TheRightScoop.com posted this June 20: “This is something I put together from a March 2009 press conference where gun walking/tracing was announced not only as an issue very important to the president, but directed by the president in conjunction with Attorney General Eric Holder.”
TRS posted a Gunrunner vs Fast & Furious clarification a year ago. The post includes a link to the full March 24, 2009 C-SPAN video of the press conference showing that Obama launched Fast & Furious:
- Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg and Deputy Attorney General David Ogden held a news conference to announce the U.S.-Mexico Border Security Policy. They spoke to reporters and answered questions about plans to send about 500 more agents and equipment to the nation’s southwestern border and Mexico to fight Mexican drug cartels and keep violence from spilling over into the United States. Secretary Napolitano said officials were still considering whether to deploy the National Guard to the Arizona and Texas borders with Mexico, which the governors had requested. She also acknowledged that greater efforts were needed within the U.S. to combat the drug trade.
In the comments section of that post we find a link to this September 2010 118-page DOJ Inspector General working draft review of ATF’s Project Gunrunner. The executive summary reads:
- This review by the Department of Justice (Department) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) examined the impact of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) implementation of Project Gunrunner on the illicit trafficking of guns from the United States to Mexico.
Violence associated with organized crime and drug trafficking in Mexico is widespread, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths. In part because Mexican law severely restricts gun ownership, drug traffickers have turned to the United States as a primary source of weapons, and these drug traffickers routinely smuggle guns from the United States into Mexico. According to ATF officials, approximately 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico that have been traced were initially sold in the United States.
The criminal organizations responsible for smuggling guns to Mexico are typically also involved in other criminal enterprises, such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, and cash smuggling. This requires ATF to work with other federal entities, as well as with state and local law enforcement partners, in sharing intelligence, coordinating law enforcement activities, and building cases that can be prosecuted. To help combat firearms trafficking into Mexico, ATF began Project Gunrunner as a pilot project in Laredo, Texas, in 2005 and expanded it as a national initiative in 2006. Project Gunrunner is also part of the Department’s broader Southwest Border Initiative, which seeks to reduce cross-border drug and firearms trafficking and the high level of violence associated with these activities on both sides of the border.
In June 2007, ATF published a strategy document, Southwest Border Initiative: Project Gunrunner (Gunrunner strategy), outlining four key components to Project Gunrunner: the expansion of gun tracing in Mexico, international coordination, domestic activities, and intelligence. In implementing Project Gunrunner, ATF has focused resources in its four Southwest border field divisions. In addition, ATF has made firearms trafficking to Mexico a top ATF priority nationwide.
The OIG conducted this review to evaluate the effectiveness of ATF’s implementation of Project Gunrunner. Our review examined ATF’s enforcement and regulatory programs related to the Southwest border and Mexico, ATF’s effectiveness in developing and sharing firearms trafficking intelligence and information, the number and prosecutorial outcomes of ATF’s Project Gunrunner investigations, ATF’s coordination with U.S. and Mexican law enforcement partners, ATF’s traces of Mexican “crime guns,” and challenges that ATF faces in coordinating efforts to combat firearms trafficking with Mexico.
Note the use of the descriptive “crime guns”. The review explains:
- According to ATF, crime guns are guns that were “recovered by law enforcement that were used in a crime, were suspected to have been used in a crime, or were recovered in relation to a crime.” Mark Kraft, “Firearms Trafficking 101 or Where Do Crime Guns Come From?,” United States Attorneys’ Bulletin (January 2002).
The review’s bottom line was that multiple government agencies under Big Sis’s control were not communicating and sharing information with each other — or with the Mexican government. (Can you say renegades?) For example:
- Firearms traffickers also participate in other criminal activity, such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, and cash smuggling. The complexity of their operations requires ATF to work closely with the government of Mexico, other U.S. federal agencies and departments, and state and local law enforcement partners. … ATF’s focus remains largely on inspections of gun dealers and investigations of straw purchasers, rather than on higher-level traffickers, smugglers, and the ultimate recipients of the trafficked guns.
Again, the review explains:
- A “straw purchase” is the lawful acquisition of a gun from a gun dealer by an individual who then unlawfully provides the gun to a prohibited person. According to ATF, straw purchasing is one of the most frequent methods used to divert guns out of lawful commerce.
Read the rest of the review. It is enlightening.
Also read up on Project Gunrunner and Fast & Furious at TRS, which has been following this story in detail.
- Documents obtained by CBS News show that the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) discussed using their covert operation “Fast and Furious” to argue for controversial new rules about gun sales.
In Fast and Furious, ATF secretly encouraged gun dealers to sell to suspected traffickers for Mexican drug cartels to go after the “big fish.” But ATF whistleblowers told CBS News and Congress it was a dangerous practice called “gunwalking,” and it put thousands of weapons on the street. Many were used in violent crimes in Mexico. Two were found at the murder scene of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
We only have to return to the September 2010 DOJ Inspector General review to find out that “little fish” were not of much interest for DOJ and cases involving only a single individual were not prosecuted:
- For example, we found that 70 percent of Project Gunrunner cases are single-defendant cases, and some ATF managers discourage field personnel from conducting the types of complex conspiracy investigations that target higher-level members of trafficking rings. Federal prosecutors told us that directing the efforts of Project Gunrunner toward building larger, multi-defendant conspiracy cases would better disrupt trafficking organizations.
The CBS News report continues:
- Several gun dealers who cooperated with ATF told CBS News and Congressional investigators they only went through with suspicious sales because ATF asked them to.
Sometimes it was against the gun dealer’s own best judgment. …
“It’s like ATF created or added to the problem so they could be the solution to it and pat themselves on the back,” says one law enforcement source familiar with the facts. “It’s a circular way of thinking.”
The cover-up is at all levels, it seems. This could get very ugly.
You have to wonder whether any of the gun dealers will be asked to explain what they knew and when they knew it. And were they coerced to sell the guns? What would have happened had they just said “no”?
Also keep in mind, POTUS Obama’s so-called executive privilege expires with his term in office. While the administration is using it as a tactic to kick the can down the road, in the end, it could turn out to be nothing more than the first nail in the proverbial coffin.
h/t JM and CJ