In the tradition of the Weaver family murders and the Waco inferno, ATF has now brought us “Fast and Furious” with the highest body count to date: approximately 200. At the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), that merits transfers for the four managers involved.
Fast and Furious was a project spawned at a multi-agency meeting in October of 2009 consisting of ATF, FBI, Border Patrol and Immigration, the IRS, Customs Enforcement and the Justice Department.
It began as an outgrowth of Operation Gunrunner, a typical sting operation begun in 2005 that targeted straw gun purchases. A legal buyer typically buys a gun after passing the Instant Background Check. But under Gunrunner, if something about the transaction was suspicious, ATF would surveil the purchaser until he sold the gun to a buyer who was not legally able to own a gun. At that point they would make an arrest.
But under Operation Fast and Furious, guns were, in fact, allowed to “walk” -- with no arrests being made. Most of the guns went to Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, but some also turned up at Arizona crime scenes.
One straw buyer bought over 700 guns. Another was an FBI informant and a felon the ATF knew nothing about. He did not pop up in the background check because the FBI was fiddling with the system.
Fast and Furious was directed by the Phoenix ATF office, when William Newell was the Special Agent in Charge of that office. When Newell testified before Congress this summer -- “testilied” would be more accurate -- he mostly avoided giving direct answers.
An exasperated Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, exclaimed that he knew who Newell was: “A paid non-answerer.”
Committee member Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) asked if there had been any email exchanges between him and National Security Council member Kevin O’Reilly, who works in the White House. One of the few direct answers of the day was “Yes.”
Then Rep. Labrador asked Newell if there had been any discussion of Fast and Furious. Newell replied that “We never had any specific discussions of Fast and Furious.” Rep. Issa jumped in and said to Newell, “Answer that last question without the use of the word specific.” The answer then was, “Yes, we did discuss it sometimes.”
Newell committed perjury when he first denied that guns were allowed to walk, but then later was forced to admit that they had. Contempt of Congress, a criminal offense, could possibly result.
Another coconspirator in the Fast and Furious debacle was William McMahon, who was the Assistant Director of the Western Division. He and Newell both admitted to having made mistakes, but said they would do the same thing all over again.
It is quite disappointing to know that McMahon was assigned to the Office of Personal Responsibility -- the very office in charge of investigating Fast and Furious.
You might think that the transfers for Agents Newell and McMahon top the charts for bureaucratic chutzpah. But wait, there is more!
A third person worthy of a Washington reassignment is David Voth who was under Newell in the Phoenix office. Voth was part of the ATF team that allowed thousands of guns to “walk” into Mexico.
Last but not least, Acting Director Kenneth Melson has been transferred (read: demoted) to the Department of Justice Office of Legal Policy.
The failure of the President and the Attorney General to fire Melson and the other three officials who have been transferred to Washington means the Administration now owns the cover-up. Can you say Richard Milhouse Obama?
Ironically, the very folks who were responsible for committing various federal felonies -- involving illegal gun sales and exports -- are now the very ones telling lawful Americans, “You need more gun control!”
Specifically, ATF has told dealers in the four southwest border states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas to submit sales reports for anyone who, in five days or less, purchases multiple semi-auto rifles of a caliber higher than a .22.
That order itself is illegal. ATF is only permitted to require multiple sales reports for handguns. But investigators in the House of Representatives have found that email traffic within the ATF made it clear that the purpose of Fast and Furious was to put the blame for the Mexican carnage on gun stores and gun owners.
ATF clearly has no shame.
The DC headquarters of ATF, and some field offices such as the one in Phoenix, are led by criminally corrupt agents. They need to be put in jail.
Until Obama is no longer President, it is a no-brainer that Attorney General Holder, who has been complicit in this whole Fast and Furious debacle, will not order his own arrest. However, the House of Representatives could appoint an independent counsel and put him in the Office of the Sergeant at Arms, who heads up the Capitol Hill Police Force.
When the Sergeant at Arms develops a case dealing with crimes committed in the Capitol -- for example, perjury and obstruction of justice (resulting from the refusal to hand over documents and answer questions) -- the Capitol Hill Police Force could make arrests anywhere in Washington, D.C.
In addition, an Arizona prosecutor could seek indictments for people such as Newell, Voth and those above them -- charging them with aiding and abetting the murder of a federal agent. Following indictment, the accused could be extradited to Arizona.
When some Justice Department and ATF officials begin telecommuting from their suburban homes, we will know that the end is near.
There is a way. Hopefully there is a will.