Sunday, June 24, 2012

Why ‘Fast and Furious’ matters

Hundreds of people died because of the operation, but no one takes responsibility

Pssst — heard the one about the lethal scandal that reaches to the upper levels of the Obama administration and may turn out to be bigger than Watergate? A crime in which two American agents have been killed, and which the Justice Department has been furiously trying to cover up for more than 18 months?

If you answered “no,” you’re not alone. The mainstream media have largely ignored the lethal — and most likely deliberate — “gunwalking” operation known as Fast and Furious. The plan, as ridiculous as it sounds, was to knowingly sell weapons to Mexican drug cartels, in hopes of tracing the guns. Of course, our government lost track of them.

With the president’s startling claim last week of executive privilege on behalf of his embattled attorney general, Eric Holder, the story’s now too big to ignore. So here’s what you need to know:

It’s about innocent victims

One of them is Brian Terry, who died at age 40 on Dec. 15, 2010 in Rio Rico, Ariz., just north of Nogales and about 10 miles from the Mexican border. The night before, Terry and his elite Border Patrol unit had encountered a “rip crew” — a Mexican gang that preys on smugglers and illegal immigrants. In the shootout, Terry was mortally wounded by an AK-47 and died the next day.

That AK-47, along with one other, was traced back to an Arizona gun shop that sold it in the Fast and Furious operation. And that kicked off a scandal that widens by the day.

The Detroit-born Terry, who served in the Marine Corps and as a police officer in Lincoln Park, Mich., before joining the Patrol, had a reputation for fitness, toughness and bravery.

“I do not fear death for I have been close enough to it on enough occasions that it no longer concerns me,” the Detroit native wrote in a poem shortly before his death. “But I do fear the loss of my honor, and would rather die fighting than have it said I was without courage.”

Terry’s family has since sued the ATF for $25 million, citing Fast and Furious as the cause.

But it’s not just Terry

Two months later, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata, on assignment in Mexico, was murdered by drug cartel members, who also wounded his partner. The gun that killed him, an AK-47 knockoff, was traced back to a gun shop in Dallas.

Last week, Zapata’s family filed suits against the ATF, ICE and the FBI totaling $50 million.

The two agents’ death come in addition to the deaths of hundreds of Mexicans killed with F&F weapons in their country’s lethal drug wars.

It’s no laughing matter

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