Fast & Furious: Aftershocks

July 7th, 2013

Jalisco chief of police Luis Astorga was shot to death by gang members in late January. The gun in used was a WASR-10, a cheap Romanian AK-47 sporter traced to Lone Wolf Gun supply in Arizona. In February of 2010, Lone Wolf sold it to Jacob Montelongo under the direction and supervision of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Like over 2,000 other weapons sold during this operation, it would be lost, and it would later resurface at a crime scene in Mexico. The death toll in from these weapons is over 170 now.

I can only imagine …

The Sequester and Gun Control

March 4th, 2013

A whole slew of budget cuts took effect on Friday. I'm a little peeved that NASA's losing another $970 million. The beleaguered ATF will be taking a $60 million dollar hit, which would conceivably hamper their ability to enforce all those new gun-control laws folks keep proposing. Additionally, the FBI is losing $480 million, at least some of which is going to have an impact on NICS background-check processing. Expect delays.

Frankly, the whole thing reminds me of Gingrich's boondoggle in 1995, but I don't think the current President has the savvy to turn it to his advantage in the manner than Clinton did.

It goes without saying that this is going to be the political headliner for the near future. As such, the push for gun control in Congress is going to fade from public view and lose momentum.

That doesn't mean it's over, though.

You See, It's a Long Story, But…

December 20th, 2012

You may remember George Gillett. He was second in charge of the BATFE Phoenix field division during the Fast & Furious operation. A congressional committee found that he "failed to provide responsible supervision" during that little fiasco, which is putting it mildly.

This last Thanksgiving, Mexican beauty queen Maria Flores Gamez and five others were killed in a shooting in Sinaola. Guns from Fast & Furious were found at the scene. Interestingly enough, one of those was an FN 5.7 pistol, which was traced directly back to Mr. Gillett. Now, by "directly," I …

Fast & Furious: Denouement

September 19th, 2012

The Office of the Inspector General has released its findings on the Fast & Furious debacle. The short version? Everybody short of Attorney General Eric Holder has egg on the face. The report finds that Holder himself was unaware of the operation until February of 2011.

In the wake of the report, former Acting Director Kenneth Melson announced his retirement, and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein resigned. Aside from the ATF Phoenix division staff, he seems to bear the brunt of the investigation's ire.

And what of Holder? He fired back today about the "baseless accusations" leading to his contempt charge from Congress, and in the eyes of the public, he's right. The Democrats claimed that Issa's investigation was a partisan witch-hunt, and this report validates that assertion.

The report calls for a wide swath of disciplinary action, though I'm not expecting much. To this day, not a single government agent has been held responsible for Brian Terry's death.

I have the whole thing mirrored here [4Mb pdf]. Their findings start on page 440, and I've condensed them below.

Holder Contempt Charge: Now It's Official

May 3rd, 2012

Sharyl Attkisson reports that the draft of a contempt citation naming Eric Holder is being circulated to members of the House Oversight Committee today. The citation addresses the Attorney General's lack of cooperation in the investigation of Fast & Furious.

Resolved, That Eric H. Holder, Jr., Attorney General of the United States, shall be found to be in contempt of Congress for failure to comply with a congressional subpoena.

Resolved, That pursuant to 2 U.S.C. §§ 192 and 194, the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall certify the report of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, detailing the

Fast and Furious: Cummings Pushes Back

January 31st, 2012

Attorney General Holder gets another chance to testify to the House Oversight Committee Thursday morning.  Just in time, Representative Elijah Cummings has released a report [pdf] in which he claims to clear the White House and Department of Justice of any complicity in this matter.  Of course, if they were already clear, then why is this unsolicited "report" even necessary?

He doesn't go so far as to claim ignorance, only that,

[t]he Committee has obtained no evidence that Operation Fast and Furious was a politically-motivated operation conceived and directed by high-level Obama Administration political appointees at the Department of Justice.

Instead, Cummings settles for declaring that the administration did not conceive or direct Fast and Furious.  He seems to think that justification hinges on such semantic differences.
Entitled "Fatally Flawed: Five Years of Gun-walking in Arizona," the report tries to lump Fast and Furious in with prior such schemes as Wide Receiver ("see?  George Bush did it, too!"), and it attempts to portray the entire situation as something isolated to rogue elements in the Phoenix field division.
Of course, this flies in the face of facts.  US Attorney Dennis Burke has resigned after being caught providing false claims to his superiors, and newly available documentation [pdf] from NPR shows that Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer and ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson still approved of the operation's details as of February of 2011.

