Recently, I got into an argument about the Fast And Furious scandal at another blog (no, not that one) with one of their regulars. It got fairly heated, is is often the case, but after several go-arounds I realized he and I actually agreed on one key point: we both were operating from the same basic aphorism.
Never ascribe to malice which can adequately be explained by stupidity. (Occasionally, “incompetence” or “ineptitude,” but the concept is the same.)
The difference was whether or not we had passed the threshold. And I think that we passed the point of no return a long, long time ago. The things that occurred in Fast and Furious are simply beyond the scope of stupidity, incompetence, or ineptitude. For example:
- President Obama has said that Attorney General Holder had an investigation going into the matter about two weeks before Holder said — under oath — that he was aware of it.
- The program was supposed to be a “sting” operation, yet there was no provision to follow the weapons once they crossed the border. No one in Mexico — not US officials or the Mexican government — were informed that we were supplying weapons to the Mexican drug cartels. A similar operation carried out during the Bush administration implanted tracking devices into the gun’s stocks, but no such efforts were made here.
- Further, there was not only no attempt to intercept and recover the weapons in the US, the officials actually actively aided and assisted in the smuggling of the weapons into Mexico.
- Only one ATF official has been disciplined over the affair thus far. All those involved in the planning who have been the subject of any actions have received promotions, transfers, or new jobs within the Justice Department. The sole exception was the low-level agent who was so convinced that this was a bad idea that he became a whistle-blower over it — he was fired. That’s right, the only guy punished was the one who said “hey, this is a bad idea,” not any of those who said ‘this is a great idea!”
At some point, the “stupidity/incompetence/ineptitude” excuse is exhausted. And this one is just plain no longer believable. Hell, I don’t think it ever was.
I’m sticking with my previously-declared position: I see two workable solutions. Haul all the responsible parties into court and let them explain what the bright idea was, or extradite them to Mexico and face charges there. I don’t care about any possible rationalizations any more.