U.S. Justice Department Gun Sting Backfires. It is then covered-up

by Guy Adams
The Independent
June 17, 2011

America’s firearms watchdog allowed weapons to flow in, failed to catch ringleaders, then tried a cover-up.

The lethal fallout from a botched operation by the US Department of Justice which allowed almost 2,000 illegally purchased firearms to be transported from the streets of Arizona to drug gangs in Mexico has been laid bare in a scathing Congressional report, which concludes that it resulted in countless deaths.

A mixture of arrogance, over-confidence, and staggering ineptitude by the Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives [ATF] was outlined in a 51-page investigation by two Republican members of a House panel charged with getting to the bottom of what went wrong during a two-year operation called “Fast and Furious”.

It tells how, between 2009 and this year, the ATF instructed agents to turn a blind eye to hundreds of AK-47 assault rifles, sniper rifles, and revolvers purchased from gunshops in Phoenix and en route to Mexico. They hoped to eventually recover them from crime scenes and build a complex conspiracy case that might take down the leaders of a major drug cartel.

In the event, the operation resulted in the arrest of a handful of small-time crooks. But it exacerbated an already-huge spike in violence on both sides of the border. Two of the guns allowed to “walk” into the hands of criminals were used in a shoot-out that killed a US border patrol agent, Brian Terry.

The report describes his death as “a preventable tragedy”, detailing how many of the ATF agents involved in Fast and Furious began to object to what they saw as the “reckless” nature of the operation, which conflicted with all known protocol and may turn out to have been illegal. But when they raised their concerns, they faced “punishment and retaliation” from their superiors.

It also highlights the symbiotic nature of the deadly drug trade between the US and Mexico, which has resulted in approximately 38,000 deaths since 2007. Cartels make their money smuggling cocaine and cannabis north from Mexico, and simultaneously equip their private armies with assault weapons purchased thanks to America’s notoriously relaxed gun laws.

Fast and Furious revolved around so-called “straw” purchases of firearms, in which a buyer purchase military-grade hardware from a gun-store with the intention of illegally passing it to a criminal third party. ATF agents who track suspected straw purchases typically run intensive surveillance operations allowing them to arrest suspects and recover the guns. During the Fast and Furious operation they were instructed to simply let the weapons disappear.

A record was kept of their serial numbers. The idea was that this would later allow agents to link individual weapons to particular crime scenes. Somehow, this was supposed to help the ATF build up a nuanced picture of the complex structure of a major drug cartel, which would in turn lead to high-level arrests. But it wasn’t to be.

“Both line agents and gun dealers who co-operated with the ATF repeatedly expressed concerns”, about the operation, the report says. “But ATF supervisors did not heed those warnings. Instead, they told agents to follow orders because this was sanctioned from above.”

In total, agents watched at least 1,730 guns flood on to the black market, knowing they would be used to commit murders and other violent crimes. Their concerns about the policy were ignored. In one email to field staff printed in the report, ATF supervisor David Voth suggested that staff who objected to his orders would be fired.

“I will be damned if this case is going to suffer due to petty arguing, rumours, or other adolescent behavior,” he wrote. “We are all adults, we are all professionals, and we have an exciting opportunity to use the biggest tool in our law-enforcement tool box. If you don’t think this is fun, you are in the wrong line of work, period!”

John Dodson, a special agent from Phoenix who eventually blew the whistle on the “flawed” operation, told congressmen his superiors would be “giddy” with delight when “their” guns were found at a crime scene in Mexico, because they believed it “validated” their tactic. With regard to potential loss of life, an ATF boss told him: “if you are going to make an omelette, you need to scramble some eggs.”

On 14 December, disaster struck when the US border patrol guard, Brian Terry, was killed during a shootout with suspected illegal aliens on the Arizona border. His killers dropped their rifles to flee faster. Two of the weapons were AK-47s which had been intentionally allowed to walk during Fast and Furious.

Rather than admit to any mistake, the ATF embarked on a cover-up. William Newell, the special agent in charge of the operation, ordered the arrest of 20 of the people agents had been watching buy weapons for months. Then, although not one senior cartel member was arrested, he held a press conference declaring the operation a success.

Newell was then asked if any weapons had been deliberately allowed to end up in the hands of criminals. He replied, “Hell no!” The report describes that statement as untrue and “shocking.” It alleges that the Department of Justice continued to attempt a cover-up for several months.

