Free Markets, Free People

Guns and Gun Rights

“Fast and Furious”: the other shoe drops (update)

Remember early on when the controversial and failed ATF/DoJ operation “Fast and Furious” came to light where the ATF bought guns and allowed them to be smuggled into Mexico, there was conjecture this was to be used as a means to demand more gun control?


CBS has uncovered some emails where it become pretty clear what the ATF’s intent was during the operation:

On July 14, 2010 after ATF headquarters in Washington D.C. received an update on Fast and Furious, ATF Field Ops Assistant Director Mark Chait emailed Bill Newell, ATF’s Phoenix Special Agent in Charge of Fast and Furious:

"Bill – can you see if these guns were all purchased from the same (licensed gun dealer) and at one time. We are looking at anecdotal cases to support a demand letter on long gun multiple sales. Thanks."

Followed by:

On Jan. 4, 2011, as ATF prepared a press conference to announce arrests in Fast and Furious, Newell saw it as "(A)nother time to address Multiple Sale on Long Guns issue." And a day after the press conference, Chait emailed Newell: "Bill–well done yesterday… (I)n light of our request for Demand letter 3, this case could be a strong supporting factor if we can determine how many multiple sales of long guns occurred during the course of this case."

But here’s the problem for the ATF – those multiple purchases demonstrated nothing but cooperation with them as requested by them.  The gun dealers involved only did what they did at the request of the ATF and even then they were (as it turns out, properly) even  concerned about that:

In April, 2010 a licensed gun dealer cooperating with ATF was increasingly concerned about selling so many guns. "We just want to make sure we are cooperating with ATF and that we are not viewed as selling to the bad guys," writes the gun dealer to ATF Phoenix officials, "(W)e were hoping to put together something like a letter of understanding to alleviate concerns of some type of recourse against us down the road for selling these items."

ATF’s group supervisor on Fast and Furious David Voth assures the gun dealer there’s nothing to worry about. "We (ATF) are continually monitoring these suspects using a variety of investigative techniques which I cannot go into detail."

Two months later, the same gun dealer grew more agitated.

"I wanted to make sure that none of the firearms that were sold per our conversation with you and various ATF agents could or would ever end up south of the border or in the hands of the bad guys. I guess I am looking for a bit of reassurance that the guns are not getting south or in the wrong hands…I want to help ATF with its investigation but not at the risk of agents (sic) safety because I have some very close friends that are US Border Patrol agents in southern AZ as well as my concern for all the agents (sic) safety that protect our country."

Obviously the gun dealer had more concern for the life of the agents than did the ATF.  But this was all an apparent ploy to advance more sweeping gun control in the area:

Two earlier Demand Letters were initiated in 2000 and affected a relatively small number of gun shops. Demand Letter 3 was to be much more sweeping, affecting 8,500 firearms dealers in four southwest border states: Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. ATF chose those states because they "have a significant number of crime guns traced back to them from Mexico." The reporting requirements were to apply if a gun dealer sells two or more long guns to a single person within five business days, and only if the guns are semi-automatic, greater than .22 caliber and can be fitted with a detachable magazine.

On April 25, 2011, ATF announced plans to implement Demand Letter 3. The National Shooting Sports Foundation is suing the ATF to stop the new rules. It calls the regulation an illegal attempt to enforce a law Congress never passed. ATF counters that it has reasonably targeted guns used most often to "commit violent crimes in Mexico, especially by drug gangs."

It’s one thing to want to “reasonably target guns” used to commit crimes in Mexico legitimately, and another to use the results of cooperation with an ATF operation, not matter how ill begotten, as a basis for targeting gun sales:

Larry Keane, a spokesman for National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun industry trade group, calls the discussion of Fast and Furious to argue for Demand Letter 3 "disappointing and ironic." Keane says it’s "deeply troubling" if sales made by gun dealers "voluntarily cooperating with ATF’s flawed ‘Operation Fast & Furious’ were going to be used by some individuals within ATF to justify imposing a multiple sales reporting requirement for rifles."

Just another version of government creating a problem and then rushing in to fix it with more government control.  A sort of “create a crisis and then don’t let it go to waste” if you will.  The dishonesty and cynicism is appalling.    Rep. Darrell Issa, whose Congressional committed has been investigating this operation said very pointedly about this evidence:

"In light of the evidence, the Justice Department’s refusal to answer questions about the role Operation Fast and Furious was supposed to play in advancing new firearms regulations is simply unacceptable," Rep. Issa told CBS News.

