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GOP obsession with Fast and Furious based on wacky conspiracy theory hatched by gun fanatics

One of the more comical manifestations of Obamaphobia has been the emergence of a theory that was voiced this past winter by National Rifle Association President Wayne LaPierre.

As I put it when I posted a VIDEO CLIP of LaPierre’s remarks in February, he “says the fact that President Obama hasn’t done anything to offend gun owners in his first term is proof that he’s conspiring to seize their weapons from under their bedpillows in his second term.”

The irony here is that the Obama administration actually has expanded gun rights, allowing, for example, firearms to be carried in national parks and on Amtrak trains. Moreover, the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence, a leading gun-control group, has given the administration a FAILING GRADE.

Ah, but LaPierre and his fellow paranoiacs have seized upon what they see as a sinister plot in the form of an ill-conceived program whereby the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) allowed thousands of guns to be bought by Mexican drug cartels. The objective was to track the firearms as they were transferred to high-level traffickers,  leading to their arrests and the dismantling of the cartels.

Fast and Furious, as the program has come to be known, was started under the Bush administration. But the conspiracy theorists see it as a plot by the Obama administration to spawn lots of gun violence and thus make a case for cracking down on gun rights or perhaps repealing the Second Amendment altogether.

All of this has led to a trumped-up “investigation” by congressional Republicans, who voted in committee yesterday to cite Attorney General Eric Holder for contempt of Congress for his failure to turn over certain documents pertaining to the Fast and Furious program.

The genesis of the conspiracy theory concerning Fast and Furious was explained in detail last night by Rachel Maddow of MSNBC.

An 18-minute clip of Maddow’s report is HERE.

 

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22 Comments

  1. Neftali

    1 – If Holder didn’t do anything wrong, then why the refusal to turn over the requested 8000+ requested documents? Why the last minute invocation from the President trying to assert executive privilege to prevent a contempt vote? What are they trying to hide?

    2 – To quote Chuck Grassley: “How can the president assert executive privilege if there was no White House involvement? How can the president exert executive privilege over documents he’s supposedly never seen?”

    3 – The Bush administration didn’t know about F & F

    http://washingtonexaminer.com/holder-retracts-claim-bush-team-knew-about-fast-and-furious/article/2500157

    4 – This is typical of Maddow and the left – Trying to turn public attention towards conspiracy theories as opposed to really figuring out what really happened and how a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed along with potentially hundreds of Mexican citizens.

  2. Neftali: Are you saying you agree with the theory that F&F is a plot to diminish gun rights in America?

    That’s exactly what the nutcases are saying.

  3. Neftali

    I have no idea what the truth is. Apparently, neither do the people who make up the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is why they held several weeks of Congressional hearings on the subject.

    There obviously must be something worth covering up, or otherwise why bother with the cover up at all?

    What’s sad is that fundamentally this is just a botched operation. It happens. All the shenanigans and charades from Holder only make things worse. Just fess up, admit the wrong doing, and move along.

  4. Luke Fredrickson

    Netfali,

    The invocation of Executive Privilege is not to cover up wrongdoing, but to preserve a President’s ability to get blunt, unvarnished advice.

    This is exactly the same rationale Bush and other President’s used when claiming the same privilege: if you can subpeona every seemingly private comment from advisors, the President will no longer get honest input.

    The Republicans are just on a witch hunt to get access to something impolitic that Obama said privately, just like the “second term” comment to Medvedyev. I think it is miraculous that Obama’s administration has been so scandal free considering what they ginned up against Clinton.

  5. Luke Fredrickson

    Oh, and I am quite glad Obama is scaring the gun freaks. It clearly boosts the sale of Cialis (drug companies = job creators) when these paranoiacs worry about losing their manhood, er… I mean weapons.

  6. Luke: Your point about executive privelege is well-stated.

  7. expdoc

    Obfuscation of the facts.

    Forget any wacky conspiracy. What about the actual facts of “fast and furious” ?

    It was an ill conceived operation that cost hundreds of people their lives including a US agent. Who knew about it and when is a perfectly legitimate question for Congress to ask and expect honest and complete answers.

    Executive privelege being invoked stinks of a cover up and seems to be a major political blunder by Obama unless there is something very serious to hide.

  8. doc: By God, you’re right.

    Why didn’t I recognize that Issa and the other Republicans are only searching for the truth and have no ulterior political motives?

    Why did I suspect that they were just doing the bidding of the gun nuts from the NRA?

    I’m so ashamed of myself.

    Thanks for setting me straight. See you at the polls in November when we vote that gang of Democratic gun-grabbers out of office.

    Lock and load, right?

