It is certainly a remarkable coincidence that the guns President Obama spoke of regulating back in 2009 - AK-47 type assault rifles and Barrett .50 BMG sniper rifles - are at the heart of the violent crisis on the border and are the very guns involved in Gunwalker (Pajamas Media has a great back story on this theory). In fact, this operation is such a catastrophe that the Mexican government is demanding answers. Having lost somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 agents to those weapons over the past eighteen months, you can't really blame them.
Initial attempts at keeping the blame limited to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) only have failed miserably. As more sun shines down on this ugly piece of business, more agencies are shown to have their fingers in the pie. It's a veritable vegetable soup - ATF, DEA, FBI, DHS and DoJ. Can you spell "C-O-L-L-U-S-I-O-N"?
The premise of the operation was simple: track weapons dealers and the path of the guns they bought over the border and into the hands of the Mexican drug cartels. These sorts of stings are done frequently by law enforcement officers around the country. Because these guns were going to be tracked across the southern border the operation was put into the hands of the ATF, with oversight by the Department of Justice. Sounds pretty straightforward, doesn't it?
Yeah, not so much.
First off, the "dealers" they were tracking turned out to be FBI informants already. Ooopsie. Which means the main premise for the operation was moot from the get-go. But fear not, they still poured two years, $10 million and countless man hours into the endeavor. Oh, and the life of one border patrol agent and several thousand Mexican citizens, not that they count in the grand scheme. Ah, the gentle efficiencies of the government juggernaut....
Second, for some reason no one has been able to explain, ATF was told to cease surveillance of the approximately 1,765 guns once they left the hands of the dealers. They were not to follow them on their trip across the border to their final destination, they were not to gather intel on the final buyer and they were not to work with the Mexican government on the sting. The official line is that the ATF (aka "The Scapegoat") "lost track of" the weapons. In reality, there are memos and sworn testimony that show that the ATF was instructed to cease surveillance of the weapons. ATF Director Kenneth Melson (aka "The Patsy") isn't exactly willing to take the fall, as his secret testimony shows.
By the way, did I mention this wonderful $10 million program was funded by the stimulus bill (just for that extra dollop of outrage). Unfortunately this operation might possibly end up being one of the biggest job creators in that boondoggle of a bill. Just think of all the additional police, border agents, forensics personnel, nurses, doctors, paramedics, undertakers, coffin makers and gravestone carvers who saw a big jump in demand as a direct result of Fast and Furious.
Now that the scandal is starting to gain traction in the press and the investigation is gaining speed in Congress, the stench of cover-up has become strong:
The question now, as Mr. Hume so succinctly put it, was who knew what, and when? How high does this go? At this point, it looks like Attorney General Eric Holder's fingerprints are all over this - not just for his role in Gunwalker, but also his not so subtle attempts at obstructing the investigation. Primarily, though, Holder denied long-time knowledge of the program when he gave sworn testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform committee back in May, but it seems there may have been some
At the May 3 Judiciary Committee hearing, Issa asked Holder: “When did you first know about the program officially, I believe, called Fast and Furious? To the best of your knowledge, what date?”
Holder responded: “I’m not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.”
Is that your final answer, Mr. Holder (via Big Government)?
(...) the problem with Holder’s feigned ignorance is that he gave a speech in Cuernavaca, Mexico, on April 2, 2009, in which he boasted about Operation “Gunrunner” and told Mexican authorities of everything he was doing to insure its success.
Holder told the audience:
Last week, our administration launched a major new effort to break the backs of the cartels. My department is committing 100 new ATF personnel to the Southwest border in the next 100 days to supplement our ongoing Project Gunrunner, DEA is adding 16 new positions on the border, as well as mobile enforcement teams, and the FBI is creating a new intelligence group focusing on kidnapping and extortion.
Please note the inclusion of DEA, FBI and DHS in that 2009 speech, by Holders own admittance. Make no mistake, this thing is huge, and it's not going anywhere. If the mainstream press has a shred of investigative instincts left to them, they will start working this story. Hume's comments are right, this does have the air of a Watergate. But bigger.
So far it looks like We the People might be needing some pretty top-level positions filled in the coming months. DoJ for sure. Holder's goose is cooked, and it's only a matter of time until he is either pressured by President Obama or has a 'moment of clarity' and resigns. How high up in DHS - all the way to Napolitano? What about the FBI? Higher? As the above referenced Pajamas Media piece so aptly put it:
At the same time in 2009 that federal law enforcement agencies (the ATF, the DOJ, and presumably Janet Napolitano’s Department of Homeland Security) were creating the operation that led to the executive branch being the largest gun smuggler in the Southwest, the president’s team was crafting the rhetoric to sell the crisis they were creating.
On television, in various news outlets, and even in a joint appearance with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Obama pushed the 90 percent lie, implying that 90% of the guns recovered in Mexican cartel violence came from U.S. gun shops.
At the same time they were damning gun dealers in public, the administration was secretly forcing them to provide weapons to the cartels, by the armful and without oversight. More than one gun industry insider suggests that the administration extorted cooperation and silence from these gun shops. As the ATF has the power to summarily shut dealers down for the most minor of offenses, that is very, very possible.
Does it go all the way to the top? Only time and a lot more investigation will tell. You can be sure there will have to be some pretty concrete evidence to even think of directly implicating the President in this thing (please note Owens' use of "team" when describing who fashioned Obama's rhetoric), so don't plan on DVRing an Obama "I am not a crook" moment any time soon. But there is a lesson here already, and we're no where near the end of this journey. The lesson here is that these are the policies we get when the policy makers follow the teachings of Cloward/Piven and Saul Alinsky. This is a textbook illustration of a worst-case scenario result to an "ends justify the means" method of policy decisions, right down to the innocent blood on the hands of the decision makers.
Keep your eye on this story, folks. By the time Issa is done with his investigation, the administration may never be the same.
UPDATE: And so it begins.