History buffs will recall that today is the 135th anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, a military catastrophe that also became a political debacle, and if George Armstrong Custer were alive today, he could probably teach Kenneth Melson and Eric Holder something valuable about strategic errors.
Melson, acting director of the embattled Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Holder, the Obama administration’s attorney general, are in the eye of a political storm that is worsening now that a team of congressmen has arrived in Mexico. Led by California Congressman Darrell Issa, they are digging deeper into the botched Operation Fast and Furious.
While some in the media are continuing to run interference for the administration — as this column noted here and here — trying to shift the blame for the scheme that flooded Mexico with more than 2,000 guns from the ATF to the National Rifle Association and other gun rights advocates and Senate Republicans, and even our gun laws, others are pointing fingers where they belong.
Melson is acting director today because Republicans have blocked the confirmation of President Barack Obama’s nominee for director of ATF. That’s Andrew Traver, who heads the ATF’s field office in Chicago.—Chicago Tribune
Melson, as noted by this column, is refusing to step aside so that the administration can install its pick to head the agency, Andrew Traver, currently the special agent in charge in Chicago. He has too much baggage in his background for gun rights activists, who want someone in charge of the agency who knows the good guys from the bad guys, and will not trample gun rights in an effort to make it appear the government is doing something about crime.
Current and former federal officials say their hands are tied because of weak U.S. gun laws. Possessing a gun isn’t a crime, unlike, say, possessing cocaine. And, to bring a prosecution, the government must demonstrate that a straw purchaser had bad intentions.
“No legitimate examination of this issue would be complete without examining our nation’s gun laws, which allow tens of thousands of assault weapons to flow from the United States to Mexico every year,” Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings says.—NPR
And that brings us back around to Operation Fast and Furious. A growing number of people are beginning to note that Fast and Furious brought the indictment of 20 low-level straw buyers, not the major cartel leaders the effort ostensibly wanted to bring down. In the process, the ATF knowingly put a hideous number of firearms into criminal hands.
According to Bill McMahon, a BATFE deputy assistant director cited in Investor’s Business Daily, the quantity of non-military U.S. weapons found in cartel hands is 8 percent, not 90.
Given the obvious distortion, these sources wonder if Gunwalker didn’t also have the goal of driving up the number of weapons traced to U.S. sources to help push the administration’s anti-gun agenda.
It’s hard to believe our law enforcement officials would lie to support a political scheme.
However, it’s also almost impossible to believe they would give guns to drug gangs.
But they did.—Portland Press Herald
President Obama has insisted he didn’t approve the operation, and neither did Holder. That carefully parsed non-denial denial did not translate to: “We didn’t know about it.”
Custer charged down the slopes of the hills east of the Little Bighorn River to attack what was probably the largest encampment of Indians ever found in the American West. He expected to bring glory to himself and his regiment, and perhaps create momentum that would propel him to a presidential nomination. Instead, he rode into a massacre.
The ATF people responsible for Fast and Furious thought they could bring down a major cartel, but instead now find themselves under intense scrutiny that could end careers and perhaps even bring criminal charges.
If Custer were around today, there would be nobody better qualified to explain just how wrong an idea like that can go.
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