The Washington Post reports that the White House is looking to trim “nearly” $160 million from the ATF’s 2011 $1.25 billion tab. “That’s a 12.8 percent reduction . . . 3.6 percent below the current budget,” the WaPo reports. [Click here for the Department of Justice budget request.] That’s also roughly twice the amount of funding that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (and Really Big Fires) expropriated from a Calderon-crazed Congress to fund Project Gunrunner. So, will the anti-gun smuggling op and its four new ATF field offices go the way of the ATF’s much vilified emergency -> temporary -> trial -> where-the-hell-did-we-put-that-thing long-gun registry? Well . . .
Yesterday, we reported that Jared Lee Loughner’s decision to shoot Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords in the head had somehow protected Project Gunrunner from the federal bean counters’ scalpels. Seems like the Wall Street Journal spoke too soon.
newsmax.com reports that petulant—I mean vigilant ATF officials reckon the level of cuts “would probably end up eliminating a program targeting gun trafficking at the Mexican border.” Oh! I know! Project Gunrunner? WaPo:
ATF officials fear the proposed cuts would harm the Project Gunrunner border initiative because federal rules require the last hired to be laid off first, and most new hiring at the agency has been put toward the Southwest border effort. ATF has already moved funds from explosives work to the border initiative, sources said.
If Gunrunner dies, then, we must assume that the decision to axe the interdiction effort had nothing to do with the fact that Gunrunner was ill-conceived, poorly implemented and redundant, without a single [mythical] gun smuggling kingpin’s scalp to its name. Mustn’t we?