Reent news reports noted that investigators have discovered a rifle at the former hideout of notorious Mexican drug lord El Chapo Guzman that is tied to the Obama Administration’s first real scandal, “Fast and Furious,” the admitted gun-walking operation that sent thousands of high-powered firearms from the U.S. to several drug gangs south of the border.
This is important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that this is a scandal that keeps on giving – and taking… lives.
As reported by The Associated Press, the Justice Department – which, under former Attorney General Eric Holder, approved the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives operation – said in a letter to members of Congress that a .50-caliber rifle sent to the U.S. by Mexican officials for tracing that was discovered during Guzman’s arrest in January has indeed been tied to the operation.
The extremely high-powered rifle, which is capable of firing rounds some 2,000 yards and can bring down helicopters, was one of 19 guns Mexican authorities said were recovered from the hideout. Officials said the .50 caliber weapon was the only one of the collection tied to Fast and Furious, in which ATF agents permitted straw purchasing gun-runners to buy weapons in the U.S. in the hopes of tracking them to the drug gangs.
At least, that’s what the government said. Former CBS News investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson, however, found a much more sinister reason for the operation, which began shortly after Barack Obama took office.
While still at her post in 2011, Attkisson turned up information which strongly suggests that a primary motive for the administration was to use the operation as a means of pushing for stronger gun control in the U.S. The so-called “assault weapons” ban that a Democrat Congress and President Bill Clinton passed in 1994 had expired 10 years later, during the George W. Bush Administration, and, under a Republican Congress, never renewed.
ATF officials didn’t intend to publicly disclose their own role in letting Mexican cartels obtain the weapons, but emails show they discussed using the sales, including sales encouraged by ATF, to justify a new gun regulation called “Demand Letter 3”. That would require some U.S. gun shops to report the sale of multiple rifles or “long guns.” Demand Letter 3 was so named because it would be the third ATF program demanding gun dealers report tracing information.
But simply making gun shops report long gun sales isn’t a ban. True, but behind the scenes, according to emails she uncovered, ATF officials were plotting to use the high volume of sales – and the fact that they were winding up south of the border – as their impetus to push for much stricter U.S. laws, including an outright assault weapon ban:
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.
So, at the same time the ATF was pushing the notion it was concerned that guns sold in the U.S. were crossing the border, they were ensuring that those guns were crossing the border, under the guise of a law enforcement operation.
Only, ATF and the Justice Department never could “trace” the guns; once they made it into Mexico, they essentially disappeared – until some of them began showing up a crime scenes, both north and south of the border.
Indeed, in March 2011, Attkisson quoted ATF Senior Agent John Dodson, who told her that he was ordered to sit back and watch guns sold in the U.S. to straw buyers “walk” into Mexico.
The mainstream media – which, oddly, was on top of this scandal (before CBS News forced Attkisson out) – has since forgotten about it, reporting only when another Fast and Furious weapon is found. As Obama leaves office in January; Fast and Furious will be remembered as the first scandal in a scandal-plagued presidency.