Nothing. Not a damn thing. Representative Issa asked Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich which of his DOJ colleagues authorized the abortive ATF program known as Operation Fast & Furious. If you’ve just joined us, that’s the program that allowed illegally purchased guns to cross into Mexico, two of which drug thugs used to murder beanbag-round firing U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. When pressed, and pressed hard, Weich said “I don’t know.” What Weich did know about the ATF’s criminal malfeasance, he wasn’t saying. His appearance will no doubt appear in “Stonewalling Caught on Camera.” In the absence of any official explanation of WTF happened, I’m going to take another guess at how this Gunwalker deal went down . . .

ATF agents testified that they asked their supervisors to bust the bastards buying rifles for export. The suits stymied the potential collars. Not to put too fine a point on it, the mid-level ATF managers told their agents at the sharp end to back the fuck off. What’s more, their ATF bosses instructed the ATF Agents NOT to follow the guns when the straw purchasers handed the weapons to their Mexico-bound bro’s.

I repeat: someone slightly further up the ATF food chain let the modern sporting home defense rifles and fancy schmancy FN FiveseveN pistols and big ass .50 caliber Barretts and plenty ‘o ammunition “walk” into Mexico. As of yet, we have no evidence that anyone at the Department of Justice authorized this secret surveillance surrender, knowingly enabling the weapons’ onward journey to Mexican criminals. In Mexico.

For sure Acting ATF Director Melson was familiar with so-called straw purchases. In an ATF email, Agents schmooze (in bureacratese) about Melson’s request for an Internet link to hidden cameras in gun dealers “cooperating” with the ATF (like they had a choice). Apparently, Melson watched a live feed of straw buyers laying down a bunch of Benjamins for “AK-47-style rifles.” So, did Melson direct his underlings to direct their underlings to let guns cross the border? No se.

I still have trouble understanding that part of the program. Either Melson and the DOJ knew the guns were going walkies to the Bad Guys or they didn’t. If they did, the question asks itself: why? What did these officials have to gain from telling ATF agents NOT to arrest the smugglers before they crossed the border, interdicting the illegally purchased weapons before they slipped into the hands of the cartels?

Supposedly, the ATF’s and DOJ’s grand poo-bahs let the firearms walk to prove that there was an “Iron River” of guns flowing from Bob’s Gun Store to Calderon’s cartels. Felipe and Barack relied on the Iron River rafting concept to assert that lax American gun laws were responsible for cartel carnage. (With gun control fun to follow.) Nothing to do with endemic Mexican corruption or U.S. military sales to the cartels. Nope. Bob’s Gun Store. And the Second Amendment. There’s your trouble.

Unfortunately, the ATF couldn’t point to a “real” Iron River of smuggled guns because, statistically speaking, it didn’t exist. So the ATF let guns walk to create their own flow of illegal guns. A traceable trade. Sure, they’d have to wait until the Mexican government traced the guns, after they’d been confiscated at a crime scene, after they’d been used to kill or wound someone. Omelet. Eggs. Do the cooking.

It all makes sense. I guess. At the risk of pissing off Mike V and the Gun Rights Examiner’s David Cordrea—the gentlemen who’ve been banging this particular drum since the late Jurassic—I still hold a candle for the importance of cash in this catastrophe. After all . . .

Did the ATF and DOJ big-wigs really think this gun walking misegos would stay secret? Are the ATF and DOJ really that stupid that they thought no one would mind if they let firearms flow to felons for the greater good? Did they not reach the same conclusion as the ATF Agents bitching and moaning about disappearing firearms; that gunwalked guns would return to haunt them (as they did with Agent Terry)?

Just for S&Gs, let’s say the tippy-top tri-letter chieftains didn’t authorize the walking part of the program. We know that the Agent’s bosses said, be vewy vewy quiet! We’re hunting cartels! So how about this: the mid-level ATF guys took bribes to let the guns go. Lest we forget, the drug trade is awash with cash—in the Biblical flood sense of the word. There are tens of billions of dollars floating around.

Back of the envelope time. Ten guns a run (minimum). Purchase price: around $1000 a pop. $10k all-in. Street value in Mexico? Call it $2k per piece. $10k profit total. Five for me, five for you. Two thousand guns (minimum), so two hundred runs. I make that $1m in potential bribes. Tax free. So call it $2m in real terms. Hey, it’s not as if ATF Agents haven’t been mired in corruption before.

It’s not an either or deal, either. The mid-level ATF guys could have been on the take AND convinced their bosses at the ATF, who convinced their bosses at the DOJ, that letting the guns go would be great law enforcement and wonderful politics. As a Rhode Islander who came of age in the Woodward and Bernstein Watergate era who isn’t gay but loved Cabaret, I’ve got to say it: money makes the world go around.

