The president of Mexico would like to have a word with America about a scandal from our past: Operation Fast and Furious.
Reuters reported Monday that Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was going to send a diplomatic note to Washington regarding the Obama-era operation, which ran from 2009 to 2011.
The operation doesn’t get much attention anymore, if just because the media operates under the pleasant fiction that there was nary the hint of a scandal during the Obama years. I know it’s difficult to believe, but the former president’s administration was besmirched by a few, in particular the gun-walking operation.
In a bumbling attempt to trace the path of illegally trafficked guns to drug cartels, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives authorized gun sellers to allow straw buyers to make purchases for the purpose of tracking the firearms.
The operation became public when two of the guns were found near where Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was murdered in 2010.
President Obama decided he didn’t want Congress to look into the scandal, invoking executive privilege to keep documents from the House at the behest of then-Attorney General Eric Holder; Holder was held in contempt by Congress over the refusal to comply.
They probably had good reason to shut up about the whole thing, though. According to CNN, an estimated 1,400 of the straw-bought weapons were lost by the ATF during the operation. That’s out of nearly 2,000 firearms. Even Holder, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that “[t]his operation was flawed in its concept and flawed in its execution.”
The Democrats claimed the outrage was mostly political — which means, quelle surprise, the media tended to agree with that assessment. Nine years after the operation ended, however, the Mexican government under López Obrador is asking questions about it.
“How could this be? A government that invades in this way, that flagrantly violates sovereignty, international laws,” the Mexican president said during his daily news conference on Friday, according to Tribune News Service.
“What seems serious to me is that a violation of our sovereignty was carried out, a secret operation, and that Mexicans were killed with these weapons,” López Obrador added. “There is still time for the U.S. to apologize.”
It marked the third time in a week that López Obrador had questioned the actions of past U.S. administrations. There are political reasons behind this sudden focus on America by the Mexican side, of course, which have to be taken into the equation here.
The hard-left López Obrador is increasingly finding himself in a pitched battle with former Mexican President Felipe Calderón, who served from 2006 to 2012.
Calderón, who made a public show about fighting drug violence in the country, is behind a new party. In pushing back on the current president, one of the opposition’s likely tactics will involve tying López Obrador to the nation’s high murder rate. López Obrador, like any good leftist, has preferred to focus on social issues.
“This (diplomatic) note is about domestic political matters,” said Lorenzo Meyer, a supporter of Lopez Obrador’s and a historian at the Colegio de Mexico in Mexico City. “I don’t think he’s given thought about what this means for the United States.”
Critics of López Obrador accuse him of currying favor with Trump before a proposed meeting between the two.
López Obrador’s supporters, meanwhile, bring up the case of Genaro García Luna, the former Mexican security minister responsible for launching the effort to tackle Mexican drug gangs during Calderon’s administration. García Luna was arrested in the United States last year on drug trafficking charges.
The Obama-appointed former U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Roberta Jacobson, said in an interview with a Mexican newspaper that it was likely both governments knew about García Luna’s corruption. Lopez Obrador originally brought up the Fast and Furious scandal during a May 4 news conference in which he talked about García Luna’s alleged drug ties.
However, whatever the political import is behind what López Obrador is saying, that doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant.
Simply allowing guns to “walk” in order to track them to cartel leaders isn’t the smartest move, especially when you consider the likelihood they might be going south of the border. I’m guessing this wasn’t too much of a concern for the Obama administration until the operation became public, after which the Obama administration stonewalled Republican attempts to get to the truth about where $1.5 million of firearms went.
López Obrador has said that he wants the Central Intelligence Agency, Drug Enforcement Agency and the FBI investigated for their role in the scandal. No one at those three agencies was willing to comment for Reuters’ report.
It’s another reminder, as Joe Biden ramps up his basement candidacy for 1600 Pennsylvania and Obama re-emerges as a critic of the current president, that the past administration was hardly as pure as its press agents declare it to be.
As for an investigation, it depends on whether the United States — or, more specifically, the Republican-controlled Senate — is willing to play ball. In an election year that will be dominated by the coronavirus crisis, that seems unlikely.
That doesn’t mean the administration won’t use the Mexican side’s sudden focus on Fast and Furious as a way to push back against the legacy of Joe Biden and Barack Obama, a legacy routinely whitewashed by a media that treats the period between Jan. 20, 2009, and Jan. 20, 2017, as the halcyon days of American governance.
The media isn’t going to properly remind us of what that period was actually like or that anything bad happened during those years.
Most of the negatives they’ve focused on regarding Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, include his increasing senescence and, oh yes, that pesky little sexual assault thing. It’s amazing — they’ve rediscovered due process for accused offenders because Tara Reade’s allegations! Good on them.
But I digress. We don’t remember things like Solyndra, the IRS targeting scandal, Benghazi and Fast and Furious because the media doesn’t talk about them. George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” sign still gets some play in the media in 2020 — 17 years after a banner aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln became a national controversy.
But we’ve all forgotten the previous administration ran a gun-walking operation which went tragically wrong because it was ill-conceived from the beginning.
If the media has convenient memory loss on this issue, Republicans don’t. Even if it doesn’t involve an investigation, we could be hearing a lot more about Fast and Furious before the 2020 campaign is over.
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