In a previous post, I asked a simple question: if the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms’ (ATF) anti-gun running gun-running ops were truly about busting bad guys, why didn’t they equip the weapons with GPS devices? On Fox News at high noon, reporter William La Jeunesse claimed that the guns were GPS-tagged. By 1:41pm that crucial piece of information dropped out of the report, in favor of a general round-up, wherein Fox reports the Gunwalker scandal as if they’d just heard of it. Now that’s odd . . .

If at least some of the thousands of guns allowed south didn’t have GPS devices, I could almost believe the federal agency let weapons walk so they’d show up in Mexican crime scenes (as they did) to bolster the ATF’s case for more money and power. But if the guns did have GPS locators, what for? What was the plan?

The key may lie in the Office of Inspector General’s report. Back in November, the OIG ripped the ATF a new asshole for not catching “the big fish” in the U.S. to Mexico gun-smuggling biz. If the ATF had installed GPS devices on the guns, then they were going for the grande pescados. The ATF let the guns walk in a genuine effort to redeem themselves.

Of course it didn’t work out that way. Not one in-country drug cartel member was arrested as the result of the ATF’s gun-running sting op. Then again, the ATF has no jurisdiction in Mexico. So maybe the ATF was counting on the Mexican federales to “do the right thing,” arrest a big fish and send him stateside.

Yes but—we’re told that the Mexican government knew nothing about Project Gunrunner or Operation Fast and Furious. Really? The ATF knew the walked guns would show up at Mexican crime scenes. They knew our neighbors to the south would submit the serial numbers for ATF trace. They trained the Mexicans to run ATF traces. I have a hard time believing that the ATF’s top guns thought they could “hide” agency-enabled weapons from the Mexican authorities.

Maybe they didn’t. Maybe the Mexican government promised to help the ATF—and then realized that the cartels (at least the ones that they favor) weren’t so happy about that idea. Maybe they played the ATF right from the git-go.

If so, it’s no wonder the ATF ain’t sayin’ nothin’ about its failed attempt to catch cartel members in Mexico with smuggled guns. That discussion would highlight the drug cartels’ influence on [not to say control of] the Mexican government. And the fact that the American President knows, and has known, all about it.

As we head towards next Wednesday’s Congressional hearings on ATF malfeasance, I think it’s pretty clear that I’m not clear about what the hell happened here. Someone needs to ask the ATF exactly what they were trying to do by letting these guns walk, and with whom they were doing it.

To that end, Congress needs to have a word with the people at the sharp end. I’m not talking about the top suits at the ATF, DOJ, DEA, DHS and CPB, although hey, why not? I’m talking about the bad guys who did the actual gun smuggling. Criminals who are now languishing in an American jail, as prosecutors try to keep a lid on what the bad guys know. They’re the ones who know where the bodies are buried.

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3 Responses to ATF Death Watch 8: GPS?

  1. Umm, is there such a thing as a GPS tag?

    GPS is a passive system. Satellites in space send timed signals to earth. GPS receivers get the signals and triangulate their position. GPS doesn’t even work well in the concrete canyons of large cities. “GPS” systems mostly rely on cell-towers. If you’ve ever been hiking with a real GPS system, you know that even in river canyons, it can be hard to get a good signal. Trying to get a signal from a GPS tag, buried inside a metal gun, in a crate full of metal guns, in a truck? Forget about it.

    Second, suppose you get a small GPS tag to somehow work. How are you going to get the information back to ATF HQ? By satellite phone? Satellite phones are large, expensive objects with limited battery life. And like your satellite TV, need a clear view of the satellite. Maybe they’ll transmit to Mexican phone networks. Well, then you’d need a object the size and weight of a cell phone, on the gun, that has the battery-life of a cell phone.

    That FOX news reporter has been watching too much CSI.

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