The fallout from the report’s publication remains to be seen. It was written by two Republican congressmen, Darryl Issa and Charles Grassley. Some right-wing commentators have suggested that Fast and Furious was sanctioned by the Obama administration in an effort to justify tightening US gun laws. But the White House has said it had no direct knowledge of the operation.

Mexican President: Disarm Everyone. Obama Nods Yes

Infowars.com

Mexican President Felipe Calderón called upon the United States Congress to re-enact the assault weapons ban in a bid to disarm the American people as they are integrated into theNorth American Union system. Further, he placed blame for fueling drug cartels and gang violence squarely on the United States and their supply of firearms.

Calderón made these outrageous and anti-American remarks from the floor of the U.S. Congress during an official visit, and also renewed attacks on the immigration legislation passed by Arizona.

President Obama joined in his cause, making the startling declaration that “We are not defined by our borders” during a press conference welcoming Calderón on the White House lawn. Such a statement with immigration AND “weapons” problems on the border? Whatever happened to the Robert Frost adage ‘Good fences make good neighbors‘?

Calderón told the United States that it must “regulate the sale of these weapons in the right way.” He continued:

“Many of these guns are not going to honest American hands. Instead, thousands are ending up in the hands of criminals.”

Calderón’s Call to Disarmament is particularly inappropriate before Congress, who are Constitutionally barred from making any law which would violate any part of the Bill of Rights– secured to the people and several states in balance against the power given to the Federal Government. Further, Calderón’s plan holds the same fallacy as other attempts at gun control. If carried out, banning “assault” weapons would empower– rather than restrict– narcotrafficking gangs and leave “good” people helpless. It would not, as he naively intends, curb cartel violence or dry out the tools of their intimidation.

Yet his proposals have long been advanced and supported by the likes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, among others. President Obama voiced general support for a renewed ban last year, but acknowledged that it would be difficult to achieve politically. Moreover, Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder has also expressed support for re-enacting a gun ban, but has shied away from it while the White House has kept it quiet purposely to avoid political damage to other parts of President Obama’s already wildly-radical agenda. Last year, Newsweek scolded Eric Holder for “backing away” from the ban issue and failing to support an issue ‘important to Mexican officials.’

A MESSAGE FOR ARIZONA

President Calderón also used the opportunity to amplify his criticism of Arizona’s immigration laws, a position which is hypocritical on several points. First, why would he have a voice among Mexican people who fled at all costs from the failing and violent narco-state which he heads? Furthermore, how can the Mexican President decry the efforts of Arizona to control its borders and maintain stability, when Mexico has considerably more severe laws against illegal immigration than that recently introduced by the under-pressure border state.

Though Calderón issued a tongue-in-cheek travel advisory to ‘visiting’ Mexican citizens warning them to be wary of the strict new attitude in Arizona, it is his own country which has grown wild with corruption, violence, drug cartels, authoritarian police and the unsustainable blow of mass exodus which has turned Mexico into a vacuum and failed state. While the United States has attempted to progress on issues of discrimination, Mexico continues to openly oppress its minority groups and stifle attempts at resistance. Despite this distinction, many sanctuary cities across the United States have joined with Calderón and proposed bans on Arizona of their own.

‘SOUTHBOUND FLOW OF ILLEGAL WEAPONS’ ISSUE RAISED TO PROMOTE NORTH AMERICAN INTEGRATION

Most of all, the two heads of state, Calderón and Obama, have demonstrated a reckless and uncaring attitude towards curbing illegal immigration– which threatens to wreck both countries. Yet they have pushed hard for amnesty and other provisions to legalize workers and prevented any attempts to impede the open flow of goods and people across the border.

They have both worked furiously to fast-track North American regional integration. They met in Guadalajara in August 2009alongside Canadian PM Stephen Harper to continue– largely in secret — the agenda announced under the Bush-era Security and Prosperity Partnership for North America agreement (talks included the hot-button issue of “illegal southbound flow of American guns and cash that helps fuel this extraordinary violence”).

President Obama– for someone who claimed ignorance about the North American Union during his 2008 campaign [video]– certainly has gone a long way in supporting the total destruction of United States sovereignty, all while embracing cheap globalist clichés, obliterating the economy and opening-up the floodgates to labor replacement from Mexico and other Latin American countries.

Politicians– through NAFTA, WTO, CAFTA and SPP agreements, among others– are ushering in a corporatist-controlled North American Union, alongside a longer-term global merger. Robert Pastor and other key architects from the Council on Foreign Relations clearly designed the North American Union to circumvent the confines of the U.S. Constitution, and such a system is unlikely (once in power) to allow or accept the resistance of an armed population.

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