After more than six years of waiting, more documents relating to the Operation Fast and Furious scandal are going to be released, but it took a change of administrations and a different attorney general to do it.
Fast & Furious was the gun trafficking “sting” operation launched by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives field office in Phoenix that went horribly wrong during the first Obama administration. It allowed some 2,000 guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels and other outlaws, and came crashing down following the slaying of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in December 2010 with one of the trafficked guns.
The Department of Justice announced Wednesday that it has entered into a “conditional settlement agreement” with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform concerning the release of additional documents related to the controversial operation, which was once described by an ATF agent testifying before Congress as “a perfect storm of idiocy.”
Agent Terry’s slaying literally blew the lid off of the operation.
Originally uncovered by the late Mike Vanderboegh, a “citizen journalist” and blogger, and investigative writer David Codrea, the scandal ultimately was covered by former CBS investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson, and reporters from Fox News and the Los Angeles Times. The investigation led to hearings before the Oversight committee after Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) started digging, and demanding answers.
In a telephone conversation, Codrea said that after so much time has passed, he is concerned that “it will end up being much ado about nothing.”
“I am afraid,” he said, “that all we’re going to see is sound and fury signifying nothing.”
He would like to see the Oversight committee convene more hearings and see some of those involved in the operation testify under oath.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over thousands of subpoenaed documents, which were withheld after former President Barack Obama tried to keep them from the committee by declaring executive privilege. A federal judge eventually ruled the documents had to be turned over. Obama still maintains there were no scandals during his administration, the Boston Globe noted.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a statement: “The Department of Justice under my watch is committed to transparency and the rule of law. This settlement agreement is an important step to make sure that the public finally receives all the facts related to Operation Fast and Furious.”
What has bothered many who followed the scandal and reported about it is that there has been little, if any, accountability. Several of the ATF agents involved were either reassigned or retired.
Documents already made public by the investigation revealed that firearms retailers in Arizona were concerned that the guns they were selling might wind up at crime scenes. Guns involved in the case were showing up at crime scenes in Mexico for a long time after the operation was exposed and halted.