ATF Death Watch 46: Building a Better Alibi

 

I’ve been sickened by The Washington Post‘s coverage of the ATF’s Gunwalker scandal. Not only is the newspaper late to the party, it showed up at the wrong address. To wit: “Lost amid the understandable furor over the mistakes was the fact that Operation Fast and Furious was a response to — and not the cause of — the flow of illegal guns from the United States into Mexico, which has contributed to the drug-cartel-related deaths of some 40,000 people over the past five years.” That, journalism fans, is the Mother of All WTF Moments . . .

By their own admission, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (and Really Big Fires) was the cause of thousands of illegal guns from the United States into Mexico, which contributed to the drug-cartel-related deaths of thousands of people in the last two years. One of whom was U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

Woodward and Bernstein that. The shame continues . . .

ATF had been criticized in the past for not being more ambitious in its efforts to crack down on gun smuggling along the border. Critics charged, for example, that targeting individual straw buyers would do little to staunch the flow of guns.

Back in November 2010, the Inspector General ripped the the ATF a new asshole for the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of the Agency’s anti-gun smuggling interdiction efforts. The IG condemned the ATF for pissing away nearly a hundred million dollars without catching a single major gun smuggler.

The Post quote implies that these [unnamed] critics forced the ATF to turn to extra-legal activities to catch the “big fish.” What the WaPo neglected to mention—that Congressman Issa pointed out in his opening statement at the Gunwalker hearings—there WAS no big fish. The ATF brainwashed themselves into believing they were facing a well-organized adversary. Or, more cynically, imagineered a problem that only they could solve.

In the main, Mexican drug cartels wield fully-automatic firearms (which sometimes include grenade launchers). They also throw grenades. These weapons don’t come from Badger Guns (as they can’t sell them legally). They “seeped” to the drug thugs via official foreign and U.S.-sanctioned sales to the Mexican military and law enforcement; and/or sales to other South American countries.

The so-called “Iron River” of guns from Bob’s Gun Store to Sinaloa and Co. was nothing but a trickle. A sideshow. A statistical irrelevance. At least until the ATF started enabling the trade, with the help of the DOJ, CPB, ICE, FBI, DEA, DHS, IRS and State Department. And the White House’s blessing.

Operation Fast and Furious was classic bone-headed law enforcement over-reach by an law enforcement agency that lives by the expression possunt, quia posse videntur (they can because they think they can). Of course, that’s not how the Post sees it:

In hopes of moving against higher-ups and disrupting the supply chain, ATF did not immediately pounce on suspected straw buyers and instead watched as they made repeated visits and passed firearms to third parties.

But the agency, whose budget has been repeatedly targeted by Congress, often did not have the means to follow through. During the July 26 hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, former ATF officials involved in the program testified that the lack of resources and personnel meant they sometimes had to drop their surveillance. As a result, they lost track of some 2,000 guns, many of which have now been traced to criminal activity south of the border.

The Post would have us believe= there’s only one reason these deadly weapons ended up in the hands of narco-terrorists: the ATF was strapped for cash. Poor, poor, pitiful them. Somehow the Post forgot to mention the $37.5 million in additional funding that the ATF hoovered-up in 2010 via Emergency Border Security Supplemental Appropriations. Or the Agency’s $1.3 billion budget.

Of course, doing so would completely undermine the Post’s alibi for the ATF’s illegal sting operation. And here’s the really sickening part: the Post knows these facts as well as I do. They’re not just wrong about the ATF’s malfeasance. They’re lying.

The newspaper that helped bring down a president for corruption and illegal activities is actively shielding a president whose corruption and illegal activities contributed to the murder of at least one American citizen and dozens of Mexican nationals.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not surprised. I’m revolted.

Winston Churchill famously pronounced, “when you’re going through hell, keep going.” Apparently, that dictum applies whether you’re on the side of the angels or the Devil himself. Which is a fancy way of saying that the Post’s editorial concludes with recommendations on how to “fix” the ATF.

Lawmakers should be working with the administration to fill the agency’s top slot, which has been vacant for years because of congressional obstructionism. They should heed the words of five of the six agents who testified last week and pass stronger laws against straw purchases; they should also take up provisions to ban the sale of assault weapons and to close the gun show loophole that allows some individuals to buy weapons without undergoing background checks.

ATF’s primary mission is to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, including those who ply their trade south of the border. Congress should act swiftly to enable the agency to operate effectively.

Ruby Ridge. Waco. Gunwalker. Three strikes and you’re out. Given the ATF’s callous and reckless disregard for the laws of the United States, its obvious contempt for Americans’ right to bear arms, I reckon the ATF’s “primary mission” should now be to FOAD.

Congress should act swiftly to fold the ATF back into the IRS and transfer all the ATF’s law enforcement activities to the FBI. Or maybe just give local or state police a heads-up when a crime’s committed.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post should hang its head in shame.