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The gun-running scandal: Sunshine, please

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Congressional subpoenas must reveal what the Justice Department won't explain about a Border Patrol death and its ham-handed effort to link illegally sold guns with Mexican drug cartels.

With Justice largely stonewalling, U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, plans to subpoena officials involved with a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) program known as "Fast and Furious," reports The Hill newspaper.

A bad idea from the start, the program authorized U.S. gun stores to illegally sell thousands of firearms to Mexican cartels' "straw purchasers" -- in hopes of tracing those guns to, and prosecuting, cartel bigwigs.

But ATF lost track of some of those guns.

Two turned up at the Arizona scene where Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in a drug-gang firefight. Others might have grounded a Mexican government helicopter.

Attorney General Eric Holder touts an internal probe. But a Justice Department that countenanced "Fast and Furious" in the first place can't be relied on to get to the bottom of the fiasco that resulted.

What's needed is a clear-eyed, independent investigation -- which Rep. Issa's planned subpoenas and hearings will provide.

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