While I like watching a redacting-crazed bureaucrat having his ass handed to him by elected officials as much as the next guy, Issa needs to call the actual gun smugglers as witnesses. Otherwise, all we’ll get is stonewalling and spin. We’ll never know the real deal. Immunity? Sure, why not? Terry’s murderer is only one of a dozens of ATF-enabled gun smugglers languishing in prison. Let’s hear the truth about Gunwalker from the guys who walked the guns.

6 Responses to ATF Death Watch 12: What We Learned from the Congressional Investigation Into Gunwalker Scandal

  1. Robert, I can sympathize with you wanting to saddle up this particular hobby horse of yours; that some corrupt agents wanted to make a fast and furious buck. The idea is seductive, but I’d bet the farm that the idea won’t pan out when all is said and done. I have little doubt that elements within Obama’s inner circle saw the potential for a synthetic crisis to not be allowed to go to waste and they ran with it at breakneck speed, totally blind to the long term repercussions or the law of unintended consequences. It’s what you do when you’re the best and the brightest.

    When they came into power, with their narrative all set for yet more draconian anti-2A policies in the wings being dashed by the current political climate in this country, especially after Heller and later with McDonald, throwing a major wrench in their works, something like this would prove to be all too alluring and the absolute perfect vehicle for gaining public sympathy to execute their agenda; to whit, those poor Mexicans are dying because of our lax laws, the expiration of the AWB and all of those nasty gun shows where any old terrorist can buy as many M2’s and RPG7’s as they want, no questions asked, cash on the barrel head.

    Could a few rogue agents make a few extra moonlight blood Pesos running a few guns here and there? Sure. No doubt. And it was probably ever thus. But on this scale and with this kind of myopic oversight by the powers that be? No way.

    Melson and who knows who else had their own front row seats in a private peep show to the whole affair, in real time. And I bet they loved every minute of it while the good times were rolling. The street agents, on the other hand, knew full well that this would turn into a Charlie Foxtrot of epic proportions and I’m pretty sure that not very many of them are that felony stupid to think that they would not get wrapped tightly around this particular axle, and certainly not for a mere few tens of thousands of dollars, regardless of how much money is sloshing around the narco-economy.

    On the Mexican “government” side, (if you you can honestly call what Mexico has as a legitimate government), they’re in this up to their eye-balls, at all levels. The Mexican officials with blood on their hands are sufficiently insulated from the fall out no matter what happens on our side of the border.

    I have little doubt that this is going to play out as Iran-Contra with a fresh cast and a reworked script. Time will tell, eh?

    At this point in the proceedings, I’m just curious to see when the State Department is going to get sucked into this vortex that’s gaining strength and momentum. By and large, throughout the whole affair, State has been conspicuously relegated to the periphery. I suspect that something is going to snap in that regard soon. Let the games begin and please pass the popcorn.

  2. I am not one to declare every act of a President I don’t like a war criminal for things he does outside the United States but in this case whoever authorized this operations is a war criminal. When you deliberately arm murderous thugs with this kind of fire power you have broken the law of armed conflict. It matters not if this was done for the “right” intention or was a deliberate act by this administration to generate a cause to restrict ownership. (The latter reason would definitely be a war crime).

    What is the difference between the US Government arming the cartels who are at war with the Mexican government and Pakistan’s ISI arming the Taliban? I can see no difference. If I were advising Congressman Issa, I would be telling him to have sit down with the AG an explain to him that unless his come clean that he will encourage the Mexican government to swear out arrest warrants for top Justice Department and ATF officials for gun trafficing. You never know, Capo (oops I mean President) Calderone might decide that is good way to get votes. Anti-Gringo sentiments and actions are always a big vote getter in Mexico.

  3. Hmmmm, I wonder, do they really get $2K a pop for semi autos in ol’ Mexico? When there are plenty of full auto surplus (any other kind?) AK’s and ripped off ‘Patrol Rifles’ available for sale, for probably much less? Just asking.

  4. I may be paranoid but after the health care debacle, the offshore drilling moratorium, the new Black Panther’s voter intimidation issue, the new EPA regulations on CO2, the Interior Department’s huge “land grab” and two new “wars” that Congress did not authorize, I’ll bet the ATF Gunwalker orders came directly from the very top (BHO, Reid, Pelosi & Holder). I’d also be willing to be this was to be a prelude to the reintroduction of the assault weapons ban, the long-gun registration act, the high-capacity magazine regulations and severe restrictions on imported tactical shotguns.

    I’ll also bet that the last election caught them off guard and they had planned for cover from a Democrat majority in both houses of Congress. When BHO stated the Dems were “shellacked” I’ll bet this is what he was thinking about.

    Yes, I may be a bit paranoid but I believe that in 30 or 40 years our grandchildren or great grandchildren will be learning about this in their history books just as kids learn about Watergate today.

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