Monday, June 20, 2011

The Next Obama Scandal: “Gun Walking”

Operation Fast and Furious was an idiotic attempt by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to get proof that Mexican drug cartels are buying guns from American gun shops. This reckless operation had no chance of success and it got people killed, including American Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. What's more, it has all the hallmarks of being politically motivated and is likely to reach into the White House.

Starting in 2009, the ATF, part of Eric Holder’s Justice Department, got cooperative Phoenix-area gun shops to sell guns illegally to Mexicans. Rather than arrest these buyers, as they would have done in the past, the ATF instructed its agents to turn a blind eye to the sales. This has been called “gun walking” because they let these guns walk out the door. The ATF hoped the guns would be recovered from Mexican crime scenes, which they believed would let them build conspiracy cases against Mexican drug cartels. It didn’t. In fact, it couldn't because the entire concept is flawed. Consider this:

1. By telling the gun shops to knowingly sell the guns illegally, the agency itself made it possible for the guns to reach Mexico. Thus, this operation cannot stand as proof that American gun shops are selling to Mexicans because it was the ATF itself that made this possible and there is no evidence that any non-cooperating gun shops made similar sales.

2. Secondly, there’s no way to connect the drug cartels to the gun sales because the ATF didn’t keep track of the guns. In other words, even if cartel members used these guns in Mexico, there’s no way to trace the gun from the purchase to the cartel. And if the ATF's plan was just to assume the connection (something that is not permissible in a court of law) then why even bother releasing the guns?
Thus, even if the operation worked perfectly, it still could not have achieved the ATF's goals.

But more importantly, what was the cost of this stupidity? Republicans Rep. Daryl Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley just issued a 51 page report damning Operation Fast and Furious. From the start, this operation was criticized by experienced ATF agents as “reckless.” Said Grassley: “Both line agents and gun dealers who co-operated with the ATF repeatedly expressed concerns [about the operation]. . . but ATF supervisors did not heed those warnings. Instead, they told agents to follow orders because this was sanctioned from above.” And when ATF bosses were told this could result in people getting killed, they responded: “if you are going to make an omelet, you need to scramble some eggs.” In other words, they didn’t care. Apparently, they even threatened to fire or punish agents who complained.

It is unknown how many crimes these guns were used to commit because the ATF had no way to monitor what happened to the guns. But before the operation was stopped, 1,730 guns were allowed to disappear onto the black market, including hundreds of AK-47s and sniper rifles. One of those AK-47s was later used to kill Board Patrol Agent Brian Terry. And when he was killed, the ATF embarked on a cover up. William Newell, the special agent in charge of the operation, ordered the arrest of 20 of the minor gun buyers and then declared the operation a success even though nothing was ever linked to a single senior cartel member. When he was asked if the guns the ATF had let disappear were deliberately allowed to end up in the hands of criminals, he lied: “Hell no!”

So what you have here is a government agency that embarked on a policy that could not achieve the goals for which it was planned, which endangered thousands of American and Mexican lives, and which covered up the mess it created. If that’s not an argument for reining in the government, then nothing is.

Naturally, Obama has denied any knowledge of the operation and I’m sure Eric Holder will too. There is speculation that acting ATF director Kenneth Melson will be made the scapegoat here. But this is not the kind of operation that happens without higher up approval. In fact, one ATF agent has stated that this operation was cleared by the State Department, i.e. Hillary Clinton (who "coincidentally" came to the border to decry American guns right before this operation started).

To dodge this scandal, the Democrats are spinning this as the fault of the gun lobby for blocking the appointment of Obama’s choice to run the ATF -- that's the same Democrats who had a 60 seat majority but didn't confirm the guy. They also are trying to claim this started in 2006, which is true of the overall operation but not of the gun walking -- which only started in 2009 apparently after the approval of State. The ATF is trying to spin this as the result of the ATF not having enough personnel to monitor the guns, but that begs the question why they even started the operation.

In fact, why would they do this at all? The ATF says they wanted to get a better grasp on how cartels work, but that kind of knowledge is already available and this wouldn’t have helped them in any event. The real goal, in my opinion, was to create data to prove what Obama/Hillary/Holder were all arguing: that gun control is needed because American gun shops are arming Mexican drug cartels. That argument wasn’t working because everyone knows better. As I pointed out at the time, it’s silly to think Mexican cartels were buying guns from American gun shops when they have co-opted whole departments of the Mexican police and whole military units -- they could easily get better hardware out of Mexican armories. BUT. . . if American guns with serial numbers known to the ATF could suddenly be traced to a significant portion of murders in Mexico, then Obama/Clinton/Holder would have a new argument to aid them in their gun control attempts.

