U.S.A. – -(Ammoland.com)- “Fast and Furious victims speak out for first time in decade, demand justice,” One America News Network reported Monday. “A lingering scandal from the Obama-era has resurfaced regarding the sale of guns to Mexican cartels.”
Getting the word out and keeping this story alive is essential. With few exceptions, the major media didn’t want to touch it when it was breaking, with most either ignoring it or spinning it in such a way to minimize its significance, protect favored politicians and use it to further advance the narrative that it was ultimately the fault of “lax American gun laws.”
That said, as one of the investigative writers uncovering evidence and reporting on “gunwalking” before that media had written a word, I do have some critiques in the interest of accuracy and perspective. Those of us who believe there are still many facts yet to be uncovered and people to hold accountable have a special obligation to get it right. That’s because getting it wrong allows those who want the story to go away to dismiss it as partisan politics, or worse, as “conspiracy theory,” with all that implies.
My first bone to pick is the claim that this is the first time the subjects have spoken out in more than a decade. AmmoLand Shooting Sports News readers have been presented with dozens of stories featuring Kent Terry, brother of slain Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. This is the site that reported on then-candidate Donald Trump promising he would get to the bottom of things, and readers here have received numerous updates on the Freedom of Information Act request and lawsuit necessitated by continued government stonewalling and evasiveness in which Terry and I are plaintiffs.
Likewise, Wesley Felix is no stranger to readers of this column. Back in May 2016, we presented documentation of ATF improprieties and evidence supporting bank fraud allegations along with as-yet unfulfilled pleas to House Oversight and Senate Judiciary to investigate and question officials under oath.
Another bone to pick is with OANN reporter Chanel Rion’s continued use of the word “botched.” ATF managers knew exactly what they were doing, “‘walking across’ ARs and AKs to pad their statistics.” No “sting” is possible if the guns aren’t followed. The only thing “botched” was they got caught. Words have meaning and anyone using that terminology needs to ask whose interests are served by parroting the “botched” deception that intentionally dominates the media.
My final concern is to caution careful use of the term “Fast and Furious” – it does not apply to all “gunwalking.” It was specifically a Phoenix Field Division operation, although Ian Garland, the former gun dealer appearing in the report, operated out of El Paso, Texas, which is under jurisdiction of the Dallas Field Division (El Paso factors into the Inspector General report on Fast and Furious as the site of a stash house on the way from Phoenix to Mexico).
As a side note, Garland’s story is both interesting and revealing, especially the information that he was “overcharged” by prosecutors and “he was given a longer sentence because the court was misinformed that some of the weapons he sold were fully automatic machine guns, rather than rifles and pistols.” (As another side note, a Las Cruces tie-in brings to mind a series of reports on more victims of government injustice, the Reese family of New Deal Shooting Sports, which is a story for another time).
Allegations of “walking” guns done out of Nevada should have been under the jurisdiction of the San Francisco Field Division. If Phoenix were involved, evidence and documentation would need to show coordination between the two divisions.
That’s not to say the Special Agents in Charge across divisions weren’t incentivized to make their DOJ bosses happy. The heavily publicized Project Gunrunner interdiction strategies were aimed at the cartels but operational guidelines did not (“officially”) instruct that guns should be “walked.” Through the course of investigating, there were reports of similar allegations in Minneapolis during the Clinton era, in Florida (“Operation Castaway”), and in the Pacific Northwest (sorry, no link: the informant got cold feet and clammed up).
All that said, it is important to keep “gunwalking” and its murderous results in the public eye in case the time ever comes when it is once more seen as politically advantageous to champion. In our lawsuit, Terry and I, represented by attorney Stephen Stamboulieh, are trying to establish what the State Department under Hillary Clinton knew and when they knew it. We’re questioning why no one has been prosecuted for arms export control violations. We’re also trying to determine why an official has been exempted by Obama’s Chief Counsel from explaining his role in requesting information from the Phoenix ATF Special Agent in Charge, who provided it with the admonishment “You didn’t get this from me.”
In terms of wider investigations and Congress once more picking up the mantle, no one should hold any illusions. After Darell Issa turned over the chairmanship of House Oversight, Jason Chaffetz was treated to more of the same arrogant disregard, and now that Democrats control the House, don’t look for Chair Elijah Cummings to do anything but kill any attempts to bring the subject up. Had a Democrat-controlled Oversight done its job in 2009 when colleague Mike Vanderboegh and I were pleading with it to heed the complaints of veteran ATF agents about agency waste, abuse, corruption and fraud, “gunwalking” could have been nipped in the bud and Brian Terry and untold hundreds of Mexican victims might still be alive.
What that ultimately means is the 2020 elections are probably the last best hope any of us have, but only if Republicans take back the House, and then, only if they see a political advantage in exposing criminal cover-ups of years gone by. Barring that, it will be a job for future historians.
In the meantime, despite my pointing out some areas where I have a background and they don’t, good on OANN for covering this, and on Terry, Felix and others for continuing to press for the truth.
As another side note, whenever writing about this, some invariably chime in and say it started during the Bush administration. Direct from Mike Detty, the confidential informant at the heart of Operation Wide Receiver:
“It had nothing to do with Bush or even DOJ.”
About David Codrea:
David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. He blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” is a regularly featured contributor to Firearms News, and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.