#FastAndFurious – conspiracy or stupidity? And does it matter?

June 25, 2012

In a video last week, Bill Whittle asserted that the only explanation for Operation Fast and Furious was as an effort to undermine the Second Amendment and pave the way for strict gun control.  It’s an argument made by others, notably Bob Owens at PJMedia, and it has a certain appeal, if only because there seems to be no other reason for such a stupid idea, an idea that got people killed.

But what if it was “locally-grown” stupidity? What if the ATF simply screwed up, and now the DoJ and the White House are trying to sweep weapons-grade idiocy under the rug? At Power Line, Paul Mirengoff cautions that we should be careful not to assume conspiracy when stupidity will suffice:

First, Fast and Furious does not appear to have been the brainchild of President Obama or Attorney General Holder. Rather, the program reportedly was formulated by the ATF in Phoenix in response to an edict from Washington to focus on eliminating arms trafficking networks, as opposed to capturing low-level buyers, as had occurred under traditional interdiction programs. If Fast and Furious had been the product of a conspiracy by the administration to promote gun control legislation, the program would have come from the top down, not from the bottom up.

Now, it’s possible that a thorough review of documents would show that, contrary to current understanding, the plan originated in the White House or with Eric Holder. But it seems unlikely. For if this had happened, those who have been blamed for the program would likely have said they were following edicts from the highest reaches of the government.

Eric Holder’s claim that he knew nothing about Fast and Furious is implausible. But this doesn’t mean that he and/or the president came up with the idea. As far as I know, there is no evidence as of now that either did.

He goes on to argue that the “pursuit of gun control” theory is unpersuasive be cause a) Americans just don’t care enough about violence in Mexico to demand stricter gun control here and b) the idea of supplying guns to Mexican cartels carries such risks for the administration (as we’re seeing play out now) that it doesn’t pass the rationality test for Holder and Obama to actually do this.

Finally, there’s the question of why, then, would Holder patently lie to Congress and why would Obama try to shield him by invoking a weak form of executive privilege? Mirengoff argues:

In reality, cover-ups typically stem from a quintessentially non-ideological motive – the desire to escape blame and stay out of trouble.

What kind of trouble? The administration may be motivated by the desire to cover up evidence that the Attorney General knowingly and deliberately lied to Congress. It may want to cover up evidence that Holder knew plenty about Fast and Furious and/or that Obama did too.

But it’s unlikely that the administration invoked executive privilege to cover up evidence that it formulated or authorized Fast and Furious in order to promote an ideological agenda.

Read the whole thing. Mirengoff’s a lawyer and he looks at the question with an attorney’s logic.

As for myself… I don’t know. Both sides make plausible arguments regarding the “why,” and my natural predilection is to assume incompetence before malice, so call me a fence-sitter on this question.

On the other hand, the reasons for Fast and Furious and for the administration’s coverup are less important than what we do know as fact:

  • The United States government, through the Department of Justice and its subordinate agencies, not just allowed but encouraged the illegal sales of firearms to Mexican drug cartels, said cartels being in an effective state of war with the government of Mexico, our ally.
  • Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered, shot in the back with a weapon supplied through Fast and Furious.
  • ICE Agent Jaime Zapata was ambushed and killed outside Mexico City, while he was working to intercept firearms supplied through Fast and Furious.
  • Hundreds of Mexicans –soldiers, civilians, and police– have died via weapons supplied through Fast and Furious.

As long as we fix our minds to these facts and unrelentingly demand accountability of our government and justice for the dead, we’ll learn the reasons for this whole sordid, squalid mess.

RELATED: A “Fast and Furious” whistleblower once himself proposed gunwalking. Earlier posts on Operation Fast and Furious.

LINK: And on the “gun control may have been the objective” side we can now add Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who’s been leading the charge to investigate Fast and Furious. (via Hot Air) Like I said above, at this point, the reasons for Fast and Furious are less important than the deaths it caused.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


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