During his radio show today, Rush Limbaugh again claimed that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Operation Fast and Furious was hatched as an Obama administration plot to disarm Americans.
Limbaugh's baseless claim was refuted by a report onthe failed gun trafficking sting released by the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General on Wednesday. The DOJ watchdog found “no evidence” that the agents involved in Fast and Furious had “improper motives” and that the goal of the operation was “dismantling a dangerous firearms trafficking organization.”
RUSH LIMBAUGH: American people don't want to give up their guns. What do you do? What liberals always do. Try to create a false narrative or impression that the American people have had it and are fed up with it and we got to get guns out of people's hands. They want that cry erupting from all over America. So many people think that the point of Fast and Furious was very simple: get these guns into the hands of some of the deadliest, vicious, trigger happy criminals you can find. And they are very close. They run drug cartels south of the border. They're in Mexico. So you give them the guns and they will go crazy. Because people die in gun raids, drug cartel activities every day. And what happened was one of our agents, Brian Terry, died and more than a hundred Mexicans. And what was supposed to happen, the American people were supposed to hear this news and they were supposed to be outraged at two things. A, that drug cartels have American guns. You mean it's that easy that some local weed can cross the border buy a gun and take it home to Mexico and another to stop -- that's right. And then they start shooting people. The outcry was supposed to -- the American people were supposed to rise up in indignation. So you've gotta shut that down. We've got to stop making guns so easily. That's what they were trying to shape public opinion so that you ended up demanding gun control.
But Limbaugh's theory -- which MSNBC host Rachael Maddow termed the “specific” version of the National Rifle Association's grand conspiracy that Obama secretly plans to eliminate the Second Amendment if re-elected -- was debunked by the Inspector General report:
ATF's Phoenix Field Division, together with the U.S. Attorney's Office, bore primary responsibility for the conduct of Operations Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious. While we found no evidence that the agents responsible for the cases had improper motives or were trying to accomplish anything other than dismantling a dangerous firearms trafficking organization, we concluded that the conduct and supervision of the investigations was significantly flawed.
This finding is consistent with a June 2011 joint staff report on Fast and Furious issued by the offices of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) which concluded, “The purpose [of Fast and Furious] was to wait and watch, in the hope that law enforcement could identify other members of a trafficking network and build a large, complex conspiracy case.”
But the mountain of evidence against Limbaugh's theory has not stopped him from repeatedly pushing it on the airwaves. On June 8, he suggested that one of the purposes of Fast and Furious was “to get those guns across the border in the hands of Mexican drug cartels, have crimes committed, and then say we gotta do something about the Second Amendment.”
Limbaugh has variously described Fast and Furious as “an effort by the regime to gin up anti-gun sentiment in America,” “an attack on the Second Amendment,” and “a means for Obama to get back at the Second Amendment.”
The theory has also received significant play on Fox News and was offered as the conclusion of a book written about Fast and Furious by Katie Pavlich, the news editor of conservative website Townhall.