By Jeff Knox
The objective is to delay exposure of the truth until that exposure has no political or personal impact on the various players involved.
Efforts to get at the truth of the scandal got a boost in January when an Obama-appointed federal judge ruled that thousands of documents subpoenaed by congressional investigators could NOT be withheld under claims of executive privilege. In keeping with the Slow and Tedious strategy, the Department of Justice finally released a large block of the documents three months later on a Friday afternoon in April but continues to withhold many others.
The recent document dump supports speculation that then-Attorney General Eric Holder knew more about the ill-conceived gunwalking operation than he has claimed, and that he and other high-level DOJ officials actively worked to conceal details of the operation from Congress and the public. Emails released earlier in the investigation indicate that White House adviser Valerie Jarrett gave guidance in the coverup, but so far, none of the recent documents provide a direct link to the White House.
What they do show is a concerted effort to keep the details of the operation under wraps for political purposes.
Had these documents been made public when they were originally subpoenaed, they could have had a serious negative impact on Obama’s re-election campaign and might have prevented implementation of new regulations requiring gun dealers in border states to report information about purchasers of semi-auto rifles. By delaying the release until now, those political consequences have been avoided, but there are other potential consequences the administration is continuing to try and avoid. Recent criminal charges filed against government officials in the Flint, Michigan, water scandal are a reminder that politicians and bureaucrats might not be beyond the reach of the law.
So far, no one has paid a significant price for their roles in Fast and Furious, and the administration clearly wants to keep it that way.
It has been more than five years since the tragic death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry at the hands of Mexican bandits. The bandits were armed with guns acquired with the assistance of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives – the agency tasked with enforcement of federal gun control laws. In January of 2011, just one month after Agent Terry’s death, I asked the question in this column whether the Obama administration had intentionally allowed guns to be smuggled to Mexican drug gangs as a way of boosting the administration’s gun control agenda. That column was based on the investigative reporting of citizen-journalists David Codrea and Mike Vanderboegh, who developed the story from sources within the BATF and worked tirelessly to bring it to the attention of Congress and “mainstream” reporters. The WND column was the first mention of the scandal in a major national media outlet. That was followed in late February with a report by Cheryl Atkisson on CBS News in which she interviewed one of Codrea and Vanderboegh’s BATF sources. After that, other reporters slowly started mentioning the growing scandal, and Congress intensified its investigation.
Fast and Furious
Fast and Furious was the codename given to a still-unexplained program under which the BATF instructed certain gun dealers to go ahead with firearm and ammunition sales to suspected Mexican arms traffickers. Once the sales were made, BATF agents were ordered to break off surveillance of the suspects, and no effort of any kind was made to track the suspects or the guns they possessed. BATF officials – and the media – continue to refer to the program as a “botched sting,” or a “failed attempt to track guns to Mexican drug cartels,” but those labels don’t come close to fitting the program. The only monitoring that was done – or even possible under the plan – was to trace serial numbers of guns found at crime scenes.
That information provides no actionable intelligence, and only marginally enhances the prosecution of low-level, straw buyers. When Agent Terry was killed, both guns recovered at the scene turned out to have come from the Fast and Furious program. That resulted in the program being quickly shut down and swept under the rug. Had it not been for Vanderboegh noticing an off-hand comment on a BATF employee gripe site, and following up on the comment, the whole Fast and Furious debacle might have never been made public.
Codrea and Vanderboegh never got the credit they deserved for breaking the story, but they weren’t in it for the notoriety; they just wanted the truth to be known.
Vanderboegh, a prolific blogger and rabble-rouser, is currently dealing with serious health issues and is sadly not expected to be with us much longer. As cantankerous and disagreeable as he can be, he has done the republic a great service by challenging authority and exposing the threads of truth in this case. Readers are encouraged to remember him and his family in their current struggles.
After the story started gaining legs in 2011, the administration, the Department of Justice and the BATF hierarchy disavowed any knowledge of the program. They pointed fingers at local agents and made some superficial changes. The acting head of BATF was laterally transferred to a new position, as were the supervisory agents in charge of the operation. A politically connected federal prosecutor in Arizona and a DOJ deputy resigned, and the agents who blew the whistle on the operation faced career-ending retribution. No other consequences have resulted from the ill-conceived program except hundreds of dead and injured in Mexico.
For now, Operation Slow and Tedious drags on. Attorneys for Congress continue to battle attorneys for the administration over release of the remaining documents, but the public’s interest is waning, and the trail is growing cold.
Slow and tedious is once again proving to be a successful strategy for consequence avoidance in Washington.
About the Firearms Coalition:
The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition is a project of Neal Knox Associates, Manassas, VA.
For more information, visit: www.FirearmsCoalition.org.