Obama weeps for a failed conspiracy.
As the White House bobs and weaves with "I’ll see what I can find out about it."
The blame shifting and excuses begin. Take this story in the LA Times: "U.S. agents short-staffed and under the gun in Mexico." It is subtitled: "A lack of resources, a policy against arming agents and staffers who don't speak Spanish hamper U.S. agents trying to stem the flow of weapons to drug cartels, say current and ex-staff members."
There are some valuable revelations in it.
U.S. authorities in Mexico charged with stemming the flow of U.S. weapons to drug cartels have been hampered by shortfalls in staffing, agents with limited Spanish skills and the difficulty of recruiting new agents to the dangerous posting because they can't officially carry weapons, current and former staff members say.
Facing new accusations that investigators with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed buyers to funnel high-powered assault weapons into Mexico, a senior agent posted to Mexico before 2010 said the agency had not fielded the resources necessary to block mass movements of weapons across the Southwest border.
These movements have come under scrutiny amid revelations that ATF investigators delayed for months the arrests of suspected cartel gun buyers, allowing the flow of hundreds of weapons to Mexico in the hope of catching bigger buyers. The policy has outraged many agents and prompted a Senate investigation.
On Monday, most of the architects of the Phoenix-based operation, known as "Fast and Furious," were called to Washington to discuss the operation. Acting ATF Director Kenneth E. Melson announced he would ask a panel of police professionals to review the bureau's firearms trafficking strategies.
Nice to have the LA Times confirm our story from Saturday about the "Come to Satan" meeting. Then there is this:
Rene Jaquez, a former ATF attache in Mexico City and deputy attache in Ciudad Juarez, said Monday that agents in Mexico did not have the resources to effectively run down gun smugglers.
"I can tell you from my perspective as the former country attache in Mexico … that ATF has not taken seriously its role in the international affairs program as far as Mexico is concerned," Jaquez said in an interview.
Jaquez said ATF field offices in Mexico were so short-staffed that agents were either forced to spend most of their time on paperwork or didn't have necessary backup to safely do street work.
"It was one meeting after another. At the end of the week, you ask, 'What did I do?' And ultimately the question has to be asked, OK, ATF has put all this money into Mexico, what have we done? How many guns have we stopped from coming into the country? Well, this whole scandal shows we've probably allowed more guns into the country than guns we've stopped," Jaquez said.
"The next question is: How many people have gone to jail compared to three years ago, when we had only three people there? The answer is none. There is no difference," he said. "We have no prosecutions that have resulted from us being in Mexico City."
Jaquez said the agency was recently able to expand from its presence in Mexico City and Monterrey, opening satellite offices and electronic gun-tracing operations in eight other Mexican towns.
But Jaquez said he complained to ATF management that the new offices would be largely ineffective for mounting firearms investigations if they did not each include at least four agents and a supervisor. Some offices, he said, had only a single agent — sometimes one who didn't speak good Spanish.
"At [two of our offices] we have a non-Spanish speaker and an iffy Spanish speaker," Jaquez said. "So how do you go out there and do anything, when ATF hasn't taken it seriously enough to even send Spanish speakers down to Mexico?"
Jaquez said ATF agents had helped Mexican law enforcement disarm explosives and investigate the growing number of car bombs south of the border, but had been less successful in pushing firearms trafficking investigations into the Mexican cartels because of the staffing shortfalls.
Jaquez said he made the decision to speak publicly about operations in Mexico after being transferred against his will to Washington. He said he believed he was moved in retaliation for suspicions that he criticized the "Fast and Furious" operation.
"I went to high school in Mexico. I know the culture. I know the government. And, you know, there's very few of us in the country that could say that," he said. "And then I'm the one that they pulled out because … [they] knew that I would not sign on board with any of these questionable dealings on the gun-running deal."
So, let's sum up the experience of Rene Jaquez: The ATF (and by extension DOJ) was fundamentally unserious about the Mexico offices, which were supposed to be (in the initial plan during the Bush administration of the Southwest Border Initiative which later became known as Project Gunrunner) the key to our new partnership with Mexico.
More importantly, Jaquez says he made the decision to speak publicly about operations in Mexico after being transferred against his will to Washington, which he said happened retaliation for suspicions that he criticized the "Fast and Furious" operation.
"And then I'm the one that they pulled out because … [they] knew that I would not sign on board with any of these questionable dealings on the gun-running deal."
Note well -- because this will come up later -- that like Darren Gil, another ATF Mexico City attache, Jaquez was transferred out of the country and back to DC in retaliation for his questions of, and resistance to, Project Gunrunner. Jaquez was lucky, for Gil was forced into early retirement.
What characterizes the lackadaisical execution of mission, starving of resources and retaliations for not going along with "Fast and Furious"? All are ATF headquarters (or higher) decisions. Remember that.
But the LA Times story is also noteworthy for the appearance in print of something we have seen in other areas, including at the CleanUpATf.org discussions here, and here: the use of other agents to try to shift the blame, cut off debate and otherwise muddy the waters of the already murky Project Gunwalker Scandal:
Several agents said the bigger problem was not in Mexico, but shortfalls in staffing and gun laws in the U.S., which had prevented the ATF from adequately monitoring multiple sales of semiautomatic rifles to suspicious buyers.
"We have roughly the same amount of people we had when they founded us in 1972," one agent said.
