The sugar maples on the streets of our neighborhood are particularly striking right now, with leaves like tufts of flame burning brightly on the tree limbs.
I’ve written before about “Operation Fast and Furious,” a disastrously misguided gun tracing operation of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) during the Obama Administration. The American news media hasn’t shown much interest in “Fast and Furious” — or the Justice Department’s stonewalling in response to questions about the project — but now Univision is picking up the slack and doing some fine reporting about the ill-conceived operation.
Univision has focused on the impact of the nearly 2,000 guns that the BATF allowed to be “walked” out of the United States into Mexico. Amazingly, the BATF lost track of the weapons, many of which ended up in the hands of Mexicans gangsters. Univision has identified “Fast and Furious” weapons that were used in murders, kidnappings, and mass killings. Some were used by hit men who opened fire on a birthday party of young people in Ciudad Juarez, killing 14 and leaving another 12 wounded. Others were part of an armed attack on a rehabilitation center where 18 people died. By any standard, the BATF’s operation has been a bloody disaster — and the human toll has fallen mostly on Mexico, which already had its hands full with drug lords and mounting violence even before the American government foolishly decided to allow hundreds of weapons to cross the border.
As the Univision report points out, the “Operation Fast and Furious” has become a political football in the United States, where the House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for failing to produce documents. As a result — and because the American media has failed to do its own investigative reporting on the matter — the massacres in Mexico with “Fast and Furious” firearms have been largely ignored north of the border.
Our government’s failure to fully acknowledge responsibility for the botched operation, and the bloodshed it has caused, is reprehensible. We can only hope that Univision’s effort to put a human face on the cost of “Operation Fast and Furious” might shame the U.S. government into action, and embarrass American journalists into doing their own reporting on this scandal.
The Onion has fooled many with its fake news stories. Now it has caught its biggest fish yet: the official Iranian news agency, Fars.
Fars reported as fact an Onion spoof about a fake Gallup poll that found that 77 percent of rural white Americans would rather vote for Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than President Obama. The Fars story included The Onion‘s fake quote from a West Virginia resident who purportedly said the Iranian leader “takes national defence seriously, and he’d never let some gay protesters tell him how to run his country like Obama does”.
Fars has apologized for its blunder, but I think its apology tells us something more significant about Iran than the fact that Fars was initially duped by The Onion. In the apology, the Fars editor-in-chief said: “Although it does not justify our mistake, we do believe that if a free opinion poll is conducted in the US, a majority of Americans would prefer anyone outside the US political system to President Barack Obama and American statesmen.”
If the head of the official Iranian news agency truly believes that Americans would prefer a hateful, repressive, anti-Semitic figure like Ahmadinejad to our own President, there is a huge gulf in understanding between our two countries. When those two countries are jousting about Iran’s reckless efforts to obtain nuclear capabilities, such a lack of understanding can be extremely dangerous. If Iranians think it is plausible that rural Americans would vote for an intolerant, deluded bigot like Ahmadinejad, what are they thinking about President Obama’s warning, in his recent speech to the United Nations, that the United States “will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” Are they taking that warning seriously, or are they kidding themselves about that, too?