On the eve of an historic vote by a congressional committee that could find the Attorney General of the United States in contempt of congress, a Fortune Magazine article has been published that challenges the entire narrative of the what has come to be called Fast & Furious.
It is alleged that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) engaged in a series of ‘gunwalking’ sting operations during the period 2006-2011. The program, was intended to reduce the flow of illegal weapons into Mexico and the hands of the drug cartels by by allowing some weapons to be moved (or walked) by gun runners. It is alleged that the ATF allowed gun runners and straw buyers to purchase weapons and traffic them across the border. This is called gunwalking.
Ultimately, weapons did fall into the hands of members of various cartels and two American border patrol agents were killed, as were a number of Mexican citizens. Some of these weapons were found at the scene of the killings.
|Brian Terry one of two American
Border Partol Agents killed by
weapons from Fast & Furious
Congress, led by the Republican side of the house, has been investigating Fast & Furious, demanding documents and grilling Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United States about the program. Democrats have accused Republicans of engaging in a witch hunt for political reasons. Republican supporters have accused the administration of a secret plan to take away American’s right to own guns.
Media commentators and politicians on both sides have had a field day slinging accusations back and forth and even the National Rifle Association (NRA) has jumped in to the fray. The NRA announced it would give any Democratic congressmen ‘a black mark’ if they didn’t vote to find the Attorney General in contempt of Congress. Personally, I believe he is in contempt but I think the NRA should put the intimidation tactics away. They have no place in a democracy.
Now, a well-researched article by Fortune Magazine questions many of the assertions made about the program and that has touched off a firestorm in the mainstream media (MSM).
|Some of the recovered weapons from the
Fast & Furious program
As can be expected and even predicted, the MSM on the left have seized on this article as a vindication of the Obama Administration while those on the right dismiss it as factually wrong or irrelevant. The reporting, in most cases, is so abjectly biased on both sides that it fails, by any standard of measurement to even imitate journalism.
Martin Bashir went so far as to suggest that the Congressional investigation had nothing to do with a dead American border agent. It was all about a conspiracy to take away guns from Americans. It appears that no spin is too absurd for the mainstream media to support their particular bias.
Nowhere was this more evident than on CNN where Soledad O’Brien once again proved that a mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Ms O’brien, who is well-known for her lack of objectivity and ability to engage in anything even remotely resembling critical thinking, interviewed Katherine Eban of Fortune about her article on Fast & Furious. During that interview, Ms Eban restated, as she did in her article that five ATF agents told her that gunwalking had not occurred. Ms O’Brien played a video clip of Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States, testifying under oath that in fact, it had.
|CNN”s Soledad O’Brien
Subsequently, Ms O’Brien interviewed Rep. John Mica of the House Committee investigating Fast & Furious. It was a mess. Ms O’Brien was less interested in uncovering facts than she was about using the Fortune article to discredit the committee’s investigation, the results of which might hurt President Obama’s reelection campaign. She clung to her bias like a fat kid clinging to a Big Mac and it was painful to watch.
Perhaps the most absurd moment came when she demanded to know from Rep. Mica, what evidence the committee had that gunwalking had actually taken place when five ATF agents denied that it had. The question was so stupid; I had to remind myself to breathe. She had just played a video clip of the Attorney General admitting under oath that it had. Surely to God, that admission, in and of itself, should be enough grounds for the committee to continue its investigation. Even Soledad O’Brien should be able to figure that out but to give her the benefit of the doubt, perhaps she wasn’t paying attention when her ‘people’ aired the clip.
|Congressman John Mica of the House Committee
investigating Fast & Furious
That is what now passes for journalism today.
I don’t know the truth about Fast & Furious and I suspect there aren’t too many who do. Clearly, people like Soledad O’Brien and Martin Bashir don’t either. They get their information from the media (or in Ms O’Brien’s case, Wikipedia) like the rest of us.
Ms Eban’s article for Fortune raises serious questions that need to be answered. She has presented facts uncovered during her six-month investigation that challenge some of the narrative put forward so far about Fast & Furious. Whether or not those facts will ultimately prove to be the whole story remains to be seen but her article actually supports the need for the continuation of the congressional investigation.
|Attorney General Eric Holder who testified
under oath that gunwalking had occurred
during Fast & Furious
Instead of grasping at the Fortune article as a vindication of the Obama administration and a condemnation of the Congressional committee, why aren’t Soledad O’Brien and other members of the MSM asking questions like; if the ATF agents are correct, why did the Attorney General lie to Congress? If in fact the administration did not engage in activity that led to the deaths of two American border agents and a number of Mexican citizens, why is it refusing to hand over documents about the case? Assuming that Ms Eban’s article is factually correct and that there was never an intention for the guns to fall into criminal hands, how did it happen? What were the causes of such careless inefficiency? Who is responsible?
None of these questions are being asked nor is the MSM asking why the administration is working overtime to prevent the release of documents related to Fast & Furious.
Less than 10% of the existing documents related to the Fast & Furious program have been turned over to Congress. The President has invoked executive privilege (again) and the Attorney General faces contempt of Congress motion. That seems a little extreme for an administration that believe it did nothing wrong. One would think that if there was nothing to hide, those documents would already be on their way to the committee by Zippy Delivery.
But they are not and it is the contradictions about Fast & Furious that are the elephant in the room, an elephant being all but ignored by the mainstream media.
Ms Eban has written that five agents told her that the ATF did not engage in gunwalking but another ATF agent, John Dodson testified that he and other agents were ordered to observe the activities of gun smugglers but not to intervene.
“Over the course of the next 10 months that I was involved
in this operation, we monitored as they purchased hand guns,
AK-47variants, and .50 caliber rifles almost daily.
Rather than conduct any enforcement actions, we took notes, we
recorded observations, we tracked movements of these individuals
for a short time after their purchases, but nothing more.
Knowing all the while, just days after these purchases, the guns
that we saw these individuals buy would begin turning up at
crime scenes in the United States and Mexico,
we still did nothing. …
“I cannot begin to think of how the risk of letting guns fall into
the hands of known criminals could possibly advance any
legitimate law enforcement interest.”
– from the transcript of Agent Dodson’s testimony before the House Committee
So which ATF agents are telling the truth? Who do we believe? Personally, I don’t know but neither do the MSM. Instead of trying to ferret out the truth, the entertainment news anchors simply toss out snippets of information that support their bias, their politics or simply their inability to actually act like journalists.
Whatever the truth about Fast & Furious, much of the mainstream media’s coverage and analysis of it, like so much else it purports to cover, is a disgrace. It is difficult to remember that American journalism was created and nurtured by people like Edward R. Murrow, Walter Conkrite and Mike Wallace.
If the shallow and biased commentary of today is the best that freedom of the press buys, it is definitely overpriced and we are not getting our money’s worth. With great freedom comes great responsibility and the news media has an obligation to report the news objectively, fully and to hold government to account. They do not exist to act as publicity arms of one political party or another.
MSNBC, Fox News, CNN and all the rest would do well to remember that although I doubt there are sufficient real journalists working for any of them anymore to ensure that will happen.