ATF Deathwatch 32: Gunwalker Scandal Now Includes Honduras; Agency’s Future in Doubt

“Virginia O’Brien, Special Agent in Charge at the [ATF's] Tampa Field Division, ran a gun-running investigation that was walking guns to Honduras using the techniques and tactics identical to Fast and Furious,” examiner.com reports. While this development widens the scandal surrounding the ATF’s Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious—programs which enabled gun smuggling from the U.S. to Mexico—one wonders what the hell Honduras has to do with anything. What was the point of “Operation Castaway”? The Sipsey Street Irregulars reckon Honduras is simply a good place to do business, arms to cartel-wise. And yet . . .

The head of the U.S. Southern Command recently told the U.S. Senate that “Over 50 percent of the military-type weapons that are flowing throughout the region have a large source between Central American stockpiles, if you will, left over from wars and conflicts in the past.”

Keep in mind that the “seepage” of stockpiled military weapons described by General Douglas Fraser includes everything from rifles to anti-tank weapons to Stinger missiles (a bit of a worry, that). And we’re still sending Honduras around a million bucks worth of military gear every year. Oversight? You must be joking mate.

“The Honduran National Congress has little say in determining how the armed forces spends the defense budget,” mongabay.com reports. “Congress approves a single lump-sum amount, with little debate or itemization and no oversight. The chief of the armed forces has the authority to make all final spending decisions for the military.”

Does the ATF know the ballistic state of play south of our border? You know: the legal side of the arms trade? Of course they do. Click here for the ATF’s 2010 Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Export Report, released this very day.

So why do Honduran bad guys and their friends in the Mexican drug cartels need U.S. gun store guns? Answer: they don’t.

The ATF wanted Honduras to have them so they’d sell them to Mexican drug cartels so the weapons would show up at cartel-related crime scenes so the ATF could claim that U.S. gun stores were a major source of drug cartel weaponry so the Agency could hoover-up more cash and ramp-up its anti-gun smuggling ops and create an illegal American long gun registry and generally put the screws on American gun owners.

Or so the theory goes.

The impact of this fresh news on the course of the Congressional investigation is hard to predict. Sipsey Street points out that the Tampa ATF office’s participation in anti-gun running gun running proves that the entire Agency was involved in these extra-legal activities, not just the Arizona office. True dat. The Honduran connection also reduces the possibility that the Department of Justice didn’t know about Gunwalker to somewhere just above zero.

The Tampa ATF office’s gun enabling also puts Acting Director Kenneth Melson’s recent closed-door testimony to Congressional investigators into stark relief.

Melson complained that the FBI and DEA kept the ATF in the dark about the “Mr. Big” of U.S. to Mexico gun smuggling (a paid informant deported to Mexico). He suggested that the ATF wouldn’t have bothered walking guns if they’d known their “target” was already IDed. Yes, well, did the ATF tell the CIA, DEA and State about their Honduran adventures?

Never mind. The ATF is corrupt to its core. The DOJ is corrupt to its core. U.S. foreign policy in Central America is corrupt to its core. The fact that America’s alphabet soup of federal agencies armed drug thugs should come as no surprise. It’s business as usual south of the border.

That said, the Gunwalker scandal will not go away anytime soon. As the Obama Administration stonewalls, as they must to avoid mass resignations, career-killing disgrace and possible jail time, it will just get worse. Drip. Drip. Drip.

No wonder then, that calls for disbanding the ATF are growing.

Christopher Cox, legislative director for the NRA, the agency’s longtime nemesis, also said arguments for shuttering or breaking up ATF are building.

“Their criminal investigation tactics are going a long way to proving that point,” Cox said. “If they cease to be an effective law enforcement organization, they will cease to be legitimate, and the calls for restructuring or abolishing of ATF are going to become more and more valid.”

If Rupert Murdoch can shut down an entire newspaper over wrong-doing, We the People can and should shutter the ATF ASAP. In many ways, ditching the ATF is even more important than removing Eric Holder, Janet Napolitano, Kenneth Melson and the rest of the arrogant players in this sad saga of fatal hubris. Our very freedom is at stake.