Retired Air Force General Michael Hayden,who also led the NSA and CIA in his time, offers an interesting perspective on the failures of Eric Holder and Operation Fast and Furious.
Fast and Furious was a secretive, high-risk operation seemingly intended to deal with an intractable problem abroad. On those grounds, some may be tempted to equate it to a CIA covert action.
But even if some attributes are similar — tough problem, edgy solution, inherent complexity, great secrecy, high operational and political risk — it was definitely not a covert action since those are clearly defined in an executive order as the province of the Central Intelligence Agency
Beyond that, if it had been a true covert action, the attorney general would have had to give his opinion as to its lawfulness beforehand; the implementing agency would have been required to exhaustively articulate risk; the National Security Council would have had to judge it favorably; President Barack Obama would have had to authorize it; and the Congress would have had to have been briefed before its implementation.
And all concerned would have had the opportunity to reject a bad idea, whatever its rationale.
These routine safeguards not only protect agencies, their leaders and their officers from legal and political jeopardy, they also protect the government from serious missteps.
Now Holder, without such safeguards in place, must defend himself against some very tough accusations, including one by some skeptics that the operation was intended principally to discredit, and thereby justify further regulation of, firearms dealers.
Make sure you read the whole piece, which seems to be a long form version of “they kept giving this idiot rope until he hung himself with it.”