Monday, June 20, 2011

Gunwalker Miscellany: Issa on Morning Joe. Clueless (and incurious) in New York; Plus, Gunwalker Editorials and Op-Eds.

I wasted almost an hour of my life waiting for Darrell Issa's appearance on Morning Joe on MSNBC. The result was predictable. Not only didn't the hosts and guests seem to know anything about the Gunwalker scandal, the two times he brought it up they asked no detailed questions, like "So how high did this go?" I rather suspect that they don't want to know and the only reason the subject was raised in the first place was because Issa insisted upon it.

The Dallas Morning News has this editorial: "‘We don’t know’ isn’t good enough from Justice Dept." Maybe they should motivate their reporters to do a better job uncovering the Texas side of this scandal.

The Lorain (OH) Morning Journal has a more unequivocal editorial: "Deadly federal gun scheme must be unraveled by Congress."

While the national news media filled the universe with blather about Weinergate this past week, what you didn’t hear much about was Rep. Darrell Issa’s congressional hearing into a federal agency scheme that allowed roughly 2,000 AK-47 style semiautomatic rifles to get into the hands of Mexican drug gangs — guns that have since been linked to the murders of at least one U.S. law enforcement agent, and likely two.

Preposterous, you say? Couldn’t be true, you say? The only thing preposterous is the Obama Administration’s attempt to sweep this national tragedy under the rug, with an adoring media all too willing to look the other way. The only untruths involved are the denials and obfuscation coming from Attorney General Eric Holder, some of his aides and those in the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) which cooked up the bizarre scheme called Operation Fast and Furious as part of the older ATF Project Gunrunner effort to keep illegal guns out of Mexico. . .

The American public, our local representatives to Congress, Betty Sutton and Marcy Kaptur, and Ohio’s Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, need to lend support to the investigation launched by Rep. Issa and Sen. Grassley.

The murders of two U.S. agents have been associated with the ATF’s Fast and Furious scheme. Stonewalling by the ATF and Justice cannot be allowed to continue. Congress and the American taxpayer must learn the full truth about this incredibly reckless operation, who perpetrated it and who tolerated it inside the Obama Administration.

How could an attorney general and president not know about an operation that allowed U.S. gun laws to be broken and thousands of guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels? Congress must dig out the facts and bring those responsible to account.

Michael Walsh, op-ed columnist for the New York Post: "A 'Fast and Furious' border fiasco."

There's a war along the Mexican border all right, but it's not necessarily the one you're thinking of. In fact, this one has spread all the way to the halls of Congress.

This week, the Obama administration is expected to fire Kenneth Melson, the acting head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives -- tossing him under the bus as a symbolic gesture to a congressional committee headed by Rep. Daryl Issa (R-Calif.).

Issa's Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is investigating an insane ATF operation -- a supposed sting that involved the deliberate funneling of thousands of weapons to ultra-violent Mexican drug cartels in 2009-10. . .

Even if Melson winds up the only scapegoat, it's clear the operation fit with the thinking of this administration. With the Mexican president standing beside him in 2009, President Obama claimed that "more than 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the United States, many from gun shops that line our shared border."

The claim nicely makes the porous border a two-way issue -- drugs coming here, guns going there. Mexico's been pushing the complaint for years, and gun-hating American liberals eat it up.

Problem is, there's no evidence. As the independent noted, Obama's assertion isn't supported by government statistics: "The figure represents only the percentage of crime guns that have been submitted by Mexican officials and traced by US officials." That is, most of the guns the Mexicans asked us to ID were American.

FactCheck "can find no hard data on the total number of guns actually 'recovered in Mexico.' " Others have put the number of American guns used in Mexican crimes as low as 17 percent.

Fast and Furious was supposed to prove the theory. That is, the administration "knew" who the bad guys were -- legitimate gun dealers in the Southwest -- and set out to make them the heavies in a phony sting operation.

The Wall Street Journal's Mary Anastasia O'Grady, who covers developments in Latin America and is widely read by the movers and shakers there, writes: "A Drug-War Plan Goes Awry."

