President Obama inserted himself directly into Operation Fast and Furious investigation for the first time yesterday, and the ensuing questions led to an embarrassing press briefing for a White House spokesman who answered questions as if he was still new to the story.
First, Carney couldn’t say if the documents that Obama is refusing to let Congress see actually involve the White House corresponding with the Justice Department about the false claim that law enforcement did not allow any guns to be smuggled into Mexico. “I don’t have a way to characterize the documents in question here,” Carney said.
Next, Carney was forced to back off his attempt to pin Fast and Furious on the Bush Administration. “It originated in a field office during the previous administration. It was ended under this administration, by this Attorney General,” Carney said. ABC’s Jake Tapper quickly observed that “The operation began in fall 2009.”
Carney countered by saying that “the tactic began in the previous administration.” He was referring then to Operation Wide Receiver, in which the United States allowed guns to walk as part of an operation coordinated with the Mexican government track weapons smuggled from the United States to Mexico. Operation Fast and Furious, which allowed thousands of guns to enter Mexico, was not disclosed to the Mexican government. “At no time did we know or were we made aware that there might have been arms trafficking permitted,” Mexican Attorney General Marisela Morales told the L.A. Times. “In no way would we have allowed it, because it is an attack on the safety of Mexicans.”
As Carney continued to field questions, he appeared to forget the family name of border patrol agent Brian Terry, who was death ignited the investigation after he was killed by drug smugglers armed with weapons obtained through Operation Fast and Furious.
“We have provided Congress every document that pertains to the operation itself that is at issue here when you talk about the family that you referred to,” Carney said. When Tapper provided him the name, he repeated it — “the Terry family.”
And when Carney said that Obama’s decision to assert executive privilege over documents subpoenaed by Congress was “entirely about principle,” reporters openly laughed.