Circling the Wagons

November 8th, 2011

Eric Holder testified before Congress today for the second time regarding the Fast & Furious disaster. Here's the condensed version:

He's not apologizing to the family of Bryan Terry
The best way to keep illegal guns from flowing southward into Mexico is to further restrict the guns the government bought to ship southward to Mexico.
It's all the fault of the Bush administration.
He didn't know anything about it. His staff kept him in the dark.

The allegations of impropriety began to circulate in April of 2010.  Terry died in December, and despite the widely distributed and …

Sooner or Later

September 26th, 2011

We know now that the ATF sat by and let straw purchases of weapons happen in Phoenix.  We know they reassured dealers that the weapons would be tracked.  We know that didn't happen, and that those weapons have been used in dozens of homicides.

As of today, we also know that the ATF themselves purchased weapons and sold them to criminals.  Apparently, John Dodson was given authorization and ordered by Supervisor Voth to pick up a few Draco pistols and deliver them to suspects.

I'm not sure why Dodson didn't bring this up during his testimony to Congress back …

"A Perfect Storm of Idiocy"

July 26th, 2011

Representative Issa and Senator Grassley released a joint report [pdf] on their investigation into the ATF's Fast and Furious operation. It covers their recent interviews with ATF officials in Mexico.

Acting ATF Attaché Carlos Canino gave his thoughts on the situation:

You don't lose guns. You don't walk guns. You don't let guns get out of your sight. You have all these undercover techniques, all these safety measures in place so guns do not get out of your custody or control. I mean, I mean, you could follow, you could do a surveillance for 1,000 miles . . . either use planes, trackers, you use everything under the sun, but at the end of the day, those guns do not leave your control. At some point those guns do not get into the streets.

Law enforcement is known to let drugs and other contraband "walk" from time to time if a minor infraction might lead them upstream to the bigger fish.  However, there is one hard and fast exception:  you never let guns go.  The agents who authorized and conducted Fast and Furious knew this, and chose to take the risk.

Walking away from one, walking away from one gun when you know that that gun is going to be used in a crime when you, I mean, there is no, there was no gray area here guys. There was no gray area here. We knew that these guys were trafficking guns into Mexico. There is no gray area.

He also implicates Mark Chait, Assistant Director of Field Operations.  Mario Gonzalez Rodriguez was murdered by Sinaloa cartel members, who were later found to be in possession of guns traced back to Fast and Furious.  By his account, Canino sought to address the matter with Chait, but was prohibited from telling officials in Mexico of this connection.

Crossed Wires on Gun Control

July 14th, 2011

I came home to two different emails tonight. The news is good, and unintentionally amusing. Both messages regard Monday's Department of Justice announcement that gun dealers in the southwest would be required to report multiple sales of rifles to the ATF. The first is from the NRA-ILA:

House Committee Passes Amendment to Defund Illegal Obama Firearm Sales Reporting Requirement

Today, during consideration of the FY 2012 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill, pro-gun U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) offered an amendment to prohibit the use of funds for a new and unauthorized multiple sales reporting plan proposed by

Closing the Barn Door

July 11th, 2011

The Justice Department announced today that gun shops in Arizona, Texas, California, and New Mexico will have to report all sales in which multiple "high powered" rifles are involved.

There are two problems with this.  The first is that the horses have already run free.  Lone Wolf Trading Company and the other dealers implicated in the Fast & Furious controversy were cooperating with the BATFE.  The sales were done under the orders and direct supervision of the Bureau, the dealers were reporting them in real time, and those guns still got across the border into Mexico.

So, Justice …

Traver's Back in Town

June 19th, 2011

Rumor has it that Kenneth Melson, acting director of the ATF, will be removed from office amid the political fallout from Project Gunrunner.  Apparently, Andrew Traver is flying to Washington for a meeting with Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney General James Cole next week.

The administration tried to get Traver nominated to fill the position of Director late last year, but failed.  The office has been vacant since Truscott's resignation in 2006, and the Senate has been unwilling to confirm anyone as a replacement.

Installing Traver is a way of getting him close to the top …

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