Botched ATF Gun Operation Turned Tragic

The 2009 undercover operation, dubbed “Fast and Furious” conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), was so badly botched that both Congress and the Administration must take serious steps to insure such a tragedy never again occurs. Thus far, no one seems prepared to seriously address the problem.

The operation was not unlike other investigations conducted by ATF with the cooperation of FFL (Federal Firearms Licensee) retailers, designed to stem the flow of weapons into Mexico. However, instead of immediately arresting suspected straw purchasers, ATF allowed them to walk across the border hoping they would lead agents to cartel kingpins.

This strategy so concerned a number of ATF agents, that they took the unusual step of raising objections within the agency. They were assured the firearms were being properly tracked; in fact, they weren’t. ATF allowed some 2,000 weapons to be sold during the operation, including more than 360 guns to a pair of convicted felons.

The results of Operation Fast and Furious (dubbed by critics, “Operation Gun Walker”) were sadly predictable. The weapons ended up in the hands of some of Mexico’s most violent drug cartels; who use the weapons to gun down rivals, police, government officials, and random citizens.

According to a report released last week by House oversight committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), high-powered guns and other munitions connected to the ATF’s Phoenix office, out of which the operation was run, began turning up at crime scenes in Mexico. ATF officials in Mexico were blindsided by the discoveries.

Carlos Canino, acting ATF Attaché to Mexico, has been particularly outspoken about the operation, calling it a “perfect storm of idiocy.” Canino’s concern is well-founded. In December, Brian Terry, a Border Patrol Agent, was shot and killed during an incident near the Arizona-Mexico border. Two of the guns found at the scene were connected to Operation Fast and Furious.

Thus far, no one in Washington has admitted that the disastrous consequences of this operation were the government’s fault. However, there are steps that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder can and should take, to assure the American people such problems will not recur.

First, the Attorney General and the President need to work with Republicans in the Senate to agree on a nominee to head the ATF. The Agency has not had an administrator confirmed by the Senate since a federal law made this post subject to confirmation in 2006. A federal agency – particularly one with law enforcement powers – operating with an “acting” director for any length of time, is an agency in which bad decisions and serious accidents are perpetually just waiting to happen; and often do.

Obama should not insist on sending forward names of possible directors completely unacceptable to 2nd Amendment advocates. Similarly, pro-gun Senators and outside advocates should resist demanding a director 100% in synch with all their views. There are many highly qualified men and women who would fit into such an acceptable group; but it must not be someone connected in any way with this operation.

Second, this mess offers the Attorney General an opportunity to clarify the circumstances and rules under which the ATF is permitted to conduct undercover operations with FFLs; implementing tighter controls and providing clearer assurances to the retailers. Holder should seize the opportunity.

Finally, Holder should make clear – publicly – he is directing the Department of Justice to conduct a thorough investigation of Operation Fast and Furious, and that he will let the chips fall where they may; even if it means heads will roll.

Damage already done cannot be undone. But if these steps are taken, some good can yet come out of this tragic blunder.

by Bob Barr — The Barr Code

82 comments Add your comment

Big Tent

August 1st, 2011
7:14 am

The solution here is to only sell guns that fire backwards to the drug cartel criminal types. Score!

caslosgvv

August 1st, 2011
8:55 am

Maybe this bungled operation will reassure those of you who have a house full of weapons because you are afraid the big bad Govt. is going to take away all your guns. Our Govt. is loaded with incompetent politicians who can’t even agree on how to raise the debt ceiling and lower the national debt. I know it’s hard for you to believe, but they have better things to do than constantly plotting how to get you.

JV

August 1st, 2011
9:03 am

This “Fast & Furious” debacle was intentionally designed in an attempt to “prove” guns are going to criminal elements and must be controlled (aka stopped.) They specifically told agents, who knew the program was insane, to “stand down” and let the guns go in a pathetic attempt to make us think there was a problem with gun sales here in the US. Oh yeah, let’s see, our US govt is caught ARMING criminals and even using “stimulus” money to do so. And now the govt needs to strengthen gun laws so criminals can’t get weapons as easily?! What people should ask themselves is, why would a new law be required to catch guys breaking an existing law? When you piece the puzzle together–the absence of genuine investigative strategies, the lack of goals, objectives and a credible endgame, the ‘secret’ nature of the operation hidden from Congress and the American public, the hidden funding, the warning to frontline ATF agents to stand down and shut up, DOJ’s refusal to submit requested documents to Congress even after the issuance of subpeonas, DOJ/ATF stonewalling, and the denials and coverup that continue even today–well, you get the picture.

