Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Fast and Furious ATF Scandal

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As more evidence emerges, it appears more and more likely that high-ranking administration officials in both the Justice and State Departments not only lied to the American people, but also conspired to increase the number of US firearms being smuggled into Mexico
. This week Wikileaks (certainly not a pro-gun group) released diplomatic cables exposing a whole other side to the scandal.

Shortly after President Obama took office in January 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched a coordinated effort to pass more gun control laws here in the U.S.. The justification? 90% of military style semi-automatic rifles used in the cartel wars in Mexico were bought in U.S. gun stores and smuggled across the boarder.

There was only one problem: It was all a big lie. We now know that not only did the Justice Department know that the 90% figure was inaccurate, the State Department knew where the bulk of the rifles were actually coming from: Central America and U.S. sales to the Mexican Military.

The current timeline of the scandal provides the strongest support yet for the theory that administration officials first lied about the source of Mexican crime guns and then set about trying to support that lie by increasing the number of guns “going south”.

Early 2009: High ranking members of the administration launch a major campaign to pass a new “Assault Weapons Ban” in the U.S.. Over and over they state that 90% of weapons recovered in Mexico come from U.S. gun shops.

It should be noted that the original 90% figure was developed BY BATFE under the Bush administration, as noted in a Feb 2008 press release. However, it was the Obama administration that used this figure in a 'full court press" aimed at passing a new "assault weapons" ban.

Almost immediately, the 90% figure is called into question. Eventually it becomes apparent that:

1) 90% of guns reported to the U.S. BATFE for tracing are found to have come from the U.S.. HOWEVER: ONLY ABOUT ONE IN FIVE GUNS RECOVERED IN MEXICO IS SUBMITTED FOR TRACING. Even the left leaning recognizes that the real figure is no more than 18%, not 90%.

2) The administration was also including any firearm come from the U.S. in its’ figures – including firearms sold to the Mexican military and diverted to the cartels. Information revealed by Wikileaks confirms that the State Department was well aware that large numbers of these weapons were ending up in the hands of the cartels – and BATFE would discover this when they ran the trace. Counting these guns as coming from U.S. gun shops was flat out dishonest.

3) Wikileaks now also confirms that at the time the “90% lie” was being sold to the U.S. public, Hillary Clinton’s own State Department knew that the majority of weapons (other than handguns) were actually coming from Central America, not the U.S. This would include the so-called “assault weapons” the administration was seeking to ban.

In short, there is now ample proof that one of the first things the new Obama administration did upon taking office was to use information they absolutely knew was false to attempt to pass new gun control laws.

Sadly, the story does not end there. It appears that the administration may have reacted to the exposure of their lie by trying to make it come true.


Early 2009: At virtually the same time: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) began ordering gun dealers to sell guns to suspected smugglers.

Early 2009 to late 2010: Instead of arresting the smugglers, ATF agents are ordered to watch as the guns are smuggled into Mexico. Over and over they beg for permission to stop the guns from going into Mexico – every time the order is the same; Stand down.

Late 2010: Reports of the policy begin to appear on the insider web forum

December 14th 2010, just after 11:00pm: US Boarder Patrol Agent Brain Terry is killed with an AK-47 smuggled into Mexico with the help of ATF.

December 28th 2010: The first whistle-blowing agent makes contact with gun rights media reporters David Codrea and Mike Vanderboegh. This first agent states that the program’s purpose was to increase the number of US guns recovered in Mexico in order to justify further gun control laws in the US and increase ATF’s budget.

Since then the story has grown in both the traditional and "new" media. Several congressional hearings have been held. It has become evident that the administration is stonewalling and covering up - even as more whistle blowers have come forward.

First the ATF tried to deny that any guns had been "walked" into Mexico. This proved to be a bad decision because the whistle blowing agents had keep lots of records.

Then the ATF tried to blame the gun dealers - but that didn't work because the gun dealers had covered themselves by keep notes, records and even audio recordings of agents ordering them to sell guns to people they otherwise never would have sold guns to.

