If it were a movie in the 1990’s it would star Tom Cruise. In the early 2000’s, maybe it’d have been Matt Damon. In fact, the name of the operation was taken from a franchise of movies about car racing, drugs, and cops gone bad.
This Fast and Furious controversy won’t go away, thanks in large part to the fact that Fox News insists on beating it to death.
For those who are unaware (or don’t watch Fox News), Fast and Furious was supposed to be a program where the ATF sold guns to gun runners in Mexico so the government could track those guns and find out where they’re going, how they get there etc.
The problem was, an ATF agent sold the guns and was told my his superior to just let them go. No tracking, no follow-up. Or at least that’s how it seems.
They eventually did find some of the guns, but only after one was used to kill a border patrol agent.
The Attorney General is being accused of lying to Congress and this operation has become more cacophony than clandestine.
Here’s the problem: I’m not sure any one really cares.
I won’t say most people, but there are is a sizeable segment of the population, particularly the younger generation, who simply assumes stuff like this happens all the time.
They think, ‘Well, it was unfortunate one of our guys got killed, but I expect to government to do shady things if it means catching the bad guys.’
We see it in movies on a regular basis, the main character breaks the rules to save the day and get the girl.
The ends justify the means.
Unfortunately, here we didn’t catch the bad guys. Instead, we armed militants in what has increasingly become the most lawless semi-industrialized country in the world.
Drug lords have overtaken government rule in Mexico, creating chaos in major cities, and posing a serious threat to the security of the United States.
The reality is there is no Jason Bourne to go deal with it. No ‘this message will self-destruct in 5.’ Most people, myself included would truly rather not think about how the government deals with this growing threat because frankly, we aren’t sure how.
Our military is the best-trained most well-equipped in world history. When it comes to these kinds of issues, people would rather the government just handle it the way it feels necessary.
It’s why we get frustrated when it takes years to catch Osama bin Laden. People wonder why we couldn’t have gotten Fidel Castro with that exploding cigar.
For most people Fast and Furious is a movie and that’s it. This controversy shows only a failed operation and poor oversight. The attorney general ought to shoulder some blame, particularly for lying to Congress (something we know unequivocally now).
In a world where we expect government to do things and not tell us, or, like the President, do something and not ask permission (Libya), this gun controversy seems relatively minor.
Of course, there is a slippery slope. Today it’s a few dozen guns, tomorrow it’s weapons grade chemicals or rocket launchers (not a stretch, we’ve armed militants in other countries for as long as there have been arms to give them).
Unlike Fox News, I don’t think Fast and Furious’ failure is somehow indicative of a lack of accountability in the Obama administration, although such a lack certainly exists.
It was a dangerous risk that went poorly and unfortunately someone was killed. I do expect our government to take dangerous risks, in fact we recruit people to take those risks for us.
That’s why we celebrate soldiers.
On the other hand, larger mistakes, more dangerous or risky operations will become troubling and put each of us in the precarious position of judging military actions with limited knowledge.
But if we let this instance go, it may embolden those not held accountable to continue to be reckless. What happens when one of those guns winds up in Los Angeles, or Phoenix or Houston and is used to shoot up a city block?
Or used to kidnap American tourists in Mexico to be sold into white slavery?
Fast and Furious turned out to be a tragedy of execution and accountability, and fortunately the only casualty was a border patrol agent. Tell that to that agent’s family.
Maybe Fast and Furious wasn’t that big of a deal, but if people aren’t held accountable, next time the damage could be even greater.