This sort of behavior is, as noted, unacceptable, but, unfortunately, more and more frequent.  Government becomes less and less of a servant of the people and more and more their master.   Operations like this remind one of the legal veneer authoritarian governments use to gradually oppress their people.

Eric Holder and all those who planned and executed this travesty should be given their walking papers.  It would be a welcome change to see them actually held accountable for their unacceptable behavior.

Yeah, that’s going to happen.  We’re talking government here.

UPDATE: The Committee on Oversight and Reform has launched a website to cover the Fast and Furious investigation.


Twitter: @McQandO

Wheels come off the campaign to ban handguns

For years there’s been a concerted effort to get handguns banned in the US (not to mention the best efforts of the DoJ with “Fast and Furious” to aid that effort).  And war of words has been fierce, the propaganda unrelenting and the hope eternal that the effort would succeed.

Well, it looks like the American people have looked at both sides of the argument and decided, at least for now, that those wishing to ban handguns have no case:

A record-low 26% of Americans favor a legal ban on the possession of handguns in the United States other than by police and other authorized people. When Gallup first asked Americans this question in 1959, 60% favored banning handguns. But since 1975, the majority of Americans have opposed such a measure, with opposition around 70% in recent years.

And there’s more:

For the first time, Gallup finds greater opposition to than support for a ban on semiautomatic guns or assault rifles, 53% to 43%. In the initial asking of this question in 1996, the numbers were nearly reversed, with 57% for and 42% against an assault rifle ban. Congress passed such a ban in 1994, but the law expired when Congress did not act to renew it in 2004. Around the time the law expired, Americans were about evenly divided in their views.

Why? Because, I think, concealed carry laws haven’t brought the mayhem that the advocates claimed they would.  In fact, quite the opposite.  And its always nice for the bad guys who may be thinking about taking you on for whatever evil reason to have to guess.  Deterrence is the best form of self-defense.

Secondly, it may sound trite, but people have accepted the cliché “guns don’t kill people, people do” as a truth.  It isn’t the tool that’s the problem, it’s the person using the tool.

Finally, I also believe most Americans have finally realized that self-protection and self-defense are inherent responsibilities they must discharge and can’t outsource to government.  The best tool for that, ye olde equalizer, is a hand gun responsibly used.

And then, of course there’s that pesky Constitutional amendment and all.

My guess is that the dream of gun confiscation is pretty much a dead issue for right now.  Obviously that doesn’t mean it won’t again arise or, like health care, a certain party won’t simply ram something through Congress if they ever get the chance again.  But according to this poll, American’s don’t support it now and most likely wouldn’t support it if that was tried.


Twitter: @McQandO

Mexican officials learned of “Gunwalker” from news reports

How about setting up an operation that allows illegal guns to be “walked” into another sovereign nation – a friendly nation — and see them tied to hundreds of murders.  If you were that friendly nation, and had to find out about this violation of your sovereignty via the news media, would you be happy?

Of course not.  And neither is Mexico.  The entire “Gunwalker” fiasco was done without consulting Mexico a single time. Marisela Morales, Mexico’s Attorney General, is understandably unhappy about that.

Marisela Morales, Mexico’s attorney general and a longtime favorite of American law enforcement agents in Mexico, told The Times that she first learned about Fast and Furious from news reports. And to this day, she said, U.S. officials have not briefed her on the operation gone awry, nor have they apologized.

"At no time did we know or were we made aware that there might have been arms trafficking permitted," Morales, Mexico’s highest-ranking law enforcement official, said in a recent interview. "In no way would we have allowed it, because it is an attack on the safety of Mexicans."

Morales said she did not want to draw conclusions before the outcome of U.S. investigations, but that deliberately letting weapons "walk" into Mexico — with the intention of tracing the guns to drug cartels — would represent a "betrayal" of a country enduring a drug war that has killed more than 40,000 people. U.S. agents lost track of hundreds of weapons under the program.

How could they apologize, Ms. Morales – according to them, none of the top guys knew this was even going on (/sarc).

