Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 630, July 31, 2011

"These are the times that try men's souls"

Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

Before I go any further I would like to recognize and thank David Codrea and Sharyl Atkinson among others for breaking the story on Operation Fast and Furious which has been nicknamed operation Gunwalker. The majority of the information about this case comes from their reporting or that of people who were put wise to the situation by these reporters. It is becoming an elephant in the room for the Obama administration on a scale to match Watergate and Irancontragate. It makes one wish for the days of Bill and Monica, at least no one got killed over that.

8,000 people have died to date in Juarez Mexico since 2006 making it one of the deadliest cities in the world ( actually deadlier than some actual war zones), 45,000 people more or less in all of Mexico. These are people killed in the three cornered Mexican drug wars between various narcotraficantes to control the drug trade and Mexican law enforcement to try to suppress the drug trade. This does not include people killed as part of protection rackets, kidnappings and random murderousness by the drug gangs and their siccarios(from Latin siccarii dagger men) as well as Mexican cops and military abusing their authority.

Since the beginning Mexican officials have complained and anti-gun activists in the United States have complained that the ease of acquiring firearms, including semi auto AR-15's, AKS's, Barrett .50 BMG and others, were a major factor in the reduction of Mexico to an abattoir. They have also condemned yanqui willingness to finance the cartels by purchasing their product. As to the first accusation, the cartels can and have bought bought full auto AR's and AK's as well as other military class weapons on the international black market or diverted from sales to the Mexican army and police. They don't need American semiautos. As for the other, well enjoy the smell of Mexican blood in you cocaine.

For years people (including yours truly) have compared murder rates in Juarez to those in El Paso to show that gun control doesn't work. Briefly, it takes about twenty minutes to buy a gun in El Paso, whose murder rate for 2010 was 5 and to date 14 murders for 2011. The preferred murder weapons are knives and blunt instruments, there is even one case of a man pistol whipped to death rather than shot. I made a wise ass remark that a person was more likely to die of being run over than being shot in a drive by shooting in El Paso and that actually happened the next week. In Juarez, in all of Mexico, it is all but impossible to legally buy a gun. More people have been murdered with guns in Juarez this year than were murdered in El Paso with all weapons over the last decade by about an order of magnitude. Trust me that the cartels would have run up a similar score with more personal weapons. The point is that guns aren't the problem, human murderousness is.

Now let me be clear. I am pro gun. I think the current laws against the manufacture and importation of fully automatic weapons for sale to civilians are unconscionable. I think that all states and the feds should adopt Constitutional carry. I think that unless you are imprisoned for crime or being forcible restrained for medical treatment you have the right to acquire and carry firearms. I would rather vote for a pro gun Socialist than an anti gun Capitalist.

That said, I have issues with the idea of selling guns to people I know for a fact are buying them for the specific purpose of murdering competitors and police, intimidating civilians, kidnapping and extorting protection money (including from elementary schools). Call me prudish that way.

In 2006 the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives started Operation Gunrunner. According to Wikipedia this resulted in several hundred prosecutions of gun smugglers.

This brings us to 2009, when Eric Holder morphed Gunrunner into Operation Fast and Furious. In the new program "strawman buyers" (someone buying a gun for someone who is not legally eligible) were allowed to purchase guns and actually carry them into Mexico, where ATFE promptly lost track of them until they turned up at crime scenes in the US and Mexico. This did not happen with one or two or even a couple of dozen guns. This happened with about 2,500 guns, most probably more. It was obvious things were getting out of hand. Kenneth Melson (acting Director of BATFE) and Attorney General Holder were regularly apprised of how the operation was going, including viewing videos of its progress. In other words they knew things were going south, and I don't mean simply that guns were going into Mexico.

Gun dealers who called ATFE to report suspicious buyers when these strawmen attempted to make purchases were told by ATFE to complete the sale. ATFE actually facilitated the passage of the weapons into Mexico. It turns out that one of the persons in Mexico involved in this gun smuggling was a paid FBI informant in the War of Drugs, and guess how he used the money the FBI was paying him?

Eventually whistleblowers in the Phoenix ATFE office exposed Gunwalker and it was ended. The last straw was the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry with a Gunwalker weapon.The Program was end in December of 2010, however people were concerned over the problems Gunwalker would continue to create. This was exacerbated by fears that the gun used a month later in the attempted assassination of Representative Gabrielle Giffords was a Gunwalker gun (it wasn't). Illegal punitive action has been taken against against the whistleblowers.

At the very least Attorney General Eric Holder, Acting Director of BATFE Kenneth Melson and others were criminally negligent in the performance of their duties and should be fired for incompetence. At the very worse they committed acts of private war against Mexico with the knowledge and connivance of the President (the White House was aware of Gunwalker no later than January 2010, so they knew what was going on for twelve months before the program ended) for the purpose of falsifying evidence of the need for stricter gun control laws in the US. Congress has begun to investigate and has faced stonewalling by the Justice Department, for example subpoenaed documents have been delivered so heavily redacted that some were completely blacked out. More and more newspaper, web and even tv attention is being given to this investigation in spite of liberal bias.

The fact is that on August Third Mr. Obama is going to wish he was still trying to set up a budget deal instead of having to worry about whether or not Congress is going to impeach him over Operation Fast and Furious. At the very least Melson and Holder should be facing jail time in both the US and Mexico.

Crimes against the laws of two nations. The subornation of at least two law enforcement agencies. Massive stupidity. Stonewalling against Congressional investigations. Punishment of whistleblowers. Arming of foreign criminals. Falsifying evidence to try to destroy the American people's rights. Illegally waging private wars. Who knew that Obama was Luo for Nixon?

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