and why.
In ripping the Fortune article, a Townhall.com writer claims:
Fact: During Operation Fast and Furious, gun dealers repeatedly emailed Voth, asking whether guns they were selling under orders from ATF, were ending up in the wrong hands. Voth assured them they were not. More than two thousands guns trafficked into Mexico and hundreds of dead victims later, that turned out to be a lie. Gun dealers repeatedly raised concerns about ATF telling them to allow straw purchasers using false ID and loads of cash to buy weapons. In 2010, a gun dealer emailed Voth because a straw purchaser had placed a large order and the dealer wanted to know if he should order more stock. Once again, so he could comply with ATF's order to sell. Voth told him, go right ahead. Order the guns, sell to the bad guys.
These are the facts as I understand them. Voth continued his program because he was allegedly told by the Department of Justice that was by now "running this operation" that there was no evidence allowing an arrest. You can quibble about my words "running this operation" by claiming that the DOJ was not running anything, and also claim that their instructions not to prevent the sales and their claim now that this is all a part of an investigation means they are not running the operation.
So, under these circumstances, who was running the operation? No one? Or the DOJ?
The truth is that the Department of Justice has played a role in sales of guns to many people, including those who were known to be doing so in order to sell or transport the guns over the border to those in drug cartels or at least for illegal purposes. They have been involved in arrests for illegal gun purchases. And the number of guns being sold, the persons involved, and other facts involved in Fast and Furious made it obvious that they were being used for illegal purposes.
But the Department of Justice neither prevented the sale of these guns or ever prosecuted anyone for making the purchases or providing the guns to people who used them illegally, including the death of one US border agent.
Do you want to find out what happened?
The Republicans do.
In refusing to produce all documents required by subpoenas investigating how this could have possibly happened, Eric Holder and Barack Obama, both lawyers themselves and one running the Department of Justice, have decided that the public is not entitled to know what happened because of two defenses. The first is that "ongoing investigations" concerning the sale of guns in Arizona make it impossible to provide some or most of the requested documentation.
This is an interesting concept, since the claim is that the sale of the guns was lawful and there was really no gun walking. Just who is being investigated and why? For that matter, since when does an agency get to withhold documentation about a possible coverup in this way? They could always make this claim. And the investigations have already been ongoing for years. When does such a claim no longer apply?
In fact, the Obama Administration has worked out a number of interesting lawyer concepts, all of which make it obvious that they are more interested in protecting principles that protect the president than in the principles themselves.
The most obvious one is the one by which the United States determines that those killed by drones are terrorists. Instead of treating the truth, which is that terrorists choose to live in normal neighborhoods with people who are not terrorists, they have determined in accordance with the president's directive that anyone who lives near terrorists are also terrorists.
Obama, Becker and Shane write, was angry when informed that the first drone strike after he took office had killed innocent Pakistanis. But one of the measures the administration embraced to prevent future innocent casualties was to embrace a method of counting combatants that would rope in more innocents.
"It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent," the Times reports. "Counterterrorism officials insist this approach is one of simple logic: people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good."
You might wonder what all this means. Does it mean that Obama is actually "profiling?" Doing so for political reasons?
Yes, the lawyer in you could also tell you that "gun walking" is what we define as "illegal" and that we are going to tell you what is "illegal."
But the most important aspect that we need to focus on is the blanket claim that anything done by any agency at any time is entitled to "executive privilege" because it reveals the "executive's" "deliberative processes."
In other words, your government can withhold information from the public at any time because it is "deliberating." You are only entitled to know what the government wants you to know.
Most Democrats will tell you that this is nothing but a "witch hunt," intending by this term to mean that there is nothing there.
But how do they know this? By claiming that the DOJ did not know? By claiming that the DOJ is investigating? By claiming that there was no "gun walking?" By claiming that Obama and Holder, who can define away anything even by using obscene profiling, are good and lawful people who would never do wrong?
From my perspective, I certainly hope that the public will get this process going in the House of Representatives today so that the public can eventually know what all the fuss is about.
Not by claims of "witch hunting," but through the revelation of real facts by our own president and Department of Justice.
In a free country, the public is entitled to know what happened when and why. If the Democrats want less, let them move to Iran or North Korea.