Fast and Furious, the U.S. and Mexico
Just what were they thinking in the U.S. Justice Department? What were they thinking when they cooked up a scheme to allow thousands more weapons to be smuggled to Mexican drug cartels? And will anybody ever be accountable for it?
It´s not as if there weren't enough weapons floating around Mexico. There are plenty of them, and they're not all from the U.S. But why make the situation even worse? Why would they make it easier to get more weapons into the hands of the drug cartels?
This crazy undercover scheme was run by a branch of the Department of Justice called the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives). It was known as "Project Gunrunner," or as it was called in Phoenix, Arizona, "Operation Fast and Furious."
What the ATF did was intentionally allow guns to be sold illegally, in hopes that they would be purchased by cartel operatives and smuggled into Mexico. The goal was to follow the weapons and catch "bigger fish."
The much-vilified gun dealers, by the way, didn't approve but were forced by the ATF to go along with it.
Apparently, the scheme was a failure as far as catching smugglers and narcos, but it did get more guns into the hands of the cartels, thus adding to the already bad-enough mayhem in Mexico. There were thousands of guns smuggled into Mexico with the blessing of the ATF.
It's been estimated that about 200 Mexicans have been killed with these ATF-sponsored weapons, as was U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
Besides the harm done in Mexico, think of the rank hypocrisy of it all. The U.S. government (under both Bush and Obama) has been hassling American gun owners and dealers, blaming them for the havoc in Mexico. Simultaneously, that same U.S. government was knowingly allowing guns to be sent to the very drug cartels perpetrating the violence.
President Obama has denied any knowledge of the whole project Attorney General Eric Holder has continued to stonewall and evade responsibity on the issue, but even his exuses aren't consistent. For example, this past May Holder said he had only heard about Fast and Furious several weeks earlier. Yet Department of Justice (DOJ) documents indicate that he was informed of the subject at least as early as July 2010.
Is AG Holder just mistaken, or was he lying? Apparently it can't be the latter, since Holder himself has assured us that "Nobody in the Justice Department has lied." Thanks, Eric, that's reassuring!
In Congress, Representative Darrell Issa (R-California) has been the point man in the House, doggedly pursuing the truth and confronting Attorney General Holder. In the upper chamber, Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) has been leading the charge.
I can't help feeling that, if this were a Republican administration, Fast and Furious would be a bigger scandal. But since most of the Mainstream Media is in the tank for Obama, it's not as big a scandal as it should be.
A notable exception is Sharyl Atkisson, of CBS News, who has done an admirable job of exposing the Fast and Furious scandal. Her archive is here. Note too, that CBS is not considered a "right-wing" news source.
Meanwhile, in Mexico, the scandal is being reported, but without the rage that you might think it would provoke. Once again, could this be for political reasons, as the Mexican media tends to support Obama and the Democrats more than the Republicans?
The whole issue of the American right to bear arms is relevant here. The Mexican government has blamed supposedly lax U.S. gun laws for the arming of the drug cartels, when in reality the drug cartels have other sources of weaponry beside the U.S. After all, drug barons do not exactly feel limited by any sort of law.
American supporters of the right to bear arms are concerned that Fast and Furious is being manipulated to justify the tightening of gun laws in the U.S. And they may well have a point there. Documents obtained by CBS contain a 2010 email from ATF Field Ops Assistant Director Mark Chait to the Phoenix Special Agent in charge of Fast and Furious. Chait wrote "we are looking at anecdotal cases to support a demand letter on long-gun sales". The "demand letter" refers to an attempt to require gun dealers in the Southwest to report all sales of rifles and shotguns to the ATF. At the least, this indicates that the Use of "Fast and Furious" to influence gun policy has crossed the mind of at least one ATF functionary.