But the point is clear – this is either the most inept operation ever conceived and executed, or there’s some other ulterior motive to be assigned.  Or perhaps both.  Things like this unwillingness to notify Mexico or bring them in on the operation tend to have one consider that there might have been an alternate agenda, even if one isn’t inclined to be very open to conspiracy theories.

Anyway, back to Mexico:

Atty. Gen. Morales said it was not until January that the Mexican government was told of the existence of an undercover program that turned out to be Fast and Furious. At the time, Morales said, Mexico was not provided details.

U.S. officials gave their Mexican counterparts access to information involving a group of 20 suspects arrested in Arizona. These arrests would lead to the only indictment to emerge from Fast and Furious.

"It was then that we learned of that case, of the arms trafficking," Morales told The Times. "They haven’t admitted to us that there might have been permitted trafficking. Until now, they continue denying it to us."

Mexico is the beneficiary of the Obama open hand approach to foreign policy – a slap in the face.  And that famous transparency is evident as well.

Shoe on the other foot time.  How do you suppose we would react if Mexico did the same sort of thing to us?  Any inkling of what would be going on now if they were letting guns walk into the US and then finding them at murder scenes?

Yeah, no arrogance to be found here.

In June, Canino, the ATF attache, was finally allowed to say something to Atty. Gen. Morales about the weapons used by Mario Gonzalez’s captors, thought to be members of the powerful Sinaloa cartel.

"I wanted her to find out from me, because she is an ally of the U.S. government," he testified.

Canino later told congressional investigators that Morales was shocked.

"Hijole!" he recalled her saying, an expression that roughly means, "Oh no!"

Canino testified that Fast and Furious guns showed up at nearly 200 crime scenes.

Mexican Congressman Humberto Benitez Trevino, who heads the justice committee in the Chamber of Deputies, said the number of people killed or wounded by the weapons had probably doubled to 300 since March, when he said confidential information held by Mexican security authorities put the figure at 150. The higher number, he said, was his own estimate.

A former attorney general, Benitez labeled the operation a "failure," but said it did not spell a collapse of the two nations’ shared fight against organized crime groups.

"It was a bad business that got out of hand," he said in an interview.

Many Mexican politicians responded angrily when the existence of the program became known in March, with several saying it amounted to a breach of Mexican sovereignty. But much of that anger has subsided, possibly in the interest of not aggravating the bilateral relationship. For Mexico, the U.S. gun problem goes far beyond the Fast and Furious program. Of weapons used in crimes and traced, more than 75% come from the U.S.

"Yes, it was bad and wrong, and you have to ask yourself, what were they thinking?" a senior official in Calderon’s administration said, referring to Fast and Furious. "But, given the river of weapons that flows into Mexico from the U.S., do a few more make a big difference?"

Still, Mexican leaders are under pressure to answer questions from their citizens, with very little to go on.

"The evidence is over there [north of the border]," Morales said. "I can’t put a pistol to their heads and say, ‘Now give it to me or else.’ I can’t."

You have to love the pistol analogy, given the circumstances, don’t you?

The official reason for not notifying Mexico that the US had decided to violate its sovereignty with this operation was ostensibly fear of corruption and that the details of the operation would be leaked to the drug cartels.   OK, understood, but still it doesn’t excuse what we wouldn’t tolerate if the tables were turned.   You either have a cooperative working relationship with law enforcement officials in Mexico (including all the attendant risks that entails) or you don’t.  You can’t selectively choose when and when not to share information if you expect to maintain a reciprocal and meaningful relationship.

This operation has obviously done more than put guns at the scene of 200 Mexican crime scenes.  It has damaged relations with a close and friendly neighboring state. 



Twitter: @McQandO

Third “Gunwalker” weapon evidence withheld by FBI?

More developments in the fiasco that is known as Operation Fast and Furious.

There appears to have been a third “Gunwalker” weapon at the murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry which hasn’t been in evidence, suggesting it has been withheld.  Audio recordings reveal the mention of a third gun that until now has been unknown.  The conversation is between ATF Agent Hope MacAllister and Glendale, AZ gun shop owner Andre Howard:

Agent: Well there was two.

Dealer: There’s three weapons.

Agent: There’s three weapons.

Dealer: I know that.

Agent: And yes, there’s serial numbers for all three.

Dealer: That’s correct.

Agent: Two of them came from this store.

Dealer: I understand that.

