July 5, 2012
The “Fast and Furious” “gunwalking” imbroglio is heating up as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was found in contempt by the U.S. House of Representatives for failing to produce documents. 158 Cong. Rec. H4164-02; see also H.R. REP. 112-546. And as Republicans take aim at President Obama for his assertion of executive privilege in the matter, the question is whether, with the election only months away, it will deepen into a full-scale scandal that diminishes his presidency and election prospects, or whether it will fade amidst the partisan battles over health care, immigration and the economy.
While the end result is still far from certain, we can get a better understanding of the timeline and key facts through Westlaw news and congressional research. First, I ran the following search in Congressional Testimony and the Congressional Record on WestlawNext for public statements from Attorney General Holder and others regarding the failed operation:
fast +3 furious & gun weapon firearm arms & mexic!
The earliest reference I find in Congressional Testimony to the “Fast and Furious” operation is from March 31, 2011—only a passing reference in the context of greater U.S.-Mexico security cooperation from the Director of the Trans-Border Institute.
The earliest testimony from Attorney General Holder himself comes months later, on November 8, 2011, where he states:
“ …This operation was flawed in concept, as well as in execution. And, unfortunately, we will feel its effects for years to come as guns that were lost during this operation continue to show up at crime scenes both here and in Mexico. This should never have happened. And it must never happen again.”
I then ran the same search in News on WestlawNext (database ALLNEWS on Westlaw Classic). The earliest I find is a Washington Post story dated January 31, 2011 that reported arrests under the operation, and touted it as an example of recent successes that would be hampered after budget cuts at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Cuts threaten ATF’s efforts to stem flow of guns south, 2011 WLNR 1915933.
There is already a significant number of scholarly works referencing “Fast and Furious” (the above query produces over 30 articles in Secondary Sources on WestlawNext (database TP-ALL on Westlaw Classic). To be alerted to new publications, simply add the above query to WestClip.