Despite leaving office without facing justice, Obama and his top administration officials are still not out of the woods yet on the “Fast and Furious” scheme to arm Mexican drug cartels under the guise of conducting an “investigation.” This month, the House Oversight Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee released a damning report blasting the former administration for the scandal and the subsequent ham-handed attempt to cover it up, including obstruction of Congress and shady dealings with the press and victims' families. Many key documents are still being withheld. Unsurprisingly, the establishment media has completely ignored the latest developments in the explosive story. But with more facts coming out, activists and victims' families hope former officials involved in the deadly gun-running program may still be brought to justice for a wide range of crimes.
Operation Fast and Furious was an Obama program in which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) helped put heavy weapons into the hands of murderous drug cartels in Mexico. The whole scandal exploded when a federal agent was murdered with a Fast and Furious gun. As the story threatened to bring down key Obama officials, the spin was put out that it was all part of a supposed “investigation” into “drug cartels.” However, massive amounts of evidence emerged in the subsequent months and years suggesting that it was actually a criminal operation to blame the Second Amendment for violence, with the supposed targets of the alleged “investigation” already on the FBI payroll. Indeed, top lawmakers and gun-rights activists have said the operation was intended to be exploited by Obama to push gun-control, but it blew up in the administration's face when federal agents blew the whistle.
The latest joint staff report on the scandal, released by lawmakers on June 7, is the third in a series of congressional reports outlining the Obama administration's plan to arm murderous drug cartels by coercing U.S. gun dealers to sell them and using U.S. tax money to buy them. Dubbed “Fast and Furious: Obstruction of Congress by the Department of Justice,” the new report highlights what lawmakers said was the former administration's oftentimes illegal stonewalling and deliberate lying in the DOJ's efforts to cover up the crimes. It came from the top, too. Of course, lying to Congress can itself be a crime, and Obama's attorney general, anti-gun extremist Eric Holder, was held in criminal contempt of Congress for his lies. However, he was never put behind bars.
The new report was scathing. “In the course of that investigation, nearly six years ago, the Justice Department wrote to Congress and falsely denied that law enforcement officers allowed straw purchasers to buy firearms illegally in the United States and traffic them without being apprehended," explained the joint staff report's executive summary. “Since that false denial, the Committees have investigated why the Department of Justice misled Congress and failed to correct its misrepresentation in a timely manner. Despite the Department’s refusal to cooperate, the investigation developed with the cooperation of DOJ whistleblowers.”
Holder himself was involved in withholding “thousands of key documents,” the report continues. And he even asked Obama to exert so-called “executive privilege” over “all documents related to the Department’s responses to questions from Congress about Fast and Furious.” Obama complied, “dishonestly” purporting to justify the administration's refusal to comply with lawful congressional subpoenas in order to “obstruct the investigation.” By the government's own logic, that strongly suggests top officials had “something to hide.”
In essence, then, the highest levels of the Obama administration were determined to prevent the American people's elected representatives from doing their jobs — even if it meant openly flaunting federal law.
Finally, the courts stepped in, forcing officials to hand over some of the documents. “The produced documents showed Holder was significantly more involved in the response to Congress’s investigation than had previously been understood,” the new report said. “Many key documents are still being withheld, but the body of evidence available at this point is sufficiently robust to conclude that there are fundamental flaws in the Department’s approach to responding to congressional requests for documents and information generally, and in the Department’s tactics in dealing with questions about the Fast and Furious case in particular.”
According to the newly available documents cited in the report, Justice Department officials were “focused more on spin and obfuscation than getting the facts right.” Calling the climate at DOJ headquarters “highly politicized,” the report noted that the Obama Justice Department was doing its best to limit the amount of disclosed information in its dealings with Congress and the press. Even the family of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, who was murdered with a Fast and Furious gun, was given the runaround by Obama's administration, with the DOJ apparently viewing the family as a “public relations nuisance” more than anything else.
