By Perry Diaz
The recent “Fast and Furious” gun-walking scandal that is rocking the Department of Justice to its foundation is turning out to be nothing more than a conspiracy theory concocted to embarrass President Barack Obama. This conspiracy theory links the scandal to allegations by the National Rifle Association (NRA) that Obama was attempting to remove the Second Amendment. But as it is the controversy heats up, the conspiracy theory is turning out to be without any tangible proof or facts to back it up. As someone once said, “When truth is not supported with facts, it is worse than a lie.”
But whether it’s the truth or a lie, the Republicans in the House of Representatives took advantage of this conspiracy theory and turned the House into a circus never before seen since the Clinton years. It didn’t matter whether it turned out to be unfounded, the Republicans just wanted to put Obama on the hot seat hoping that it would fry him by the time the presidential elections come around in November. But there is also the prospect that the Republicans – and Mitt Romney, the GOP presumptive presidential nominee –might get burned and could result in an election debacle for Romney.
Walk the gun
“Operation Fast and Furious” had its roots in “Operation Wide Receiver,” which began in 2006 during the administration of President George W. Bush. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) ran the “gun-walking” sting operation – which began in 2006 — from its Tucson, Arizona branch office.
“Gun-walking” – or “letting guns walk” – was a tactic used by the ATF to allow thousands of firearms to be sold by licensed Arizona firearms dealers to suspected arms traffickers or “gunrunners” through “straw buyers.” ATF can then track the movement of the firearms to higher-level traffickers and cartel kingpins, which in theory would lead to their arrest and dismantling of the cartels.
“Operation Fast and Furious” was conducted by ATF’s Phoenix, Arizona branch office from 2009 to 2011. “Fast and Furious” was part of a broader scope of investigations called the “Project Gunrunner” whose long-term goal is to stem the flow of firearms to criminals in Mexico.
Between 2009 and 2011, Arizona firearms dealers sold about 2,000 firearms to “straw buyers.” The ATF lost track of an estimated 1,300 of those weapons. As of October 20, 2011, about 700 were recovered. Many straw buyers were arrested and indicted; however, none of the targeted high-level cartel figures were arrested.
“Fast and Furious” managed to operate its sting operations under the media’s radar screen until December 14, 2010 when Brian Terry, a U.S. Border Patrol agent, was killed in a firefight with suspected illegal immigrants in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, 11 miles from the Mexican border. Four of the suspects were arrested and two AK-47 assault rifles were found nearby. The assault rifles were traced to “Fast and Furious.” However, the bullet that killed Terry was severely damaged that they couldn’t link it to either of the assault rifles.
On January 25, 2011, U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona Dennis K. Burke announced a 53-count indictment of 20 “straw buyers.” It also marked the end of “Operation Fast and Furious.”
Recently, Michael Vanderboegh, a blogger and self-styled online journalist, claimed that the ATF had “purposely let the guns go to the bad guys in Mexico so that, after the ensuing bloodbath, the feds could justify a crackdown on assault weapons and gun shows.”
Outlandish and incredible as it might seem, a lot of people fell for his story hook, line, and sinker. Fox News made Vanderboegh as a prime source for the coverage of the “Fast and Furious” scandal, which is currently being investigated by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chaired by Republican Rep. Darrell Issa who vowed to conduct hundreds of hearings to get to the bottom of the botched “Fast and Furious” operation.
Assault on the Second Amendment
Another person who fell for Vanderboegh’s conspiracy theory was Wayne LaPierre, the head of the dreaded National Rifle Association (NRA), an organization known to promote conspiracy theories to advance NRA’s political agenda, which is to influence legislation vis-à-vis gun control and gun ownership. The moment Vanderboegh had associated “Operation Fast and Furious” with weakening the Second Amendment, LaPierre brought the full force – and wrath – of the NRA against Holder and Obama. He was reported to have insisted that “the reason Obama has done nothing to harm the 2nd Amendment in his first term is so he can win another four years in office, at which point his administration will start confiscating guns with no fear of retribution from voters.” “Obama is not taking your guns now so he can take them later,” La Pierre said. Now, that is what is called convoluted logic!
Not to be outdone by LaPierre, Issa told Fox News, “Very clearly, they made a crisis and they’re using this crisis to somehow take away or limit people’s 2nd Amendment rights.” Now, that goes beyond convolution, it’s nincompoopery at its worst!
But House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi thinks she knows why the Republicans are gunning for Holder; and that is, “To undermine the person [Holder] who is assigned to stop the voter suppression in our country. I’m telling you, this is connected. It is no accident.”
If there is a tinge of paranoia in Pelosi’s own “conspiracy theory,” it is because the Republicans have become extremely paranoiac about Obama’s “socialist” tendencies, questionable birth certificate, dubious college grades, his charisma, and his secret weapon – Michelle Obama. Yes, paranoia could be contagious! Avoid eye contact with paranoidal Republicans.
At the end of the day, it can be said that if Holder succeeds in stopping the voter suppression, it will help Obama get reelected because those who are likely to be suppressed of their right to vote are Democrats and minorities.
Indeed, the “gun-walking” conspiracy is all about politics.