But the “worse than Watergate” internet rumblings aside, last week’s Oversight Committee vote – which fell along partisan lines – to recommend Holder for a House vote on contempt and President Obama’s decision on the same day to invoke executive privilege to keep related documents secret did enliven debate about what’s really at stake with the investigation. To wit, whether the documents Congress wants and that the Administration won’t release may be able to confirm or put to rest suspicions that not just Holder, but Obama, had a policy hand in Fast and Furious.
In opening the contempt hearing on Wednesday, Mr. Issa contended that, “[The contempt hearing] is not about this investigation, it’s about a narrow subset of documents that this committee must ultimately receive.”
But in April, Issa gave an interview at the National Rifle Association convention in St. Louis, in which he gave credence to suspicions held by many conservatives and gun owners about the program’s true intent.
“Could it be that what they really were thinking of was in fact to use this walking of guns in order to promote an assault weapons ban?” Rep. Issa said. “Many think so. And [the administration] hasn’t come up with an explanation that would cause any of us not to agree.”
Loosely based on two similar operations that took place during the Bush administration, Fast and Furious began in 2009, shortly after administration officials, including Obama, several times cited in public a contested estimate that 90 percent of guns used in Mexican violence came from the US, a situation they said was wreaking havoc in Mexico and injuring relations between the two continental powers.
Around that time, the administration says, ATF agents in Phoenix, under pressure to stem the flow, began allowing straw purchasers to “walk” assault weapons into Mexico, in order to track the guns and build criminal cases against not just low-level drug operators, but cartel bosses.