Operation Fast and Furious – established in 2009, and Project Gunrunner, established in 2005, were ATF programs aimed at stopping guns from getting into the hands of criminals in Mexico. As with many “projects” that this administration has been involved with have failed – so did this one. The goal was to track the flow of arms and determine how the market functioned, but yet again it has had an unsurprisingly disastrous effect.
This failed program allowed U.S. officials to permit “straw purchasers” to buy guns – hundreds of them at once, sometimes – and then to sell them to Mexican drug cartels while the ATF sat idly by, doing nothing to stop it. Oddly enough the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms (ATF) leads the way in another program that is called “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy.”
This program is aimed at stopping the very same act that the ATF themselves are involved in now – straw purchasing. The term straw purchase – is an illegal firearm purchase where the actual buyer of the gun, being unable to pass the required federal background check or desiring to not have his or her name associated with the transaction, uses a proxy buyer who can pass the required background check to purchase the firearm for him/her. It is highly illegal and punishable by a $250,000 fine and 10 years in prison.
The ATF program failed because they were unable to keep track of “all” the guns that they sold to the Mexican drug cartels. And now some of these guns have shown up in crimes, murders, etc., some of which Americans have been killed.
The Center for Public Integrity, reported that 1,765 guns were knowingly sold as part of “Fast and Furious.” Another 300 or so were sold before the operation started. Of these more than 2,000 guns, fewer than 800 have been recovered. Two of the guns recovered were found at the site of the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, in a region known as Peck Canyon, on the U.S. side of the border between Nogales, Mexico, and Tucson, Ariz.
Special Agent John Dodson of the ATF was among many field agents who advised superiors that the covert operation was unwise. Their concerns were not acted on, and the operation continued. After Terry’s murder, Dodson blew the whistle, first to the Justice Department, then to Republican Sen. Charles Grassley. Grassley has questioned Attorney General Eric Holder, and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by Republican Darrell Issa, is now engaged in hearings on the case.
So far, Holder has denied any knowledge of the program, but Republicans are wise to look for a smoking gun – literally. They’ve called for numerous documents relating to the operation. A person would think that someone had to know about this project, and if it’s the highest levels of the Justice Department, then heads there should roll.
This ordeal reminds me of a movie in the late 90’s called “Black Dog” a movie about illegal gun shipments. In the movie an ATF agent Tobolowsky really gets on the nerves of the FBI agents he’s working with. After FBI’s Agent Ford has had enough he say’s to ATF agent Tobolowsky “ATF. What does that stand for, anyways? Alcohol, tobacco, and f****-ups?” It’s amazing how the creators of the movie Black Dog, 13 years earlier hit the nail on the head.