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Our main man from emailed me his thoughts on Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu’s Press Conference (which Brad blogged in ATF Death Watch 99) after eyewitnessing his ire:

The press conference was called in front of Law Enforcement Memorial at Wesley Bolin Plaza, right next to the State Capitol building. This is sacred ground for Arizona law enforcement and good location for this sort of thing. This group of sheriffs is split 50/50 among Democrats and Republicans, but it lacked the two best-known sheriffs in Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County and Sheriff Clarence Dupnik of Pima County . . .

Sheriff Joe is famous for his tough talk and tougher jails, and Sheriff Dupnik is (in)famous for his botched SWAT raids and political reliability. Sheriff Joe’s refusal to join these Sheriffs does not bode well for his “tough on crime” image and Sheriff Dupnik, true to the party line, fingered Operation Wide Receiver, a Bush-era program, as the root cause of all of this.

Sheriff Babeu has video of the press conference up on his website. Fifteen minutes into the first video, he sums up why Fast and Furious was never a plan to track illegal guns into Mexico.

The reason why we do that (introduce drugs  or cash not a crime gang) is to watch the investigation spiderweb so we can take down the entire drug trade organization. You don’t do that with weapons, and to allow these weapons to walk in this fashion is reprehensible.

Some may ask what’s the issue here: All of this gunfire is happening in run-down small towns in a country that’s always been a mess. Sheriff Babeu clearly lays out why Operation Fast and Furious isn’t just Mexico’s problem, it’s a problem for all of us.

Every time there’s a shooting or there’s a crime committed on American soil, the first question SHOULDN’T be, ‘My God, were these the guns that our own government gave these criminals.’

I, along with my fellow Arizona gunblogger count ourselves lucky to have attended this historic occasion: a press conference called by a bipartisan coalition of 10 out of Arizona’s 14 sheriffs asking the Obama Administration and the Justice Department for a Special Prosecutor to investigate Operation Fast and Furious.

It can no longer be the same as it ever was.

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  1. Thanks for covering this, RF and F&F should be all over the media, top story every hour.

    Best tweet I’ve read today: Why only 1 MSM reporting that House Oversight & Government Reform Committee to subpoena the Attorney General?

    Very sad.

  2. “were these the guns that our own government gave these criminals.?”

    That English is too plain. This boy can’t be given time on the national stage. Obviously not a player. Watch the contortions they’ll commit in producing a circuitous answer. Their heads won’t revolve or their eyes spin, but there be devilry in this.

  3. Thanks for posting this!

    Earlier today, Mrs. ExKev, (aka The Font of All Wisdom and Beauty) gave a great reason why Sheriff Joe Arpaio wasn’t at this presser.

    “He didn’t want to share the spotlight.”, she said, which is the best explanation I’ve heard so far, given America’s Toughest Media Hound’s™ affinity for the spotlight.

  4. “My God, were these the guns that our own government gave these criminals?”

    It really sucks having to be the guy to state the really obvious.

    Sheriff Paul, bordering on epiphany, challenges and awaits, in moral showdown.

    Those “big” Sheriffs that can’t get down with this plain English got another iron in the fire.

  5. The Arizona Daily Star ran with Operation Blame Bush, omitting those pesky Wide Receiver details about surveillance and tracking devices.

    The main bird cage liner in Phoenix, the Arizona Republic, took a different tact. The Republic believes the problem is a lack of Ammo Control. One of the few articles they won’t allow readers to post comments about.

  6. Not to tread on any toes if someone has strong positive feelings about the guy, but I’d count Arpaio’s absence as a very good thing for the effort. At least to people far removed from the Arizona scene, he’s been reduced to a caricature, a whacko, a figure of derision.

    This group gives off a feeling of competence and credibility. Were Arpaio standing with them, the group would be easily dismissed by many.

  7. Let us give thanks for the complete independence of the County Sheriff. In most other countries, including England where the office of sheriff was first established, Eric Holder would be their boss.

  8. In response to ExUrban Kev – with whom I have shared a fine brew – regarding the absence of Joe Arpaio, I’m going to do a little speculating here with the three caveats of:

    1) I believe Joe Arpaio is an irresponsible media hound

    2) I have no direct knowledge of the main participants over the last 10 years

    3) I have been an interested observer of Arizona politics over the last 20 years

    One plausible angle to Arpaio’s absence is that he doesn’t want to share the spotlight with Pinal County Sheriff Babeu or just be seen as another Arizona county sheriff. The thing to keep in mind is that Maricopa County is a completely different animal than the other counties in Arizona – it’s close to 4x the population of the next largest (Pima) and 10x the size of Pinal. It has allowed Arpaio a huge spotlight both in the state and nationally

    I have found it strange that Arpaio, who has been a brute and media spotlight hog in his staged roundups of illegal immigrants, has ceded over the last few years alot of the drug/human smuggling spotlight to a relative newcomer like Babeu. That’s not like Arpaio, you would have thought that he would have found a way to wiggle his way in front of the issue since it offers him so many opportunities – heavily armed criminals means he can ask to up-arm his own police force and I’m sure he could manufacture another personal death threat.

    So here’s my speculative two-cents for an investigative angle… Janet Napolitano.

    Napolitano and Arpaio were the two biggest names in Arizona law enforcement int he 1990s – Arpaio has been sheriff since 1992 and Napolitano was first US Attorney and then AZ Attorney General before moving to the Governor’s office in 2002. There was alot of talk that during this time that her and Arapaio came to an understanding – her silence about his possible civil rights abuses and in turn his political support which manifested itself in his endorsing her (a republican endorsing a democrat) for governor in 2002 in which won by a margin of 12,000 votes of more than a million cast.

    While Fast & Furious is seen as Justice operation, all early evidence points to multiple cabinet-level departments which almost certainly means Napolitano’s Homeland Security. 10 of the 15 Arizona sheriffs might get you some press attention, but having Arpaio on stage would mean a media firestorm and instant national attention. I bet it’s killing Arpaio to stay out of the national spotlight on this – and he can grab it from Babeu any time he wants – and the primary reason I believe is that he’s still part of his old political partnership with Napolitano.

  9. After hearing the outrage in these sheriffs, I would advise Mr. Holder, at minimum, to watch his speed when driving through Arizona.

  10. I’ll chime in along similar lines.
    While we can’t know what really happened, it’s quite possible that Arpaio wasn’t asked or didn’t come so that it would not be about him.


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