Agent: There’s an SKS that I don’t think came from…. Dallas or Texas or something like that.

Dealer: I know. talking about the AK’s

Agent: The two AK’s came from this store.

Dealer: I know that.

Agent: Ok.

Dealer: I did the Goddamned trace

Agent: Third weapon is the SKS has nothing to do with it.

Dealer: That didn’t come from me.

Agent: No and there is that’s my knowledge. and I spoke to someone who would know those are the only ones they have. So this is the agent who’s working the case, all I can go by is what she told me.

The tapes are several months old (mid March, 2011):

Law enforcement sources and others close to the Congressional investigation say the Justice Department’s Inspector General obtained the audio tapes several months ago as part of its investigation into Fast and Furious.

Then, the sources say for some reason the Inspector General passed the tapes along to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona: a subject in the investigation. It’s unclear why the Inspector General, who is supposed to investigate independently, would turn over evidence to an entity that is itself under investigation.

A spokesman from the Office of the Inspector General today said, "The OIG officially provided the United States Attorney’s Office with a copy of the recordings in question so that the USAO could consider them in connection with the government’s disclosure obligations in the pending criminal prosecutions of the gun traffickers. Prior to receiving the tapes, the OIG made clear that we would have to provide a copy of the recordings to the United States Attorney’s Office because they would need to review them to satisfy any legal disclosure obligations."

Uh, yeah.  And why has it taken this long for copies to be provided elsewhere?


Court records have previously only mentioned two weapons: Romanian WASR "AK-47 type" assault rifles. Both were allegedly sold to suspects who were under ATF’s watch as part of Fast and Furious.

Per the agent in the transcript, the third weapon (SKS) came from “Dallas or Texas or something like that” and they had serial numbers for all three.

Why are we just finding out about the third weapon at the scene?


Twitter: @McQandO

More Fast and Furious revelations

Business Insider has the details.   As the probe widens, more and more of the botched and frankly stupid operation becomes known:

The WSJ reports today that federal authorities are now investigating why the U.S. Attorney’s office in Phoenix — the same office that oversaw Fast and Furious — released Jean Baptiste Kingery after he confessed to providing military-style weapons to the now-defunct La Familia Michoacana drug cartel.

Kingery, who was arrested and released in June 2010, confessed to manufacturing improvised explosive devices (IEDs) using grenade components from the U.S. He also admitted to helping the cartel convert semi-automatic rifles into machine guns.

Mexican criminal organizations are increasingly using these military-style weapons as the cartels’ escalate their wars against the government and one another.

Despite Kingery’s confession, and over loud protestations from the arresting ATF officers, the U.S. Attorney’s office let Kingery go within hours of his arrest.

This has led the Phoenix U.S. Attorney’s office to attempt to push back:

The Phoenix U.S. Attorney’s office denies that it declined to prosecute the case, saying that it wanted to continue surveillance. The office alternatively told investigators that ATF agents wanted to make Kingery an informant, but lost contact with him within weeks of his release.

Prosecutors involved in the case also accuse ATF agents of devising a failed sting that allowed Kingery to take hundreds of grenade parts across the border in the months about six months prior to his arrest.

Kingery had been hauled in by ATF agents and confronted with the evidence and the U.S. Attorney’s office thinks he’s going to go back to work and it’ll be business as usual?  Really?  I guess they figured out that wasn’t the case when they “lost contact with him within weeks of his release”.

Botched?  That’s being kind.  And notice too the attempt to distract by the U.S. Attorney with the “failed sting”.  It seems to me if that’s the case and six months later the agents had the goods on Kingery, it was probably a good arrest at that point.  But apparently the U.S. Attorney there knows better, huh?

This is Clown College stuff.  How badly can an organization screw up an operation that was absolutely stupid to begin with?   Obviously worse than we thought.  The level of stupidity, incompetence and outright dumb decisions wrapped up in this case are staggering.   It was a dumb idea to begin with and it was compounded with incompetence, poor execution and it inevitably ended up killing a US agent and untold Mexicans.

The question is, who at what level knew about this in the administration.  There are those who believe Eric Holder is certainly knew and there’s speculation that the man in the White House may have known and condoned the operation as well.

The Fast and the Furious case has escalated over the past weeks, with news that at least three White House national security officials knew about the gunrunning program.

