Tag Archives: BATFE

BATFE Officials Knew About Operation Fast & Furious According to E-mail

Kenneth Melson, Chief Director of BATFE (Wikipedia Image)

Western Journalism is reporting on a recently surfaced e-mail that shows Kenneth Melson and other officials at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives did indeed know about the operation despite continued denials of that knowledge.

The e-mail from January 2011 shows Director Kenneth Melson and chief council Steve Rubenstein discussing the operation

Melson found out about a web site posting referring to AR-15 rifles “walked” across the border to drug cartels and asked Rubenstein for advice as to how he should handle the situation.

According to the report, Rubenstein responded that public disclosure could endanger agents and that if the person divulging the information was an employee the person would be liable for disciplinary action under the code of conduct rules of the department.

Melson responded that he would refer the matter to Internal Affairs for investigation. The Obama Administration, including then director Melson, have denied any knowledge of this operation.

The Hangover Strategy

Most people are aware of the phrase “too much of a good thing” and understand its meaning, that excess will do you harm. If you eat too much you may get a stomach ache and if you drink too much you may get a hangover. However, most people probably remain unaware that “too much of a good thing” can be and is used as a political tactic. This is likely the premise of the current Justice Department and ATF scandal, Operation: Fast and Furious.

Fast and Furious’s premise was to allow illegal gun runners to purchase firearms facilitated by the ATF and afterward using the guns to gather intelligence and further evidence against the Mexican drug cartels. Fast and Furious ended in late 2010 after US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was gunned down by one of the thousands of guns that got away. In all, around 2,000 guns were trafficked through Fast and Furious and of them, only roughly 600 have been recovered. In addition to Brian Terry, there have been a number of the guns that have been used in high profile (and otherwise) murders throughout Mexico. Now that Fast and Furious is a full blown scandal and has been exposed, the sinister purpose of the operation is no longer effect. The sinister part of the operation is advocates of gun control, the Obama Administration, creating an environment where acquiring guns is easy for criminals in order to cause havoc and make the public turn on 2nd Amendment freedoms. If criminals (who can’t legally purchase firearms) get a hold of semi-automatic rifles and go on killing sprees, one of the natural reactions of people is to make getting firearms more difficult. And because anyone could be a potential straw purchaser (people who can purchase guns and sell them to those who can’t legally purchase them), that would mean cracking down on all gun owners and buyers. Its actually quite likely that had whistle-blowers not have outed the plan, that the public may have never known. So in effect, there would’ve been calls for stricter gun control laws through a secretly manufactured plan to cause it. While illegal, reckless, and nefarious intentions were on display with Fast and Furious, the hangover strategy can potentially be used to advance the cause of liberty.

Raising taxes on the rich, while economically harmful and perhaps immoral, isn’t something that the public is necessarily against. Most opinion polls say that roughly half the country supports raising taxes on the rich and/or thinks the idea should be considered. Also true is that when polled, most people think the rich should pay around 25% in taxes, a full 10% less than what they already pay (the public generally has no idea what the tax rates are). Similarly, the estate tax is something that people on the left greatly favor and many moderates are on the fence. What isn’t considered is that the estate tax is a double tax, paid the first time when the income is earned or goods are purchased. The estate tax is a proposal in Karl Marx’s The Communist Manifesto (in other words, has no place in a free society). In 2010, there was no estate tax and in 2011 the estate tax is 35%. When New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner died in 2010, many in the sports world commented that it was a blessing that the ailing owner died this year because had he died during a year with a high estate tax, his family would’ve lost the Yankees. Steinbrenner was the longest team owner in Yankees history and turned the team from a net worth of $10 million to roughly $1.2 billion. Its easy to see why most people were happy the Steinbrenner family retained the ownership of the franchise George rebuilt and took to unprecedented levels. But what about other, less well known family businesses and properties, is it not just as much of a tragedy when they are forced to sell off their assets when the owner dies? Obviously the answer is yes, being as we are all created equal. The best way to turn the public against the estate tax is to have a sympathetic figure die and his family lose their iconic/treasured estate because of the tax. After that, the worst case scenario is the public would support a reduction in the estate tax and the best case scenario would be popular support for eliminating it altogether.

The other recent scenario in which the hangover strategy could’ve been used for good is when Olympic gold medal winner Michael Phelps was in the news for smoking marijuana at a University of South Carolina party in 2009. The British tabloid, News of the World, ran the photo in their paper and the story blew up. Richland County Sheriff’s Office initially talked strongly about prosecuting Phelps before eventually deciding against it for “not enough evidence”. Apparently, “not enough evidence” is sometimes code for “I won’t get re-elected if I go ahead with this”. A national celebrity was at a college party with dozens of people who saw him and there is photographic evidence of it happening. The best way to legalize/decriminalize marijuana would be to have charged Michael Phelps. Despite most politicians not supporting the drug’s legalization, most people concede that prohibition of the substance has failed and that its use isn’t a plague on our society. The public would’ve been outraged at our country’s top athlete and national celebrity having his career permanently tainted and embarrassed at the charge for such a petty crime. Thus, for the greater good, it should’ve been pursued. But because we are all created equal (aside from a few who are above us, apparently), the charge was dropped.

