Media Matters is now claiming that “right wing” criticism of the Obama government for the atrocity that has been dubbed “Project Gunwalker” is “baseless,” because some who are new to the story have not been sufficiently careful about the conclusions they draw.
Right-wing media are baselessly attacking the Obama administration by falsely conflating Project Gunrunner, a program of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) that was begun under President Bush, and Operation Fast and Furious, a controversial initiative undertaken by Phoenix’s Gunrunner group in which agents knowingly allowed guns to be trafficked across the border to Mexico.
Reason’s Mike Riggs is also pointing out–quite correctly–that Attorney General Eric Holder’s very public acknowledgment of “Project Gunrunner,” as far back as 2009, provides no proof of his knowledge of “Project Gunwalker,” more formally known as Operation Fast and Furious:
Contrary to the smoking gun being waved around in the right blogosphere, there’s still no evidence that Attorney General Eric Holder knew about the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms program “Fast and Furious,” in which ATF agents stood idly by as guns that were illegally purchased in the United States were trafficked to Mexico, where cartels used them to kill U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and God only knows how many Mexicans.
As evidence that Holder knew about the program, Big Government and the Washington Examiner have both cited a speech Holder gave in Cuernavaca, Mexico, in April 2009 . . .
What’s going on here is not, as Media Matters would apparently have us believe, some insidious “right wing” plot to advance an anti-Obama agenda, by confusing the public about the difference between “Project Gunrunner” and its evil twin. The whole truth, when it comes out, will be plenty for that. The much more likely explanation for the conflation of “Gunrunner” and “Gunwalker” is that the people doing the conflating have not been following the story closely enough, for long enough.
Some with a better grasp on the story, including the two who broke it in the first place, have, in fact, warned of this:
- Sipsey Street Irregular Mike Vanderboegh, who broke the story in December, admonished readers of the danger of “jumping to illusions.”
- National Gun Rights Examiner Dan, who invented the “Project Gunwalker” name in early January, warned about “Rediscovered information on Project Gunrunner leading to misconceptions.”
- National Conservative Examiner Anthony Martin provided a “clarification of terms,” to help clear up the confusion.
- Conservative News and Views’ Terry Hurlbut explained that “Fast and Furious is not Gunrunner.”
- The Confederate Yankee blog cautioned readers about the “trap” of making claims “that ‘prove’ that Attorney General Eric Holder, or Congress, or the President, or the Pope, knew about Gunwalker/Fast and Furious because of a speech someone made, or because of legislation being proposed or because of a line item in the Stimulus bill.”
This is clearly not, in other words, the “vast, right-wing conspiracy” that Media Matters apparently sees. In fact, Dan, in his article explaining the need for care in the conclusions one draws, suggested the possibility of the exact opposite, pointing out that “the way this is going viral it almost seems like somebody knew which buttons to push to get the gun crowd screaming after something that will be used to ridicule the entire effort as tinfoil ignorance.”
As for when Holder knew about “Operation Fast and Furious,” that has not yet been established. On May 3, at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Holder claimed (under oath) to have “probably” learned about it quite recently:
Congressman Issa: When did you first know about the program, officially, I believe, called “Fast and Furious”? To the best of your knowledge, what date?
Attorney General Holder: I’m not sure about the exact date, but I probably heard about “Fast and Furious” for the first time over the last few weeks.
That’s rather puzzling, given the letters Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) had sent him months before then:
Senator Grassley sent Holder a letter on Feb. 9–almost twelve weeks [before Holder’s testimony]–which, although it didn’t refer to “Fast and Furious” by name, that was clearly the operation being discussed. One week later, Sen. Grassley sent Holder another letter (thanks again to Sipsey Street Irregulars’ Mike Vanderboegh, for the central listing of official correspondence about “Project Gunwalker”), that does specifically mention “Operation Fast and Furious” by name. Did Holder not read it?
In the sidebar video, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA, and Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee) speculates in an interview with Sean Hannity (at about the 3 minute, 20 second mark) that Holder might actually have perjured himself in the above statement. I suppose that depends on how much wiggle room the “not sure about the exact date, ” and the “probably” will buy him.
The bottom line is that no amount of confusion over the difference between “Project Gunrunner” and “Operation Fast and Furious” can begin to absolve the people behind this monstrosity.
- A journalist’s guide to ‘Project Gunwalker’-Part One
- A Journalist’s Guide to ‘Project Gunwalker-Part Two
- A Journalist’s Guide to ‘Project Gunwalker’-Part Three
- A Journalist’s Guide to ‘Project Gunwalker’-Part Four
- Official Correspondence on the Project Gunwalker Scandal.
- Sharyl Attkisson’s stories on CBS
- It’s a Trap!
- Ogden’s 24 March 2009 presser on Project Gunrunner not exactly an admission of gunwalking. On the importance of not “jumping to illusions.”
- Rediscovered information on Project Gunrunner leading to misconceptions
- Fast and Furious is not Gunrunner
- ATF gun smuggling timeline: a clarification of terms
- The danger of leaping to illusions. Reason magazine uses imprecision of new Gunwalker “experts” to defend Holder.
- I Hate to Say “I Told You So”