Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) have focused on the Justice Department in their investigation into Operation Fast and Furious, in which U.S. officials deliberately sold American guns to Mexican criminals that were later used to kill a U.S. border agent.
Questions have arisen about the involvement of Attorney General Eric Holder, as new evidence has arisen that Justice Department officials may have wanted not only to target Mexican druglords but also to create anecdotal evidence to support tighter gun control rules.
A look back at the early days of the Obama administration suggests that responsibility for Operation Fast and Furious. may go even higher.
In the spring of 2009, both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton blamed American gun-running for violence in Mexico’s drug wars.
On March 25, 2009, for example, Clinton stated in Mexico City: “Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians.” She also announced new efforts to stop gun-running.
On April 16, 2009, also in Mexico City, Obama made similar remarks: “This war is being waged with guns purchased not here, but in the United States. More than 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the United States, many from gun shops that line our shared border.”
Both Obama and Clinton called at the time for bolder gun regulation and legislation–legislation that congressional Democrats may be about to introduce. Operation Fast and Furious was launched later in 2009.
Both Obama and Clinton acknowledged openly that gun control legislation would struggle to pass even a Demcorat-dominated Congress. Furthermore, Obama’s claim that “90 percent” of guns recovered by Mexican police from gangs were American in origin was shown to be based on false and misleading statistics.
They knew they needed to make a more convincing case. Internal justice department memos indicating strong pressure to link guns from Operation Fast and Furious to gun control efforts raise the possibility that the White House and the State Department may have asked the Justice Department for the evidence they sought.
That is why, in addition to requesting copies of internal Justice Department emails, Sen. Grassley and Rep. Issa should also request all relevant communications between the White House, the State Department, and the Justice Deoartment.
What we know thus far raises legitimate concerns that Operation Fast and furious was not simply a case of overzealous ATF officials, but possibly of criminal misconduct ordered at the highest level.