One of the tactical blunders committed by the White House during June was claiming executive privilege on the Fast and Furious documents demanded by the House Oversight Committee. The resulting brouhaha was too loud for the main stream media to ignore. They’ve had to cover the story, and, of course, they’ve tried to bend the facts to fit their desired narrative. Consider this example from the NYT Opinion Page:
There is little chance that Mr. Holder will be prosecuted for criminal contempt, but a second House vote authorized Mr. Issa’s committee to pursue a civil court action against him — energy and effort much better spent developing a workable plan to stem the flood of American guns to Mexican drug cartels that gave rise to the disputed Fast and Furious Operation. This was a shameful exercise in political gamesmanship. House Republicans and the gun lobby, in making Mr. Holder the first sitting cabinet member in history to be held in contempt, came out looking a lot worse than their target.
They assert that there is a flood of American guns going to Mexico. Now there have certainly been some U. S. made firearms smuggled into Mexico, but the vast majority of of the Fast and Furious guns have been SKS rifles or semi auto versions of the AK-47. Both these designs are of Russian origin. Neither is manufactured in the U. S. The SKS and the full auto version of the AK-47 are readily obtainable in large quantities around the world. If I were a running a Mexican drug cartel, I wouldn’t waste time or money trying to buy guns at U. S. retail that are available wholesale in place like Cuba. But the main stream media has rarely let facts get in the way of a story that relates to guns.
Some leftwing bloggers are also having trouble with the facts. Firedoglake posts:
I’m on the record saying that I don’t think much of the Oversight Committee’s investigation. And we have a decent amount of information that calls into question the rendering of Fast and Furious as a gun-walking scandal. It appears more like a case of federal prosecutors being overcautious than a definitive strategy to track guns carried across the border by straw purchasers. What’s more, the program started under the Bush Administration and ended under the Obama Administration.
While it is true that the ATF under the Bush Administration tried a gun walking program, it’s also true that the operation was ended before Bush left office because the agents could not keep track of all of the guns involved. The fact of the matter is that the Obama Administration revived and expanded a known failed program. OTOH, credit is due to David Dayen for reaching a reasonable conclusion about the document controversy in the same FDL post:
Nevertheless, the proper way to handle this is to challenge the executive privilege invocation in court. Clearly we need more clarity – and limits – to how an Administration can use executive privilege. We know they can privilege both direct communications and deliberative communications among a government agency. But when executive privilege gets used as a mere method to deny documents to another branch of government engaged in oversight, that becomes a problem. In general, there’s way too much secrecy in government, and that’s been especially true of this Administration, which has been anything but the most transparent ever. We need rules on the classification of documents, because the executive branch has shown themselves willing at every opportunity to expand the definition.
I think Fast and Furious is a stupid case. But sometimes it takes stupid cases.
On that point, at least, it seems the leftwing bloggers are doing better than the main stream media.