Other outrages documented in the report include the DOJ's failure to properly investigate the concerns of whistleblowers. The internal investigations, the report said, were “deeply flawed” and “largely a sham,” with DOJ officials accepting at face value the information they received from the bureaucrats involved in the gun-running. Documents obtained by Congress also revealed a lack of respect for congressional oversight, according to the report, with lawmakers saying Obama's top DOJ officials, including Holder, showed “disdain” for Congress and its role. On top of that, the documents show that the DOJ's bizarre responses and focus on spin and lies were coming down from Holder himself, the report said. Numerous voices said Holder should be in jail.
One major focus of the latest report was the murder of Border Patrol Agent Terry. “More than five years after Brian’s murder, the Terry family still wonders about key details of Operation Fast and Furious,” the joint staff report explained. “The Justice Department’s obstruction of Congress’s investigation contributed to the Terry family’s inability to find answers.” Senator Chuck Grassley, who has played a key role in the congressional investigation, testified before the House Oversight Committee and made similar charges. “The Department of Justice and ATF had no intention of looking for honest answers and being transparent,” he said. “In fact, from the onset, bureaucrats employed shameless delay tactics to obstruct the investigation.”
Another official who testified at the House hearing was ATF Special Agent John Dodson, one of the initial whistleblowers to come forward and expose the scandalous scheme. In his testimony before lawmakers, Dodson said his objection to the gun-running resulted in official reprisals, ridicule, and being put in a “state of purgatory” within the agency. “That decision, the single act of standing up and saying, what we are doing is wrong,... instantly took my standing from being that of an agent of the government — to an enemy of the state,” Dodson testified. “ATF and DOJ officials implemented an all-out campaign to silence and discredit me. Suffice to say, the last six to seven years at ATF have not been the best for me or my career.”
Indeed, it was thanks to Dodson that many of the administration's lies about Fast and Furious were exposed to lawmakers and the public in the first place. Among other lies, Dodson's revelations debunked the false “botched investigation” narrative peddled by top officials — the notion that the program was simply a well-intentioned plan gone awry to trace weapons and arrest criminals. Instead, Dodson showed that there never was an actual plan to actually catch any criminals. Even more absurd: the supposed “criminals” being investigated “had been cultivated as informants and were in fact assets of the FBI,” Dodson explained, exploding the fake narrative pushed by the administration and its propagandists in the establishment press.
In other words, the FBI was working with its “assets” to use U.S. taxpayer dollars to help arm Mexican drug cartels with weapons bought at American gun stores under orders from the ATF. “Take the government out of this equation and nothing gets done,” Dodson noted. “No guns get purchased, because there is no FBI money to pay for them; no guns get sold, because ATF is not coercing the gun dealers to sell them; and no guns get trafficked, because ATF is not using the guise of a ‘big case’ to allow it all to happen. And yet the Justice Department was happy to let the farce continue, telling my ATF bosses they were doing a great job.” And then, the resulting violence was used to demonize gun rights and the Second Amendment.
For reasons that remain unclear, President Donald Trump's Attorney General Jeff Sessions was not willing to testify about the issue before the House Oversight Committee. In a letter sent to committee chair Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the DOJ cited ongoing litigation in the case, as well as “settlement discussions,” for refusing to show up or at least send somebody. “Under these circumstances, we are not in a position to provide additional information in response to your questions, nor to have a Department witness testify about them at a congressional hearing," the DOJ said in its letter. Once the litigation is over, that may change.
While Obama and his top minions have so far escaped serious accountability for their deadly scheming, which has contributed to hundreds of deaths on both sides of the border, the American people continue to demand answers. Hopefully Congress will take the probe seriously, too. For the sake of preventing similar crimes in the future, it is crucial that the gun running, the perjury, the criminal contempt, the apparent effort to traffic guns to murderous criminals in order to demonize gun rights, and all the other crimes be severely punished. Congressional “reports” and “investigations” are no substitute for actual justice.
Photo of President Obama: DoD photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos