By Neil W. McCabe
Three years ago, there was a four-reporter team from The Washington Post, James V. Grimaldi and Sari Horwitz on the team were research editor Alice Crites and staff writer William Booth, embedded inside President Barack Obama’s Fast and Furious program.
The team was given access to restricted documents and operations for months and Dec. 13, 2010 they published their “Secret Life of Guns” series subtitled, “As Mexico drug violence runs rampant, U.S. guns tied to crime south of border.”
In the article, the team reference restricted documents it either stole or were given illegally and to support the article’s rollout, ATF Special Agent J. Dewey Webb narrated a Post-produced video.
In the article, the Post printed a list of the top 12 gun stores responsible for selling guns traced to crimes in Mexico. On top of the list was Lone Wolf Trading in Glendale, Ariz.
The series was meant to buttress the narrative that under-regulated guns sold in the United States were fueling gun violence and mayhem In Mexico—a narrative debunked, when researchers discovered that the bulk of the guns at play in Mexico came from other countries and crooked soldiers and police officers with keys to the warehouse.
All reporters trade access for ground rules, but The Washington Post team crossed the line, when instead of breaking the Fast and Furious story and exposing the administration’s own drayage of firearms to Mexico’s criminal organizations.
This would go down as standard journalistic malpractice if the results of the Post dereliction of duty had not be so tragic.
The night the story broke an attorney for one of the gun stores fingered as a major supplier to Mexican criminals told a Houston television station that his client had been cooperating with the feds. A charge denied and dismissed—but, absolutely true.
The next night, Border Patrol tactical agent Brian A. Terry was killed in an ambush in the Arizona borderlands when he was struck by a bullet fired by an AK-47 sold by the Lone Wolf Trading gun store with guidance from the ATF—a store the Post knew was part of the Fast and Furious program.
Imagine if, instead of partnering with the Obama administration’s message machine, the Post reporters had exposed the program—and by doing so alerted people working in the borderlands that there were more guns floating around and that the area was far more dangerous than before Obama took his first oath of office.
There it is. Simple. But, instead of putting out news that could have saved lives, like Terry’s, the Post held onto the vital truth and put out its manufactured news.
As the stories about Obama’s gun-running operation found their way to Capitol Hill, requests for information were turned away and the Justice Department actually sent a letter to Congress that was so misleading and distant from the truth that Attorney General Eric J. Holder Jr., formally withdrew the letter and apologized.
In the three years since Terry’s murder, the administration has stonewalled congressional attempts at oversight and investigation regarding his death and Fast and Furious.
Just as it has mislead and mistreated family members of the victims of the Benghazi attacks, the Obama administration has abused the Terry’s family, too, including its refusal to grant Terry’s parents a formal status as the family of a crime victim that would have entitled them to regular updates on the investigation and bringing of justice to their son’s killers.
We were told once that a free and active press would be on the side of victims and would be a force to expose malgovernance.
Sadly, The Washington Post in specific, and the mainstream media in general no longer value these functions.