Dan Freedman: Why My Mexico Gun Running Story Didn’t Mention the ATF Gunwalker Scandal

Journalist Dan Freedman penned a post for houstonchronicle.com that analyzed Mexican gun smuggling—without once mentioning the fact that a large number of the guns chronicled in his report were firearms enabled by the ATF, in what has come to be known as the Gunwalker scandal. In ATF Death Watch 7: Like It Never Happened I accused Freedman of “willful ignorance” in the name of promoting (or at least propagating) a gun control agenda. I emailed Freedman the link and asked him WTF.

Thanks for your critique of my story.

We may disagree but I think it’s valuable to hear what you have to say, so thanks for taking the time to read and respond to the story. A few points I’d make . . .

Fast and Furious. Yes, I was well aware of the allegations from whistleblowers about ATF permitting straw-purchased weapons to filter into Mexico in order to pinpoint key players in the cartels. With very severe space restrictions, I elected not to mention it because I wanted to tell a “new’’ story rather than rehash something that’s been adequately reported elsewhere. (So what was “new’’ in my story, you may be asking? It focused on 1,600 guns that U.S. court documents verified as purchased in U.S. gun stores, breaking them down by manufacturer and/or importer. Few, if any, other stories have focused on this angle.)

The main point here is that even if all the allegations of ATF negligence are true, they don’t undercut the basis of my story _ 1,600 guns purchased in the United States that “were either shipped to Mexico or intercepted en route.’’ The whistleblower allegation is that ATF was monitoring weapons purchases by known straw purchasers and did nothing to prevent the guns from getting to Mexico. These guns clearly were purchased by the traffickers’ designated hitters with the intent of shipping them to the cartels. The possibility that ATF could have prevented the actual deliveries does not change that. The investigative techniques surrounding these deliveries are under investigation and we’ll see where it goes. I’ll certainly pay attention to this in terms of future reporting.

Central America and “90 percent.’’ My story focused on 1,600 verifiable guns coming from U.S. sources, not the totality of weapons seized in Mexico. For context, I mentioned the many statements given by ATF officials before Congress, presumably under oath, that 90 percent of guns submitted by Mexican authorities for tracing via the ATF-operated tracing center were from the U.S. I also said: “Gun rights advocates doubt the accuracy of that claim.’’ Everyone knows that lawlessness in Mexico is a long-standing problem, dating back to Pancho Villa and before. Obviously there are thousands, if not millions, of weapons and munitions of every description floating around in Mexico. What is new is the influx of military-style weaponry, which changes the equation in Mexico and puts the cartels on equal (if not superior) footing with law enforcement. Whether Mexico has the technical capacity to sort out the variety and sources of all guns, to say nothing of interest, is open to speculation. Even if they did, it might not be possible, given the vagaries of scratched-off serial numbers and the incompleteness (or non-existence) of records in the U.S. and elsewhere. It was not possible for me to take on the broad spectrum of weaponry in Mexico in this story. And the fact is, nobody (not you, not me, and probably not the Mexicans) really knows the full breakdown of where these weapons come from.

Hope this gives you at least a few insights into this story.

Dan Freedman

 

comments

  1. avatar whybehonest says:

    well i sent him an email as well and got the exact same response

  2. avatar Jason says:

    What is new is the influx of military-style weaponry, which changes the equation in Mexico and puts the cartels on equal (if not superior) footing with law enforcement.

    Military style? The cartels have actual military weapons – stolen or provided by corrupt elements of – the military and law enforcement. Or imported from the international arms market. These are fully automatic machineguns, grenades, and rocket launchers. These are not things readily available from any U.S. gun store. Are we to believe that an real, military-grade, fully-automatic AK-47 from a Chinese factory or an M-16 stolen from the Mexican military didn’t change the equation? Didn’t put the cartels on an equal footing? But a semi-automatic rifle that is merely styled to look like the military weapon is a game-changer?

    Nonsense. If it was about preventing violence, we’d be talking about the sources of those real, no-fooling military weapons. We’d be talking about the fact that the Mexican government cannot stop corruption in its own ranks, or control the flow of arms from overseas, much less its border with the U.S. The focus on military-style weapons is simply an effort to ride the breakdown of the Mexican state to more restrictions on law-abiding American gun owners. This is why the ATF’s role can not be mentioned. It is a “distraction”: If voters knew that the controls we have are being deliberately subverted, they might want to see those put into practice before approving more.

    Twenty years ago, these omissions and diversions might have worked. But it’s the 21st century. We gun owners have the internet, and we don’t have to sit silently by and let the press scapegoat us for the failures of the Mexican and American governments.

    1. avatar CUJO THE DOG OF WAR says:

      Yes indeed.

    2. avatar poppymann says:

      I think I read a few months back wehre the Zetas attacked a police station with an armored car. LAst time I checked, they were unavailable here in Dallas.

  3. avatar Todd says:

    I gotta give the writer some props. He did respond. Weakly, but it was a response.

