In an interview last night with reporter Jorge Ramos of Mexico’s Univision network, President Barack Obama not only denied prior knowledge of “Project Gunrunner,” he also indicated that someone will be “held accountable” for what has turned into a major scandal that is already producing collateral diplomatic damage.
Obama told Ramos that, “First of all, I did not authorize it. Eric Holder, the attorney general, did not authorize it.”
To which Ramos quickly reacted: “Well, who authorized it?”
“We don’t have all the facts,” the president replied. “That’s why the (Inspector General) is in business.”
The president seemed determined to put some space between himself, Holder and the controversy. Insisting that he was never informed about the operation, Obama told Ramos “This is a pretty big government, the United States government. I’ve got a lot of moving parts.”
What was it that sign on Harry Truman’s desk said? Oh, yes:
“The buck stops here.”—President Harry Truman
The growing scandal has been handed off to the Justice Department’s Inspector General by Holder. Sources close to the controversy have suggested to this column that people are trying to put some distance between themselves and Gunrunner, and its off-shoot, Operation Fast and Furious. An unwritten principle in government is that when people try to avoid a subject, it is because they know it is toxic. It was the Fast and Furious operation, run out of the Phoenix, AZ office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, that is now bringing down the heat because of the number of guns that are suspected of having been allowed to enter the black market pipeline while ATF supervisors ordered their field agents to let them “walk.”
There may be a situation here in which a serious mistake was made and if that’s the case then we’ll find out and we’ll hold somebody accountable.”—President Barack Obama
Over the weekend, as this column reported here yesterday, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Carlos Pasqual abruptly resigned. The public spin on this is that Mexican President Filipe Calderon is furious over the leak of highly critical diplomatic cables that portrayed Mexico’s war on drug cartels as something of a train wreck.
However, there is ample speculation that the “Gunrunner” controversy also influenced Pasqual’s decision.
And now comes Obama’s closing remark on the Gunrunner subject with Ramos: “There may be a situation here in which a serious mistake was made and if that’s the case then we’ll find out and well hold somebody accountable.”
To “Gunrunner” observers, that sounds suspiciously like someone is going to be thrown under a bus, if not to the lions. After all, Republican Sen. Charles Grassley is digging into this case like a bird dog on point, and Republican Congressman Darrell Issa appears to be preparing a full-scale investigation, as this column reported here.
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