It strikes me this is a prime example of politicians abusing law enforcement to generate a controversy to help them score political points. People died so Team Obama could score those points. This is shameful and needs to be investigated.

45 comments:

Tennessee Jed said...

The "hit parade" of blunders made by this administration grows continuously. Luckily, I read Commenterama because I doubt this is one the "traditional" media will cover. Afterall, the perps are members of the protected class known as Democrats.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Could you imagine a world where we weren't needed because the MSM did their jobs?

So far, the little coverage I've seen has been "right-wing Republicans release report critical of ATF... Obama denies knowledge." No one has yet followed up on the Hillary question or the fact the ATF claim of why they did this makes no sense on it's face.

But Darell Issa is tenacious and I'll bet he will dig into this and bring it all to light.

Mike Kriskey said...

I certainly remember this administration--and I seem to remember President Obama himself--claiming that the escalating violence in Mexico could be blamed on corrupt or indifferent American gun store owners selling weapons to the cartels.

I can't understand the indecency required to pin blame on people who were only doing exactly what you'd asked them to do.

The question is: did the Obama administration desire a wave of gun violence stemming from this operation as a pretext to curtail 2nd Amendment rights? Was this an attempt to engineer a bloodbath, or was this incompetence?

Seeing the answers given to those who raised objections to the program, this seems like a calculated political decision, and not a mistake.

AndrewPrice said...

Mike, That's my thinking exactly. Let's look at this logically.

First, there is no way this operation makes sense if it is to build a conspiracy case (because that's a legal impossibility based on how they handled it). It also makes no sense to just learn how the cartels work because they can't trace what happens to the guns.

So why do it?

Well, it does make sense if the purpose was to generate data of known American guns turning up at Mexican crime scenes. (The Issa report says ATF supervisors were "giddy" whenever an American gun was found at a crime scene because they considered this "validation" of their plan.)

But the only reason the AFT would like that (as they couldn't use it to make criminal prosecutions) would be as political ammunition for anti-gun shop legislation.

Add in the "coincidence" that Obama and Hillary both went to the border to decry American guns right before this policy took effect.... the fact a policy like this needs the highest approvals (which means at least Holder).... and the fact the State Department is said to be involved and probably had to be involved because these guns would be released into Mexico, a foreign country....

....and it adds up to a cynical political attempt to generate a controversy that lets Obama/Holder/Clinton pass anti-gun legislation -- which was otherwise completely stalled in the Congress at that point.

T-Rav said...

This administration is functioning just like a medieval monarchy used to--have the underlings carry out the ruler's dirty work, then blame them and give them the axe (literally) when the public complains. I just wonder how high up this crap goes.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, That's the question. And I suspect you will see an all-out assault on this report and an attempt to blame everyone but the administration for this so that no one digs too deeply.

If it turns out that Obama/Holder/Hillary authorized this program and their reasoning was to generate this kind of data, then they got people killed just to score political points. That won't play well with the public (nor should it) and my guess is that the Democrats will do anything they can to stop the investigation.

Tennessee Jed said...

not to put too fine a point on it, but yes, the more I think about, purposeful political reckoning vis-a-vis the 2nd amendment rather than mere incompetence does seem the more likely play here. It's just that this administration is so intent on both.

I do root for Issa, and I think he intends to seek the truth as opposed to cheap political show trials which has often accompanied these things. At least thus far, the administration has taken the tact of ignoring him. Historically, that only works so long, though.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, That's my thinking too. There are just too many coincidences here for this to be some random policy that would have just happened to give the administration exactly what they were after politically.

Plus, the more I thought about it, the more obvious it became that there was no law enforcement reason to do this -- despite ATF's claims, and the more obvious it became to me that the State Department had to be involved, and that means Hillary. Combined with her comments at the time, and Obama's, this must reach into the administration.

Issa has impressed me too because he does seem interested in the truth rather than show trials. And that's a good thing. Plus, he seems extremely good at this. And you're right, they can only ignore him for so long -- and they better be very careful about denying involvement if he starts throwing out subpoenas.

DUQ said...

I would believe Obama did this without caring at all about the people who would die. Leftists rarely care about the people who get hurt by their policies because they think their intentions are all that matter.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, History agrees with you. In fact, I thought the quote from the ATF supervisor was really shocking. The guy was being told that people would likely get killed (which makes sense since you figure they were actually HOPING these guns would be used in crimes), and yet his response was "well, you gotta break some eggs." That's callous.