John Thomas

August 1st, 2011
9:41 am

JV is correct. This was not a “Botched” operation. The highest levels of the US government committed a crime and framed U.S. gun owners and dealers. Our criminal government employees ran to the media and complained that the gun dealers were selling guns to Mexican criminals, and the MSM lapped it all up. They ran many stories about all of the “Assault” weapons pouring across the border because of U.S. gun dealers and gun owners selling their weapons to drug dealers. The intention was to create a “Crisis” so there would be support to enact more laws against the citizens of the United States. The people responsible need to serve lengthy prison sentences. Useful idiots like “caslosgvv” love to infer that gun owners are simply “Paranoid” and say there’s no conspiracy to confiscate firearms, even while 0bama makes speeches to the “Brady campaign” that he’s working on “Gun control behind the scenes”. He was working on it all right, and he got caught.

prosehooter

August 1st, 2011
9:49 am

Abuses by BATF, now BATFE were going on since the inception of the Democrats 1968 Gun control act. Congress has sanctioned that agency more than once with restrictive legislation and budget cuts. The time has come to abolish BATFE and divide its responsibilities among other agencies. Then, it is time to scrap all Federal firearms laws and replace them with reasonable legislation that really protects the government from us ordinary citizens. We do not need protecting from anyone but the government.

Stu Strickler

August 1st, 2011
9:58 am

This needs to be investigated and stopped, now! I find it real hard to believe that the highest people in the ATF didn’t know about this. If they did not know, they should have! This is another snow job to try to force more stupid gun control on American citizens. If anyone involved in this scandal had a brain, they would figure out that you can not and will not disarm us! The Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights is still the law of the land. This I shall defend!

Sharmane

August 1st, 2011
9:59 am

Why aren’t hearings being held, investigations going forward from the president on down? All heads should roll involved in this tragedy. At least one border patrol agent is now dead because of this, as the gun used to kill him was allowed to “walk” across the border! This makes Watergate look like kindergarten play. This is just unacceptable and those involved should be prosecuted, especially the ones in charge including Eric Holder and all the way up to the president. Just traitorous.

anonymous

August 1st, 2011
10:19 am

caslosgvv – tell that to the Branch Davidians at Waco

Heston

August 1st, 2011
10:39 am

Cut the BATF budget by 20% and maybe they will get the message.

Mark Matis

August 1st, 2011
10:56 am

This article misses MUCH of the criminality. The buys were funded by FBI informants using stimulus money. Thank you, Robert Mueller! The vehicles carrying the guns across the border were NOT inspected by ICE agents, under direction of their leadership. Thank you, Janet Napolitano! The Mexican government, and our State Department staff there, were not informed of this operation. Thank you, Hillary Rodham Clinton! Of course, with THAT level of support, there is NO WAY The One or Eric Holder could have known about this. But then that just wouldn’t fit your meme, would it?

Wile E Coyote

August 1st, 2011
11:05 am

The proper solution to this problem of not letting another “Fast and Furious” happen again is to remove the government from any regulating of firearms. #1 They have consistantly proved themselves incapable of doing so without endangering others. #2 As with all other government bureaucracys, they believe they have more authority than they should have been permitted in the first place. and finally, #3 they are NOT permitted to do so by the 2nd ammendment to the Constitution wher it says rather implicitly, “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall NOT be infringed.” I won’t apologize if this sounds condecending but any third grader that has not been brainwashed by the overly liberal education system has no problem understanding!

Robert Fowler

August 1st, 2011
11:15 am

Stu Strickler said;
If anyone involved in this scandal had a brain, they would figure out that you can not and will not disarm us! The Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights is still the law of the land. This I shall defend!

That’s the problem Stu, they don’t have a brain. We will not be disarmed. I’m with you 100%.

luangtom

August 1st, 2011
11:25 am

The sad thing is that the Obama administration is going to try to use this to garner support for MORE fire-arms legislation. They are going to try to get fire-arms laws put through “under the radar”, as Obama himself has said. He has already, by Executive Order, put in place rules for gun sales in border states, without passage of any legislation in the Congress. He will be our new Gun Czar.

Dr. Pangloss

August 1st, 2011
11:25 am

Bob and his ilk were acted perfectly happy when American guns were sold to Mexican criminals to kill Mexican citizens–until it was the ATF’s fault. Then it suddenly became the ultimate evil.

Dr. Pangloss

August 1st, 2011
11:27 am

Typo. Bob and his ilk acted perfectly happy …

Mike Sweeney

August 1st, 2011
11:27 am

I have a better idea.

Instead of the Obama administration working with Republican leaders to appoint a new director of the ATF, why don’t we
A. Fire Holder
B. Hold people accountable for this abortion of an operation.
C. Abolish the BATFE and let the FBI handle all of these investigations as they did for years.

Smaller .gov, = more liberty.