At that point the Department of Justice supposedly opened its' own investigation. This bogus investigation has been used as an excuse to stonewall the congressional investigation. We know the investigation is bogus because not one person has been disciplined over a year later.

In spite of the administration's cover up, more very disturbing evidence has come to light over the past year. It has been established that agents were forbiden to track or interdict the shipments in any way. Several other agencies were forced to cooperate including DEA, FBI and ICE. ICE was ordered to allow guns to cross the border. It has been established that William Newell - the man running the operation - was in regular communication concerning the operation with a White House aide. Newell was also described as "giddy" and "elated" when he received information that guns ATF shepherded into Mexico were recovered at Mexican murder scenes. A map showing locations in Mexico where firearms from the program were recovered was prepared and distributed to DOJ executives. It has been established that the head of of the DOJ's criminal division, Lanny Breuer, knew about the information. Multiple memos describing the operation were sent to Attorney General Eric Holder - as much as a full year before he acknowledged knowing about the operation in testimony before congress. Furthermore, all of this was done without the knowledge or consent of the Mexican government. As this is written Rep. Issa is threatening to hold AG Holder in contempt of congress because he is refusing to turn over 80% plus of the documents congress has subpenaed.

This story is huge - and very hard to believe. I urge readers to follow the links to the news story archives and read at least some of the stories. You will see that it is not just the "gun media" or the "right wing media" that is covering the story. CBS News and the LA Times have done good work as well. The links also include videos of congressional testimony that supports all of the above.

It is worth noting that something ATF initially denied ever happened, now threatens the Attorney General and links have been established to the White House. Other than the great work done by CBS News and Fox News, the mainstream broadcast media is trying their best to ignore this scandal because it doesn’t fit their agenda. They can only do this for so long before they will have to report on it. Congressional hearings or a contempt charge may very well force their hand.

Of course, there is another possibility: President Obama could assert executive privilege to avoid handing over documents to the House investigation. The problem with do this is that it screams “cover up” and the many, many witness have provided copies of many documents. Even executive privilege will not stop this investigation.

Given time, we will learn if the Obama administration not only lied in order to promote gun control, but effectively smuggled guns in order to turn their lies into truth – at the cost dozens of Mexican lives and at least one American life. All we have to do is wait.

June 21, 2012 – Well, things have come a long way since I wrote the summery above.  The administration has not done anything to effectively deal with this scandal.  18 months after the story broke we still do not know who authorized this operation, what the purpose really was, no one has been punished (except the whistleblowers!), DOJ has admitted they wrote a false letter to Congress – and now, in order to avoid having to disclose documents that might answer these questions President Obama has asserted executive privilege.  The result has been exactly what I thought it would be: Lots of attention has been drawn to this issue and NOW PEOPLE REALIZE THAT THE ADMINISTRATION IS HIDING SOMETHING.

Unless the administration can come clean on this issue by somehow disclosing what they are withholding AND that evidence clears the administration of involvement in the both the operation and the cover up, THIS ISSUE WILL BE A HUGE INFLUENCE UPON THE COMING ELECTION.  

June 28, 2012 - Today, for the first time in history, a sitting cabinet member was found to be in contempt of congress.  17 Democrats crossed party lines to vote in favor of the criminal contempt charge against AG Eric Holder.  An even greater number - 21 - joined in the civil contempt action.  In the hours leading up to the vote, the MSM and the administration joined in creating a great deal of disinformation - all of which can only be believed if one has not followed the story.  Many of the "facts" in these articles have been contradicted not only by documents and the whistle blowers  but but ATF, DOJ and other administration spokespersons as well.

Where does it go from here?  The short answer is to the courts and to the voters.  The generally acepted legal opinion is that Holder will loose and have to hand over everything the committee is asking for.  Of course, this will be after the election.  As for the voters - this will cost President Obama any votes he might have gotten from gun owners and their families.  Some others will be asking the same question: What is he hiding?

1 comment:

  1. Nice job on the timeline... and you nailed it on both the contempt vote and Obama exerting executive privilege.

    And yes... The use of executive privilege after months of claiming the White House wasnt involved is tantamount to a confession of White House involvement in the coverup at a bare minimum.