Philosophers and poets have argued for at least three millennia about who is more valuable. Poets claim they tell tales that inspire men to do things they would otherwise never accomplish. But philosophers argue that this requires the acceptance of obvious fantasies, thus leading men away from the truth. Judging by what Attorney General Eric Holder has been asking Congress and the American people to believe regarding what and when he knew about Operation Fast and Furious, we think he is telling tales that lead away from the truth.
Fast and Furious is the Justice Department program that allowed thousands of weapons to be sold in 2009 to known buyers for Mexican drug cartels in the hope that the tainted guns would show up at future crime scenes. The department’s cockeyed theory was that the “walked” weapons would enable authorities to tie the drug bosses to specific crimes in the United States and Mexico. Unfortunately, the bureaucrats lost track of the weapons until it was too late.
Now Holder wants Americans to believe an obvious fantasy, namely that he didn’t know about Fast and Furious until witch-hunting House Republicans made it a highly charged partisan issue a few months ago. But after reviewing new emails made public by the Justice Department last Friday, it seems clear that accepting Holder’s claim at face value would be credulous in the extreme.
He is scheduled to appear Thursday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The first question for Holder will concern a series of emails sent in the immediate aftermath of the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry on Dec. 15, 2010. The emails make clear that Monty Wilkinson, then Holder’s deputy chief of staff, was informed by U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke of Terry’s death, and that weapons found on the scene were bought in Phoenix and were among those in “the investigation we were going to talk about.”
Other documents obtained by the committee make clear that the investigation in question was Fast and Furious. The emails also establish that Wilkinson and other senior Justice Department officials in Washington were briefed on the program shortly after Terry’s murder. In other words, within days, if not hours, of Terry’s death, it was known at the highest levels of the Justice Department that he was killed by guns sold with the full knowledge of federal officials who then lost track of them.