I first got to know Representative Darrell Issa (R-California) — who announced his retirement Wednesday — when I was a new freelancer at PJMedia and was working on stories about the idiotic “Stimulus Act” signage on highways.
I quickly realized that Issa wasn’t just another pol. He was a bulldog when demanding answers and not afraid of anyone.
A few months later, I started to get whiffs of something called “Operation Fast and Furious.”
I had begun investigating but was not quite ready to publish when Sharyl Attkisson — at the time a reporter for CBS News — blew the story wide open.
Shortly after that, Issa – then Chairman of the powerful House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform – began to demand answers about what was, at the time, called “Gunwalker.”
In Operation Fast and Furious, the Bureau of Alcohol,Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed Mexican drug cartels to buy more than 1,000 firearms which were supposed to be traced across the border and give the feds a chance to make a case.
Except it predictably turned into a farce and most of the guns were lost — and then one of them later turned up having been used in the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata.
Issa was predictably furious.
I reported back in 2011 that the program would have been worth it, had they even caught one of the major traffickers or managed to trace them back to the cartels. As tragic as the deaths of Agents Terry and Zapata were, they would at least have had some meaning.
But Issa noted:
Isn’t it true that those 20 cases going to trial in June are basically a bunch of meth addicts who were straw buying? You don’t have the kingpins. What you have are the people you already had.
Despite hearing after hearing, and subpoena after subpoena — and even one agent, William Newell, saying his testimony “lacked completeness” the administration continued to stonewall.
As the late Bob Owens noted here in 2016, despite a court order, the Obama White House still only turned over part of the documents required.
Tellingly, the Obama Administration has only turned over some of the requested documentation. The White House is still withholding an undisclosed number of documents, presumably including those which might explain why low-level ATF field agents in Arizona were in direct communication with the White House.
Unfortunately, thanks to continual obstruction by former Attorney General Eric Holder and Obama, no one was ever held responsible for the Keystone Kops-esque farce that was Operation Fast and Furious. We still don’t know, and probably will never know, just how far up the chain this went – what Obama knew and when he knew it and if Holder actually approved the idiotic operation. Those are questions the families of Terry and Zapata have a right to have answered — but it’s unlikely they never will.