Rep. Issa Ties Himself In Fast And Furious Knots

January 31, 2012 4:39 pm ET — Matt Gertz

This morning, the Democratic staff of the House Oversight Committee released a report finding that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' (ATF) failed Operation Fast and Furious was initiated by the ATF's Phoenix Field Division as part of a strategy dating back to the Bush administration, and that there is no evidence that senior officials in the Obama Department of Justice authorized gunwalking in that case. On Fox News this morning, Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) tried to invalidate the report's conclusions with an avalanche of flawed logic and hypocrisy. 

ISSA: They released this last night around midnight, but last Friday in the dump done by the Justice Department late on Friday in order to avoid any kind of real review over the weekend, what they showed was that Lanny Breuer, on the very day that we were being given a false statement, February 4, he was in Mexico lobbying for continuation of gunwalking. So, you know, if you just read the administration's dump, which of course they undoubtedly had ahead of time, they would have known that their whole report was based on a premise that was false. ... Three days after the Friday dump, the evidence given to us, finally, by the administration, goes even further. It shows that Lanny Breuer was still a believer in Fast and Furious and programs like it. 


Note Issa's very slippery use of the phrase "Fast and Furious and programs like it." He's using that turn of phrase because the documents in question don't show that Breuer knew anything about the flawed gunwalking techniques used in Fast and Furious itself. Instead, Issa is referring to a suggestion made by Breuer during a meeting with Mexican law enforcement officials about the possibility of a cross-border coordinated operation in which U.S. law enforcement would follow suspected straw purchasers to the Mexican border, where they would be arrested by Mexican officials and prosecuted for illegal possession of guns.

Curiously, Issa has previously explained how operations that involved coordination with Mexican authorities were "just the opposite" of Fast and Furious — when they occurred under the Bush administration.

During a December 8, 2011, hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, Issa explained how the Bush administration-era ATF operation Wide Receiver differed from Fast and Furious (via Nexis):

Fast and Furious began in November 2009. It was a new operation building on a failed operation under the previous administration. The difference in the previous administration is there was coordination with the Mexican government. They made a real effort under Wide Receiver to pass off a small amount of weapons and track them.

This program, just the opposite. Even knowing the drug cartels that were going to receive them, they simply allowed them to go to the stash house.

Yet all of a sudden, a possible operation that involves such coordination is a "program like" Fast and Furious. It's almost like Issa has different sets of standards for Democratic and Republican administrations. Not surprising, given Issa's highly partisan tenure as head of the House Oversight Committee.