CBS News has confirmed that ATF Fast and Furious “walked” guns have been linked to the terrorist torture and murder of the brother of a Mexican state attorney general last fall. Two AK-47 variant rifles were found at the scene of a shoot-out with the murder suspects. Sources say the weapons were part of the controversial ATF program in which agents allowed thousands of guns to fall into the hands of suspects trafficking for Mexico’s drug cartels. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-31727_162-20073704-10391695.html?tag=mncol;lst;1
In two programs code named “Project Gunrunner” and “Operation Fast and Furious” President Obama’s Justice Department through the Bereau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (the “ATF”) approved the sale to Mexican drug cartels of more than 1,800 AK-47s and 50 caliber sniper rifles. The ostensible plan was to follow the weapons across the Mexican border to allow the ATF to chart a path to the leadership of the cartels. One not so small problem, the ATF “lost track” of more than 1,000 of the assault and sniper rifles. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/15/us-usa-mexico-guns-idUSTRE75E49N20110615
The plan was dubbed Operation Fast and Furious. Foolish and Fatal might be more accurate. In 14 months, agents in Phoenix tracked the sales of more than 1,700 guns, mostly purchased by “straw” buyers – i.e., buyers procuring them for criminals. The goal was to then see where the guns turned up, in an attempt to bust drug kingpins.
Many ATF agents complained bitterly about the operation, frustrated that they were not allowed in many cases to make busts and seize weapons they knew were destined for cartel gunmen. They say they were told to go against all training and sense of humanity, to watch as guns were sold to straw buyers of suspected cartels, then let guns and the traffickers “walk.” All in the interest of catching bigger fish. One ATF agent testified: “I cannot see anyone who has one iota of concern for human life being OK with this.” Another agent charged, “It’s like they grabbed the ATF rulebook and threw it out the window.” And ATF agents dreaded the inevitable. When Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot and six others killed by a gunman, Phoenix agents braced. They feared the gun would be one they’d let walk. http://www.theolympian.com/2011/06/22/1695916/atf-stands-on-sidelines-while.html
Sloppy reporting has occasionally tried to demonstrate that these operations were undertaken during the Bush Administration – this is simply untrue. What is Project Gunrunner? In short, it was originally a plan to catch gun smugglers moving guns into Mexico. That’s what it was doing from 2005 to 2009. However, in late 2009, under the Project Gunrunner umbrella, the Obama Administration and the ATF embarked on Operation Fast and Furious which was neither fast nor furious. Fast and Furious used the concept of allowing some guns to “walk” across the border so ATF could identify higher-level drug smugglers in the drug cartels, then nab them for prosecution. There were several problems with this strategy. http://www.billoreilly.com/blog?action=blogArchive&rss=true&categoryID=11
Allowing firearms to “walk” across the border meant they would end up in the hands of the notoriously violent drug cartels. That meant people would probably die. It ignored at least one treaty with Mexico which prohibited unilateral “investigations” by US agents within Mexico. Lastly, arming any criminal or insurrectionist group in another country could be considered an act of war against that country. http://hcaeditor.blogspot.com/2011/06/project-gunrunner-timeline.html http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nation/7619386.html
A federal agent told members of Congress on Last Wednesday that Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents in Arizona routinely allowed the purchase of guns they knew would wind up in the hands of Mexican cartel members.
John Dodson told members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said Phoenix firearms dealers had provided the agency with the names of more than 40 people who were likely buying guns really meant for criminals.
“From the earliest days of the operation … I had no question that the individuals we were watching were acting as straw purchasers and that the weapons they purchased would soon be trafficked to Mexico and locales all along the Southwest border, where they would be used in violent crime if we did not intervene,” he testified. “However, we did nothing.”
Instead, he said, agents were told to track the weapons in hopes of finding out where they were going. The process, known as Operation Fast and Furious, came under congressional scrutiny after two weapons purchased by one of those straw buyers turned up at the scene of where Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was shot to death near Rio Rico last December. “Simply put … ATF failed to fulfill our must fundamental obligations, to caretake the public trust, in part, to keep guns out of the hands of criminals,” Dodson testified. http://douglasdispatch.com/articles/2011/06/23/news/doc4e0117e5c1bec966333212.txt