The ATF’s “Collateral Damage”: 2 Federal Agents and 300 Civilians Sacrificed to Make the Case for Gun Control

Operation Fast and Furious was an ATF initiative to allow–indeed, encourage–the purchase of AK-47s and .50 caliber rifles by proxies (straw purchasers) for Mexican drug gangs, and then to let these guns to be taken over the border into Mexico without making any attempt to interdict or trace them, even though both the flow into and the possession of these guns in Mexico is illegal. According to the Mexican government, at last count 300 people have been murdered in Mexico as a result of the guns allowed to walk in Operation Fast and Furious. In addition, two US Federal Officers, including Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, have been murdered with Fast and Furious weapons.

Since the ATF is legally compelled to interdict straw purchases and stop the illegal flow of weapons into Mexico, Operation Fast and Furious was not just unethical and short-sighted: It was illegal. ATF and DOJ memos released earlier this year directly state that the bureaucrats and agents involved expected that there would be “collateral damage” (i.e., unnecessary deaths) as a result of Operation Fast and Furious. Thus, effectively, Operation Fast and Furious was an illegal conspiracy to aid and abet murder. The yet unanswered questions are who approved Operation Fast and Furious, and why it was approved to begin with.

The ATF is a bureau within the Justice Department. Previous Justice Department operations which involved cross-border relations with Mexico had to be approved by both the Attorney General and the White House. No conclusive proof has been found yet that US Attorney General Eric Holder or President Obama knew about the illegal character of Operation Fast and Furious. Meanwhile, Eric Holder has continually stonewalled and lied to Congressional investigators and attempted to deflect responsibility to ATF field agents. Given his stonewalling, lies, and simple DOJ procedures, it is impossible to believe that Holder did not authorize Operation Fast and Furious. It is also impossible to believe that he did not know of its illegal character from the very start. And if Holder knew of Operation Fast and Furious from the start, so did Obama.

It has long been theorized that Operation Fast and Furious was approved in order to statistically show an explosion of illegal gun sales and an explosion of deaths and violence in Mexico (“collateral damage”), all to provide a rationale justifying stricter gun control measures in the US. The role of the US government in initiating these gun sales, violence, and deaths was presumably to remain hidden.  However, no evidence showing this theory to be true has come to light, until now.

Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News reports,

Documents obtained by CBS News show that the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) discussed using their covert operation “Fast and Furious” to argue for controversial new rules about gun sales …
ATF officials didn’t intend to publicly disclose their own role in letting Mexican cartels obtain the weapons, but emails show they discussed using the sales, including sales encouraged by ATF, to justify a new gun regulation called “Demand Letter 3″. That would require some U.S. gun shops to report the sale of multiple rifles or “long guns.” Demand Letter 3 was so named because it would be the third ATF program demanding gun dealers report tracing information.
On July 14, 2010 after ATF headquarters in Washington D.C. received an update on Fast and Furious, ATF Field Ops Assistant Director Mark Chait emailed Bill Newell, ATF’s Phoenix Special Agent in Charge of Fast and Furious:
“Bill – can you see if these guns were all purchased from the same (licensed gun dealer) and at one time. We are looking at anecdotal cases to support a demand letter on long gun multiple sales. Thanks.”
On Jan. 4, 2011, as ATF prepared a press conference to announce arrests in Fast and Furious, Newell saw it as “(A)nother time to address Multiple Sale on Long Guns issue.” And a day after the press conference, Chait emailed Newell: “Bill–well done yesterday… (I)n light of our request for Demand letter 3, this case could be a strong supporting factor if we can determine how many multiple sales of long guns occurred during the course of this case.”

Please read the complete article.

While this new evidence is damning, it only implicates the ATF field office in Phoenix. Robert VerBruggen notes, however, that those at the ATF headquarters in Washington DC had to have known what was going on:

Given the revelation that in July 2010, ATF Field Ops Assistant Director Mark Chait inquired about using a Fast and Furious case as an anecdote to support gun control, the question naturally becomes: What did Chait know about Fast and Furious when he asked? Was he innocently looking for examples of crime guns that were bought in bulk, or was he aware that the ATF may have deliberately let the sales in question go through?
According to an August 2011 press release from Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Democratic member of the House Oversight Committee, in testimony Chait “stated that [he] did not learn about the tactics used in [Fast and Furious] or about the specific concerns of the line agents until earlier this year.” But a look through the House Oversight Committee report suggests otherwise.
This information is footnoted to “E-mail from Mark Chait to William Newell and Daniel Kumor, November 25, 2009”:

The first large recovery of weapons in Mexico linked to Operation Fast and Furious occurred on November 20, 2009, in Naco, Sonora — located on the U.S./Mexico border. All of the 42 weapons recovered in Naco traced back to Operation Fast and Furious straw purchasers. Forty-one of these weapons were AK-47 rifles and one was a Beowulf .50 caliber rifle. Twenty of the weapons in this recovery were reported on multiple sales summaries by ATF, and these weapons had a “time-to-crime” of just one day.

Also, he attended at least one meeting about the problems:

Upon learning of the recoveries, analysts in ATF’s Office of Strategic Information and Intelligence (OSII) in Washington, D.C. attempted to piece together fragments of information to report up the chain of command. According to ATF personnel, every Tuesday morning OSII holds a briefing for the field operations staff. . . . Mark Chait, the Assistant Director for Field Operations, often attends. . . .

OSII first briefed on Operation Fast and Furious on Tuesday December 8, 2009, including the Naco recovery. The following week, OSII briefed the Mexicali recovery. Subsequent briefings covered other recoveries that had occurred in the United States. The magnitude of the Operation Fast and Furious investigation quickly became apparent to senior ATF officials. . . .

Assistant Director Mark Chait . . . attended the January 5, 2010, field-ops briefing led by Intelligence Operations Specialist Lorren Leadmon. At this briefing, the participants expressed concerns about Operation Fast and Furious. . . . OSII had compiled a summary of all of the weapons that could be linked to known straw purchasers under Operation Fast and Furious to date and presented this information to the group. The total number of guns purchased in just two months was 685.

Chait was demoted during the post–Fast and Furious ATF shakeup. He is still listed as the head of the Baltimore field office.

It may well be that we will never see a high-level memo setting out in precise detail the real nature and purpose of Operation Fast and Furious. As this investigation moves forward, it necessarily will involve drawing together different strands from various memos and e-mails in order to get a complete picture of who authorized or knew what. And, like many such investigations, it must begin at the bottom and not the top.

The real issues are how far up the investigation will go, and whether the American public has the patience to sift through a myriad of memos and e-mails in order to draw the conclusion that a crime has been committed. Ultimately, without public interest in and support for a full investigation, we may never get to the bottom of this.

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4 Responses to The ATF’s “Collateral Damage”: 2 Federal Agents and 300 Civilians Sacrificed to Make the Case for Gun Control

  1. This is what happens when you let libtards run law enforcement. You don’t see a whole lot of liberal cops or FBI guys out there.
    John Wilder

  2. Pingback: A smoking gun for ‘Fast and Furious’ where there’s smoke there is fire | Congressman Tom Tancredo

  3. Pingback: The US, Mexico & Guns | Gadaboutblogalot's Blog

  4. Pingback: ‘Fast and Furious’ Smoking Guns: Gunwalker a Ploy for Gun Control

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