During a White House roundtable with three Spanish-language media outlets on Wednesday, President Barack Obama skated around questions about Operation Fast and Furious.
“We’re working very hard to have a much more effective interdiction effort … we are checking southbound transit … to capture illegal guns, illegal cash transfers to cartels,” he said at the morning event with representatives from Yahoo!, MSN Latino, and AOL Latino/Huffington Post Latino Voices. “It is something we’ve been building … its not yet finished, and there’s more work to do,” he said.
Conservative Action Fund treasurer Shaun McCutcheon told The Daily Caller that Obama’s inability to answer basic questions about Operation Fast and Furious suggests the administration is covering up even more about the controversial program.
“The more that comes out about this Fast and Furious scandal, the more we realize that there are very real dangers in a government that is too big to monitor itself,” McCutcheon said in an email. “The Obama administration refuses to take responsibility for the deaths of Americans and Mexicans alike under their watch because of their program.”
Obama blamed budget problems, in part, for what some see as ATF’s incompetence. “Part of the problem is budgetary [and] … we are going to have to figure out ways to operate smarter and more efficiently in investigations without a huge expansion of resources because those resources are aren’t there.”
No reporters at the roundtable pressed Obama further on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives program. Operation Fast and Furious was an Obama administration program in which ATF agents facilitated the sale of firearms to Mexican drug cartels via “straw purchasers” who could legally purchases guns in the United States, but were doing so with the intention of trafficking them into Mexico.
House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley have pursued a congressional investigation into the ATF operation over the past several months, and that has led to at least a few high-ranking Obama administration resignations. Their investigations have also revealed that White House officials were aware of Fast and Furious and the ATF tactics the program employed.
Conservative groups are unlikely to let this scandal die down without greater accountability.
“This Fast and Furious scandal reminds us that cronyism is murderous and its politics are dangerous,” Ali Akbar, a political consultant for the conservative Vice and Victory told TheDC. “I’m talking with other conservative groups and we’re not letting this go. We applaud Chairman Issa for pursuing this national tragedy that looks like it trickles all the way up to the top.”
TheDC’s Neil Munro contributed reporting for this story.