Was the report last week by the inspector general of the Department of Justice, Michael E. Horowitz, the last of the A.T.F.’s Fast and Furious scandal? When all is and done, does the 471 page report by Horowitz finally put an end to a botched law enforcement operation that saw hundreds of guns purchased by crooks intent on smuggling them into Mexico and throughout the US?
I hope not. I hope that Fast and Furious becomes a case study in a legitimate miscarriage of justice within a federal law enforcement agency that was legitimately brought to the public’s attention by a dedicated group of A.T.F. agents
Unfortunately this same case smells of political opportunism in an election year. We have blatant political attempts to turn this botched law enforcement operation in Arizona into a political embarrassment for the Obama administration, but these attempts were a disaster from the very beginning: too political and too sloppy. While Congressional Republicans threw out on the table all kinds of theories about what officials in the Justice Department knew or did not know and about the possible role of the White House in the scandal, these charges all turn out to be so much hot air.
According to Hororwitz’s report, federal prosecutors went unsupervised as did ATF supervisors, and agents were poorly led in spite of their feedback to the higher-ups. The end result was a bureaucratic mess that should not have happened and guns, hundreds of guns, fell into the wrong hands.
It is a mess for which the Department of Justice holds some responsibility and blame. Some heads have rolled and there have been a few resignations, retirements, and reassignments. But all in all there seems to be no conspiracy in sight, no massive cover-up, or any attempts to discredit gun control laws as depicted both by politicians with their election agendas and media pundits checking their brains at the door before the microphones go on.
If the Horowitz report is wildly off the mark, then it falls back on the original whistleblowers to demonstrate what really happened and how those at the national level are responsible. That is, of course, why we have courts of law.
What now should be foremost in the public’s concern is that these federal whistleblowers are protected to the fullest extent of the law and that they be allowed to continue their careers to the best of their abilities. These agents are and should be treated as heroes.