The Fast and the Furious is movie franchise that's been incredibly successful to its backers. But when it comes to our government, Operation Fast and Furious has been an incredibly unsuccessful effort turned into a scandal that's rocking the Obama administration.
Operation Fast and Furious - "Obama's Watergate" as one pundit put it - established in 2009, and Project Gunrunner, established in 2005, were ATF programs aimed at stopping guns from getting into the hands of criminals in Mexico. The ultimate goal was to track the flow of arms and determine how the market functioned, but the initiative has had an unsurprisingly disastrous effect.
The mission allowed U.S. officials to permit "straw purchasers" to buy guns - hundreds of them at once, sometimes - and then to sell them to Mexican drug cartels while the ATF sat idly by, doing nothing to stop it. (Straw purchasers legally purchase weapons in the U.S. with the known intention of later trafficking them to drug cartels).
During a hearing on Capitol Hill, agents assigned to Fast and Furious testified that those who opposed the operation and raised objections were told to "get with the program" and threatened with job retaliation if they continued their opposition.
Special Agent John Dodson, in his prepared testimony, stated: "Simply put, during this operation known as Fast and Furious, we, ATF, failed to fulfill one of our most fundamental obligations, to caretake the public trust; in part, to keep guns out of the hands of criminals."
Fellow whistleblowers Olindo James Casa and Peter Forcelli also testified about how they objected to such clandestine methods of moving guns - and nothing was done about it by ATF higher-ups.
Spin all you want, the bottom line here could not be more clear: Eric Holder's Justice Department was essentially sanctioning gun violence in Mexico. And, worst of all, taxpayers were funding part of it.
According to Investor's Business Daily, $10 million was appropriated for Project Gunrunner. As the IBD says, "Think about all the criminal and drug cartel jobs saved or created. And our attorney general once bragged to a Mexican audience about implementing it."
Worse yet: Project Gunrunner resulted in the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Terry was killed in December 2010 while patrolling an area near Tucson known as Rio Rico by an illegal immigrant working for the Sinaloa Cartel. His family now wants justice and is threatening to sue. At least in part through the Terry family's efforts, the outrageous ATF program has come to light.
So far, Holder has denied any knowledge of the program, but Republicans are wise to look for a smoking gun - literally. They've called for numerous documents relating to the operation. Someone had to know about it, and if it's the highest levels of the Justice Department, then heads there should roll.
But instead of calling for an investigation, which is what the President should do - especially as he'll be in the fight of his life for reelection - his administration is desperately attempting to implement a classic diversion. Rather than address the scandal, just this week the Justice Department and ATF announced that they soon would require gun dealers in four border states to report anyone purchasing two or more semiautomatics in a five-day period.
The point of this request, says the White House, is to provide a targeted approach to address the problem of illegal gun trafficking. But what's ironic about this is that the federal government wants to expose law abiding gun owners to increased scrutiny at the same time that it is accused of essentially arming criminals with no scrutiny at all.
The more we learn, the worse Fast & Furious looks. Mexican drug violence has killed more than 30,000 people since 2006. It appears the Justice Department did nothing but increased that body count.
Obama should be demanding answers, and if Holder knew about Fast and Furious, Obama should demand he step down. This is incompetence at it's most egregious form - and it's time for some answers
Andrea Tantaros, whose column appears on Thursdays on NYDailyNews.com and often in the print edition of the newspaper, is a political commentator and co-host of The Five on The Fox News Channel. She previously served as a senior adviser on a number of political campaigns and as communications director for former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, Rep. Thomas Reynolds (R-N.Y.) and on Capitol Hill as press secretary for Republican leadership. Tantaros lives in New York City.