Mr. President, Please Read Fortune’s Fast and Furious Article

A day before the House votes on whether Attorney General Eric Holder is in contempt, Fortune magazine is up with a piece* based on a six-month investigation which finds that the ATF never intentionally allowed “gun walking,” as both lawmakers and the media have assumed.

I encourage beg you to read the whole article and get everyone you know to read it, but here are some excerpts:

“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 [head Phoenix ATF agent] 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 [ATF agent] Dodson’s anger at [his boss] 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….

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.

The ATF’s accusers seem untroubled by evidence that the policy they have pilloried didn’t actually exist.

“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.”  Italics in original, emphasis added.

To me this isn’t  irony,  it just shows that however much the GOP loves guns, they hate Obama more.  Fast and Furious may be a Seinfeld Scandal —  a scandal about nothing. 

Much as I’d love to blame Fox, CBS initially behaved shamefully here, believing the bad apple (Dodson) over the good apple (Voth) and taking Voth’s email out of context to say he was referring to gunwalking, when he was not.

* “The truth about the Fast and Furious scandal,” Katherine Eban

Issa Admits No Evidence of White House Wrongdoing

Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Darrell Issa, the GOP congressman leading the witch hunt investigation into Fast and Furious admitted that he has no evidence that the White House was involved either in any cover-up or in misleading Congress.

Of course this won’t stop the Fox Machine from spinning its Second Amendment conspiracy theories or in going after President Obama on this.

I should point out that I’m not a fan of Eric Holder and was disappointed when he was appointed Attorney General.  I was very upset about President Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich, and Holder was up to his eyeballs in that.

The Fight Fox Wanted

From “Fast and Furious:  How President Obama and John Boehner got to the brink,” Josh Gerstein and Jake Sherman, Politico:

“For Obama, the political costs of the executive privilege showdown are obvious:  In an election year, there’s little upside to him being tied more closely to a failed gun-smuggling investigation that may have led to the death of at least one U. S. law enforcement agent and hundreds of killings in Mexico.  The executive privilege claim also undercuts his promises to run the most transparent administration in history and could open him to claims of hypocrisy and coverup.

“For Boehner, an unprecedented floor vote to hold an attorney general in contempt threatens to undermine the GOP’s promise to keep a laserlike focus on the economy and Republicans’ determined effort to hammer away at what they view as Obama’s inability to fix the country’s economic ills.  Headlines about the investigations could remind some voters of the 1990’s, when a flurry of probes the Republicans launched of the Clinton administration boomeranged on congressional inquisitors.

“Boehner, Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy also began to feel extraordinary pressure from their membership, chiefly Reps. Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, who both serve on the Judiciary Committee and Issa’s panel.  There were also more than 100 members who signed onto a resolution expressing no confidence in Holder.

‘White House officials insist there’s nothing in the records that would do any real damage, beyond perhaps revealing some emails with intemperate language about Issa’s investigation.

Some administration officials believe that Issa and Boehner were essentially forced into the contempt vote because intense coverage of the probe on Fox News and by conservative online news outlets fed expectations in the Republican base that heads would roll and a smoking-gun memo would surface.

“‘They’ve created their own problem because they made so many outrageous statements and created expectations that something big is going to happen,’ said Matt Miller, a former Justice Department spokesman involved in the initial response to Congress.   ‘The Republican leadership in the House has known for a long time that this is a fight they didn’t want to have but were going to be force by their base to have.'”  Emphasis added.

I really believe this is going to bite the GOP in Congress, and by extension Romney, on the tush and not hurt Obama.

Serves Them Right

The NYT confirms* what I had suspected, that GOP leaders in Congress and Mitt’s campaign really didn’t want this Fast and Furious thing to blow up so big that it’s drowning out their message (such as it is) on the economy and jobs.

The Times says GOP leaders “adopted a go-slow approach,” but “they were powerless to prevent the blowup, pressed by a handful of Republican lawmakers [Darrell Issa, Jason Chaffetz, and Trey Gowdy] who have driven the issue and a conservative base that has followed it closely.”

I hope this teaches the sane people left in the GOP (Hello?  Anybody there?) a lesson.  Once the inmates have taken over the asylum, good luck getting back the keys.

I bet John of Orange would rather have a smoke with Obama than meet with some of his nut cases.

* “Partisan Confrontation That Not All Wanted,” Jonathan Weisman

Maybe Some Good Will Come from Fast and Furious

All administrations have embarrassing episodes, and Fast and Furious is certainly one of those.

But there’s embarrassing and then there’s crazy.  If the GOP pushes their insane conspiracy theory that Fast and Furious was really designed to take away our Second Amendment rights, then maybe some good will come of it.   It will reveal how radical and how crazy the Republicans have become, how unworthy of being one of our two mainstream parties.  The GOP hasn’t just refused to stand up to the nuts, it has let them take over.

This conspiracy theory makes no sense to me.  We’re supposed to believe that our providing a bunch of guns to Mexican drug lords would result in so much killing of Mexicans that Americans would be begging for more gun control.

But, really, why would Americans care if Mexicans get killed?  The truth is that about 100,000 Americans are shot or killed by guns every year (some of them children sitting in their living rooms watching TV when a bullet comes through the window), and we don’t demand more gun control.

If shootings of our own people don’t spur us to action, why would Mexican deaths?

Prez to Issa: Drop Dead

You know things aren’t going well when Drudge features a picture of Richard Nixon with President Obama’s eyes photoshopped in.  No one wants to be compared to Tricky Dick, ever.

Today, Obama claimed executive privilege for the first time in his presidency over documents Congress has subpoenaed in the “Fast and Furious” gun running operation.  Bush 43 claimed the privilege six times, and Clinton 14 times, so this day was inevitable.  At some point, presidents and Congress clash.

This is no longer about Fast and Furious itself.  We know what happened.  In a sting operation to sell guns to Mexican drug cartels, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives didn’t make arrests as quickly as it could because it sought to build a bigger case.  This is known as “gun walking,” and it led to the Bureau’s losing track of about 2,000 guns, two of which were found when a Border Patrol agent was shot in December of 2010.

The Justice Department has already given Congress almost 8,000 documents related to the operation.  What’s in dispute are internal emails after February 4, 2011, about Congress’ investigation into the bungled operation.

Justice officials in D. C. gave Congress incorrect information based on false assurances they received from Arizona-based officials that gun walking had not occurred.  They may have been a little too quick and willing to accept those assurances and pass them along to Congress.

Congress is now looking to embarrass the Justice Department (and President Obama) as Justice scrambled to cover its tush after giving Congress false information about gun walking.

Basically, what did Eric Holder know, and when did he know it?

Obama is sticking his neck way out for Holder, rather than letting him twist in the wind or take the fall.  The GOP will do everything it can to make Holder — and Obama — look bad.

Today, Obama looks tough and loyal.  Not sure how he’ll look in a few weeks or months.  I hope Holder has been straight with him.

This isn’t about losing guns in Mexico, this is about losing the election in the U. S.

Mitt Talks About His Dad Getting Government Help

On Fox News today, Mitt talked about his father’s birth in Mexico and then coming to the U. S. as a boy:

“They lived in Mexico and lived a very nice life there from what I understand and then when he was , I think five or six years old, there was a revolution in Mexico. They escaped. I believe they went to El Paso first, and were helped by the government to get on their feet.

So given this family history,  maybe Mitt should have a little more empathy for those who need government help at some point in their lives.