American Elephants

Operation Fast and Furious, Project Gunrunner, and Lots and Lots of Questions. by The Elephant's Child

Polls show that the public is largely unaware of the growing scandal of Solargate, or Solyndra, or administration support for nonviable solar energy or if so, what the problem is.

They are probably also unaware of the scandal variously known as “Gun Walker,” “Operation Fast and Furious,” and “Project Gunrunner.”  Why the  confusion of names, I don’t know, but as scandals go, this seems to be a bad one.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) is part of the Justice Department in the Obama administration under Attorney General Eric Holder. The official story was that Project Gunrunner was merely a botched sting operation run by BATF designed to track and stop cross-border arms-trafficking.

Our neighbor to the South, Mexico, has been deep in a long, vicious war to fight seven major drug cartels at once. Mass killings and executions have been the rule, and the border has become an incredibly dangerous place.

The idea behind the operation was to allow gun dealers to sell weapons to cartel middlemen, who would then ship them to criminal gangs in Mexico, so that they could be traced or something. Nearly 2,000 weapons went south based on this taxpayer-financed program. Two of the weapons turned up at the scene of the Arizona murder of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, killed by illegal aliens in December 2010.

The whole thing was so contrary to the stated aims of the bureau that agents raised anguished protests over and over — only to be rebuffed by their superiors — according to testimony presented to the House Oversight Committee chair Darrell Issa (R-CA) who is investigating the scandal.

The White House made a big deal about weapons flowing south to Mexico, and claimed that 90% of all weapons in the hands of the cartels came from U.S. gun dealers. That argument seemed to be false, but Mexico wanted to divert attention to their loose border controls. Obama wanted to reinstate an assault-weapon ban in 2008, but said that he did not have the political capital to do it. Mr. Obama has been an advocate of gun control and has stated that he does not believe that people should be allowed to possess guns.

The acting director of ATF, Kenneth Melson was unwilling to be made a scapegoat in the affair, and testified behind closed doors to two oversight committees, accompanied by his own private attorney. ABC reported that the Justice Department tried to delay his testimony. Apparently there is involvement by other agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Department of Homeland Security. Allowing thousands of weapons, financed by taxpayers, to cross the border and be diverted to criminal cartels while agents were ordered to stand down and not interfere.

The investigation is ongoing. There are extensive email direct connections to the White House just exposed. The Department of Justice is reportedly talking about abolishing the BATF.  ICE Agents Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila were ambushed in Mexico by members of the Zeta cartel, with at least one weapon traceable to Texas.  Administration response has been to hunker down, cover up, stonewall, rely on a compliant media and hope that nothing really comes out.

It is all confusing, and all the different operation names make it even more confusing. Who dreamed up this mess is still unknown, nor what the real intent was.  But it looks bad — very, very bad.

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