Interviewers on the Spanish-language television network Univision grilled President Barack Obama about the Operation Fast and Furious scandal plaguing his administration in an interview Thursday.
“You told me during an interview that you and Mr. Holder did not authorize the Fast and Furious operation that allowed 2,000 weapons from the United States into Mexico and they were in the drug trafficking [cartels’] hands,” Univision co-host Jorge Ramos asked Obama, according to a translator, during the interview. “I think that up to 100 Mexicans might have died and also American agent Brian Terry. There’s a report that 14 agents were responsible for the operation but shouldn’t the attorney general, Eric Holder, he should have known about that and if he didn’t, should you fire him?”
Obama responded with similar talking points his administration has used time and again.
“Well, first of all, I think it’s important to understand that the Fast and Furious program was a field-initiated program, begun under the previous administration,” Obama said. “When Eric Holder found out about it, he discontinued it. We assigned an inspector general to do a thorough report that was just issued — confirming that in fact Eric Holder did not know about this, that he took prompt action and that the people who did initiate this were held accountable. But, what I think is most important is recognizing that we’ve got a challenge in terms of weapons flowing south, and the strategy that was pursued out of Arizona, obviously, was completely wrongheaded. Those folks who were responsible have been held accountable. The question now is, how do we move forward with a strategy that will actually work?”
“We are going to have to work with Mexican law enforcement to accomplish this, but I will tell you that Eric Holder has my complete confidence, because he has shown himself to be willing to hold accountable those who took these actions and is passionate about making sure that we’re preventing guns from getting into the wrong hands,” Obama continued.
Ramos followed up in English: “But if you have nothing to hide, then why are you not releasing papers to the –”
Obama responded: “The truth is we’ve released thousands of papers.
“But not all of them,” Ramos countered. (RELATED: Inspector general: Obama administration obstructed Fast and Furious investigation)
“We’ve released almost all of them,” Obama said. “The ones that we don’t release, typically, relate to internal communications that were not related to the actual Fast and Furious operation. The challenge that we have is that, at any given moment in the federal government, there may be people who do dumb things, and I’ve seen it, I promise. Ultimately, I’m responsible and my key managers, including the attorney general, are responsible for holding those people accountable, for making sure that they are fired if they do dumb things and then fixing the system to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, and I’m very confident that you will not see any kinds of actions like this in the future, but what I don’t like to see is these kinds of issues becoming political circuses or ways to score political points in Congress partly because it becomes a distraction from us doing the business that we need to do for the American people.”