There has never been much love for the ATF among conservatives. Terms like “Ruby Ridge” and “Waco” might not elicit more than shrugs from most people, but to those on the right-most fringes they are the equivalent of Pearl Harbor and the Alamo, exemplifying a government run amok stealing freedom from its citizens. The smoldering hatred of the ATF goes back much further into the mists of Appalachian mountains where bootleggers made moonshine and played cat and mouse games with the federal authorities determined to shut them down. Add in a conservative’s instinctive distrust of all things associated with the federal government, a topic involving guns and what was once at the fringes of the Right becomes increasingly mainstream.
Operation Fast and Furious is just the latest example of the outright stupidity of the ATF. The details of the operation are so simple that it’s difficult to understand how it ever left the whiteboard let alone was approved. Straw purchases of guns from legal gun dealers were encouraged, and existing gun laws intentional bypassed to allow guns to be tracked from gun dealers to the border. But there the tracking stopped; the next time the guns were seen again was at crime scenes in Mexico.
Members of both parties are questioning the purpose of this operation. If it was to track the guns to the Mexican drug cartels, how were the guns supposed to be tracked after they hit the border? And even if there was some way of tracking them once they moved into Mexico, why? We know where the Mexican drug cartels are; they have taken over entire states and operate openly in cities throughout the country. So what was the reason for the operation?
Lacking an answer to that question that doesn’t sound like it was made by bureaucrats stoned out of their gourds makes conservatives search for other motives. The Obama administration has been pushing the lie that 90% of weapons recovered at crime scenes in Mexico originated in the US. This myth has been perpetrated by Obama as well as Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder and Mexican president Felipe Calderón and amplified by anti-gun members of Congress and the mainstream media.
One doesn’t have to be a paranoid, black helicopter-fearing wing nut to wonder whether the true purpose of Fast and Furious was to flood Mexico with firearms from the United States in order to create a backlash against legitimate gun dealers and owners. At this point it is the only logical conclusion that fits the data. Even Hanlon’s Razor can’t even save it. Fast and Furious makes sense in this context.
First consider that the operation remained secret – though we only know about the operation because of a single whistleblower. Next imagine the US government passing serial numbers of the guns to Mexican law enforcement, who would then announce their presence at crime scenes. Guns from the United States would then become the story, allowing the administration to put forward “sensible and sane restrictions on guns” that only the most rabid gun-nut would oppose, say making the California ban on assault weapons a federal one. Sure a small number of gun dealers would complain that the government had forced them to break the law, but most would remain silent, fearing retaliation by the federal government.
Almost 10 years ago I founded this journal to combat the conspiracy theories and plain muddy thinking that came from the Left after 9-11. Since that time I have come to learn that conspiracists exist across the political spectrum, but have no trouble applying the same rules of logic to the Kennedy Assassination as I do to the 9-11 Truthers. Just because I share many of the same goals of the Right such as limited government does not mean that I believe in some overarching Right Wing creed that includes the belief that the Federal Government is inherently evil and out to destroy the freedoms set forth in the Declaration of Independence and codified in the Constitution. “Limited” does not mean “none.” The Founders of this Republic may have disagreed with the extent of the federal government, but they all agreed to its existence.
But given what I know today about Fast and Furious, it is easy for me to understand why some people grab their guns and head to the hills. The fact that an agency of the federal government would come up with Fast and Furious and then fail to explain its purpose before elected representatives of the people in Congress makes me a little more sympathetic to those who believe the conspiracies that I have spent years deconstructing. That doesn’t mean that I accept that the CIA planted explosives in the World Trade Center or that its assassins assisted Oswald in killing Kennedy, but Fast and Furious and the people that spawned it have created a nurturing environment for such conspiracies to flourish. Add in the strange handling of Bin Laden’s assassination and burial at sea, and the Obama administration seems almost to be encouraging people to believe in anti-government conspiracies.
The question remains: Is Fast and Furious itself a conspiracy? So far it’s hard to argue otherwise after the head of the ATF sat before elected representatives of the People and could not justify the operation. His resignation will not end the speculation that its purpose was nothing less than the undermining of the 2nd Amendment using the corpses of Mexican civilians.
Update: Here’s a complete timeline of the scandal.
SayUncle writes: “Imagine the DEA telling pharmacists to illegally sell oxycontin to known drug dealers or they would be shut down. Then imagine the DEA using the fact that more oxycontin was on the street (and hundreds of overdose deaths) as a pretext for making it harder for patients to get prescribed narcotics. This is essentially what happened with the ATF and Project Gunwalker.”
Update: Seems we crazy gun nuts weren’t being paranoid after all. Operation Fast and Furious: Designed to Promote Gun Control:
Can you see if these guns were all purchased from the same FfL and at one time. We are looking at anecdotal cases to support a demand letter on long gun multiple sales. Thanks Mark R. Chait Assistant Director Field Operations.”
The most impressive revelations are of data that Acting Director Melson gave them. ATF was ready to cooperate until it was gagged by the Deputy Attorney General. They informed the Deputy AG that they had documents that contradicted the “official story” Justice was giving out. A memo describing an important meeting—held to convince a cooperating gun dealer who was getting worried about allowing all these suspicious gun buys—was actually written over a year later, after the controversy broke. Melson says there is a memo that is a “smoking gun,” which Justice is still refusing to reveal to the Committee.
UPDATE: Investors Business Daily opines:
Now the FBI may have been coerced into being an accessory. “It is unconscionable and goes beyond just being a terribly ill-conceived investigation to bordering, if not crossing, into criminal activity,” says Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., a former federal prosecutor and member of Issa’s committee.
The lies, the intimidation of witnesses, the administration denials — all are part of a cover-up strongly reminiscent of Watergate except for one thing: Nobody died at Watergate.