  9. danimal

    I am surprised to hear that the NRA condemns this as an anti gun movement, for crying out loud look at the sales spike! The NRA should award Obama with “Salesman of the Year”.
    Pat: One question. How does or did the Obama administration put a leniency on gun control laws specifically carry laws, is that not up to the State?

  10. expdoc

    Nice liberal non-answer Pat. Your check from the party office should be in the mail.

    Nobody (including me) except for Fox viewers and committed right wingers gave a crap about fast and furious until this week.

    Obama is either stupid (which I don’t believe) or he is covering something up.

    A cover up would either be to shield his own involvement in the program or to protect the bungling of Holder.

    How else can you explain his elevating this issue to national prominence?

  11. expdoc

    By the way, if the answer was as simple as the usual Obama-ism “Bush started it” then why wouldn’t he just release all the records and prove it?

  12. Precedent, doc, precedent.

    As Luke explains above: The invocation of Executive Privilege is not to cover up wrongdoing, but to preserve a President’s ability to get blunt, unvarnished advice.

  13. doc: If you watched the 18-minute clip from the Maddow show (to which I linked in my post), you may have noticed that Issa and certain other members of his committee flatly declared that they subscribe to the theory that F&F was part of an Obama plot to diminish Second Amendment rights.

    The motivation behind the investigation is to please the conspiracy theorists, plain and simple.

  14. expdoc

    So you really have no interest in what idiot thought it was a good idea to give lots of guns to lots of criminals? The idea that cost hundreds of people their lives including a US agent?

    Would you care if this had happened in 2004 and Bush had used Executive Privelege to cover up the facts?

  15. expdoc

    OF course, one could also wonder why President Obama doesn’t listen to Senator Obama.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/executive-privilege-poses-tricky-situation-for-obama/2012/06/20/gJQAgAbRrV_story.html

    In 2007, Obama, then a senator with higher ambitions, chided President George W. Bush for employing his executive authority to block then-senior White House adviser Karl Rove from testifying before Congress in a scandal involving the firing of nine U.S. attorneys.

    Most presidents have used executive privilege for reasons similar to President Obama’s: to keep officials or documents from revealing sensitive information, often to Congress. A look at six decades of executive privilege.

    Speaking to CNN host Larry King, Obama declared that the Bush administration had a tendency to “hide behind executive privilege every time there’s something a little shaky that’s taking place.”

    Obama urged Bush to consider “coming clean,” adding that “the American people deserve to know what was going on there.”

  16. doc: Obama was wrong regarding executive privelege in the Rove case.

    And Rove was wrong for grossly politicizing the criminal justice system.

    Obama now knows better. Rove probably doesn’t.

  17. expdoc

    I will remember you allowance for evolution of opinion over time when it comes to Mr. Romney this fall.

    No more accusations of flip-flopping from you Mr. C.

  18. Yeah Luke what a well stated crock! Obozo being scandal free. What Communist Csar should we start with??? Moron Obamazombie.. And what does Obama need secret advice about Pat??? How to shove someone else under the bus…or how to blame someone else…or how to lie about it? Must be more of that untarnished transparency you’re talking about. Pat…that’s really rich of you to say that Obama was wrong. I mean though, really how can he be wrong-he’s Mr. right about everything. A guy with less that 150 days in the US Senate is just so wonderfully worldly now isn’t he. Is that like Holder trying to recant a statement, under oath…to Congress and not calling it a lie?? This crowd is fit to be tied…soon too.

  19. expdoc

    Here is the actual timeline of known events related to Fast and Furious from CNN. Doesn’t sound like any wacky conspiracy theory to me. It does sound like heads should roll and Holder might be lying to Congress.

    http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2012/06/21/fast-and-furious-investigation-started-with-agents-death/?hpt=hp_t2

    December 14, 2010: Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry is killed in the Arizona desert. Two guns found at the site are later linked to the ATF Fast and Furious program.

    January 2011: Congress begins asking questions about the ATF program.

    February 4, 2011: Responding to an inquiry from Sen. Charles Grassley, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich writes that top officials had only recently learned about the ATF gun-running program, but that nothing improper was done in the operation. Weich also asserts that any allegation that the ATF knowingly allowed the sale of assault weapons to a straw purchaser who then transported them into Mexico is false. “ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico,” Weich wrote.

    March 3, 2011: An ATF whistleblower tells “CBS Evening News” that the ATF intentionally allowed guns to go into Mexico. Just minutes before the broadcast, ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson issues a statement saying the agency is forming a panel to “review the bureau’s current firearms trafficking strategies employed by field division managers and special agents.”

