Guy Benson

Throughout today's House Oversight Committee hearings on possible contempt charges for Attorney General Eric Holder, Democrat members repeatedly asserted and imtimated that the deadly gun-running program had originated under the previous administration.  Their clear aim was to muddy the waters on who is ultimately culpable for this blood-stained travesty, to suggest that Republicans are engaged in a shameless partisan witch hunt, and to feed the pliant mainstream media a handy alternate narrative as they begin to cover the controversy.  Katie documented why this variant of "Blame Bush!" isn't remotely applicable to Fast & Furious in her book, and former federal prosector Andy McCarthy exposed and distilled the Left's deliberate obtuseness on this subject last November:
 

The key to [Democrats'] strategy is conflating two very different programs: Operation Fast & Furious and a Bush era ATF initiative known as “Operation Wide Receiver.” In the questions from Judiciary Committee Democrats (principally, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer — there may have been others but, again, I didn’t see the entire hearing), it emerged that Wide Receiver began in 2006, when Alberto Gonzales was the Bush administration attorney general...Wide Receiver actually involved not gun-walking but controlled delivery. Unlike gun-walking, which seems (for good reason) to have been unheard of until Fast & Furious, controlled delivery is a very common law enforcement tactic. Basically, the agents know the bad guys have negotiated a deal to acquire some commodity that is either illegal itself (e.g., heroin, child porn) or illegal for them to have/use (e.g., guns, corporate secrets). The agents allow the transfer to happen under circumstances where they are in control — i.e., they are on the scene conducting surveillance of the transfer, and sometimes even participating undercover in the transfer. As soon as the transfer takes place, they can descend on the suspects, make arrests, and seize the commodity in question — all of which makes for powerful evidence of guilt.  Senator Schumer’s drawing of an equivalence between “tracing” in a controlled-delivery situation and “tracing” in Fast & Furious is laughable. In a controlled delivery firearms case, guns are traced in the sense that agents closely and physically follow them — they don’t just note the serial numbers or other identifying markers. The agents are thus able to trace the precise path of the guns from, say, American dealers to straw purchasers to Mexican buyers.

To the contrary, Fast & Furious involved uncontrolled deliveries — of thousands of weapons. It was an utterly heedless program in which the feds allowed these guns to be sold to straw purchasers — often leaning on reluctant gun dealers to make the sales. The straw purchasers were not followed by close physical surveillance; they were freely permitted to bulk transfer the guns to, among others, Mexican drug gangs and other violent criminals — with no agents on hand to swoop in, make arrests, and grab the firearms. The inevitable result of this was that the guns have been used (and will continue to be used) in many crimes, including the murder of Brian Terry, a U.S. border patrol agent. In sum, the Fast & Furious idea of “trace” is that, after violent crimes occur in Mexico, we can trace any guns the Mexican police are lucky enough to seize back to the sales to U.S. straw purchasers … who should never have been allowed to transfer them (or even buy them) in the first place. That is not law enforcement; that is abetting a criminal rampage.

Another crucial distinction: The Bush-era gun tracing program known as "Wide Receiver" was executed in concert with the Mexican government, which was fully involved at every step of the process.  "Fast & Furious" was conceived and launched without the knowledge of the Mexican government -- and its citizens have paid a very dear price as a result.  Even Holder himself has acknowledged that Fast & Furious was entirely an Obama-era endeavor:

 


That clip is from a hearing in the fall of 2011, putting to lie the contention that Republicans are merely trying to capitalize on an election year "fishing expedition."  Investigators have been "fishing" for the truth for some time.  The family of those killed -- including US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry -- deserve nothing less.  I'll leave you with two (additional) flashback instances of our transparency-loving president decrying the invocation of Executive Privilege, which is precisely the tactic he employed today to scuttle a legitimate Congressional investigation of his supposedly non-partisan Department of Justice. 
 

2009:
 
"The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails. The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears." - President Barack H. Obama
 




"The president is not the Attorney General's client. The people are."  - Senator Barack H. Obama


Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography