When it comes to the Fast and Furious debacle, the predominate Armed Intelligentsia party line is that from the start, Fast and Furious was a deep cover operation perpetrated by the Obama administration to provide justification for stronger gun control here in the United States. While, I personally like that theory as it supports some of my underlying suspicions of the Obama administration, I have to also consider the fact that the explanation given by Eric Holder might actually be accurate . . .

Is it in fact possible that things played out exactly as he has maintained – namely that it was indeed an operation actually intended to ferret out cartel gun buyers that went horribly wrong? There is absolutely no argument that people in relatively high levels of the government made some judgement errors of the highest order and those people should indeed pay with their jobs (if not incur some jail time), but perhaps there really was no sinister underlying anti-2A intent.

The issue of the illegal long gun registration on the border states could certainly be construed as step B in some nefarious plan, but it could also be simply the move of an opportunistic president to take advantage of a really bad situation to further his anti-2A agenda.

Now there’s also, of course, the issue of the claim of Executive Privilege. Certainly this is correctly viewed as the president attempting to cover his butt along with the butts of his respective staffers, but perhaps the only thing being covered up is  staggering ineptitude as opposed to a nefarious plot.

The difficult part of believing that this was a planned attack on gun owners from day one is that for it to have worked, it would have required enormous planning with a lot of people being in on the game from the beginning. Given the amazing ineptitude of our current government, I have a hard time believing they could have constructed such a complex plan and expected it to actually work as intended.

Furthermore, the Federal Government has more leaks than a rusty sieve. With the number of people who would have had to have been read in on the plan from start to finish, the expectation that no one would talk to the press would have been monumentally naive. The president may many things, but a naive fool isn’t one of them. And Eric Holder is no dummy either.

The underlying problem is that we will likely never know. The claim of Executive Privilege has, at least for now, stymied Congressional attempts to get to the bottom of things. In the end, whatever the underlying plan was, the operation went horribly wrong and Eric Holder should at the very least lose his job. But whether this was just a monumental screw-up or a determined attack on Second Amendment rights will likely remain an unanswered question. I’d certainly like to continue to believe it was a plan to deprive gun owners of their rights, but I have to admit that the available facts support more than one possible conclusion.

31 Responses to Fast and Furious – An Alternative Explanation

  1. The flooding of the border with guns and illegals is part of a wider plan to bring Mexican style cartel chaos to a neighborhood near you, THEN our glorious leaders can ban the guns to protect US.

    Get ready for Obamas next term to see a huge federal AMMO TAX to pay for “gun related violence.” Its gonna happen.

    • I disagree with the author that a lot of people at the Justice Department or ATF would have to be privy about and maintain confidentiality of a plan to encourage more gun control in the U.S. All the lackeys at both agencies would be convinced they were going along with a plan to “get the cartels” which would seem noble enough for them on its face. The fact that the real plan is to engender public support for gun control is something the lackeys need not know.

      And it was almost a perfect plan. If they weaken the cartels, then win. If they don’t, and the public clamors for more gun control, they win. The only possible negative outcome is what actually happened … they failed to weaken the cartels and watchdogs “put two and two together”.

      I would argue that no one other than Eric Holder himself and/or one person immediately below his level would have to know the real plan. People in those positions are not stupid. For whom do you thing the term “plausible deniability” was invented?

  2. Get ready for a huge fed AMMO TAX when Obama is re empowered, the justification will be “gun related medical costs.”

  3. Don’t forget the possibility that F&F was part of a government-wide pro-cartel policy, which included ATF Operation Castaway (guns from Tampa to Honduras), “grenade walker” (U.S. Attorney’s Office releasing a known IED maker), the DEA’s multi-million dollar money laundering operation (another stingless sting) and the unexplained death of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Officer Jaime Zapata inside Mexico at the hands of drug thugs wielding ATF-enabled firearms.

      • I did read the Eban article. It paints a different and frankly, entirely likely, portrait of F&F as a Charley Foxtrot episode fueled by assholic personalities, personal rivalries, and professional laxity and incompetence. I would say it supports the notion that the ATF is incapable of originatng and operating a grand conspiracy.

        • I always favor supreme incompetence as an explanatory framework. Presidents can’t even keep felatio and hotel break-ins secret. Remember, these are the same idiots responsible for Ruby Ridge and Waco. Three people can keep a secret, if two are dead…

  4. FLAME DELETED.

    TTAG’s posting policy: no flaming the website, its authors or fellow commentators.

  5. “an operation actually intended to ferret out cartel gun buyers that went horribly wrong?”

    Prior to F&F, the Obama Admin and Mexican Criminal err Government were aggressively pushing the line that all/most of the gun crime was because of US guns smuggled over the border. It seemed to me they were setting us up to take a hammer blow with new restrictive gun laws. The illegal drug trafficking industry is huge and profitable. I can only possibly see smaller local gangs needing to rely upon smuggling guns from America to Mexico. The big cartels have huge amounts of money and corrupt contacts in Mexican LE, intelligence, and the military. They can afford to bring in the best fully automatic guns from anywhere in the world. Mexico has two very long coasts to bring them into their country. Then there are the thousands (100,000+) of Mexican soldiers who have defected to the cartels bringing their fully auto rifles with them.

    • Aharon brings up a really good point that the cartels have vast amounts of money available and a plethora of options to obtain any firearms they want. Heck they could build and operate their own machine shop and make their own weapons. I agree this operation had nothing to do with bringing down the cartels.

      • You have brought up a great point that I hadn’t considered. Those cartels can afford to buy the machinery, tools, computers, and the talent to manufacture their own fully automatic guns!

  6. You should absolutely believe everything Holder and BO say. You should still believe Nixon too. YOU, not me.

  7. I’ve long favored incompetence as an explanation based on my experience in the Federal government. One thing to keep in mind is that no one below the appointee level can be fired. If a supervisor pushes some hairbrain scheme and it goes bad, he still has a six-figure job for the rest of his life. If it yields a politically popular result, he moves up to a better job.

  8. In undercover operations, LE may buy drugs or guns from criminals, but they may not sell guns or drugs to criminals. You don’t make the problem worse. That is illegal. If it’s not, it sure as hell should be. Yes, undercover agents must do things that are marginally illegal in order to maintain their cover but there are lines they never cross. And you don’t cross those lines as an institutional policy or strategic operation.

    I still don’t see a benefit to tracking guns, even if you could or even if you did. You sell a gun at Point A and you find it at a crime scene or raid at Point B. What is the pracrical value of that information? What actionable information do you get from that? I don’t see it.

    Certainly, some things were done here that are illegal. While it may still not be clear whether the authorization for those activities came from high levels of the DoJ or Administration, what is clear with the invocation if executive privilege is that the Administration does not want some information made public. If that information does not contain legal liability it must contain political liability. There were probably some very frank conversations that would be politically damning. e.g., along the lines of using a previous administration’s operation and turning it into the “Iron River”.

    The death of Brian Terry is a bit of a straw-man argument. It may be poignant but I don’t think it’s helpful to his memory or to his family to blame his death on walked guns from the ATF. Either way, there would have been guns at the scene. There were other failures that lead to his death and those should be examined.

  9. The president may (be) many things, but a naive fool isn’t one of them.

    The facts suggest otherwise. I’m of the opinion that he really does believe his own bullshit, and he is indeed a fool. And he is surrounded by cynical opportunists who really would use something like this to further their own goals.

  10. RF my own take is very similar to yours. A pro-cartel scheme that might have a number of different motivations.

    First and foremost would be plain and simple corruption. Money trading hands. Admin types bought off. The drug trade has incredible amounts of wealth measured in the BILLONS to bribe folks.

    Second is a more touchy subject. It would have to do with political and power manipulation south of the border. Could be a long term destabilization of the Mexican regime. Could be that the cartels are in fact our creation. Just like the Taliban is the creation of the ISI in Pakistan, our allies, LMFAO.

    Third, and this is the most troubling to me, is that it was done for a more complex reason. That it was a trap of some sort. That they might want a porous border, armed narco-terrorists operating for the workings of the CIA and national security assets. Say a way of luring terrorists to the cheese. Good intention, bad execution. Blow back as they say in the trade. Could be this was a way of building street cred with penetrated cartels (a mix of 2nd and 3rd ideas) to attract the flys to a cow pie.

    Who knows? As all good intrigue it will be decades before the whole story is out. Sadly as a FOWG I may not live long enough to see the end of the story. Just have to wonder who is gonna make the movie?

  11. I honestly don’t believe there was ever a “cartel wide” policy to buy retail firearms in the US. What I think there are a large number of low ranking members buying a few rifles every so often to resell to their friends or family and make a few extra bucks. You’re already smuggling one way and you have to smuggle cash back anyway, you might as well take other stuff back with you. I wouldn’t be surprised if guys just made a huge Costco run and drove back across with a load of legitimate goods.

