CNN Political Ticker: “‘Fast and Furious’ flap likely to linger”
posted at 4:53 pm on November 3, 2011 by Tina Korbe
Ya think? And since when is it acceptable to refer to an operation that resulted in the deaths of at least 200 Mexicans and some 11 violent crimes in the U.S. as a “flap”? It’s a “flap” when the president mistakenly refers to 57 states, when he taunts the House of Representatives for reaffirming the national motto in the midst of a jobs crisis, when he tours the country in a Canadian bus to promote the creation of American jobs. It’s a scandal when a bureau within the Justice Department shows “wanton disregard for the law” (to borrow a phrase from a Congressman) to funnel weapons into the hands of Mexican drug lords. I can only hope the hed writer chose the word “flap” for alliterative purposes and not out of a concern for accuracy.
But, then, the reporter had no reason to think F&F is a scandal when his sources downplayed the seriousness of the operation, repeating the line that it was intended to track the weapons and disrupt the power of the drug cartels and suggesting the failure to track the weapons was a mistake of non-monumental proportions:
Congressional committees and the Justice Department’s independent inspector-general are now looking into what happened, with Republicans accusing Attorney General Eric Holder of trying to stiff-arm investigators. But as embarrassing as “Fast and Furious” may be, it’s not in the same league as administration-threatening scandals like Watergate or the Harding administration’s Teapot Dome, University of Virginia analyst Larry Sabato said.
“The only scandals that matter in a presidential year are the ones that directly connect to a president,” Sabato said. He added, “Everybody admits it was a dumb idea,” but similar programs were launched during the Bush administration.
Nor does the controversy about “Fast and Furious” appear to be a mortal threat to anyone’s job at this point, said Peter Toren, a former federal prosecutor and Justice Department official. …
“It’s certainly a black eye for the Justice Department,” which oversees the ATF, Toren said. But he added, “This is more of a botched operation rather than a scandal.”
Sadly, Sabato and Toren are probably right. Despite calls for Eric Holder’s resignation from at least 30 different members of Congress, the AG’s job is probably not in “mortal” jeopardy at the moment — especially thanks to the recent testimony of DOJ criminal division chief Lanny Breuer, who said he failed to warn his superiors (presumably including Holder) about the questionable tactics employed in both Operation Wide Receiver (a similar Bush-era program) and F&F. As Sabato put it, Breuer is “taking one for the team,” leaving Holder in a comfy, cozy spot, insulated from the implication that he had intimate knowledge of the dangerous practices employed under F&F.
Still, even Toren suggests it’s stupid of Holder or anyone in the DOJ to stonewall.
“I think it would be best to get out in front of it, say what really happened and let the chips fall where they may,” he said.
We’ll see if Holder takes that tactic when he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee next Tuesday.
In the meantime, the Political Ticker article makes me wonder whether I wouldn’t rather the MSM continue to ignore the story.