Thursday, June 23, 2011

Who OK'd 'Guns To Gangs' Program, And Why?

Editorial: reprinted from Investors Business Daily

Law: After getting caught doing the unbelievable — arming Mexico's cartels — word is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms boss is out, and the gun-controller the White House wanted all along is in. How far up does this go?

Acting ATF director Kenneth Melson is apparently ready to take the fall for what may be the most morally repulsive scandal to befall the Obama administration so far.

Our neighbor Mexico lies bleeding from a long, vicious war to fight seven major drug cartels at once. Some 38,000 have been left dead since 2006. Amid all this, U.S. ATF agents had orders from on high to supply U.S. weapons to cartel middlemen buying them on U.S. soil for the odd purpose of "tracing" them.

The news that Melson is resigning seems to be a bid by the Obama administration to paint this as simply an example of Keystone Kop-style bungling being corrected. But many things suggest the operation may have been done for political purposes, and not merely stupidity.

The idea behind "Operation Fast and Furious" was to let gun dealers sell weapons to cartel middlemen, who would then ship them to criminal gangs in Mexico, and damn the consequences.
The operation was so contrary to the goals of ATF that its agents repeatedly raised anguished protests — only to be rebuffed from their superiors, according to testimony presented to House Oversight Committee chair Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who is investigating the scandal.
Nearly 2,000 weapons flowed south to Mexico based on this U.S.-taxpayer-financed program. Not surprisingly, two of these "gunwalker" weapons turned up at the Arizona murder scene of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, killed by illegal aliens in December 2010.

The Issa hearings are having an effect, with Melson's rumored resignation the first sacrificial offering.
But does it really end there? So much doesn't add up.

First, as operations go, this one was "felony-stupid," as Issa put it in the hearings. There was no effort to trace the weapons even after letting them get out. If the weapons weren't traced, why was this operation sanctioned? The White House made a big deal about U.S. weapons flowing south to Mexico, claiming 90% of all weapons in the hands of cartels came from U.S. gun merchants.

But that argument was false, based on the cherry-picked samples Mexico offered for inspection. For Mexico, it was a chance to divert attention from their loose border controls and blame the gringos.
As for Obama, he wanted to reinstate an assault-weapon ban in 2008, but said he did not have the political capital to do it. Bob Owens, writing for Pajamas Media, noted that the administration seemed to want to whip up a crisis requiring a crackdown on guns in the U.S.

It gets worse. President Obama has long wanted gun-control-oriented ATF agent Andrew Traver to head the agency. Now, with Melson rumored to be ready to quit this week, he may get his way and benefit.

There are real questions that must be answered about who knew about this, and when. An American lies murdered for what may be political aims. He has a right to justice — as high up as it goes.

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