O, BATF, Where Is Thy Sting?

The details of the BATF’s “Operation Fast And Furious” just keep coming, and it’s getting harder and harder to follow just what happened. Not because what happened is so complicated — it’s not — but because the Obama administration is stonewalling like hell to keep the details from coming out, and — more importantly — the details just plain don’t make any sense.

The initial problem is pretty simple: the Mexican drug cartels are a serious danger. Not only are they a threat to the Mexican government — either by toppling it, or simply taking over large chunks of Mexico and making the government powerless and irrelevant. The main tools they have are huge quantities of money, large quantities of weapons (up to and including military-grade), and a willingness to use both with virtually no restraints to achieve their goals. And they pose a less but still serious threat to the US — not only the chaos unleashed on our southern border if they do manage to topple the Mexican government, but the existing drug wars frequently spill over into the US.

So it’s in our best interests to curtail the cartels and support the Mexican government. As I said, nice and simple and uncomplicated and certainly within the limits of our own laws.

But that’s where the simplicity ends. Because the operation the BATF put forward simply doesn’t seem to make any sense whatsoever.

One of the cartels’ sources of weapons is the US. The significance of that source is debated; some folks rig the numbers and say that the majority of their weapons are smuggled in from the US. Others point out that most of the weapons they use are illegal for private sale in the US, but can be found readily in the hands of Mexican police and military — and corruption in Mexico is legendary. Plus, weapons obtained from the Mexican police and military don’t have to be smuggled across any borders.

Anyway, there are some weapons that get to the cartels via legitimate sales in the US by “straw buyers,” folks with clean records who buy them and then turn them over to cartel smugglers, who get them south of the border for use in crimes and massacres. It’s a problem of debatable significance, but a problem nonetheless.

So the BATF decided to set up some “sting” operations involving sales to straw buyers that the BATF would allow. Gun dealers in the Southwest were contacted and “asked” (by the people who literally hold these dealers’ livelihoods in their hands) to cooperate by going along with sales that should have raised serious red flags.

And here’s where it starts getting seriously confusing. Again, not complicated, but utterly illogical.

The straw buyers went to the gun dealers and tried to buy the guns. The dealers, tipped off by the BATF and “asked” to cooperate, went along (to keep their licenses and practices from being meddled with) and sold the guns to the buyers.

And the BATF allowed it, didn’t interfere, and didn’t bother the buyers. They had bigger fish in mind.

The buyers turned the guns over to the drug cartel’s smugglers, who arranged for the guns to be taken across the border to Mexico.

And the BATF allowed it, didn’t interfere, and didn’t bother the buyers. They had bigger fish in mind.

The smugglers got the guns across the border, and turned them over to the drug cartels’ agents — who distributed them to their armies of thugs.

And th BATF allowed it, didn’t interfere, and didn’t bother the agents. They had bigger fish in mind.

The armies of thugs promptly put the guns to use, to intimidate people and kill their enemies — and anyone else who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Including, most likely, at least one US Border Patrol agent.

And the BATF allowed it, didn’t interfere, and didn’t bother the thugs. They had bigger fish in mind.

Further, to minimize disruption to their grand plan, the BATF didn’t bother to notify the Mexican government that they were running an operation that was assisting in the smuggling of more and more guns into Mexico — something that the Mexican government just might want to know about, and just might not fully appreciate.

Here’s what is so inexplicable: just what the hell was the plan here? What was the objective? What was the goal?

The BATF had the buyers and the smugglers at their disposal, in the US and in clear violation of US laws. They could have busted them, retaken the guns, and kept them from ever crossing the borer. But they didn’t.

The BATF could have informed the Mexican government about the smugglers, and helped Mexico bust them as they crossed the border. Or before they got to the cartels. Or even as they got to the cartels, and taken down the cartels’ agents as well as the smugglers. But they didn’t do that, either.

There’s one really crazy theory being batted around by some conspiracy nuts, some gun nuts who see sinister attempts to take away their rights to own their guns behind pretty much everything. The theory, as I understand it, seems to go like this:

The Obama administration had touted statistics that showed that a majority of guns used by the cartels had US origins. Critics had looked at it, and saw through that argument: the Obama administration was counting only those guns that the Mexican government asked the US to help identify and trace, and a sizable percentage of those were successfully traced. It was that figure that the Obama administration was citing.

But the percentage of guns that the Mexican government asked for assistance in tracing was only a tiny percentage of the actual guns they siezed from the cartels. I don’t have the actual numbers, but here are some approximations from memory:

The Mexican government asked the US for help in tracing 10% of the guns they captured. Of those, the US was successful in 70% of the cases. Which the Obama administration announced as saying that 70% of the guns captured were of US origin — but, in reality, the figure was actually 7%.

So, in an effort to make that number more plausible, and to come up with some rationale for new gun control measures, the percentage of drug cartel guns that could be traced to the US had to be increased, and increased significantly. And how better to increase that percentage than to simply arrange for the cartels to get the guns with the assistance of the US government?

As I said, it’s nutty. It’s crazy. It’s utterly insane.

But it explains the facts known at this point far, far better than any other explanation proffered as of now. In fact, it’s the only one that actually explains every aspect of Operation Fast And Furious. Especially when one ties it in to President Obama’s statement to gun control groups that he was working on new gun control measures “under the table.”

The most recent developments are statements from BATF officials, who seem to be saying that they were acting against their better judgment, but upon direct orders from their superiors in the Justice Department. That’s the Obama Justice Department, headed up by Attorney General Eric Holder. Already they’re saying that Justice Department officials have been working to set up the BATF to stonewall Congressional oversight — and they will NOT be taking the fall for said higher-ups.

Another reason, besides professional pride, why these folks might be wanting the whole truth to come out? Well, as I said, the Mexican government isn’t happy about this whole mess. Those guns the BATF helped smuggle into Mexico killed a lot of innocent people, and they’re talking — seriously — about wanting to extradite the officials responsible for the operation and trying them as accessories to murder.

And they have a pretty strong case. From their perspective, agents of the US government conspired to provide weapons to the drug cartels in Mexico without the Mexican government’s knowledge or consent — and that resulted in a lot of deaths. Mexican officials, and a lot of innocents. That’s something they shouldn’t have to stand for.

Where will it end? God only knows. But it’s not crazy to speculate that it could end up with Attorney General Holder taking the fall.

The bloggers at Confederate Yankee, both on their own site and through Pajamas Media, have done nigh-heroic work on covering and exposing this whole sordid mess. Certainly far better than the traditional media. I’d suggest Bob Owens and crew deserve Pulitzers, but I think they might take that as an insult.

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