    March 4, 2011: CNN reports that Grassley wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder complaining that the ATF was “stonewalling” his investigation into the matter. CNN also reports that, according to Grassley, ATF agents told his staff “the agency allowed the sale of assault rifles to known and suspected straw purchasers for an illegal trafficking ring near the southwest border.”

    May 2011: Holder tells the House Judiciary Committee that he “probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.”

    June 15, 2011: Rep. Darrell Issa alleges Weich’s claim that the ATF never knowingly allowed the sale of assault weapons to straw purchasers, who then transported them into Mexico, is deceiving. Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and other congressmen allege that although it is technically true that straw purchasers didn’t cross any weapons into Mexico, they did transfer them to third parties who did.

    Also, ATF whistleblowers testify before Issa’s committee. Peter Forcelli, a supervisor at the ATF Phoenix field office, says Fast and Furious was “a colossal failure of leadership.” An agent, Lee Casa, tells the committee that ATF supervisors brushed off several agents’ concerns over letting guns go. Another agent, John Dodson, tells lawmakers: “I cannot begin to think of how the risk of letting guns fall into the hands of known criminals could possibly advance any legitimate law enforcement interest.”

    August 30, 2011: Melson, the ATF’s acting director, is reassigned to a position in the Justice Department. Also, the U.S. attorney for Arizona, Dennis Burke, resigns. Burke’s office had given legal guidance to the ATF relating to Fast and Furious.

    September 7, 2011: Holder says in a news conference that Fast and Furious “was clearly a flawed enforcement effort,” and adds that investigations will find involvement did not reach “the upper levels” of the Justice Department.

    October 12, 2011: Congressional investigators issue a subpoena for communications from several top Justice Department officials, including Holder, relating to Fast and Furious. Meanwhile, Republicans say that previously released documents show that Holder knew about Fast and Furious much earlier than he indicated to the House Judiciary Committee in May. Holder and his aides deny the allegation.

    November 1, 2011: Lanny Breuer, an assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal division, tells a Senate judiciary subcommittee that he first learned of the tactic of allowing illegally purchased guns to leave shops in April 2010. That tactic, he said, was executed during a 2006-2007 ATF program, called Operation Wide Receiver, which happened during the George W. Bush administration.

    Breuer says he should have warned Holder and other Justice officials about the 2006-2007 tactics, but failed to do so. He said he also failed to recognize that the same tactics used in 2006-2007 were being used again in Fast and Furious.

    November 8, 2011: Holder tells the Senate Judiciary Committee that the tactic allowing illegal guns to be smuggled into Mexico “should never have happened, and it must never happen again.”

    December 2, 2011: The Justice Department withdraws its February 4 letter to Grassley, saying the letter contains inaccuracies.

    Also, ahead of a December 8 House Judiciary Committee hearing at which Holder is to testify, 1,400 pages demanded by investigators are released. The documents show, among other things, that Justice officials struggled for days over how to write the February letter to Grassley.

    December 7, 2011: Grassley calls on Breuer to resign, saying he misled Congress by saying he didn’t know in February that the assertions in the February 4 letter were wrong. Grassley says documents show that Breuer should have been aware that the letter contained false assertions, due to his knowledge of the 2006-2007 Operation Wide Receiver.

    December 8, 2011: Holder tells the House Judiciary Committee that he won’t resign over the Fast and Furious controversy, and that he doesn’t think any of his top aides should step down. He says the operation relied on “unacceptable tactics” and was “inexcusable,” but he says that Justice Department officials have cooperated with investigators, and that any previous misleading information was not part of an intentional deception.

    January 31, 2012: Democrats on the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee issue a report saying the panel has found no evidence showing that top Justice officials “conceived or directed” Fast and Furious. The report from the Democrats, who are a minority on the Republican-led panel, places blame for the program on federal agents and prosecutors in Arizona.

    February 1, 2012: Terry’s parents, Josephine and Kent Terry Sr., file a $25 million wrongful death claim in an Arizona court against the federal government.

    February 2, 2012: Holder tells the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that firings of Justice officials who oversaw Fast and Furious are likely to come in the next six months.

    Meanwhile, Issa threatens to begin a contempt proceeding against Holder unless he releases more documents.

    May 18, 2012: Issa and other House GOP lawmakers send Holder demanding that he release the full amount of materials that Issa’s committee asked for previously. Although the letter acknowledges that there’s been some cooperation on the investigation, it emphasizes that House Republicans still want answers in two key areas – who in top positions knew about the operation before the murder of a federal border agent exposed its existence, and did anyone on Holder’s team misinform Congress when they responded in part to the Oversight committee’s subpoena.

  20. If there’s a Fast and Furious it’s Issa’s rap sheet.

  21. Its always great to see conspiracy news!

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