In a nutshell, the operation involved permitting straw purchases by gun smugglers from stores in border states, with the foreknowledge that all or most of these weapons would wind up in the hands of drug traffickers in Mexico. The stated goal was to track the movement of these guns, supposedly to identify illegal gun-trafficking networks. But as one of Bob’s linked writers (Michael Walsh at the New York Post) points out…
Oops No 1: The agency had no real way to trace the guns once they left the country -- and no real power to operate in Mexico.If the ATF couldn’t track the guns, how was the agency going to crack the gun-smuggling networks? If the only way the final disposition of the guns could be determined was in the event of crimes being committed, wouldn’t this reflect an unconscionable level of tolerance for the risk to innocent lives?
Oops No. 2: The gangs used the weapons for what you'd expect. At least two American agents have been killed with Fast and Furious guns. God knows how many Mexicans have died; since 2006, more than 40,000 have died in the drug wars.
Well, apparently so, but the ATF brass was fine with that. The testimony before Daryl Issa’s congressional committee by ATF whistleblowers clearly indicates that the higher-ups at the ATF (and possibly at the DOJ and other agencies) were willing to put up with a certain amount of actual carnage.
But to accomplish what, exactly? Here’s Michael Bane:
1) The ONLY way Fast & Furious makes sense is as a direct attack on the Second Amendment. Otherwise, it makes no sense at all. The idea of "rolling up" a firearms trafficking ring is nonsense. If that had been the intent, it would have been a joint operation with the Mexican government. It wasn't...in fact, ATF went to some length to keep the Mexicans in the dark.I would still rather believe that the whole thing was just an incredibly moronic idea, gone horribly wrong; however, with Eric Holder’s continued stonewalling and mendacity, and a level of idiocy and irresponsibility, perhaps unprecedented, that would have to have prevailed at the highest levels of several agencies for this to have been merely a specimen of “stupid, not evil” planning, it’s becoming tougher to accept the argument that more gun control wasn’t at least a hoped-for byproduct of this operation.
2) The idea of getting a gunrunning indictment against any of the cartel heads is equal nonsense. A gunrunning indictment? Against men that are, in effect, men with standing death warrants on their heads, mass murderers with their own private armies? Wow, they'd be shaking in their boots!
3) Fast & Furious worked exactly as the ATF and the people holding its strings -- the Department of Justice and probably Homeland -- planned for it to work. That is, it put demonstrably made-in-America, sold-in-America guns at Mexican crime scenes, waiting for the largely inept, totally corrupt Mexican law enforcement to find them, submit them to the US for tracing and shout loudly that they had found the literal "smoking gun," that American gun shops/shows were flooding Mexico with arms. That's why supervisors were "jovial, if not giddy" when the first Gunwalker guns began turning up at Mexican crime scenes...it was working!
4) I think ATF believed it had enough regulatory juice to keep the gun stores involved from talking, or if not keeping them from talking demonizing them, and maybe driving them out of business, if they did.
Whatever the motivations, the results have been a disaster, and heads should roll…including this one.