Gun Walking

Appearing on the Roger Hedgecock radio show Wednesday night, House Oversight chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) announced that he has opened an investigation into Project Gun Walker, which is developing into one of the most bizarre and dangerous scandals of the Obama Administration.  It’s almost impossible to make sense of it – if you haven’t heard the story before, be prepared to spend the next few paragraphs shaking your head in astonishment.  The only theory that does make sense is ominous indeed, and if Congressman Issa’s investigation provides support for that theory, there is no telling how many heads will roll.

Project Gun Walker, also known by the case name “Fast and Furious” and “Operation Gunrunner,” was a plan in which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives would deliberately allow guns into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, in order to “see where all the guns ended up, build a big case, and take down a cartel,” as whistleblower agent John Dodson explained to CBS News.  Such operations existed as far back as 2008, but starting in 2010 they were expanded by an order of magnitude.

Shaking your head like that is kind of unpleasant, isn’t it?  I warned you.  You’re about to do it again.

We’re not just talking about a couple of pistols.  CBS News got its hands on surveillance videos that showed “suspected drug cartel suppliers carrying boxes of weapons to their cars at a Phoenix gun shop,” including AK-47 assault rifles.  The ATF stood by and watched as thousands of guns hit the streets of Mexico.  They actually paid certain gun dealers, enlisted as Confidential Informants, to make this happen.  Perhaps not coincidentally, gun violence in Mexico soared while the ATF was tossing crates of munitions to the cartels.

According to Agent Dodson, one of those AK-47s was used to kill Border Patrol agent and military veteran Brian Terry.  He says two of the Project Gun Walker rifles were found at the scene of his murder.  There is still some confusion on this point, but Congressman Issa’s team should act quickly to confirm or deny it.

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee, along with ranking Republican Charles Grassley of the Senate Judiciary Committee, have been demanding answers from the Justice Department and Attorney General Eric Holder.  They have been met with stone walls and dishonest denials.  Democrats on both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees have been utterly silent.

Many have speculated that only Darrell Issa’s oversight powers could break the stalemate, and now he’s officially gotten involved.  He told Roger Hedgecock that he’s got “four investigators working full time on this.”  In addition to finding out exactly who authorized the “Gun Walker” programs, they might ask whether exporting all these murder weapons to Mexico has actually produced any of those high-profile cartel takedowns.  I couldn’t find much evidence that any big fish have been reeled in.

Exactly how was this boneheaded plan supposed to work, anyway?  It doesn’t seem as if those guns were implanted with any sort of tracking device, and you’d need the starship Enterprise to track the position of thousands of weapons over long distances.  Was the ATF plan to give drug lords the tools to commit hundreds of murders, then bring in CSI teams to track them down after the autopsies?

This entire strategy appears profoundly incongruous for an Administration keen to impose more gun control laws on Americans… and that’s the really ominous part of the story. 

Writing at the St. Louis Examiner, gun rights advocate and blogger Kurt Hofmann questions “the BATFE / Department of Justice spin that this was a perhaps ill-considered, but still honorably intended, effort to bring down at least one major Mexican drug syndicate,” and suggests a more straightforward purpose for the seemingly incomprehensible Gun Walker operation was to “pad the statistics about Mexican ‘crime guns’ coming from the U.S. civilian market.”  This would “strengthen the BATFE’s argument for more funding and power… and gun control advocates’ calls for more restrictive gun laws.”

Hofmann and other writers have cited sources within the BATFE to support this horrifying theory.  If it turns out to be true – and it makes a lot more sense than the Bureau’s stated reasons for allowing thousands of guns to walk across the border into Mexico – it could become the biggest story in the world.  It all sounds sensationalistic and paranoid, but the “sensible” answers don’t add up.  Something disturbing lies on the other side of the stone wall Issa’s investigators are about to jackhammer their way through.