One of the frightening things about the U.S. government's war on drugs is that it is being waged by federal bureaucracies. The legend of Elliot Ness notwithstanding, this implies that it is not only fraught with ineptitude but that before it is all over, there are going to be a lot of avoidable deaths.

Witness "Operation Fast and Furious," a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms plan that allegedly facilitated the flow of high-powered weapons into Mexico in the hope that it might lead to the take-down of a major cartel. It did not. But it may have fueled a spike in the murder rate and led to the death of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. . .

For the local gun merchants who cooperated with the feds and for some of the ATF agents in Arizona, the plan was dubious from the start. An estimated 2,000 of these guns disappeared over the 14-month period of Fast and Furious, and the agents who testified said that this contradicted everything they had learned about never letting a gun "walk"—that is, be taken by a suspicious purchaser without following him and finding out where it went. . .

The agents interviewed say supervisors viewed the bloodshed with chilling indifference—or worse. As the report summarizes, "An increase of crimes and deaths in Mexico caused an increase in the recovery of weapons at crime scenes. When these weapons traced back through the Suspect Gun Database to weapons that were walked under Fast and Furious, supervisors in Phoenix were giddy at the success of their operation."

Agents say that the loss of life and worries that the guns might eventually be used on U.S. personnel were not addressed because supervisors thought their plan was working. The "sentiment" from higher-ups, according to one agent's testimony, was "if you are going to make an omelet, you need to scramble some eggs." It was only when Agent Terry was murdered and two AK-47s that had "walked" were found at the scene, that the operation came under scrutiny. The ATF subsequently arrested a number of straw purchasers but none of those arrests involved "key players of a criminal syndicate," according to the report. For the record, an ATF official in the report says that the bureau never let guns "walk."

By any measure the 40-year-old war on drugs has been a failure. One unintended consequence is the financing that the sale of prohibited substances provides to gangsters who then buy guns. That's bad enough. But when the ATF puts making the big cartel bust above human life, it's a new low.

The Washington Examiner insists "Don't make Melson a Fast and Furious scapegoat."

Credible media reports have it that Kenneth Melson, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, will get his walking papers this week as a result of his approval of Operation Fast and Furious, aka "Gunwalker." That's the program in which ATF purposely allowed as many as 2,000 lethal weapons, including assault rifles such as the infamous AK-47, to be sold to representatives of Mexican drug cartels. The idea was that ATF would be able to link the weapons to specific individuals and prosecute them after the firearms were recovered at crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S. Melson and other senior ATF officials enthusiastically backed Gunwalker, which originated in the agency's Phoenix office.

The ludicrous logic behind Gunwalker was exposed in December when a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed in a confrontation with drug cartel thugs about 18 miles inside the U.S. border with Mexico in the Arizona desert. Two Gunwalker assault rifles were recovered from the scene in which Agent Brian Terry, an ex-Marine with a wife and children, died in the shootout. At least 150 Mexican law enforcement officers and an unknown number of cartel figures and civilians have also been killed with Gunwalker weapons. What ATF officials thought would become a key tool in bringing down the Mexican cartels instead, and predictably, became a U.S. government-sanctioned gun-running operation that bought enough high-powered weapons to equip hundreds of remorseless killers operating on both sides of the border.

That Melson should be removed is obvious, as should other senior ATF officials in Washington and in the field. But Gunwalker could not have gone as far as it did without the approval of senior Justice Department officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder, which is why The Washington Examiner last week called for Holder's resignation. Holder should have stopped the program as soon as he found out about it if he was aware of it. And if he didn't know such an outrage was being perpetrated on his watch, he clearly isn't up to the job of managing the Justice Department.

It would be a miscarriage of justice, however, if Melson is made a lone scapegoat in this sordid affair, while others of equal or greater culpability are allowed to remain on the job without being held accountable. Holder has asked the Justice Department inspector general to investigate the program, but that is hardly an independent review and could easily be used to stall the congressional oversight investigation already under way by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee headed by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. There is no legitimate reason for Issa to back off or slow down in demanding that all of the officials responsible for Gunwalker appear before Congress to explain their actions.