  12. Don Curton beat me to the punch on your assessment of Obama’s level of intelligence. David Maraniss has documented that Obama has a fabricated biography and we really have no idea who he is. Members of the Press have told us that “he is the most brilliant man ever to be President” all based on so called autobiography/memoir “Dreams From My Father.” This book is really just autobiographical fiction. Obama has the knowledge level of an adolescent, cannot recognize error and is incapable of intellectual flexibility, i.e., he does not learn from mistakes and will never evolve.

    The most benign thing you can say about Fast and Furious is that the ATF bureaucracy sold the incoming President with the “Iron River” line in an attempt to enhance the Agency’s status and power. The ATF knew that if there was indeed an “Iron River” of guns flowing from the United States to the cartels it was the legal sales of firearms to the Mexican army and police that leaked, or more accurately, flowed to the Cartels. The ATF leadership credibility was on the line and they decided that they would run an operation to demonstrate how border gun stores and gun shows were shipping thousands of weapons south. It was easy to sell to the new administration because it fit into their preconceived anti-Second Amendment beliefs and given the President’s ignorance of basic facts they were sure that it would work. And ATF con job on the President did work right up to the point where Bryan Terry got shot.

    F&F is not the first time that Eric Holder was involved in shady and corrupt dealings as a government official. He was intimately involved in the Marc Rich pardon as Deputy AG. In the pardon hearings Holder was less than honest in his testimony. Some say he is a serial perjurer. We now have strong evidence that Holder lied to Congress over Fast and Furious. In two cases we know for certain because he has sent letters on two occasions “correcting” his testimony before the committee. This was done to avoid perjury charges when he was caught out in a lie. Now the committee has gotten a hold of secret wiretap requests which had to be signed out by the AG in 2010 which shows that Holder knew about the operation long before Bryan Terry was murdered. This is the reason that Obama invoked executive privilege. He cannot afford to lose his AG during the election season. Obama was probably aware of F&F activities but I would not be surprised if Holder lied to him as well.

  13. F&F has always been about arming the Sinaloas so that they can fight the Zetas. The cartels are a loose association, and just like local Cosa Nostra crews have to arm themselves, so do local Sinaloa crews. Mafia crews don’t get their guns from the Commission; local cartel crews don’t get their guns from the big boss. Why is this so hard to understand?

    Regardless of the reason for F&F, Holder is still in contempt of Congess. The Justice Department announced that it will not prosecute the case, so it’s up to Congress to act. The only option for Congress at this point is to make it clear that if Holder shows up in it’s esteemed halls, he will be arrested by the Sergeant at Arms and prosecuted by the House. By Supreme Court decision, Congress has the power to do both.

    • Actually, the House can make it into a civil suit. That is what the Dems did when Bush refused to turn over docs On the Harriet Meir thing.

      • Boehner just announced that the House will be pursuing a civil action, which is utterly toothless and will be resolved just before the Sun goes supernova.

  14. Regardless of how I would like to see the truth come out and closure given.
    Despite it being wrong I already expect no one in the government no matter how guilty will spend a minute behind bars. For the rest of us however they throw us away a lock up the key if we did the same thing. Go figure!!!

  15. As an ossified, over-paid, under-worked federal civil servant since 1985, i both agree with much of Mr. Barrett’s thesis, but do not believe that his conclusion necessarily follows from it. He is correct that one can’t have the standing army “in on the game” and expect that it will not leak out. But one doesn’t *have* to and still get the end in mind. The da*ning piece of (circumstantial, to be sure) evidence to me on this matter was the simple fact that at the very moment that these guns were walking, the White House was using every channel open to talk about how “Mexico’s violence was fueled by US guns.” There was, for example, the notorious — and patently distorted — “fact” about “90% of Mexican guns seized were from the US.”

    There is, by the way, one rather compelling reason to believe that F&F was *not* just a regional project gone astray. No bureacrat that i know would have put his career on the line as Mr. Voth did with his infamous email threatening grumbling field agents *unless* he was certain of vigorous top level support. It just makes no sense: every instinct for a controversial operation is to play it safe.

    So, yes, while i agree that the whole massive conspiracy theory is almost certainly wrong, that does not eliminate the possibility that F&F was explicitly implemented to support a gun control agenda.

    Let me say, though, that at this point the jury is still out whether even this thesis is correct. It is hard to believe that one would use thousands of weapons as political theater, but the alternative explanations are, right now, even harder for me to accept. Sooner or later we will know, though. It will come out.

  16. Well, whatever the truth is, I have to say Michael Ramirez is the best political cartoonist out there by far!

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