Emails obtained by the Committee last week show contact between the head of the Phoenix ATF and Kevin O’Reilly, then-director of North American affairs, about the operation. The White House confirmed that O’Reilly briefed Dan Restrepo, senior director for the Western Hemisphere, and Greg Gatjanis, director of counterterrorism and narcotics.

The emails, first reported by the LA Times, do not indicate that the White House aides knew about the more controversial tactics of letting the guns "walk." There is also no indication that the information went beyond those three officials.

Yeah, that sort of stuff never makes it into security briefings for the President, does it?

And you can already see the attempt to limit the damage if it is finally proven the President was aware of the operation (and tacitly approved it) with the line that says the White House security aides didn’t know “about the more controversial tactics of letting the guns “walk.””   That was sort of the whole point of the operation, wasn’t it?

Lots of interesting revelations yet to come methinks.  Whether or not the press will cover it in any depth remains to be seen, but in my estimation, this is a large enough scandal that at least Eric Holder’s job ought to be in jeopardy.


Twitter: @McQandO

Fast and Furious linked to 12 more violent crime scenes in Mexico


This just gets deeper and wider:

Just hours after the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, federal officials tried to cover up evidence that the gun that killed Terry was one the government intentionally helped sell to the Mexican cartels in a weapons trafficking program known as Operation Fast and Furious.

The revelation comes just days after a huge shake-up of government officials who oversaw the failed anti-gun trafficking program and Congress renewed its demand for more answers.

Also late Thursday, Sen. Charles Grassley’s office revealed that 31 more Fast and Furious guns have been found at 12 violent crime scenes in Mexico.

Additionally, as mentioned, evidence of a cover up has been found:

In an internal email the day after Terry’s murder, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Emory Hurley and then-U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke decided not to disclose the connection, saying "this way we do not divulge our current case (Fast and Furious) or the Border Patrol shooting case."

Nice.  Wonderful.  Your “transparent” government at work.

And as the investigation continues, more and more evidence of both criminality (cover-up) and incompetence becomes apparent at echelons far above the agent level:

Grassley, R-Iowa, and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said Thursday they are expanding their investigation into the scandal. In a strongly worded letter to Anne Scheel, the new U.S. attorney for Arizona, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee requested interviews, emails, memos and even hand-written notes from members of the U.S. attorney’s office that played key roles in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) program.

“The level of involvement of the United States Attorney’s Office … in the genesis and implementation of this case is striking,” wrote Issa and Grassley.

It is also trying to be denied by the DoJ which has been less than cooperative in the Congressional investigation into the operation:

“The Justice Department has been less than forthcoming since day one, so the revisions here are hardly surprising, and the numbers will likely rise until the more than 1,000 guns that were allowed to fall into the hands of bad guys are recovered — most likely years down the road," Grassley said in a statement released Thursday.

"What we’re still waiting for are the answers to the other questions the Attorney General failed to answer per our agreement. The cooperation of the Attorney General and his staff is needed if we’re ever going to get to the bottom of this disastrous policy and help the ATF and the department move forward.”

And, my guess is, given who runs the DoJ (and who the head of that department works for) they’ll be waiting for some time.

I think it past time that the mantra of “hope and change” be given a reality check and renamed what it has become over the past 3 years  — “smoke and mirrors”.   The promise to change politics as we knew it, to provide transparency and to be a transformative administration have all failed to the point that whatever attempt was actually made to accomplish those campaign goals (if there ever were any) have utterly and completely failed to emerge, much less overwhelm the supposed bureaucratic ossification and politics of Washington.

This administration is simply another in a long line of administrations that has failed to live up to its hype and promises.  It is utterly and completely, even mundanely, just another old fashioned political promise machine which has no way to materialize what it has promised.

Smoke and mirrors, my friends, smoke and mirrors.


Twitter: @McQandO

“Fast and Furious” – “The perfect storm of idiocy”

The Washington Times, one of the few media outlets covering this story, tells us:

The Obama administration sought to intimidate witnesses into not testifying to Congress on Tuesday about whether ATF knowingly allowed weapons, including assault rifles, to be “walked” into Mexico, the chairman of a House committee investigating the program said in an interview Monday.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, said at least two scheduled witnesses expected to be asked about a controversial weapons investigation known as “Fast and Furious”received warning letters from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to limit their testimony.