To be perfectly clear, I like Michael Phelps and on a personal level I’m glad he wasn’t charged, that would’ve been ridiculous. The only reason I wanted him to have gotten charged is because I think the prohibition of marijuana is unconstitutional without an amendment and because it shouldn’t be included in the same category as other illicit substances. I don’t like the Yankees and I don’t particularly care for the Steinbrenners, but the Yankees are their franchise and no one should be able to take that from them. Its not about personal preferences, its about what is fair and just. While Fast and Furious’s attempt at the hangover strategy thankfully backfired, it shouldn’t be forgotten or go quietly into the night. We, the freedom loving individuals of this nation, should keep this idea in the back of our minds in case another situation arises. That is, unless we want to continue living in a nation where “we are all created equal” is a mere slogan, not a governing philosophy as it was intended.

Holder Pens Letter to Congress : "Nothing To See Hear Folks, Just Move Along"

 Attorney General Eric Holder wrote a letter to Congress on Friday, once again denying the seriousness of the Fast and Furious charges that show the ATF selling assault weapons to Mexican drug cartels which resulted in the death of two border agents and hundreds of citizens on both sides of our Southern border. First of all, we must consider both the timing and method of communication chosen by Eric Holder in this desperate attempt to avoid accountability for his incompetence/culpability in this scandal. People have died from the very guns that our government authorized the sale of, and as House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa and House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith have stated on numerous occasions, “ We are going to get to the bottom of this injustice, no matter how long it takes.

Congress was in session all week long and the best Holder can do is to write a letter on Friday ?  This is the same pattern of late Friday document dumps put out by the White House administration when forced to by FOIA requests, in hopes that it will be forgotten/ignored/missed by the media. Many executive orders have also been released on Friday nights in hoping to keep the people in the dark about just what our government is doing. Also of note is the fact that this letter comes one day after Senator Chuck Grassley distributed five memos citing the gunrunner operation by name and which were addressed to… Attorney General Eric Holder in July and August of 2010. So much for Holder’s constant denial that he knew about the gunrunner program, which was also parroted by President Obama in his “pass-my-jobs-bill-tantrum (speech) number 19 this week. Obama trusts Eric Holder, and that means that the public must do so also, evidence be damned. Maybe that is because the White House has been proven to have been briefed about Fast and Furious also.

Holder’s letter reeks of  propaganda-style spin and delusional denial any way you look at it. He is denying Congress the ability to hold those responsible for this travesty of justice accountable. He has shifted  ATF employees close to this scandal to Washington D.C. in an obvious attempt to cover his tracks. A spokesman for Rep. Issa called the letter “unconvincing.”

“If Attorney General Holder had said these things five months ago when Congress asked him about ‘Operation Fast and Furious,’ it might have been more believable,” the spokesman said. “At this point, however, it’s hard to take at face value a defense that is factually questionable, entirely self-serving, and a still incomplete account of what senior Justice Department officials knew about gun walking.” (emphasis mine)

Holder is desperate to sweep this scandal under the rug, and it shows by the penning of this letter. Rep. Lamar Smith is now calling for a special counsel to look into this situation and help get to the bottom of it. Issa has demanded a special prosecutor from the DOJ, yet Holder fails to mention that fact in his letter, proving again that this letter is nothing more than an attempt to deny responsibility for his departments actions. He is also seen to be trying to protect Senior Justice department members from the fallout. To add insult to injury in this letter, Holder tries to paint the investigations as some kind of plot to “heap disrespect on our nation’s law enforcement officers.” That ludicrous statement would be laughable if  people had not been murdered by assault weapons that were authorized by our very own government.  Here is how Eric Holder wants the public to view the ATF Fast and Furious investigations:  “The members of Congress that are trying to hold the people responsible for the Fast and Furious perversion of justice are somehow slandering our local police departments across America.” Demanding that Holder and company he held accountable is somehow supposed to be an affront to “all law enforcement across America.” This is nothing more than a simplistic attempt to pressure Congress into dropping the investigations into Fast and Furious. 

So why is Holder speaking out, ( in the media on a Friday night) all of a sudden while stonewalling this investigation? Again he wants to use ‘public discourse’ to try to spin this scandal into the famous ” Nothing to see here folks, just move along” method of trying to cover it up. He said Friday, he feels compelled to speak out now because “the public discourse concerning these issues has become so base and so harmful to interests that I hope we all share.”  Harmful to who’s interests Mr. Holder? It certainly isn’t in the public’s best  interest for our government  to be enabling assault weapons to be sold to Mexican drug cartels in any way shape or form here. People have died from these weapons, and what is in our best interest is that the Government  employees in the DOJ, ATF, DHS, etc, be held responsible for this terrible injustice. That means you Mr. Holder, as these actions occurred under your watch at the DOJ.

