A report from the Justice Department’s inspector general on the botched gun-running operation Fast and Furious probably won’t satisfy Republicans in Washington, many of whom called for the resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder, and some of whom even believed Fast and Furious was a scheme hatched by the Obama administration to impose stricter gun laws.
But no one should be happy with what the withering 512-page report laid out for us this week. While affirming that Holder didn’t know about the project until after it was shut down last year, the report detailed how Justice Department and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives field agents and officials crafted and participated in a foolish plan to let about 2,000 weapons into Mexico so that they might be tracked to cartels and drug lords.
Less than half those guns were recovered, and two of them turned up at a border shootout that killed a U.S. Border Patrol officer. The plan was rife with “misguided strategies, tactics, errors in judgment and management failures,” said inspector general Michael Horowitz, who said that the riskiness of the plan was “immediately evident.” What wasn’t evident was the oversight that could have shut down this fiasco.
Holder, while exonerated by the report, was clumsy and defensive in his stonewalling of a Congressional investigation into the matter. House Republicans, in turn, overreacted by holding the attorney general in contempt.
We don’t have much faith that politics in Washington will improve anytime soon, but we hope that future federal agents and officials will remember Fast and Furious before putting the public at risk like this again.
Sheriff’s anti-Latino bias?
Does North Carolina have its own Joe Arpaio, a sheriff allegedly using his office to harass and racially profile Hispanics? Alamance County Sheriff Terry S. Johnson might fit the bill. On Tuesday, the Justice Department issued an 11-page report saying Johnson and his deputies violated the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens and legal residents by illegally targeting, stopping, detaining and arresting Latinos without probable cause.
Johnson, a Republican, says the probe is political. “The Obama administration has decided to continue to wage war on local law enforcement,” he said.
But Johnson has some explaining to do for people to believe the matter is just politics. He reportedly refers to Latinos as “taco eaters” prone to crime, ordered special roadblocks in neighborhoods where Latinos live, stopping those with brown skin but waving through whites, and was quoted in a 2007 newspaper article saying of Latinos: “Their values are a lot different – their morals – than what we have here… In Mexico, there’s nothing wrong with having sex with a 12- or 13-year-old girl.”
Uh-huh. The report makes recommendations to end the discrimination but not to change sheriffs. But Alamance County voters might want to consider it.
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