Good grief … I can only imagine the reaction of the NY Times and Washington Post if this had been a mere 4 years ago.  But I state the obvious.  Intimidating witnesses?  Is this the “hope and change” we were all promised? 

Revelations like that have caused this story to stink so badly, that even a reluctant media is finally beginning to turn their attention to the hearings.

Here’s CBS with a piece about the controversy and  what one of the scheduled witnesses today will be telling the committee:

In advance of a hearing later today, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released a report containing new testimony and allegations in the ATF gunwalker case. According to the report, Carlos Canino, Acting ATF Attache in Mexico, calls the strategy his agency employed: "The perfect storm of idiocy."

"We armed the [Sinaloa] cartel," Canino told investigators. "It is disgusting." Canino will be a key witness at the hearing.

[Joint Committee report: Operation Fast and Furious: Fueling Cartel Violence (pdf)]

But it’s not just the Sinaloa cartel. Documents obtained by Congressional investigators show weapons – sold under ATF’s watch in Operation Fast and Furious out of the Phoenix office – have been used by at least three Mexican drug cartels: Sinaloa, El Teo and La Familia.

In other words, Congressional investigators say the very agency charged with preventing weapons from falling into the hands of violent cartels south of the border … instead facilitated it.

Doh!  You can read the report at the link in the cite.  Issa also had some strong words for AG Eric Holder:

“How is it that the No. 2, 3, 4 at Justice all knew about this program, but the No. 1 didn’t?,” Mr. Issa said. “Is it because he said ‘don’t tell me’? Is it because they knew what they were doing is wrong, and they were protecting their boss? Or is it that Eric Holder is just so disconnected … ?

“Whichever it is — he knew and he’s lied to Congress, or he didn’t know, and he’s so detached that he wasn’t doing his job — that really probably is for the administration to make a decision on, sooner not later,” Mr. Issa said.

Just another case of how ill-served we are with this clown as our chief law enforcement officer.   He’s either a liar or clueless.  Great choices, no?  Hopefully this story will gain enough visibility that we’ll see Obama come out and tell the White House press corps that he has “full faith” in Eric and is “behind him 100%”.  That of course means that within a week or two Holder would announce he was resigning from the AG’s office to “spend more time with my family”.

Frankly, we’d be better off with the office vacant than with this bunch in there.


Twitter: @McQandO

What is the political bursting radius of “Operation Fast and Furious”?

Right now it seems that the Mexican/ATF gun running scheme has blown up in the face of the administration and, unless the media tries to ignore it, has the potential of being a very damaging scandal.  The NY Post gives a good summary:

The ATF’s acting director, Kenneth Melson, has been singing like a canary to congressional investigators as he pushes back against administration pressure for him to resign and take the fall for something that, at the very least, had to include the US Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and possibly the Homeland Security Department.

In a letter to Holder released yesterday, Rep. Daryl Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley accused the Justice Department of blocking their investigation into the burgeoning scandal (which has resulted in the deaths of at least two American agents and countless Mexican civilians), muzzling the ATF and involving other federal agencies, including the FBI and the DEA, in funding the crackpot scheme.

"The evidence we have gathered raises the disturbing possibility that the Justice Department not only allowed criminals to smuggle weapons, but that taxpayer dollars from other agencies may have financed those engaging in such activities," they wrote.

"It is one thing to argue that the ends justify the means in an attempt to defend a policy that puts building a big case ahead of stopping known criminals from getting guns. Yet it is a much more serious matter to conceal from Congress the possible involvement of other agencies in identifying and maybe even working with the same criminals that Operation Fast and Furious was trying to identify."

That’s the key to this mess — and the reason that Operation Fast and Furious might turn out to be the biggest Washington scandal since Iran-Contra.

If all of this is true, then yes, it should be.  Melson had been prohibited by AG Eric Holder from appearing before Congress in his official capacity.  But Holder can’t prohibit private citizen Melson from appearing and that’s how Melson is appearing.  He obviously knows a bad op when he sees one and is refusing to be the fall guy.

The ostensible purpose of “Fast and Furious” was to identify the “higher ups” in the Mexican gun trafficking circles.  But here’s the problem:

As Issa and Grassley note in their letter, had the other agencies shared information — theoretically the goal of the post-9/11 revamp of the intelligence and law-enforcement agencies — "then ATF might have known that gun trafficking ‘higher-ups’ had already been identified."

