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New Year news opens old Fast & Furious wounds

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Tuesday’s revelation by CNN that another gun linked to Operation Fast and Furious has turned up at the scene of a bloody gun battle in Mexico has fired up a new discussion, and this morning as the story was being covered by Fox News, an official with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives confirmed via e-mail to Examiner that the agency “has accepted responsibility for the mistakes made” in that investigation.

Fast and Furious was first publicly revealed by National Gun Rights Examiner David Codrea and independent blogger Mike Vanderboegh three years ago, following the slaying of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in the desert mountains of southern Arizona. This column also covered the Fast and Furious scandal extensively for more than two years.

At least one gun connected to Fast and Furious “gun walking” that allowed some 2,000 to 2,500 guns to be smuggled into the hands of drug cartel gunmen four years ago was reportedly recovered by investigators cleaning up the mess remaining after a Dec. 18 shootout in Puerto Peñasco.

Sen. Charles Grassley, who launched the first Capitol Hill inquiry about the disastrous gun running sting operation, issued a statement criticizing the Obama administration’s handling of the affair.

“In Operation Fast and Furious, the Mexican drug cartels found an easy way to supplement their own illegal ways,” Grassley stated. “Worse yet, the Obama administration has yet to publicly hold anyone accountable for this disastrous policy. Unfortunately, guns from Fast and Furious will be found in operations like this for years to come.”

Earlier last month, House attorneys filed papers with the federal court in Washington, D.C. to force Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department to release documents they believe would “reveal the extent of efforts to stonewall” the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, the California Republican who spearheaded a formal congressional investigation in early 2011.

Because of that investigation and his refusal to provide hundreds, if not thousands, of documents, Holder was held in contempt of Congress. President Barack Obama extended executive privilege protection for those documents, leading to considerable speculation that he knew more about Fast & Furious than he had initially asserted.

This column discussed the historic contempt vote against Holder in June 2012. It was the first time an attorney general had been held in contempt of Congress, and it was a blistering action that devolved into dramatic partisanship. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus walked out of the House chamber rather than vote. Seventeen Democrats cross the aisle to vote with the Republican majority.

Following Tuesday’s report about the recovered gun, the ATF released a statement that the agency “has accepted responsibility for the mistakes made in the Fast and Furious investigation, and, at the Attorney General’s direction, we have taken appropriate and decisive action to ensure that these errors will not be repeated.

“And we acknowledge that, regrettably, firearms related to Fast and Furious investigation will likely continue to be recovered at future crime scenes,” the ATF statement added.

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