It’s great fun watching the right-wing broadcasters, Websites, bloggers, et al, try to debunk the debunker in the embarrassing revelations contained in the Fortune magazine investigative story by reporter Katherine Eban that concluded that the ATF never intentionally allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. That charge is at the core of the Contempt of a Congress citation against Attorney General, Eric Holder. Didn’t happen! Nonetheless, congress voted to hold Holder in such contempt. All republicans supported the action and even a number of spineless democrats.
The enterprising Ms. Eban researched the story for 6 months. She’s the classic ‘have laptop will travel’ enterprise reporter with an interest in just about everything. Ms. Eban (Katherine Eban Finkelstein when she was a Metro Reporter for the NY Times) has contributed her literary skills to dozens of different magazines including liberal favorites, The Nation and Vanity Fair. She wrote a book back in 2005 entitled Dangerous Doses, all about counterfeiters contaminating America’s drug supply. You can buy it new online for a couple of bucks, used for less than one buck.
Fortune is owned by Time Inc. Time owns 21 titles as diverse as Southern Living and Health. Their most recognized titles would be Time magazine, Fortune and a simplistic piece of mind candy called ‘People’. They can take the hit; the advertiser hit that’s sure to befall them after daring to publish a truth that makes republicans look bad.
I’ve read the Eban article. If you haven’t, here are the highlights.
The story begins with the promotion of David Voth, described as a cool headed ex-marine, to the leadership position of The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Phoenix Group VII. There are 7 different groups along the southwest border with the job of stopping gun trafficking into Mexico. The very next paragraph is a no holds barred description of the real problems facing ATF agents in what appears to be a losing cause without extensive statutory reforms. Another imperative is locking out the extraordinary influence over elected officials of the Nutty Rifle Association and by extension, the American gun-obsessed crowd whose minions vote against whomever the NRA tells them to – no questions asked.
The Mexican government estimates that 2,000 guns are smuggled into Mexico a day and yet there is no federal statute outlawing firearms trafficking. Vote in favor of such a law in most parts of the U.S. and your legislative career is over. The patchwork of other so-called enforcement laws is pathetically weak and ineffective in stopping the flow. The government specifically forbids establishing an electronic database of gun sales. You want a database? Go to your local gun store and laboriously log all that data by hand for each gun sold.
The article spells out Voth’s mandate as stopping gun traffickers in Arizona. You might as well try to catch a bowling ball dropped from 2,000 feet. Can’t be done. But Voth would try. Arizona has been accorded the dubious distinction by an advocacy group called Legal Community Against Violence as having the nation’s weakest “gun violence prevention laws.” In the Phoenix area alone, there are 853 federally licensed firearms dealers. If you’re 18 and pass a background criminal check, you can buy truly deadly guns with no waiting period or permits, walk out the door and sell them to anybody. Note to Issa committee, “Why don’t you NRA groupies concentrate on the real problem?”
Now pay special attention here. This is where the ‘Fast & Furious’ rubber meets the road and where Eban establishes that the F & F flap is a fabricated political maneuver with but one purpose – destroy Obama through Holder.
A Mexican Drug Cartel that calls itself Sinaloa (the name of a Mexican state) had selected Phoenix as its gun superstore. Young Americans were paid to serve as straw purchasers of endless supplies of heavy arms. Kids as young as 18 were going into gun stores with 20 grand in their pockets and walking out with 20 semiautomatics in one stop. They would then hand these over to the Sinaloa representatives. That SINGLE case – Sinaloas straw-purchasing guns through American youth was named by ATF agents as Fast & Furious according to investigator Eban. She added that Fast and Furious was named after a movie of the same name where the bad guys would drag race each other. There were actually six total Fast & Furious movie variations, the last one in 2011.
Right-wing prosecutors, knowing which side their NRA bread was buttered on refused to indict any of the suspects over the next 7 months even though the agency had provided them with a list of 31 suspects along with 46 pages of their alleged illegal acts.
So what we have is a majority republican committee and a republican house holding the Attorney General in Contempt of Congress under false pretenses. This is the first time a sitting Cabinet member has ever been so cited by the house or the senate.
The Fortune investigation goes on to reveal that the Issa gunwalking inquiry is “replete with distortions, errors, partial truths, and even some outright lies. Is there a ‘Contempt of Public’ citation? The article quotes Linda Wallace, a now retired Special Agent with the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation unit. No progressive reactionary, Wallace is a self-described gun-rights supporter. Her statement sums up the whole unseemly political medicine show that is Issa’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Here’s how she characterized the committee’s actions; “The ATF’s accusers seem untroubled by evidence that the policy they have pilloried didn’t actually exist.”
The article goes on at some length. I’m not going to review all its contents here. Fortune is available at bookstores and newsstands and with a little searching you can find the article on the Internet. I’ve just given you enough particulars to either whet your appetite for further exploration of the subject or just move on and shake your head at the far right crazies who have taken over the house and most of our government.
I can’t sign off without referencing the Supreme Court decision upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s mandates. I’m not going to get too complacent knowing the radical opposition will really go off the rails now. But for a precious few days or weeks, let’s savor something the republicans have denied us since their massive 2010 extremists influx into congress – a rare commonsense victory.
I’ll have more to say after thoroughly reviewing the decision.