He said Congress and the Obama administration had refused to support the ATF's proposal to require federally licensed gun sellers to report multiple sales of long-barreled rifles, as they were with handguns, to a single buyer.
"Can someone tell me how I can find out if Joe Blow just bought 50 guns at a gun store? If they do, I'll be happy to sit outside the door and ask him why he bought them. But otherwise, I won't know until they start showing up at crime scenes," the agent said.
Of course this ignores entirely the whistleblower agents' allegations and the statements by gun dealers that they would report suspicious multiple sales only to be told to go ahead with them, but it is consistent with the headquarters generated meme.
That was to be expected, of course, as the ATF and DOJ gather what little shreds of clothing they have to cover their exposed johnsons hanging out in this scandal. But this? How shall we explain this exploration into great leaps of illogical, exculpatory conclusions?
Robert Farago, writing at The Truth About Guns, says he knows "The Real Reason the ATF Smuggled Guns Into Mexico: ATF Agents enabled smuggled guns to line their own pockets."
The amount of money—cash money—flowing in the drug trade is beyond your wildest imagination. Tens of billions of dollars. The Mexican drug lords have corrupted officials on both sides of the border, at the highest possible levels. Why not the ATF? Money talks, guns walk. Makes perfect sense.
What the Perdition?!?
Farago gives two other possible reasons, "To catch the 'big fish'" and "Empire building." He rejects both, citing some good reasons for his argument. But to leap to corrupt agents as the explanation? Either he has not listened to the whistleblowers themselves or he has not read the documents or both. Do that and you come up with only one possible conclusion:
Whatever this was it was crafted and executed out of ATF headquarters with the approval of both the DOJ and State from the very beginning.
Is Farago saying that the drug lords paid off Melson, his predecessors and key subordinates? If so, he is not talking about agents, but managers. Yet Farago does not say managers, he says agents, minimizing this wide-spread, headquarters driven conspiracy to violate the laws of the United States, our treaties and protocols with another sovereign nation into the equivalent of crooked local cops ripping off the dope dealer's stash or taking bribes to look the other way on a house of prostitution!
For a guy who claims to adopt Occam's Razor, that is a hell of an illogical exculpatory leap given the evidence of the agents and documents. As a long-time observer of the ATf from up close and personal just emailed me as I was about to post this:
This is easy...so easy a boy of eight would laugh at it.
The documents show that ATF management, not the agents were behind it. Think Darren Gil, think of the emails...
Given those documents his #3 argument circles the bowl like big brown turd.
Let me tell you what this was, and where it came from, based on a conversation I had with a long-time, well-informed veteran of American government intelligence operations the other day.
"Do you think," he asked me, "that this happened accidentally in a vacuum?" Meaning that one day "Gunwalker Bill" Newell, Phoenix SAC, just got a wild hair and decided to invent his own foreign policy. "Things like this happen because of meetings. People sit in meetings and they decide what they want to happen. And then they take decisions, make policy and implement that policy to achieve those ends." He added, "That's why State is so nervous. They signed off on this. In a meeting."
Gunrunner, I pointed out to him, predated the Obama administration. "Yes, but 'walking guns' didn't." I told him it seemed to me that given the dates on the documents that the meetings crafting this policy must have taken place sometime in mid-2009. "And who took power in January, 2009?" he replied.
He continued, summing up this way. The gun issue was known to be radioactive. Every time the Democrats embraced it they got killed at the polls the next election cycle. What was needed, in Rahm Emanuel's parlance, was a good crisis to exploit, something to change the paradigm. The gun confiscationists had always danced in the blood (my term, not his) of every mass shooting and gotten nowhere, to their chagrin and frustration. What was needed was a game changer. Something that fit the meme of "we've got to tighten up on American gunowners, gun stores and gun shows because they are feeding the slaughter." Mexico was perfect. The ATF controlled the reporting of the statistics, the headlines were lurid and if the rest of us gunnies knew that you don't get automatic weapons, hand grenades and RPGs from gun shows and gun stores, most of the American people were too ignorant of the issue to care about the distinction. But the fact was, as the IG report and other sources concluded, the amount of weapons from those legitimate American sources did not meet the allegation. More importantly the statistics didn't meet the policy need. So, how to "fix" that? Project Gunwalker. If there weren't enough semi-auto "assault rifles" in Mexico, the ATF could fix that. And the murders would follow, justifying the policy change of cracking down on "assault rifles," gun shows and the like.
"So," I said, "you're saying that this was a deliberate attempt by policymakers at the highest levels of the Obama administration to subvert the Second Amendment and further diminish the free exercise of firearm rights of honest citizens?"
"You got it. Sucks, huh?" He laughed bitterly.
I thought of Zed in "Men in Black."
He added, "Of course the meeting transcripts won't reflect the truth so plainly, but then neither did the Wannsee Conference. These bastards always talk in riddles about what they're really after. Watch what they do, not what they say."
So far, it sure has "sucked" for agents Terry and Zapata and probably hundreds of innocent Mexicans. The final death toll from Project Gunwalker won't be measured for years, decades, and it will certainly be in the thousands, if not hundreds of thousands. How do you measure the size of this scandal? How do you measure the depth of the depraved indifference to murder, merely in pursuance of more power over other human beings?
But if you want to know the "why" of it, I just told you. Farago tells us to "follow the money." Instead, we should be following the power, which, in the end, amounts to the same thing.
The alleged leader of a merry band of Three Percenters.