In fact, inter-agency coordination – something the 9/11 reorganization was supposed to fix – should have revealed those names the ATF sought.  So if that isn’t really the reason for the operation, what is?

Well that’s where the speculation occurs, and the administration doesn’t help itself by stonewalling Congress. 

Melson testified behind closed doors on July 4, but the country needs to hear him speak — loudly and publicly. "Let me be clear," Issa wrote to Melson in April, "we are not conducting a concurrent investigation with the Department of Justice, but rather an independent investigation of the Department of Justice."

So what’s the purpose of the operation then?  If the higher-ups were already known, what is the possible reason for doing this?  Then NY Post throws out a possibility:

Law-abiding gun owners and dealers think they already know. With the Obama administration wedded to the fiction that 90 percent of the guns Mexican cartels use originate here — they don’t — many suspect that "Fast and Furious" was a backdoor attempt to smear domestic gun aficionados as part of its stealth efforts on gun control by executive fiat.

"I just want you to know that we’re working on it," Obama was quoted as saying to gun-control advocate Sarah Brady in March. "We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar."

Unfortunately for the administration, this one’s out in the open now.

Now you may be saying, come on, isn’t that a little far fetched?  Not really.  This is an administration that talks out of both sides of their mouth so anything they’ve said in the past supporting gun rights has to be taken with a grain of salt.  And, you have to remember this is an administration that comes from the Chicago tradition of politics.   So combined with the DoJ stonewalling and refusal to turn over documents to Congress (you know, the “transparent administration), one has to suspect there may be some fire causing the smoke.

As Greyhawk says:

Maybe there’s a better answer – but I haven’t heard it yet. I can understand something like passing traceable funds/"marked bills" to suspects to help expose networks, and even temporarily allowing those suspects freedom of movement to facilitate that. But this – the transfer of weapons – is another matter entirely. Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence is an axiom especially true of government work, but in this case it’s hard to imagine someone that incompetent. That’s obviously a factor, along with stupidity, ignorance, hubris and a host of other character flaws Americans can only tolerate to a certain extent in government officials (a vague line well crossed here) – but even all of those flaws combined fail to describe motive.

It think his point is well taken.  At the moment, it is the most plausible explanation given the facts we have.   With the fact that the names were known within the law enforcement community, it is up to the administration to explain why doing such a stupid thing.  And as Greyhawk mentions, it is hard just to write this off to incompetence, unless you believe in total incompetence and, in fact, stupidity, all up and down the line of those who would have to approve an operation like that.

So it’s up to the administration to explain this fiasco.  The “plausible” explanation is out there.  And right now it is as good an explanation as any.  If that’s the case, as Confederate Yankee explains, the consequences could be dire:

If it is confirmed that the worst suspicions are true—that the Obama Administration supplied weapons to narco-terrorists, in order to undermine U.S gun laws—there will not be a stonewall big enough for them to hide behind, and both impeachment and jail time must not be just possible, but probable for those involved. They are, after all, accessories before the fact who aided and abetted the murders of two U.S. federal agents, and an estimated 150 law enforcement officers and soldiers, and an unknown number of civilians, in Mexico.

We’ll see what the administration can come forward with a better one, but I think this scandal has the potential to really shake up this bunch and expose the DoJ for the travesty it has become.


Twitter: @McQandO

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The “gun mandate”–any crazier than the “individual mandate” for health insurance?


A bill has been introduced in the South Dakota legislature that would require any adult over 21 to buy a gun “sufficient to provide for their ordinary self-defense.”

The hook – the purpose of the bill is to demonstrate that government shouldn’t be requiring anyone to buy health insurance.  Really.  Or so say the sponsors:

“Do I or the other cosponsors believe that the State of South Dakota can require citizens to buy firearms? Of course not. But at the same time, we do not believe the federal government can order every citizen to buy health insurance,” he said.

So now our liberal friends are free to tell us why requiring all the citizens of a state to buy a gun is bad and different than telling all citizens of the United States they have to buy health insurance.  If they believe in the power of the Commerce Clause to require citizens buy what the government demands they buy,  why not a gun?


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McCarthy – "no reason that these devices should be available to general public."

