Fireworks Expected This Week...But No Celebration in Wake of Fast & Furious Scandal

by Jim Shepherd

[This] week, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, will once again question United States Attorney General Eric H. Holder about Operation Fast and Furious. F&F was the fatally flawed 2009 DEA anti-gunrunning operation supposedly designed to trace illegal firearms to Mexican drug lords.

Instead, it went tragically out of control, resulted in the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, and has subsequently pointed an incriminating finger at the ATF and Justice Departments for mistakes that have cost lives on both sides of the border.

It's a meeting that's not shaping up to be one of cordiality. In fact, civility may be in short supply, despite the normal formalities of government.

That's because Patrick J. Cunningham, chief of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Phoenix, exercised his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and refused to testify before Issa's committee on January 24.

In reponse, a boiling mad Issa made it clear to AG Holder that Cunningham's decision "is a major escalation of the (Justice) Department's culpability" in the ongoing gun trafficking battle.

A blunt two-page letter from Issa to Holder says "Without Mr. Cunningham's testimony, it will be difficult to gauge the veracity of some of the Department's claims."

"Main Justice," Issa wrote, has chosen to blame the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona, and senior officials in the U.S. Attorney's Office have rejected this accusation. This tension reviews doubts about the Department's management of the Fast and Furious scandal."

It's safe to say that Issa will push the Attorney General - hard- for real answers. Observers say there's really no way of knowing just how high tensions will get before one-or both- lose their cool. Issa's tired of what never-ending stonewalling from the DOJ. Mr. Holder, as the head of the DOJ, has made it plain he's feeling the heat and not reacting particularly well to what he calls Issa's "game of political gotcha".

One of the men most responsible for refusing to allow Fast and Furious to be ignored by the mainstream media won't be in Washington, but he'll be on the job via the wonders of modern communication.

Dave Workman has reported on the whole Fast and Furious mess since before it became a widely-known national story. And I wanted you to know the guy we all owe for his tireless work running down this story.

As Senior Editor of GUN WEEK, now TheGunMag.com, Workman's doggedly followed the trail of Fast and Furious, frequently breaking details on the story that have sent the Washington media establishment into fits. Fast and Furious isn't exactly a story the mainstream media's followed closely.

Workman has serious reportorial chops, and "in his earlier life" won a host of awards for his hunting and fishing work. He's also author of "several books" including four or five with gun rights advocate Alan Gottlieb. His work also appears in Gun World, Gun Digest and and Northwest Sportsman magazines.

[Recently] I had the opportunity to visit with Workman about Fast and Furious. During that conversation, I was fascinated as he told me that one reason the story seemed to refuse to die was because many at the ATF and the Department of Justice didn't want the story to die. They, like many of the rest of us, were incensed at the way a program could go so dangerously off the rails and still be allowed to continue.

At the same time, I realized that Workman's efforts to keep the story alive were done out of respect for the law, not a misbegotten need to embarrass officials. He's concerned that "justice" remain part of the Department of Justice, and that concern drives him to work the Fast and Furious story.

"This story," he told me, "isn't just about an operation out of control, it's about the way government seems to have forgotten that it is supposed to work for the good of the people, not the other way around."

Like many of us, Dave Workman is angry about Fast and Furious. But he's not letting his anger get in the way of his accurately reporting the facts as the story develops. He still believes that if given the facts, the public will generally make the right decisions. He doesn't seem quite so convinced the government would exercise such common sense.

You needed to know Dave Workman, because he's quietly doing work that's important to all of us. I'm glad he's out there and fortunate to consider him both a colleague and friend.

Republished from The Outdoor Wire.

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