John Solomon and the Center for Public Integrity continue to disappoint. They seem congenitally predisposed to conclude that the Project Gunwalker scandal is proof that we need to give the ATF more power and authority. To that end, they even haul out our old serial perjurer friend Waco Jim Cavanaugh in this article, "Border agents unwittingly freed suspects near border with weapons from federal sting," with the subtitle, "Episode highlights lack of tools, coordination in gun trafficking fight."
Really? I would have thought it would have raised more critical questions about "Gunwalker," but then I'm not partially funded by donations from gun prohibitionists.
On Jan. 14, 2010, federal border patrol agents stopped two men driving a car through the border-crossing town of Columbus, New Mexico. Inside the vehicle was a cache of assault weapons, including AK-47s, Ruger .45-caliber handguns and pistols called “cop killers” because their ammunition can penetrate armor.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers ran the guns’ serial numbers in a nationwide database and waited. None of the eight came back flagged as stolen or suspect, so the agents let the men go — just a few short miles from the Mexican border, where gun trafficking is fueling a violent and deadly drug war.
At the time, the border guards were unaware that six of the weapons had been purchased by alleged straw buyers in a federal sting and were supposed to be monitored by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents trying to bust a major Mexican gun running ring.
The ATF had not yet flagged the weapons in a law enforcement database, and CBP wouldn’t alert its sister law enforcement agency to the traffic stop for five months, delays that would prove fateful for both agencies.
The two men in the car turned out to be Blas Gutierrez and Miguel Carrillo, who earlier this month were indicted as part of a Mexican cartel gun trafficking operation that also involved Columbus’ mayor and police chief, court records show.
And one of the Ruger pistols from the vehicle turned up at a murder scene directly across the border in Puerto Palomas, Mexico, on Feb. 8 of this year, according to court records and a lawyer for one of the defendants.
The episode — confirmed by the Center for Public Integrity through interviews, internal agency memos and court records — highlights major gaps in the U.S. war on Mexican gun and drug cartels: America’s frontline agencies aren’t always coordinated fully and often feel powerless to arrest suspected gun runners in the absence of tougher federal laws.
As a result, weapons from an ATF sting in Arizona called “Fast and Furious” unwittingly ended up in the possession of a trafficking ring in a neighboring state while other guns crossed the border and at least one showed up at a murder scene in Mexico.
Two things. First, note how what CPI reporters apparently think we need is "tougher federal laws." Uh, huh. And that would stop deliberate "walking" of firearms south of the border by the agency that is supposed to interdict them exactly how?
Second, there is the characterization of the whole Gunwalker scandal as a "sting." This not only trivializes and localizes what was surely a much broader policy that goes to the highest levels of the United States government (which is why the "Mr. Big sting" excuse was floated by ATF supervisors in the first place, as cover), but ignores important evidence and testimony already in the public record.
And of course who do they trot out for confirmation but our old serial perjurer moke, the supposedly-retired-but-apparently-still-on-the-payroll-of-ATF-public-relations, James "Waco Jim" Cavanaugh, who has the advantage over any current ATF employee of not being in a position to be caught covering up by false statements -- this time. ("Well, okay maybe there WERE guns on that helicopter but I'm sure not gonna tell you that under oath, Congressman.")
In reaction to the controversy, the Justice Department recently issued a stern warning that agents must always interdict weapons headed across the border, even if it jeopardizes a criminal prosecution. In the Columbus case, a statement from the office of the New Mexico U.S. Attorney said that “every effort was made to seize firearms from defendants to prevent them from entering into Mexico, and no weapons were knowingly permitted to cross the border.”
But such statements are harder to implement on the front lines of the gun trafficking wars, according to agents, supervisors and prosecutors. James Cavanaugh, a former ATF commander, said stemming the flow of guns to Mexico is a Herculean task given the lack of law-enforcement resources and political will.
“I don’t see how it’s realistically going to slow down if we don’t make changes in resources, laws and policies,” he said. “It’s important because people are being slaughtered.”
Why the hypocritical, bloody-handed sonofabitch! The agency management he's defending with this bullshit stand -- BY TESTIMONY OF THEIR OWN AGENTS -- with smoking guns in hand over piles of Mexican and American bodies and this puke, being one of them, decries "slaughter" and points in the opposite direction!
What is this? "Give us more power and money to abuse before we kill again"?
Senator Grassley, on the other hand, apparently has a more critical eye and has a somewhat different view of this latest factoid that the CPI melds into the "more power and authority for the ATF" meme.
Courtesy of IowaPolitics.com we have this press release:
U.S. Sen. Grassley: Presses for more answers on Operation Fast and Furious, allowing guns to "walk"
For Immediate Release Thursday, March 24, 2011
WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley continues to press the administration for answers about its policy that allowed guns to “walk” over the Mexican border. Grassley began questioning the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in January. His requests for information about the involvement of various agencies, including ATF, the Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection have been stonewalled by the administration.
Grassley is now asking Customs and Border Protection for information about reportedly stopping Blas Gutierrez and Miguel Carrillo near the Mexican border. The two were recently indicted as part of a gun trafficking operation involving the mayor of Columbus, New Mexico. Additionally, Grassley is asking about allegations that Customs and Border Protection stopped Jaime Avila, who was recently indicted as the straw purchaser of weapons found at the scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder. In both instances, Border Patrol agents allegedly found the gun runners to be in possession of multiple weapons, but let the suspects proceed for unknown reasons.
“No longer can this administration stand idly by and answer every question by saying that the Justice Department Inspector General is investigating. There is too much at stake. U.S. agents may have been killed because of a tragically ill-advised policy,” Grassley said. “The President said a serious mistake may have been made here, and that, if so, he would hold someone accountable. It is clearer every day that serious mistakes were made. Now it’s time for accountability.”
Grassley’s letter to Customs and Border Protection (March 16, 2011) made a specific request for officials knowledgeable about the agency’s involvement in Operation Fast and Furious be made available at a briefing that was already scheduled to take place with Grassley staff. Customs and Border Protection did not make officials available and there have been no attempts by the agency to schedule a subsequent briefing when officials would be available to answer the questions in Grassley’s letter. Click here to read Grassley’s latest inquiry to Customs and Border Protection.
Grassley’s letters to the administration about the policy of letting guns walk can be found on his website, Grassley.senate.gov.
The CPI will, unless I'm very much surprised, continue to run interference for the Obama administration by uncritically hitting on the memes the Gunwalkers need to succeed with the cover-up. In the end I doubt they will succeed in doing anything other than staining their own reputations. "Public Integrity" indeed.
I must say I expected better of John Solomon, given my experience with him on the Oklahoma City bombing story. But then, that did not deal with the cherished notion of citizen disarmament personally favored by so many "unbiased journalists."
LATER: Even David Hardy calls this "Predictable spin on 'Operation Gunwalker'" Also be sure to read Robert Farago's
"What the ATF Forgot to Mention in Their Press Release on the Indictments of the Men Who Supplied the Guns that Killed ICE Agent Zapata."