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air writes: Obama tossing Melson under the bus?

The effort to get rid of Melson looks like an attempt to appease the House, but it’s not likely to work. Had the White House provided more cooperation with Darrell Issa on this and other investigations, a Melson resignation might have sufficed. Instead of cooperating, Melson and Attorney General Eric Holder stonewalled the Oversight Committee for weeks, and when they finally turned over the documents subpoenaed by Issa, the heavy redactions prompted Issa to tell the the DoJ’s Assistant Attorney General that he “should be ashamed” of its conduct in an investigation into the death of one of its Border Patrol agents:

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on Wednesday escalated his standoff with the Department of Justice over a gun-tracking program that might have contributed to the death of federal agent.

As the family of slain ATF agent Brian Terry pleaded for justice, Issa said officials should be “ashamed” for handing over heavily redacted documents about the program. …

After more than two months of back-and-forth between DOJ officials and Issa’s staff, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich told lawmakers that the department was cooperating and actively working to respond to the committee’s request.

Outraged, Issa held up a piece of white paper with a giant black box of entirely redacted text on it.

“You should be ashamed of yourself,” Issa said to Weich. “It doesn’t take so long if you don’t spend your life redacting it.

“The pages go on like this forever,” he said, referencing the blackened piece of paper. “You’ve given us black paper instead of white paper. You might as well have given us a ream still in its original binder. How dare you make an opening statement of cooperation.”

It’s moments like this that will almost certainly lead Melson to join millions of other Americans looking for work. But thanks to the conduct of Holder and Weich, that’s not going to be enough. Issa now will go after the DoJ for its conduct in the investigation, because Holder and Weich have certainly acted as if they have something to hide. And the sudden desire to throw Melson under the bus seems to indicate that the White House would like to end this probe rather quickly, too. At this point, even a resignation by Weich wouldn’t slow Issa’s probe.

Jim Bagwell, a Vietnam veteran and graduate of the FBI National Academy who worked 31 years in law enforcement, writes for the Nevada Appeal: "ATF lets guns go to Mexican cartels."

“Fast and Furious” may not mean anything to you, but it should. If I told you that this was and is a program intended to deceive the public into believing something that is absolutely not true and is the product of the United States Justice Department would you believe me? You might think it was possible and maybe existed during the days of President Richard Nixon.

Well, it is current and is the product of our present President and his Justice Department. Code named “Fast and Furious” it was designed and is a program intended to allow thousands of firearms to be bought in the U.S. and illegally shipped across the southern border into Mexico. Why, you might ask? My question exactly since it looks like several of the weapons were used to murder a Justice Department employee working for the Drug Enforcement Administration in Mexico.

At present the Justice Department is refusing to present documents subpoenaed by Congress. The secret plan is out and the Justice Department is scurrying to hide the information, diffuse the political fallout, and cover a few backsides that might be vulnerable criminally.

Supposedly this was done to see how the Drug Cartels smuggled weapons and provide information on their internal structure. A secondary goal by the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms wing of the Justice Department was to bring serious discredit on the legal firearms dealers in the United States to meet the goal of new and much more restrictive firearms regulations.

It does not matter which side of the firearms and Second Amendment issue you fall on, we should all be absolutely angry and metaphorically “up in arms” that any agency of our government would be clandestinely part and parcel to the illegal export of weapons to another country that has the problems with crime and crime cartels like Mexico. These firearms were meant to go directly to these crime families. I would surmise that most of these weapons have already been used to murder many Mexican nationals.

The second issue of blaming a legal business community of firearms dealers in order to control and influence U.S. domestic policy is even more reprehensible. If you think back, it was only a few short months ago that President Obama released information that showed some 90 percent of all firearms used in the commission of crimes by these drug cartels was illegally coming from the U.S. Unfortunately those weapons he was referring to were bought and shipped by his employees. Whether he knew this program existed or not doesn't matter, he gave false information to the media and public that was a fabrication.

