Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Stink of Right Wing Corruption in the Fast and Furious Scandal

I'm tired of hearing the whining and complaining and the unsupported blaming from the right that they dont get fair coverage in the media. The Nut Gingrich claims of media bias in his campaigning was just one example.

Right wing media simply makes things up, or fails to multi-source or otherwise accurately report news. They play to conspiracy theories and insane premises that demonize the left -- notably the claims of voter fraud and of union corruption.

Consistently, they have no proof for their conspiracies, but they flog them mercilessly.

Consistently, they largely ignore any stories, no matter how well researched and credible, that differ from that conspiracy flogging propaganda they promote. We are far from the days where our media was held to a better standard of fact, the days of Edward R. Murrow, the days of Walter Cronkite.

Our low-information voters believe that it couldn't be reported in the media if it weren't true -- like those good old days of factual journalism, where the media had standards.

We are in a 'post-truth' era -- and that should make us angry, and that should move us to push back for an era of truth.

There are still GOOD reporters, the reporters who deserve Pulitzers, reporters who fact check thoroughly, and who are careful to tell the truth, to be factual and not to overreach beyond what they can prove or demonstrate.

Locally I saw that in the reporting of Dan Browning. I was impressed with his journalism; he was a meticulous researcher, and an ethical reporter of facts.

Nationally, I am similarly impressed with the exceptional investigative reporting efforts of Katherine Eban.

Fortune magazine, which produces the Fortune 500 lists every year, is no rag, no tabloid, no Daily Mail. It has been a prestigious magazine, a rival to Forbes, dating back to its founding in 1930 by Henry Luce. It has been for nearly a century one of the most respected magazines in this nation, primarily for business and economic reporting.

Eban wrote an award winning book about tainted drugs and counterfeit drugs in our health care system. Her reporting has appeared in a wide range of media, both print and broadcast, notably in the New York Times, and on Night Line and 60 Minutes.

Eban's reporting stands up to the closest scrutiny and to the most rigorous challenges -- like good reporting used to do regularly. Her reporting is UNlike the right wing media, which consistently cannot stand up to scrutiny or factual challenge.

For a long time, I have wondered why it is that anyone would believe the ATF or the DoJ simply overlooked the transfer of guns over our borders. It has never made sense to me that they were just incapable of tracking those guns, or that they didn't care very much about NOT allowing firearms to fall into the wrong hands.

That was implausible on the face of it. Why would they do that? The explanation of incompetence did not seem justified; the ATF and the DoJ are not incompetent, and when they have a failing - and agencies sometimes DO have failures, including some massive ones (the Department of Interior has had some horrific ones, for example), they aren't like this, they follow a different pattern.

When there are massive failures in government, regardless of which party is in charge, consistently if you follow the money trail, someone is profiting. There was no such trail claimed or demonstrated in the case of the ATF and DoJ.

No motivation was ever posited, except for another ridiculous conspiracy theory spouted by the NRA that was more full of holes than a target at a shooting range.

When you factor in that the program began under George W. Bush, but was only being used to discredit Obama so very selectively, the stink factor of something rotten from the right got much stronger.

What I don't understand is why this wasn't being investigated sooner, and better, by anyone other than Eban. And what I don't understand is why the larger media, both print and broadcast, hasn't been doing more to announce this stunning expose.

The criticism from the lunatic fringies like the Breitbart blog, or distortion non-journalists like Fox News, don't offer credible facts to counter Eban's reporting. There is NO credible evidence that refutes her research and documentation.

From Eban's Report on Fast and Furious:
We need an investigation into lax laws and into prosecutorial incompetence, or possibly corruption. I am guessing that we won't see anything of the kind from the inherently dishonest Congressman Issa, who is simply playing at dirty politics.

We need more reporters like Eban, we need more integrity and less right wing post-truth ideology from the new media of the blogosphere, and more critical thinking and fact checking.

Quite simply, there’s a fundamental misconception at the heart of the Fast and Furious scandal. Nobody disputes that suspected straw purchasers under surveillance by the ATF repeatedly bought guns that eventually fell into criminal hands. Issa and others charge that the ATF intentionally allowed guns to walk as an operational tactic. But five law-enforcement agents directly involved in Fast and Furious tell Fortune that the ATF had no such tactic. They insist they never purposefully allowed guns to be illegally trafficked. Just the opposite: They say they seized weapons whenever they could but were hamstrung by prosecutors and weak laws, which stymied them at every turn.
Indeed, a six-month Fortune investigation reveals that the public case alleging that Voth and his colleagues walked guns is replete with distortions, errors, partial truths, and even some outright lies. Fortune reviewed more than 2,000 pages of confidential ATF documents and interviewed 39 people, including seven law-enforcement agents with direct knowledge of the case. Several, including Voth, are speaking out for the first time.
How Fast and Furious reached the headlines is a strange and unsettling saga, one that reveals a lot about politics and media today. It’s a story that starts with a grudge, specifically Dodson’s anger at Voth. After the terrible murder of agent Terry, Dodson made complaints that were then amplified, first by right-wing bloggers, then by CBS. Rep. Issa and other politicians then seized those elements to score points against the Obama administration, which, for its part, has capitulated in an apparent effort to avoid a rhetorical battle over gun control in the run-up to the presidential election. (A Justice Department spokesperson denies this and asserts that the department is not drawing conclusions until the inspector general’s report is submitted.)
“Republican senators are whipping up the country into a psychotic frenzy with these reports that are patently false,” says Linda Wallace, a special agent with the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation unit who was assigned to the Fast and Furious team (and recently retired from the IRS). A self-described gun-rights supporter, Wallace has not been criticized by Issa’s committee.
Isn't the normal, reasonable question that should be asked, how was it legal for these straw purchasers to buy these guns in the first place? Isn't the logical question, why weren't local prosecutors or law enforcement at the state and local level arresting or prosecuting these crimes?