In the final example of  Holder’s dispicable attempt to deny responsibility for the Fast and Furious gunrunning scandal, Holder says that they did not have any knowledge of supposed “flawed tactics” being used,  and then tries to justify that statement with somehow trying to blame the Bush administration: ” Holder also made a point of noting “the flawed tactics employed” were also used “in an investigation conducted during the prior administration.”   The problem with that nonsensical statement lies in the fact that there are no reports about citizens being murdered by assault weapons that were sold by our government before Eric Holder was appointed as Attorney General by Barack Obama. Tactics and methods of operation are one thing,  people being murdered by assault weapons that resulted from the Fast and Furious government-sponsored gunrunning fiasco is quite another. Eric Holder is a disgrace to the word justice, and not only needs to be fired as Attorney General, but criminal charges must be filed, whether Barack Obama trusts him or not. 

UPDATE: Oct 9th 2011- On Fox News Sunday,  Darrell Issa calls for Holder’s immediate resignation, and says he may issue subpoenas soon . NewsMax came out with the update in an article titled:  Pressure Grows for Holder’s resignation: Subpoenas Threatened.

 

 

 

 

September 1st Show: The FEC, ATF, DOJ, and Many Other Craptastic Initials

When: Thursday, September 1st, 10pm Eastern/7pm Pacific

Where: Streaming Internet Radio

What: We’ll discuss everything from Obama’s embarrassing inability to plan a speech, the FEC’s consideration to let a foreign-born citizen run for President, the DOJ’s witch hunt against Gibson and more.

Show Recording: http://media2.conservativedailynews.com/shows/mitchell-and-ray/show_9-1-11.mp3

Firearms Industry Files Suit Against ATF

NEWTOWN, Conn. — The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for America’s firearms industry, today filed a lawsuit challenging the legal authority of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) under the Gun Control Act to compel 8,500 federally licensed firearms retailers in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas to report the sale of two or more rifles.

Specifically, the regulation calls for reporting multiple sales of any semi-automatic rifle larger than .22 caliber and capable of accepting a detachable magazine that are purchased following an FBI background check by the same individual within five consecutive business days.

NSSF’s lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeks an injunction to block ATF from implementing the reporting requirement. ATF has sent “demand letters” to firearms retailers in the four states to inform retailers they must begin reporting such sales by August 14.

NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence G. Keane pointed out that if ATF can require this record-keeping and reporting requirement of law-abiding retailers in these four states simply by sending a letter demanding the information, then there is no record or report ATF cannot require of any licensee, anywhere in the country, for as long as ATF wants. “This is the proverbial ‘slippery slope,’ and our industry is extremely concerned about it,” said Keane.

Keane added, “At the time Congress authorized the reporting of multiple sales of handguns, it could have required it for the sale of long guns, but it did not. Acting ATF Director Ken Melson himself has questioned ATF’s legal authority to impose this new requirement.”

Despite its lawsuit, NSSF is encouraging all retailers, not just those along the Southwest border, to continue to cooperate with law enforcement and report any suspicious activity to the ATF.  “The firearms industry and NSSF take pride in having a longstanding cooperative relationship with ATF,” said NSSF President and CEO Steve Sanetti. “Retailers have long been considered a vital source of information for law enforcement in combating illegal firearm trafficking.”

Even if ATF had the legal authority to require multiple sales reporting for long guns, NSSF believes the policy would still be unwise to implement. “We believe the policy will make it more difficult for retailers to assist law enforcement,” said Keane. Illegal firearms traffickers will simply alter their schemes to avoid and evade the reporting requirement, making it more difficult for retailers to identify and report suspicious activity.  For example, traffickers could simply recruit more “straw purchasers” and have them illegally purchase firearms from multiple licensees, or simply move their illegal trafficking activities to other states where the reporting requirement does not exist.

Sanetti pointed out that for more than a decade, the firearms industry has done its part to help prevent illegal straw purchases through the Don’t Lie for the Other Guy program. The program, a cooperative effort between NSSF and ATF, educates retailers on how to spot potential illegal purchasers and warns the public that it’s a serious crime to attempt such a purchase.  The program is active in firearms retailer shops across the country. Over the last several years, the firearms industry has solely funded the rollout of Don’t Lie for the Other Guy in border-state areas to deter individuals with intent to illegally purchase firearms.

Also today lawyers representing the National Rifle Association filed a separate lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging ATF’s requirement for reporting multiple sales of rifles.

Operation Fast and Furious – What a Screw up this was by the ATF

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.