  4. avatar Sy says:

    Ohhh its a supply problem. Thank goodness. I was worried that it was a demand problem like drugs.

  5. avatar Ralph says:

    The writer makes two points, one open and one sub-rosa. The point he made openly was, he wanted to sell a story that was “new.” Huh? If breaking down the guns by manufacturer makes this story new, it’s only because — how do I express this politely — nobody gives a flying freaking f^ck. The second point he makes, albeit oh-so politely, is that he’s smarter than we are. Of course he knows all about Fast & Furious. Of course he knows about the whistleblowers. Of course the “allegations” don’t undercut his story.

    Nice try communicating with Dan Freedman, the author, but I’ve heard it said that a wise man does not need advice and a fool won’t take it.

    1. avatar Greg in Allston says:

      Ralph, your last paragraph, pure gold. Truer words have rare been spoken. Thanks for hitting the nail squarely on the head.

  6. avatar Ike says:

    I got the exact same response…. a form letter.

    Here’s his email: dan@hearstdc.com

    Here’s my response:

    Dear Mr. Freedman:
    When you stated, “Gun rights advocates doubt the accuracy of that claim.’’, you (intentionally?) failed to mention that the DOJ Office of the Inspector General fully discredited “that claim”. Even the ATF had to back off the claim to say it was “misleading”.

    Yes, your “new” story is interesting, but there is nothing new there. The 1,600 guns referenced are those in which ATF encouraged and facilitated the sale – even when the gun dealers tried to halt the sale. In some cases, ATF actually purchased the guns using taxpayer dollars and ATF produced fake IDs before reselling the guns to traffickers to “build credibility”. Consequently, the manufacturer and importer are completely irrelevant to the “real story”.

    I think I already have a “few insights” into your story….

    If you want to investigate something, why not look into why ATF fails to identify and report the following:
    1. American origin guns legitimately sold to the Mexican military.
    2. American origin guns legitimately and commercially exported to the Mexican gun shop in Mexico City.
    3. American origin guns legitimately sold to Mexican police – at the Federal, state or local level.
    4. American origin guns legitimately sold to Mexican banks, private security firms, or other companies.
    5. American origin guns legitimately sold to other Mexican government entities.
    6. American origin guns legitimately sold to police, military, security companies or private parties in other countries, then smuggled into Mexico.
    7. American origin guns exported to Mexico many years ago. (The average age of traced guns from Mexico is over 14 years).
    8. Foreign guns with American markings which were never imported into the United States for any number of reasons.
    9. Counterfeit guns made elsewhere with fake American markings. ATF has acknowledged this is a problem.
    10. Frequently, pictures of seized Mexican guns show many .22 rimfire rabbit rifles and sporting shotguns. Are these included in ATF statistics? ATF doesn’t say.

  7. avatar Old NFO says:

    I’ve got to agree with Jason…

  8. avatar Dave Y says:

    As an “authorized journalist” Dan is dependent upon sources to confirm, deny, release and point to information. Without these sources, he’s … well, a blogger with a newspaper column … 🙂 Tough to make money like that.

    If he were to “drive a stake” into the heart of an agency ripe with LE sources, those sources would dry up, along with other federal gov’t. sources. It’s very “cliquish” and you’re either in, or you’re out. It’s his livelihood at stake here.

    I can assure you, Dan and his like minded friends are networking about the story and how to “steer” this story away from Gunwalker. Just because Journo-list is “dead” doesn’t mean there aren’t more, bigger, better & more powerful lists of “authorized journalists” where they can privately coordinate where to take their stories. They strategize & plan just like we do, and we mustn’t forget it.

  9. avatar Dave says:

    Seems clear enough to me; Mr. Freedman has a point to make and won’t let mere facts get in the way of his ideology.

  10. avatar Greg in Allston says:

    Mr. Freedman is merely a pawn and a shill; he knows that and I’m sure that his soul is quite content with that fact, E. R. Murrow be damned. We all know perfectly well how and why this deal went down. The Obama administration wanted law abiding American gun owners to take a fall for something not of our own doing, to further their agenda. F & F provided the “perfect” vehicle for accomplishing that goal. In retrospect, it’s perfectly logical and all too clear. There are many players in this all too clever orchestra and time alone will tell if true justice will be served. I have a small glimmer of hope that it will. Mike and David have done an extraordinary job in doggedly pursuing this and bringing it to the fore; we all owe them an enormous debt .

    BTW, this link below provides an excellent summary and analysis of F & F to the current point, by Kathleen Millar. It is well worth your while to read it;

    http://globalorganizedcrime.foreignpolicyblogs.com/tag/atf-agent-john-dodson/

  11. This is exactly why no one reads the Houston Chronicle here in Houston. The writing is biased, the research lacking and the author knowingly repeats a falsehood to make his point. I know several self respecting birds that won’t even line their cages with this drivel.

  12. avatar Homobangbangamus says:

    He’s part of that Marxist retinue which coats all things Marxist with candy, and all things good, just, honest, fair and constitutional with excrement.

    He is, “they.”

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