Bean Bag Law Enforcement and Fast and Furious

| July 11 2012
Christopher Cook

The events surrounding the Fast and Furious scandal are an allegory on the current state of our American governance. Almost beyond belief, Fast and Furious is an indication that our officials, who are endowed with almost unaccountable power, often make decisions that defy credibility and common sense.

Launched in the fall of 2009, the operation known as Fast and Furious dispatched straw, or fake, buyers to U.S. gun stores to buy weapons for transit to Mexican drug criminals. The operation’s purpose was to allegedly trace weapons and arrest cartel members, but the plan went wrong when U.S. officials lost track or just plain stopped tracking the guns.

As many as 2,000 guns purchased and “walked” to Mexico by U.S. authorities reached drug cartel criminals. No one seems to know the precise number, but we do know that guns found at the scene of U.S. Border Agent Brian Terry’s murder in December 2010 can be traced to the failed operation.

For a quick understanding of Fast and Furious, watch the ad produced by the American Future Fund below:

 

We also now know that Agent Terry was initially ordered to only fire beanbags at drug cartel criminals who were armed with assault rifles that our own government had supplied. Even though the Justice Department made news when it announced the indictment of five men in connection with Terry’s murder, the idea that Terry was armed with beanbags against violent criminals is distasteful and unfortunately revealing.

What is more distasteful is the fact that Fast and Furious was carried out at the highest levels of our government. As American interest climbs, so does our knowledge about the failures of those charged with our protection, despite the president’s issuance of Executive Privilege. Beyond questioning the competency of our public officials, Americans are sadly also beginning to question their integrity.

Aside from the questionable original purpose of Fast and Furious, what sort of rules of engagement would send highly trained border agents against criminals who are knowingly armed with assault rifles, with orders to fire only beanbags?

As one friend put it, “It doesn’t make sense, but then again, a lot of what the government does these days does not make sense.” He was absolutely right. Fast and Furious is just another example, in a long list of examples, of mismanaged government.

Beyond Fast and Furious, what type of government gives taxpayer money to a green energy company, such as Solyndra, when that company’s financials suggest certain bankruptcy? What type of government spends taxpayer money to stimulate the American economy by creating jobs overseas?

We live in an era where government operations and strategies strain common sense and credibility. We live in an era where we are told the only way to pay off our debt is to spend our way into deeper debt.

The results are not only embarrassing but are also often disastrous. In the case of Fast and Furious, one agent is dead and three were the victims of assault, not to mention the many innocent Mexican citizens injured or murdered.

Now, through Fast and Furious, Americans have a new embarrassing line of inquiry. Are we really a nation that deploys beanbag law enforcement against criminals armed with guns bought and paid for by the United States government? As my friend lamented, the answer is yes.

The events surrounding Fast and Furious reveal that America is in a bad place. America needs transformative reform if it is to survive. We need a government that is transparent and accountable. We need a government that encourages entrepreneurship and rewards hard work. We need a government that strives for efficiency and avoids cronyism. We need a lot of change.

Although seemingly difficult, the seeds of reform can be found within the Fast and Furious scandal. In America, we sometimes do not fix a problem until it is completely broken. When the information about Fast and Furious became too ugly to ignore, Congress began, and is still, seeking answers. Although President Obama invoked Executive Privilege to block further release of documents, a bipartisan group of legislators are leading an effort to not only uncover the truth but to make sure nothing like it happens again.

America has a history of responding to problems when those problems are too big to ignore. We still have all the tools of a liberty-minded people. But right now, America is saddled with crippling debt and a governing philosophy that spawns dangerous scandals like Fast and Furious. It is not only an allegory of our current condition, but hopefully story that possibly signals a way out.

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