The biggest problem I see is that we have a Justice Department that is guilty of serious bad judgment and in this case is out of control. There is no way that a program as big as this and involving so many members of the Justice Department that the heads of the ATF and DEA and the Attorney General did not know of and give approval for the program. The cost of the guns alone had to be in the millions. I will surmise that some low level employee is being primed as you read this to throw himself on the sword to protect these influential bureaucrats.

Do you expect the “Justice” Department to act in a way that represents the values of our country? If you do, you have to be appalled at this program and the ramifications of what they have done. This is a major violation of Mexico's sovereignty and a grave disservice to the citizens of the United States.

Finally we have two Examiner columns worth checking. Dave Gibson observes that "ATF has opened-up U.S. taxpayers to huge lawsuits from Mexico."

And Dave Workman writes: "Administration apologists working ‘Fast and Furiously’ to counter revelations."


Anonymous said...

I know who's behind it all...Mike and David!!

Seriously, keep up the good work, Mike -and David (I'm sure you read here.) I would just love to see you two called. Yeah, baby!

This really looks to be shaping up to be a wild one and it's just getting started. Methinks Obummer knew allllll about it...Holder for sure and many heads of depts. Just guessing, mind you, just guessing. Wouldn't want Obummer's army of thugs breaking down my door thinking I actually knew something. ;-)

Bob Katt

Anonymous said...

And all this after they cut off their own Weiner to keep gunwalker off the front page?

What to do for an encore? I'm sure All The Felons will think of something!


Anonymous said...

"The biggest problem I see is that we have a Justice Department that is guilty of serious bad judgment......"

No, you simple ass.

They have engaged in treason and conspiracy to commit treason among the additional charges of multipule felony murders which span the border. I would go on but that would be considered stacking the charges, although it would be an accurate accounting to their activities.

But then why be upset about it? Nobody's going to spend a day in federal prison for any of it, much less hang, as we used to dispose of such persons.

And that's why the SOB's do it, because there is no penalty for successful treason, only failure to please your treasonous masters. Oh, and no job if you're not willing to betray your country, it's constitution, it's people's rights.

That pretty well sums it up for me.

Anonymous said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Follow The Money!

Somebody authorized the financing ($$ for the guns, $$ for the alleged gps tracking devices etc etc)

Rep. Issa needs to put some of his aides onto tracking down the funds used and who authorized their expenditure - that will track back to the 'approving authorities'. Case solved - now will enough congress critters join in and follow up and hold accountable those responsible parties - remains to be seen.

Throwing melson out will not be enough - or at least it certainly shouldn't be. Criminal charges against anyone?(not holding my breath)

Old Top said...

We need to hammer home the point that this was NOT a 'sting' operation aimed at Cartels; nor was it anything to do with the 'Drug War'.

It was a criminal conspiracy to
defraud both the American and Mexican people. It was intended to set up the conditions enabling a national Gun Ban and most likely confiscation. It was an ugly effort
to convince Mexicans that the US is their enemy and Americans that
the situation was out of control.

A conspiracy aided and abetted by
national media, prominent figures in politics and the press, and the usual liars and deceivers from SPLC, Brady, and the rest.

A deliberate, calculated subversion
of the Constitution, the truth, justice and their sworn oaths,and whatever honor, integrity and any proper sense of duty these morks never had.

It's sad really, to realize that the spirit of Himmler, Heydrich,
Beria, Dzerzhinsky has found a home in the USA, and is alive and well in the ATF, DoJ, IRS, DEA, et al.

Anonymous said...

"It's sad really, to realize that the spirit of Himmler, Heydrich,
Beria, Dzerzhinsky has found a home in the USA, and is alive and well in the ATF, DoJ, IRS, DEA, et al."

Close but not quite on the money. One of Obama's shaping influences was Saul Alinsky's "Rules For Radicals". Add in some political mentoring by Bill Ayres of Weather Underground and those other foreign liars would have been just iceing on the cake.