Gun-walking: The history and aftermath of operation Fast and Furious

Operation Fast and Furious almost seems like something out of the Keystone Cops, a massive bumbling government operation that even one of those involved described as “delusional.” But instead of being comedy, it ended in horrible tragedy when two weapons the ATF allowed to be smuggled to drug cartels were recovered at the scene where Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed by a Mexican national on Arizona land.

The plan seems almost incomprehensible now. Over 2,000 weapons, including AK-47s and .50 caliber rifles, plus ten thousand rounds of ammo were deliberately allowed by ATF to go to drug cartels so they could be tracked. Almost comically, the tracking device on the weapons was a GPS bought at Radio Shack. Yet, the battery life was only three months, making it impossible to know where the guns were after the batteries died. The operation continued long after that. Were it not for agent Terry’s death, it might still be going on.

It was supposed to be a sting, although it’s difficult to understand how they thought the arrests could be made, or who would be arrested. It’s not like cartel members allow themselves to be arrested without a fight, and the guns were presumably in Mexico, on foreign soil. Several ATF agents requested that they be allowed to seize the weapons and were repeatedly told to stand down. The original whistleblower, special agent Vince Cefalu, was fired. He claims it was politically motivated.

Naturally, many of those who were even remotely close to the scene of this train wreck say that they had no clue such things were going on. Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder claim they knew nothing. Yet, there does seem to be more than a bit of stonewalling going on. In February, an Assistant Attorney General wrote to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and told him the gun-walking had not happened and that no retaliation would be made against ATF agents. But, the gun-walking did happen and Cefalu was fired for charges that many consider a pretext.

It wasn’t until Congressman Darryl Issa (R-CA) forced the issue by holding hearings in which the truth about the gun-walking began to emerge. All in all, the denizens of D.C. seem overly concerned with avoiding any possible responsibility for Fast and Furious rather than determining what happened and ensuring that it never happens again. We need accountability and transparency here. What we’re getting is murk.

Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke has resigned after admitting to mishandling a probe into Fast and Furious. He was expected to run for major office but those plans are obviously in doubt now. Acting ATF Director Ken Melson has been re-assigned to Justice. The federal government says investigations are ongoing.

Let’s hope that real results come from the investigations and not just a whitewash. As it stands now, the family of Brian Terry has been denied the routine request to be declared crime victims.

In researching this article, I found that virtually all those digging into the story are from right-wing or libertarian sites. Simply put, this isn’t a left vs. right issue. A man is dead. It probably didn’t have to happen. Way too many guns were allowed to go to the cartels. Those are the issues.

(Crossposted from AZIVN)

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