Tireless Fast and Furious investigator Sharyl Atkisson of CBS News has been combing through the Obama Administration’s document dumps, and found some very interesting material that sheds light on the true purpose of this jaw-dropping “botched operation”:
Documents obtained by CBS News show that the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) discussed using their covert operation “Fast and Furious” to argue for controversial new rules about gun sales.
In Fast and Furious, ATF secretly encouraged gun dealers to sell to suspected traffickers for Mexican drug cartels to go after the “big fish.” But ATF whistleblowers told CBS News and Congress it was a dangerous practice called “gunwalking,” and it put thousands of weapons on the street. Many were used in violent crimes in Mexico. Two were found at the murder scene of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
ATF officials didn’t intend to publicly disclose their own role in letting Mexican cartels obtain the weapons, but emails show they discussed using the sales, including sales encouraged by ATF, to justify a new gun regulation called “Demand Letter 3”. That would require some U.S. gun shops to report the sale of multiple rifles or “long guns.” Demand Letter 3 was so named because it would be the third ATF program demanding gun dealers report tracing information.
(Emphasis mine.) A familiar name pops up in these documents: Special Agent in Charge Bill Newell of the Phoenix ATF office.
On July 14, 2010 after ATF headquarters in Washington D.C. received an update on Fast and Furious, ATF Field Ops Assistant Director Mark Chait emailed Bill Newell, ATF’s Phoenix Special Agent in Charge of Fast and Furious:
“Bill – can you see if these guns were all purchased from the same (licensed gun dealer) and at one time. We are looking at anecdotal cases to support a demand letter on long gun multiple sales. Thanks.”
On Jan. 4, 2011, as ATF prepared a press conference to announce arrests in Fast and Furious, Newell saw it as “(A)nother time to address Multiple Sale on Long Guns issue.” And a day after the press conference, Chait emailed Newell: “Bill–well done yesterday… (I)n light of our request for Demand letter 3, this case could be a strong supporting factor if we can determine how many multiple sales of long guns occurred during the course of this case.”
There’s plenty more at the link above. Fast and Furious critics have long suspected that the true purpose of the operation was to pump up cross-border gun crimes for domestic political purposes. The CBS report cites a law-enforcement source who says, “It’s like the ATF created or added to the problem so they could be the solution to it and pat themselves on the back. It’s a circular way of thinking.”
If you’re not quite ready to contemplate that level of conspiratorial evil – keeping in mind that the Obama Administration’s “gun walking” killed several hundred people, including Americans – you might comfort yourself by saying these new documents prove only that opportunistic gun-control zealots were eager to use the results for political purposes. That might not have been the original purpose of the operation.
We could just ask the Justice Department to clear this up, couldn’t we? As it happens, CBS News tried, and so have congressional investigators. There has been no response. Rep. Darrell Issa of the House Oversight committee told CBS this “refusal to answer questions about the role Operation Fast and Furious was supposed to play in advancing new firearms regulations is simply unacceptable.”