August 30, 2011. Phoenix. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms already had a checkered past. The agency hasn’t even had a permanent Director since 2006. And last year it was revealed that the ATF had been supplying Mexican drug cartels with firearms and other high powered weaponry.
ATF sold 2,500 guns to Mexican drug cartels
In all, ATF agents sold approximately 2,500 weapons to the cartels and their drug gangs. Two of the ATF’s weapons were even recovered at the scene of the murder of a US Border Patrol agent last year. Now, rumblings are suggesting that nobody has been held accountable because the culpability goes much higher than anyone imagines.
That’s the suggestion that’s been floating around for some time now. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, has been investigating the ATF operation that knowingly gave thousands of firearms to Mexican drug cartels. According to today’s Christian Science Monitor, Congressman Issa believes the White House is laying blame on mid-ranking officials in an effort to protect one or more decision-makers higher up in the Obama team. “We won’t let blame for reckless Fast and Furious be shifted onto these few” Rep. Issa tweeted after today’s announcement.
Today, it was revealed that the ATF’s acting Director, Kenneth Melson, was transferred to a senior position in the Department of Justice. Melson was the head of the agency at the time of ‘Fast and Furious’ – the ATF program designed specifically to supply Mexican drug cartels with thousands of firearms. Some of those firearms have been recovered at dozens of crime scenes on the US side of the border. Nobody knows how many of them have turned up or been responsible for the hundreds of massacres occurring just over the border in Mexico.
Also today, the Justice Department announced that US Attorney in Arizona, Dennis Burke, will also be stepping down. Burke was a senior government lawyer involved in the execution of Fast and Furious. Melson and Burke are the highest ranking Federal officials exposed for their involvement in the scheme so far. Already, other senior authorities have transferred, hidden or forced out.
According to CBS News ATF Phoenix Special Agent in Charge Bill Newell was reassigned to headquarters, two Assistant Special Agents in Charge, George Gillett and Jim Needles, were also moved to other positions. And US Assistant Attorney in Phoenix, Emory Hurley, will be next.
This entire deadly tragedy begs two pointed questions. One, why does the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms even exist anymore? And two, why hasn’t anyone from the Justice Department or the Treasury Department gone to prison for supplying Mexican drug cartels with thousands of firearms, the vast majority of which have never been recovered. And when two were found, it was at the murder of a US Border Patrol agent. If any of our readers were guilty of this crime, they’d be in jail for 300 years. Even if they did it under orders from their employer, as agents argue in this case, they’d still get fired and then go to jail.
Taking Congressman Issa’s comments and the many ‘transfers’ going on with the main Federal officials involved in the conspiracy, it’s more than apparent that something stinks. ATF field agents personally involved in the transfer of the firearms to the drug cartels have testified before Congress, as well as discussed with the media, that they were pressured by senior officials in the agency to back-off and let the guns disappear, or let the guns “walk” as one put it.
How far up does the scandal and cover-up go? Could the White House be buying silence by simply transferring all the Federal authorities responsible to other cushy Federal jobs instead of bringing them to trial, or even firing them? How many of us would still have our jobs if we accidentally gave 2,500 guns to drug cartels? And then, who could this cover-up be protecting? The scandal involves two Federal agencies, Justice and Treasury. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is the senior official in charge of the ATF and their Fast and Furious program. During the financial collapse of 2008, Mr. Geithner showed no hesitancy to blur the law and use an iron fist when dealing with the country’s banks.
Here’s a final thought to consider from the Treasury Department itself:
Duties and Functions of the US Department of the Treasury
Maintain a strong economy and create economic and job opportunities by promoting the conditions that enable economic growth and stability at home and abroad, strengthen national security by combating threats and protecting the integrity of the financial system, and manage the U.S. Government’s finances and resources effectively.
With those “Duties and Functions” and that “Mission” statement, why in the world is the ATF in the business of selling 2,500 firearms to the Mexican drug cartels?
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