CrispyRice said...

Wow, interesting stuff, Andrew. Makes me sick to think about it.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Crispy! It is interesting and sicken at the same time. Keep in mind that Agent Terry is the only person we know of so far who has been murdered with one of these guns. The real death toll is probably a LOT higher.

BevfromNYC said...

So the President of Mexico must be pretty upset. By all reports, we have also been the major supplier of weapons to Central and South American militaries and police who then sell them to the drug cartels for a profit.

T-Rav said...

"The real death toll is probably a LOT higher."

I've got another one for you, Andrew. According to Fox News, some of these guns were also used in the kidnapping and murder of a Mario Gonzalez Rodriguez, a well-known attorney whose sister was attorney general of the state of Chihuahua. Some of the details surrounding this are kind of murky--it's not clear if he was killed for being related to her, or because she was suspected of corrupt dealings against the Juarez gang that took him; also unclear if he was shot or electrocuted. What is definitely known is that Rodriguez was put through severe torture before dying, and an investigation turned up some of the guns being sold illegally, which were no doubt used in his abduction. So that's two and counting.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, On the one hand, I would be very upset if some other country's law enforcement people decided to hand out guns in the hopes they would be used in crimes in my country.

But on the other hand, Mexico's hands are so dirty in this that it's hard for them to point fingers. I'm sure they will (and they have) at "American guns," but I doubt they will connect the dots that these guns are coming from Mexican armories or any other Central/South American country. But that is the most likely place they are coming from.

The Los Zetas cartel were actually trained by American Special Forces at Ft. Benning to fight the drug trade, before they decided it would be more profitable to become the drug trade. And at various attacks in Mexico, they are finding the cartel guys driving in in Mexican military or federal police vehicles with the right uniforms and hardware, which they use to trick the locals into giving up before killing them.

None of that is coming from small gun shops in Arizona or Texas. But it makes a convenient foreign scapegoat for a failed government to attack. And it also happens to fit Obama's desire to restart the push for gun control, which died over the past decade.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, I wonder how many more of these we're going to hear about? It's really very disturbing that our government decided to hand out assault weapons to people they knew (and hoped) would commit crimes with them. This was knowingly aiding and abetting murder.

I'm glad that the news is getting out and I think connections like the one you mention and Terry will get this noticed (because so far the MSM seems determined to ignore this), but I'm saddened by the whole thing nevertheless.

This needs to be investigated, because if this was nothing more than a political ploy, then someone needs to look into criminal charges for those responsible.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: Another example of your tax dollars at work, only this time it was deadly. If someone had put this into a film script, he would have been told it was too far-fetched.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, It's funny you should mention that. Because when I was writing this, I kept thinking -- this is like some insane Hollywood plot where a politician intentionally sets out to get people killed to cause an incident just so they can advocate some policy. This really is like a bad movie premise. Sadly, this one has real life consequences.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I guess that's a reasonable reaction for Calderon to have (regarding our law enforcement, that is). On the other hand, in light of his remarks about the Arizona immigration bill in front of our Congress, I don't think he has a lot of room to talk about one country intervening in another's affairs.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Hypocrisy is not uncommon for politicians, especially politicians in trouble. In fact, look at the immigration issue he was talking about -- at the same time he was attacking our attempts to impose minimal controls, his people are brutal in how they handle immigration, yet he dared to make us the bad guys.

I think he'll be happy to demagogue this by arguing that we are to blame for supplying guns because that excuses his failure because there's nothing he can do about fixing the US... so he's not to blame for losing his war with the cartels.

In short, I would be surprised if he was honest about this. But we'll see.

BevfromNYC said...

Yes, - It's Wag the Dog! Let's start a little gun running operation in border state gun shops so that we can prove there is a little gun running operation in Arizona gun shops

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, It is indeed Wag the Dog. I wonder if Team Obama has been in fantasy paranoia land for so long, where they think conservatives do this because Hollywood tells them we do, that they decided they could get away with it themselves?

Ed said...

Andrew, Excellent article. Thanks for pointing this stuff out. I guess we need to wait and see if the MSM will pick up with this and investigate. My guess is that they will consider this a closed matter because Obama is a Democrat. But you can be assured that if this was the Bush administration, they would be uncovering every single fact and then some.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, You're welcome. And I think that goes without saying. If this had been a Republican administration there would be 1,000 reporters on the border right now looking for evidence implicating Bush. But since it's Obama, they'll wait and see if conservatives can make a bug enough deal of it that they have to handle it.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, it all brings to mind that psychological notion of projection or mirroring or whatever it is. I don't remember the exact explanation but I figure you know what I mean. Applies to both Calderon's hypocrisy and the administration's image of Republicans.

