Friday, July 6, 2012

Fast and Furious by Katie Pavlich

Reading Fast and Furious, by Townhall editor Katie Pavlich, merely makes me furious, fast. It seems that at least one branch of our government, the ATF, decided to do something that is at best rather foolish, and at worst, criminal. They instructed gun shops near the southern border of this country to go ahead and make sales to "straw" purchasers, knowing that the ultimate buyers of those weapons were the Mexican drug cartels. Literally thousands of high powered "assault" type rifles were allowed to "walk" across the border by the ATF. When one of the guns turned up at the murder scene of a Border Patrol agent, things began to unravel rapidly.

The stated goal of this operation was to trace the guns to their destinations and to take down the networks of gun smuggling that were believed to exist, but it's possible that the true purpose was far more political, i.e., to demonstrate that it was far too easy to buy guns in the U.S. and then resell them to criminal purchasers in Mexico, so as to encourage ever more stringent gun control laws. At this point in time, Congress is about to hold a vote on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for his failure to produce the documentation on Fast and Furious that they subpoenaed, and I seriously doubt whether we'll ever really know the truth about how high the blame goes for this seriously flawed and bungled operation.

"The idea of the operation, (ATF agent) Dodson was told, was to conduct surveillance on known straw purchasers for Mexican drug cartels. Dodson was not to interfere as they bought hundreds of high-powered rifles, including .50 caliber sniper rifles, AK-47s, .38 caliber revolvers and FN Five-sevN handguns. These guns would then be allowed to 'walk' across the border into Mexico, straight into the hands of ruthless criminals.
Agents like Dodson could follow suspects' cars, but never pull them over. The agents could watch known straw purchasers on video, they could use the phone to encourage gun shop employees to make sales, they could use wiretaps on cell phones..."

Since news of Fast and Furious became public, the ATF has done its best to silence and intimidate whistle blowers who objected to the operation while it was going on, and after it was shut down. At least two of the architects of the operation have been promoted, and one of them was conveniently sent to Iraq, making it a little difficult for Congress to interview him. There has been a coverup of massive proportions perpetrated by not only the ATF, but the FBI, Homeland Security, and the U.S. Department of Justice. Transcripts of Congressional questioning of Holder show a man issuing one set of denials after another, and when his protestations of ignorance and or innocence were disproved,  he merely fell back to a new position of denial, falsehood and obfuscation.

It's relation to an earlier program:

"Allowing guns to 'walk,' knowingly providing weapons to criminal suspects and attempting to trace them later, had bee tried by the Justice Department before, in 'Operation Wide Receiver' launched by the Bush administration in 2005 in close cooperation with the Mexican government. In that operation, straw purchasers were closely monitored in hopes that they might lead to others. Some were arrested before they crossed the border back into Mexico. The ones who crossed the border were to be arrested by the Mexican government. When it was discovered that at least four hundred guns were not recovered by authorities and lost in Mexico, the operation was terminated."

In contrast, Fast and Furious was run without telling the Mexican government anything about it. The guns were supposed to be traced, but thousands of them just disappeared, until some have been recovered at crime scenes. When the Mexican government complained about the U.S. knowingly putting its citizens in danger by supplying arms to the cartels, the State Department threatened to pull millions of dollars in funding away from Mexico, killing a program that works to reduce gang and cartel violence.

This book is a good source of background information on a scandal that the mainstream media has failed to cover or investigate properly, preferring to entertain us with "news" about Charlie Sheen, Brittany Spears and other celebrity train wrecks.

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