- Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
Of all the bone-headed schemes coming out of Washington, DC, it’s hard to top the “Fast and Furious” gunwalking program dreamed up by the US Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Journaiist Katie Pavlich’s “Fast and Furious: Barack Obama’s Bloodiest Scandal and Its Shameless Cover-Up” (Regnery Publishing, 224 pages, with an introduction by Jay Dobyns of the ATF, $27.95) does an excellent job covering what she calls the Obama Administration’s equivalent of Ronald Reagan’s Iran-Contra operation.
With the exception of courageous reporting by Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News; Richard Serrano, Tracy Wilkinson and Ken Ellingwood of the Los Angeles Times; and a few other mainstream media journalists, the F&F operation has been poorly covered. This is in stark contrast to the Iran-Contra affair, which resulted in major media coverage, a prime-time apology from President Ronald Reagan (Page 147), prosecutions, and people losing their jobs, Pavlich writes. So far, she says, the F&F death toll is 200 and rising, including murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agent Jaime Zapata.
“Operation Fast & Furious” — the name comes from a 2001 action movie directed by Rob Cohen called “The Fast and the Furious” — was supposedly designed to “win the drug war” by deliberately walking more than 2,000 guns across the border to Mexico. Gun store owners were pressured by ATF to sell long guns and pistols to straw buyers who were supposed to deliver them to drug lords in Mexico, who would then be apprehended. instead of catching drug lords, Pavlich writes — with documentation from courageous whistle-blowing federal agents — that Operation Fast and Furious armed the very criminals it was supposed to trap. Despite the protests of gun store owners and ATF whistleblowers, federal agents deliberately violated federal law — and common sense — and ended up placing American weapons into the hands of Mexico’s most violent criminals. And when the guns started showing up at crime scenes—including the murder scene of a U.S. border patrol agent—the coverup began, she writes.
The White House continues to stonewall Congress and claims ignorance of the program — when it’s not saying it was a continuation of a similar program in the George W. Bush Administration, Operation Wide Receiver, launched by the Bush Administration in 2003 with close cooperation by the Mexican government (Page 41). Pavlich presents what she — and introduction writer Dobyns, who infiltrated motorcycle gangs at great danger to himself — believes is incontestable proof that President Obama and Attorney General Holder willfully and knowingly sanctioned the program in order to advance their anti-Second Amendment agenda. Pavlick believes Obama and Holder wanted to demonize gun stores — and gun owners who legally buy guns for hunting, target shooting and protection — undermining the legitimate use of legal weapons.
Full disclosure: I’m a target shooter, a member of a Texas gun club and a member of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Drawing on never-before-published documents including emails, memos, and policy outlines, plus one-on-one interviews with whistleblowers involved in the scandal and anonymous sources, Pavlich proves to my satisfaction that the Obama-Holder operation was ill-conceived from the start and that the Obama Administration is seriously covering it up.
Determined members of Congress like Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah (he’s the guy who reportedly sleeps on a sofa in his office, rather than spending money on an apartment) haven’t given up. On Friday, April 6, 2012, he told Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly “that although a key White House witness in the Operation Fast and Furious gunwalking program is willing to testify about what he knows, the Obama administration won’t let him appear before Congress.
White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler sent a letter on Thursday, April 5 to Republican lawmakers Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley, refusing their request to speak with Kevin O’Reilly, a former National Security staff member whose emails place him in the middle of the unfolding scandal. Issa, from California, and Grassley, from Iowa, had written to Ruemmler on March 28, asking the White House to step aside and let O’Reilly talk to investigators, Kelly reported.
Grassley is the GOP ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Issa chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, whose members include Chaffetz.
“[O’Reilly’s] personal attorney indicated that he’s more than willing to talk to the committee, on the record, under oath”” Chaffetz told Kelly during her Friday afternoon broadcast. “It is only the White House and the White House Counsel that is saying they will not make him available.”
During his time at the White House, records show, O’Reilly carried on an email conversation with Frank Newell, then the head of the Phoenix field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Their emails suggest that Newell was directly briefing O’Reilly on Fast and Furious.
In one email, Newell wrote to O’Reilly, “You didn’t get this from me,” indicating that he may have been subverting the established chain of command within the Department of Justice, which oversees ATF.
In another, Newell said, “Just don’t want ATF HQ to find out, especially since this is what they should be doing (briefing you!).”
Mexico’s attorney general, Marisela Morales Ibáñez, was left in the dark about Operation Fast and Furious, Pavlich writes (Pages 109-110): “Morales had heard about Fast and Furious sporadically from American media reports following Brian Terry’s murder, but didn’t know the gruesome details until informed by [ATF Deputy Attache Carlos] Canino.” The shock of Mexico’s first woman attorney general soon turned to anger, Pavlich says: “In no way would we have allowed [this operation] because it is an attack on the safety of Mexicans” (reported Sept. 19, 2011 in a Los Angeles Times story by Serrano, Wilkinson and Ellingwood).
In “Fast and Furious” Pavlich discloses:
* Why Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano could be charged with perjury and would “be lucky not to go to prison”
* Why the family of murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was intentionally kept in the dark about his death on Dec. 14-15, 2010 and why the U.S. government may be protecting “the man who pulled the trigger”
* Why the liberal press intentionally mischaracterized law-abiding gun shop owners along the Mexican border and dismissed Fast and Furious as a right-wing conspiracy theory
* How the Fast and Furious scandal reaches far beyond ATF and the Justice Department — exposing a web of officials who have worked together for years to advance their anti-gun agenda
The extensively documented book also includes eight pages of color photographs, a timeline of events and several pages of heavily redacted documents pertaining to Fast and Furious.
Readers of the book will find the Wikipedia entry on gunwalking useful as it includes details about similar programs in the previous administration: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATF_gunwalking_scandal
About the Author
Katie Pavlich is the news editor for Townhall.com and a contributing editor to Townhall Magazine. As a reporter, she has been one of the leading investigative journalists breaking news on Fast and Furious. She is a frequent commentator on Fox News, Fox Business, and MSNBC, as well as on a host of national and local radio shows. A graduate of the University of Arizona, Pavlich lives in the Washington, D.C., area. Her website: http://townhall.com/columnists/katiepavlich/