Ed said...

Andrew, It's too bad we don't really have a competent media anymore. Hopefully, conservatives will investigate and this will be fully exposed.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, I think that actually explains a lot of liberalism. Inevitably you will hear them whine some conspiracy theory about conservatives and then a few weeks/months/years later, they get caught doing exactly what they tried to accuse the Republicans of doing.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, Conservative journalism is really taking off. So hopefully this will be fully investigated. if the MSM won't do it, then maybe someone like Breitbart will.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, having checked out more of the details of this on Pajamas Media, they seem to be backing up your theory that the ultimate purpose of this operation was gun control. The argument that blog makes is based on the fact that 1) Not only did ATF have no way of tracking these guns, they did not, as a matter of policy, extend surveillance beyond the Mexican border; 2) ATF agents were not at any time allowed to interfere with the smuggling of guns across the border; and 3) The Bureau had as its benchmark of success not the number of people arrested, but how many guns turned up and how much violence occurred due to these smuggled weapons. (That last bit comes from agent John Dodson, who also related that lovely omelet quote you mentioned.)

Based on that, and of course the Obama administration's well-known support for more gun control, there's certainly a strong case to be made along those lines. A few people are saying this could result in convictions for senior administration officials and possibly an indictment for Obama himself. (Personally, though I'm not a lawyer, it sounds to me like there'd have to be more of a smoking gun for that to happen. But we'll see.)

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, Thanks for finding that! It's good to see that other people are interpreting this the same way. Hopefully that will help it catch on with the bigger conservative media!

I think the evidence is pretty strong that (1) there was no legitimate law enforcement purpose to letting these guns go and (2) the coincidences are just too strong that this would score political points for ATF's bosses, i.e. Obama. To me, that adds up. I obviously have no proof yet, but it does add up.

In terms of an indictment, it is highly unlikely that there can be any sort of criminal charge because law enforcement has broad immunity when engaging in law enforcement activities. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it's highly unlikely. They would need to show that somehow this was outside the law enforcement capacity and that they condoned illegal conduct for political reasons -- which I suppose is possible, but will be very hard.

Still, it needs to be investigated, exposed and then we need to see what turns up. You never know what will come out once you start looking.

CrispyRice said...

Btw, Rush talked about this today as well. (Though you beat him by about 3 hours, Andrew, LOL!) Anyway, I was only half-listening, so I have no further details, but the story seems to be growing legs.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I have a feeling this story will get traction very quickly. It's starting to pop up all over the blogosphere--I can't remember how many stories I've seen on it in the past few hours--and in light of how fast a story involving a certain congressman and certain indiscretions of his migrated from there into the MSM, I think this is bound to get noticed to some extent.

Incidentally, Drudge is saying the acting ATF chief is expected to resign shortly.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Crispy! Hopefully, with more people mentioning it, this will get the investigation it deserves and needs.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, If this does get noticed and I'm starting to think it will, then this will be very solid proof that the conservative new-media is a heck of a lot more powerful than the MSM wants them to be. Because the MSM has tried to bury this story and we conservatives have still gotten the message out.

I actually ran across this at Politico, where they had one very small article about Obama denying knowledge of the operation -- and operation they neither explained in that article, nor did they have any other article about it. So I went looking for it.

I won't be surprised if he resigns very quickly as damage control. As I mention in the article they're trying everything they can to divert attention from what I think is probably the real story here -- White House approval. But if this thing does get traction (and it looks like it already has) I think Issa is the perfect man to put subpoena power to good use.

This is actually kind of fascinating to watch how it unfolds.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav,

Apparently, Mexico's attorney general demanded an investigation some time ago and is saying that anyone responsible for the operation needs to be prosecuted. This could get very interesting if Mexico decides to be aggressive about this as American law enforcement immunity would not extend to Mexican law.

StanH said...

Drat! …another harebrained liberal idea fails. Who-da-thunk?

On a telling note: “Acting Director Kenneth Melson may resign in the next day or two, the sources said.” …underling falls on sword. Hmmm…

Rush led his show off and ended his show pounding away, on this very subject.

Now for the immortal question that will never be asked of our Marxist messiah, “what did you know and when did you know it, Mr. President?”

Good read Andrew.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Stan! We'll see if anyone asks Obama that question or not. If there is enough pressure then he'll have to answer for it -- probably right after he loses the election too.