One of the reasons I repeat over and over again that "freedom is choice" is to give context to stories like the one that follows and to give the reader an idea of why I am usually against anything that limits choice.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s (D-NY) bill would limit the magazine capacity for pistols. It is another "freedom traded for security" bill which limits choice simply because it makes some people uncomfortable for that choice to be available to you. They simply don’t believe you’re responsible enough to have it.

Here’s what she said:

“The only purpose for the existence of these devices is to be able to shoot as many people as possible as quickly as possible,” McCarthy wrote in a letter to her colleagues that accompanied the bill. “There is no reason that these devices should be available to the general public.”

For the sake of argument, let’s stipulate that’s true. That the only reason these high capacity magazines exist is to "shoot as many people as possible as quickly as possible". So what? As with most anything it can be used for a good purpose (defense) as well as a bad purpose (murder – in this case, mass murder). So on its face, shooting "as many people as possible as quickly as possible" can be a good or bad thing depending on the situation. McCarthy would like you to believe such a ban would only effect the "bad thing". Obviously, that’s not true.

But, that’s not the line I object too the most. I find "there is no reason that these devices should be available to the general public” to be something that should send chills down the spine of anyone who is concerned with growing government oppression.

Why? It’s an attitude that has gotten us in the shape we’re in today. What she is asking is for like minded legislators to agree with her premise that government should decide what the public can and can’t use responsibly.

Never mind that shoot-ups in Safeway parking lots involving members of Congress by deranged lunatics are as rare as hen’s teeth, Ms. McCarthy has decided that there is "no reason these devices should be available to the general public". She claims that should be government’s decision/choice – not yours.  This latest situation provides an excuse to attempt this power grab, not  a real reason.

So to you who’ve owned that Browning High Power for 20 years and have the original 13 round mag – she would make you a criminal upon passage of the bill (it would eliminate the exception for mags manufactured before ’94). If anyone finds out you have one and turns you in, you’re up for 10 years in the pokey.  The fact that you’ve responsibly had and used it for over 20 years means zip (although it does demonstrate the bankruptcy of her argument).

McCarthy’s reason for attempting to do this is personal:

Gun control is a personal matter for McCarthy, whose husband was murdered and son seriously injured in 1993, when a disturbed gunman opened fire on a Long Island commuter train. Like the alleged Arizona shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, the gunman who killed McCarthy’s husband also used a high-capacity magazine.

I’m sorry to hear that. However, it was the deranged killer that murdered her husband, not the high-capacity magazine. I’d love to hear the argument that says a deranged killer would have stopped firing after one 10 round mag if we’d just eliminate access to mags with capacity above that. Of course that’s nonsense. And changing a mag in a hand gun, with even minimal practice, is both quick and easy. It would be done before most realized it was happening.

As I’ve said many times, a free society is a messy society which entails risk. That is the price of freedom. But it also buys many more advantages than disadvantages. An authoritarian society is usually a tidy society with full jails and no choices in life. We’ve seen what they’re like.

Attitudes that say "we’ll decide what you can or can’t have or what should or shouldn’t be available to you" don’t belong in Congress or a free society. Not their job, although unfortunately that seems to be what it has devolved into.

We increasingly see government take more and more choice away from us. The attitude McCarthy enunciates isn’t uncommon at all. In fact it is quite common and reveals itself in much of the legislation that passes through Congress these days.

It is an attitude which we should demand be changed and changed quickly. Reducing choice and making otherwise law abiding citizens criminals with the stroke of a pen won’t change a thing in regards to deranged lunatics shooting up places with or without high-capacity mags. McCarthy’s bill isn’t about high-capacity mags, really – its about control, and not just gun control. And, as with most laws like this, it will only effect the law abiding as criminals and "deranged lunatics" will flat ignore it (and a thriving black market in high-capacity mag will establish itself and thrive).

“The United States Constitution guarantees to our citizens the right to keep and bear arms,” McCarthy wrote in a letter to her colleagues that accompanied the bill. “At the same time that we can all acknowledge this basic right, I believe that we should also be able to come together to develop reasonable laws designed to ensure that the right to bear arms is exercised safely and responsibly.”

That, Ms. McCarthy,is demonstrated by the responsible behavior of multi millions of gun owners in this nation daily. The law she wants passed won’t change that at all. And that’s the point.

It’s about more control and less choice, and for the most part, any proposed law of that sort should be resisted fiercely.


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