Monday, August 22, 2011

Past time for answers on Operation Fast and Furious

This a view from a writer at the Sierra Vista Herald.

The Sierra Vista Herald/Bisbee Daily Review 
 It’s well past time the American public receive clear answers on Operation Fast and Furious.

At this juncture, after months of a congressional investigation, it appears Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice are committed to hoping an extended silence will allow the entire scandal to simply go away.

Each time law enforcement officials recover another of the thousands of guns that were allowed to be transported to members of Mexican drug cartels, the failure of this operation is again brought to light.

Fast and Furious, which was the Arizona version of a similar investigation called Gunrunner in Texas, was conceived and approved somewhere by someone around October 2009, and was tasked to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The goal was to allow “straw man” gun purchases in the U.S. and track the high-powered weapons to their expected destination, Mexico’s violent drug cartels.
What has happened is nothing short of a national disgrace.

Someone at the federal level, we still have no specific information on whom or which agency, allowed these investigations to proceed without intervening before the weapons left the United States.

What has resulted is the death of two federal agents, shot with guns traced back to these investigations, and the suspected murder of hundreds of Mexicans caught in the middle of the violent drug wars.

Even as Justice Department officials have stalled and stonewalled, what new details have emerged are alarming.

Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas has been a leader in demanding information on this fiasco, as he should on behalf of his border-state constituents. Yes, it’s possible he sees partisan advantage in going after a Democratic administration, but it doesn’t make him wrong.

Until we get the extent of this failure, and find who is accountable, the investigation should continue with urgency.

The investigation is going very well..moving along at the pace planned..There is a method to the House Oversight Committee's madness..Please be patient..I promise you it will be worth the wait!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Retribution should be Fast and Furious

By Austin Castle
Guest Columnist

If any scandal can finally shake the suffocating, imperial grip the White House holds on our nation's dying hope for peace and prosperity, it must be Operation Fast and Furious. Although heavyweights in the mainstream media continue to sideline the issue, the secret gun-running scheme, which put more than 2,000 weapons into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, makes Watergate look like petty theft.

Operation Fast and Furious began in 2009 with a plan by myriad federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, to purposefully allow guns to be sold to known criminals so the weapons could be tracked as they reached high-level cartel members.

The program came to a sudden halt earlier this year when it was revealed in a congressional report that the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was murdered with some of the same guns the ATF allowed to walk across the border, was "likely a preventable tragedy," according to USA Today.

In a FOX News report, guns from Fast and Furious were said to have been linked to at least 11 other violent crimes in the United States alone. In a separate report, FOX News said two AK-47s "used in the high-profile kidnapping and murder of a Mexican lawyer" were purchased under the operation.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) have spearheaded the congressional investigation into the operation. In a July 18 letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, the congressmen charged the Department of Justice with attempting to cover up the investigation by not supplying requested information.

Congressional testimonies by ATF agents contradict claims made by President Barack Obama that neither he nor the DOJ knew of the controversial operation. Former ATF Special Agent William Newell told Congress that he communicated with Kevin O'Reilly, a staffer on Obama's National Security Council, about Operation Fast and Furious in September 2010, according to ATF's acting director, Kenneth Melson, has refused calls for his resignation, saying he will not be "the fall guy" for the program, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The entire operation reeks of illegal activity and corruption; it's no wonder Obama and Holder want to distance themselves from it. But should anyone really believe that they had no prior knowledge?

Back in 2009, Holder praised the launching of a "major new effort to break the backs of the cartels" in a speech about Project Gunrunner, which later involved Operation Fast and Furious. Also, Project Gunrunner was granted $10 million in taxpayer money under the "stimulus package" passed in 2009.

Federal agencies that are supposed to be tasked with keeping America safe got caught willingly supplying weapons to vicious drug cartels south of our border – the public should be aware and angry. The DOJ admits 1,048 guns are still on the loose with no way to track them down, according to the Washington Times. Was the operation really designed to bring down the cartels in the first place, or is there something larger at play here?

In a recent column in the Washington Times, Robert Farago suggested the operation was an opportunity for the CIA to help arm the Sinaloa cartel, which has close ties to the Mexican military and President Felipe Calderón. Farago accused the Obama administration of "fueling brutality and carnage" by choosing sides in a turf war between the rival Sinaloa and Zetas cartels.

And don't forget that these drug cartels are aided by the same megabanks that hold Obama's administration deep in their pockets. Bloomberg reported last year that Bank of America, Wachovia and Wells Fargo helped launder funds for Mexico's drug smugglers.

The revelations concerning Fast and Furious even sparked congressional inquiry into a Florida ATF division's "Operation Castaway" that may have similarly resulted in guns being trafficked to Central America, according to FOX News.

Whatever the truth is surrounding these gunrunning operations and the resulting violence both north and south of the border, it must be brought to light. Thorough investigations and prosecutions are necessary to find justice for the American and Mexican public, as well as for the families of the many victims killed by guns that U.S. law enforcement let walk.