I'm betting they think the resignation will take the pressure off, but I doubt it because no one has pointed at him yet. So resigning will just get him out of the way and will leave other targets for the investigation.

I'm glad Rush is pushing this. This really is a big deal.

BevfromNYC said...

This is probably a question that has been asked and answered, BUT...so Mexico being a sovereign nation and all, how was it that the ATF agents were going to be able to track these guns once they got into Mexico? Does the ATF have special powers that we don't know about that allow their agents to cross the border into a sovereign nation? Especially since they did not inform the Mexican government of this secret operation?

Isn't that kind of against some kind of UN treaty or something?

Oh, btw, Holder is speaking to the ATF director from...guess..just guess...I dare you...okay, the Chicago office to replace the present director who is going to resign any day now. Hmmmm.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, From the sound of it, they did no surveillance once these guns crossed the border and they never intended to. They just wanted to get the guns into Mexico and then get a list of crimes those guns were used to commit.

To answer your question though, yes, Mexico is a sovereign country with rights. So if they wanted to do that kind of surveillance, they would need to get the permission of the Mexican government or they would run afoul of Mexico's laws and the ATF agents could have been locked up by Mexican authorities for committing things that would be crimes in Mexico -- spying, wiretapping, etc.

Presumably, that's why the State Department was involved, to get the approval of Mexico's government to do something. ALTHOUGH, Mexico's stance that this needs to be investigated and prosecuted calls into question whether Mexico ever was told what was really going on and if they gave their consent.

It's very possible State only asked Mexico to provide gun serial numbers without telling Mexico what the ATF had done.

It will be interesting to see how Mexico reacts to all of this.


Yeah... Chicago... imagine that. Another Obama buddy to do damage control and keep things quiet. Obama really is like the Chicago mafia isn't it?

patti said...

andrew: team obama will do whatever it takes, no matter the cost to others, as witnessed from the very beginning of his reign. i wasn't at all surprised when i heard this. anything barry denies knowing is suspect to me. this has his stank all over it. if it looks like, smells like, sells illegally like....

T-Rav said...

Andrew and Bev, that would tally with the PJ Media piece I mentioned earlier, saying there was never any intention of tracking these weapons. They probably would have lost track of them anyway, I'm thinking, but they apparently never even tried.

Considering how many heads of state Obama has thrown under the bus in the past two years, I will lay you three to one odds that the Mexican government was not told about this operation. It'll be interesting to see where they go from here.

I did see that about Holder interviewing the Chicago office director. I'm sure that's pure coincidence.

AndrewPrice said...

Patti, One thing Obama does not believe in is rule of law. We've seen that over and over and this fits perfectly with his view that he's above the law.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, I doubt the Chicago connection is a coincidence either. Obama more than anyone in recent memory seems to draw on people he knows to fill government positions. So it wouldn't surprise me in the least if this guy goes way back with Obama.

On the tracking, everything I read yesterday said that the ATF had no intention of tracking the guns -- nor were they set up for it (in fact, they're now claiming they didn't have enough people to do it... hint hint we need more funds). The purpose was just to start building a huge record of crimes in Mexico with guns with serial numbers the ATF could trace.

In terms of Mexico, I doubt very much that they told the Mexicans what they were doing because Mexico would have flipped out. Seriously, could you imagine the outrage in Mexico if it gets out that Mexico knew we were supply guns to their gangs just to see what happens? No el Presidente is going to go along with that.

I'll bet that we hear soon that they just told Mexico they needed serial numbers to verify that illegally purchased guns had made it into Mexico.

Koshcat said...

I'm having trouble buying the idea as a overall plan for gun control. They just don't seem competent enough to develop such a complex plan. Then again it was such an idiotic plan to begin with...trouble processing the contradiction...

At this point I see no difference between this and Watergate. In both instances an illegal act was performed for possible political gain. For every gun used in a criminal act in the US, the ATF (and personally the whole administration) should be charged as asseccories since the knowingly encouraged the guns to be sold illegally.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, There is a good chance they could be charged by Mexico, but probably not the US because they'll have immunity based on their having been acting as law enforcement at the time of the decision.

In terms of the contradiction, I actually don't think it's that complex of a plan: (1) Step one, get American guns to Mexican criminals. (2) Ask Mexico to tell us every time an American gun gets used in a crime. (3) Scream bloody murder about American guns being used to fuel the drug war in Mexico.

It's really very simple and well within the thinking of Team Obama.

Post a Comment