You wouldn’t know it if you solely paid attention to the mainstream media, but while President Barack Obama attempts to sell the country on hundreds of billions in new stimulus spending and $1.5 trillion in new taxes, his Administration is smack in the middle of several growing scandals: the Operation Fast and Furious gun-running debacle and the crony capitalism wrongdoing involving Solyndra and LightSquared.
In the fall of 2009, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which is overseen by President Obama’s Department of Justice, launched an effort to sell weapons to small-time gun buyers in the hopes of tracing them to major weapons traffickers along the southwestern border and into Mexico. Their effort, which is known as Operation Fast and Furious, failed terribly.
Around 1,500 of the guns went unaccounted for, about two-thirds of those guns ended up in Mexico, a border patrol agent was shot and killed with weapons that were sold as part of the operation, 57 Fast and Furious weapons have been connected to at least 11 violent crimes in the U.S., and in Mexico an unconfirmed toll of at least 200 people have been killed or wounded with other weapons linked to the botched effort.
Save for recent reports from CBS News and the Los Angeles Times, and earlier reporting by ABC News, the mainstream media has largely ignored the story and the White House press corps has not bothered to ask the President or press secretary Jay Carney about the scandal since July 5 — that’s 78 days, and over 40 press briefings, without one single related question.
Meanwhile, congressional hearings were held, top officials associated with the operation were removed from their positions, and a third individual resigned. In the latest news, Mexican officials are complaining that, to this day, the United States has not offered an explanation about Fast and Furious, much less an apology. And yesterday, CBS News reported that a series of secretly recorded audio tapes thought to have been recorded in March reveal that an Arizona gun dealer and an ATF agent involved in the operation were worried about the unraveling scandal.
Turning from guns to butter, another scandal has cropped up, this one involving the solar panel manufacturing company Solyndra, which received a $535 million loan guarantee from the Energy Department as part of President Obama’s green jobs spending spree. The President lauded the company when he spoke at the unveiling of its new factory in May of last year. But now, little more than a year later, it stands bankrupt and plans to lay off more than 1,000 employees. Days after it filed for bankruptcy, the FBI raided the company’s offices and the homes of its executives.
The Obama Administration had a lot riding on Solyndra and the promise it offered. The President had made “green” energy a centerpiece of his failed plan to boost job growth in the United States, likening his effort to America’s “moonshot”–the space race following the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik. The import of the company’s bankruptcy was evident in a January 31 e-mail between Office of Management and Budget staff regarding “Solyndra optics.” In the e-mail, the staff discussed what it would look like if the company went belly-up down the road, its implications for the 2012 elections, and how an earlier default might give the Obama Administration some credit for “fiscal discipline.”
Then there’s the story of LightSquared, a wireless start-up company backed by billionaire Democratic donor Philip Falcone. The Daily Beast reports that military officials fear that the company’s technology could interfere with GPS signals–and that “two U.S. officials allege the White House tried to influence their [congressional] testimony to rush key testing, to LightSquare’s benefit.”
Enter the investigations. Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Tuesday that his committee plans to investigate government loans to private companies made by the Obama Administration, according to The Hill. “I want to see when the president and his cronies are picking winners and losers,” Issa said. Now, Reuters reports that Solyndra’s chief executive and chief financial officer will invoke their Fifth Amendment rights and refuse to answer questions at the hearing on Friday.
A cross-border gun-running scandal, deaths in the United States and Mexico, staff removals and resignations, secret audio recordings, complaints from foreign officials, hundreds of millions of dollars in loans, bankruptcy, an FBI raid, campaign donors, and allegations of inappropriate White House influence in congressional testimony. There are serious questions coming out of Washington. It’s time the media start demanding answers.