In their frenzy to take down Attorney General Eric Holder, right wing media pundits have started comparing the brewing Fast and Furious scandal, in which a failed ATF operation allowed guns to “walk” to Mexico in order to track their delivery into the hands of drug cartels, to Ronald Reagan's Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s.
Naturally, the conservatives making this comparison believe Fast and Furious is much worse than Reagan's scandal, in which the Republican hero trafficked arms into the hands of a tyrannical Iranian government, negotiated with Hezbollah terrorists and funneled money and military equipment into the hands of violent revolutionaries in America's own backyard.
Specifically, Fox News hosts are pushing the unlikely argument that Fast and Furious is worse than Iran-Contra because, as they put it, “nobody died” as a result of the latter scandal. The assertion -- that the Reagan administration's felonious dealings with terrorists and terror-sponsoring nations didn't lead to a single casualty -- is absurd to anyone with even the most elementary understanding of what Iran-Contra was or to anyone with access to the internet.
Most recently, Fox News contributor Monica Crowley opined on the issue during an October 12 episode of Fox Business Network's Follow the Money:
CROWLEY: When we look at the annals of political scandals - Watergate, Iran-Contra - nobody died in those scandals. In Fast and Furious, you actually have a couple of dead bodies of federal agents, including Bryan Terry the border guard - the border agent - who died at the hands of one of those weapons.
The co-hosts of Fox News' The Five, specifically Eric Bolling and Andrea Tantaros weighed in as well, ironically exuding incredulity at the lack of attention they feel has been afforded Fast and Furious by the press. From The Five on October 5:
TANTAROS: Well, the special counsel will have subpoena power. So, we're going to find out a lot more about this. Just one final point, though, I think it's unbelievable the mainstream media's coverage of this. Iran Contra, weapons deal to terrorists, we had hearings covering this every single day. Now, we have drugs -- Mexican drug leaders and it's yawn. Yawn.
BOLLING: But the difference is someone died here.
TANTAROS: I agree.
BOLLING: This isn't Watergate. Someone actually died.
During Iran-Contra, top Reagan administration officials, at the behest of the president himself, funneled money to “contra” guerilla fighters in Nicaragua in direct violation of U.S. and international law. The contras, according to Human Rights Watch, “were major and systematic violators of the most basic standards of the laws of armed conflict, including by launching indiscriminate attacks on civilians, selectively murdering non-combatants, and mistreating prisoners.” To claim that the U.S. funding did not lead to the deaths of innocents beggars belief.
In addition to supporting the deadly activities of the contras, Iran-Contra resulted in the deaths of three members of the Central Intelligence Agency when an American aircraft carrying equipment for the anti-government guerrillas was shot down over the Nicaraguan jungle.
On the other side of the arms deal, Reagan trafficked weapons, including hundreds of missiles, to an oppressive Iranian regime mired in a war with Iraq. No rational person could possibly believe that the delivery of so many weapons into the hands of a violent, war-torn government didn't result in numerous deaths.
Moreover, while President Obama has repeatedly said that he was unaware of the operational details of Fast and Furious, President Reagan acknowledged ordering Iran-Contra.
For Fox News to make the incredible claim that no one died as a result of the Iran-Contra scandal is simply beyond sensational. It's a complete lie that reveals one of two things about the Fox pundits making these claims - either they're intentionally misleading the American public, or they're grossly incompetent journalists.