It was never the case that the surveillance by ATF was watching the ONLY straw purchase activity. That activity has been documented over and over and over; it was widespread.

It is STILL widespread in Arizona. Where is the outrage that it continues and that the laws in the state of Arizona and elsewhere ALLOW it? This is clearly not about restricting legal gun purchases to lawful gun owners; this is purely and entirely about stopping intentionally ILLEGAL gun traffic. This is something over which we should all be able to unite, so why is it the Republicans and the NRA are opposing it?

Oh yeah -- that might reduce gun sales, and given the role of the NRA as lobbyists for the gun manufacturers, in ALEC and more directly, that would cut into the illegal gun sales that make money for those special interests, money which can fairly be termed bloody money.

Follow the money -- who profits from this activity? The gun dealers do, and the gun manufacturers do, and there is a clear trail of money as well to the right wing politicians.

The same rule appleis that always applies. Follow the money, in this case the dirty right wing blood stained money.

The right likes to give loud and repetitive lip service to the word Freedom. When you hear that kind of abuse of the word, it should alert you to the fact that there is misdirection present, it should put you on notice that they are trying to disguise the reality.

It is a clear case of the wonderful line from the Wizard of Oz, "don't look at the man behind the curtain'.

Eban looked, Eban wrote, and Eban is still pointing. You should be looking too, and sniffing the stink of right wing corruption, and objecting.

Our own state of Minnesota, and the city of Minneapolis receive a mention in the Eban expose. We do things differently here than in gun-crazy gun-corrupt Arizona:

Voth was a logical thinker. . He lived by advice he received from an early mentor in law enforcement: “There’s what you think. There’s what you know. There’s what you can prove. And the first two don’t count.”
But he was not operating in a logical world. The wiretap represented the ATF’s best—perhaps only— hope of connecting the gun purchases it had been documenting to orders from the cartels, according to Hurley. In Minneapolis, the prosecutors Voth had worked with had approved wiretap applications within 24 hours. But in Phoenix, days turned into weeks, and Group VII’s wiretap application languished with prosecutors in Arizona and Washington, D.C.
No one has yet explained this delay. Voth thinks prosecutor Hurley’s inexperience in wiretapping cases may have slowed the process. Several other agents speculate that Arizona’s gun culture may have led to indifference. Hurley is an avid gun enthusiast, according to two law-enforcement sources who worked with him. One of those sources says he saw Hurley behind the counter at a gun show, helping a friend who is a weapons dealer.


  1. Big Whore Media is our downfall and give the likes of the Issa's free reign to do as they please because they know there will be no accountability.

    Just as the bush killers knew they could take this country to war on a "pack of lies" and not have to answer.

    Anyone thinks an election will make it better is nuts.

  2. According to your premise then, all Eric Holder has to do to prove your assertions that Fast and Furious is a bunch of unsubstantiated rumor and baseless accusations, is to release the documents he's holding back. Let the public decide who's telling the truth.

    As long as Holder refuses to release the docs, he's admitting that there is something to the accusations made by Darrell Issa and Senator Grassley.

    1. Simplistic reasoning on your part.

      The problems presented by Holder are that some of what has been requested has confidential material that cannot be provided without risk to ongoing investigations, etc.

      It has already been PROVEN that Fast and Furious was about the failure of prosecutors to authorize arrests of obvious straw purchasers, due to lax gun laws in AZ.

      I would refer you not only to the lengthy text of Eban's article in Fortune - to which I link in the Penigma version of this post - but to the problems we had in Minneapolis with some of the same individuals in Fast and Furious - NOT the person singled out for trashing by the NRA and right wing -- regarding a gang task force in Mpls., circa roughly 1996. Our STrib (Star Tribune) has covered it quite thoroughly, and I will be doing a post on those earlier parallel problems with prosecution, not the ATF, when it came to straw purchases.

      That problem btw, was not a criticism of the ATF, it was that the total volume of firearms involved in obvious straw purchases was too large to track and prosecute with the available staff. They, unlike AZ, were more than willing, but lacked the resources.

      A lack of resources and Right wing spending cuts were a key part of what went wrong in Fast and Furious.

      Even Issa and Grassley admit they came up with nothing; they were on a fishing trip, hoping to find something. As I'm sure Laci can elaborate, there is appropriate oversight, and then there are fishing expeditions where someone has no clue what they are looking for, they're just hoping to get lucky.

      The congressional fast and furious investigation was the latter. It relied largely on one disgruntled pseudo-whistleblower who himself turns out to be pretty questionable. There are far more individuals who have first hand knowledge that can back up why that whistleblower is NOT credible.

      But clearly YOU don't seem to read anything that doesn't mesh with what you want to believe. There is a term for that, cognitive bias.

  3. By the way, whatever happened to MikeB. Y'all stuff him in a closet or something? Inquiring minds want to know.

  4. So........inquiring minds need to be told because they can't read?

    He announced here very clearly he was on vacation and that we were filling in.

    Although there is a very good chance the changes made under which we returned to admin and author might be permanent after he returns.

    1. I must have missed that post since I don't make it a habit to read this blog everyday or even more than once or twice a week. Also because it's such a PITA to comment here.

      Frankly, reading the comments sections now with just you and Laci and Demmocommie slapping each other on the back with an occasional comment from FWM has gotten rather boring. I reckon my visits will be even less frequent in the future.

    2. Your loss - we've had some very interesting topics covered in the past few weeks, as well as some very good discussions.

    3. Heeeyyyy Miiiikkkkeeeyyyyy!

      If you can't refute me with facts, I'd really rather not hear from you anyway.