-Mike

Obozonomics

August 1st, 2011
11:37 am

Holder should be put on trial for the stupidity…

Greg Camp

August 1st, 2011
11:43 am

As has been pointed out here several times, the BATFE needs to be abolished. We have the FBI to investigate violations of federal law. The Second Amendment tells our governments that the people are free to have and to carry weapons, and the Twenty-first Amendment leaves alcohol regulation to the individual states. Explosives are a good example of something that each state ought to deal with–strong regulation in densly populated urban states and looser laws for more rural areas. That leaves tobacco, which the FDA can address.

In this period of budget cutting, chop the BATFE.

Grand Forks

August 1st, 2011
12:00 pm

Where are the libs on this one? This is HUGE deal because our own people have been killed by Mexican drug lords using the same guns that the ATF sold to them.

MrLiberty

August 1st, 2011
12:00 pm

The title of your post could just as easily apply to the massace at Waco back in 1993.

Clearly the government has NO business is waging a war on drugs/people, no business in restricting sales of guns/weapons and NO business doing 90+% of what it is doing. The consequences for americans and the rest of the world have been atrocious.

Grand Forks

August 1st, 2011
12:01 pm

“Holder should be put on trial for the stupidity…”

I’m sure the next administration will put team Obozo on the hot seat. Holder should be prosecuted to the fullest extent for this and the black panther debacle.

Grand Forks

August 1st, 2011
12:01 pm

“The title of your post could just as easily apply to the massace at Waco back in 1993.”

Yeah, but the only problem is the ATF didn’t sell weapons to people in Waco.

Grand Forks

August 1st, 2011
12:02 pm

“Bob and his ilk were acted perfectly happy when American guns were sold to Mexican criminals to kill Mexican citizens–until it was the ATF’s fault. ”

I’d love to see you back that insane comment up with facts, Gump. Come on, show us some real data on your claim.

Ron

August 1st, 2011
12:02 pm

The government wants to arm criminals to kill people so more anti-gun legislation could be pushed through. If they got caught they would just say they made a mistake knowing that they were above the law !!

caslosgvv

August 1st, 2011
12:04 pm

anonymous

The leader of the Branch Davidians set the place on fire. It is consiparicy wackos like you who blame the Government.

Greg Camp

August 1st, 2011
12:24 pm

caslosgvv at 12:04,

The event at Waco is an example of what happens when the government overreaches. The Branch Davidians were lunatics, to be sure, but didn’t the Feds realize that backing them into a corner would have only one outcome? Besides which, the attempt by the ATF to search the compound was based on rumor and assumptions.

I don’t support the Branch Davidians, but I do recognize the right of citizens to be secure in their own homes, and I don’t like seeing an intrusive Federal government forcing its way in just because it wants to. What happened at Waco makes fears about gun grabbers more realistic. What happened with Fast and Furious does the same.

Would you buy a used car from someone who keeps selling lemons? The problem here is trust. Time and again, the Feds ask us to trust them–whether the subject at hand is guns or weapons of mass destruction–and time and again, they keep screwing up.

Jimmy62

August 1st, 2011
12:37 pm

If the government tries to take our guns, they’ll eventually find we’re happy to use them to make a new government that will respect the Constitution.

In this particular case, an Inspector General should be put on the case, and when he finds things Obama doesn’t like, he should not be illegally fired like Obama did with IG Walpin, which allowed him to cover-up the very sketchy things going on with Americorps, a cover-up which continues through today since most of the press is unwilling to do stories which make Obama look bad.

[...] Botched ATF Gun Operation Turned TragicAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)The 2009 undercover operation, dubbed “Fast and Furious” conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), was so badly botched that both Congress and the Administration must take serious steps to insure such a tragedy never …How to build a stronger ATFWashington Post [...]

[...] Botched ATF Gun Operation Turned TragicAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)The 2009 undercover operation, dubbed “Fast and Furious” conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), was so badly botched that both Congress and the Administration must take serious steps to insure such a tragedy never …How to build a stronger ATFWashington Post [...]

MrLiberty

August 1st, 2011
12:47 pm

Grand Forks – true enough. The government enticed Randy Weaver – despite his objections – to cut down a shotgun below the legal limit so they could bust him. In the end, three murdered by the government.

As for Waco, if they really had wanted to take David Koresh into custody they easily could have done it when he was out running, out at the store, out meeting with government folks, etc. There was clearly an agenda and anyone who honestly believes that our government doesn’t kill people with malice is exactly the kind of person the government loves – a sucker.

Grand Forks

August 1st, 2011
1:01 pm

Ron

Your comment may be the smartest comment I’ve read in a long long time. Look at Chicago. That city has the strictest gun laws in the land yet the highest gun murder rate in the country. If you’re a criminal, Chicago is your paradise. If you’re a law abiding citizen, Chicago is your worst nightmare.

MrLiberty

Understood and my point is that the government always screws things up.

Grand Forks

August 1st, 2011
1:02 pm

“exactly the kind of person the government loves – a sucker.”

Black people for instance. Black people have voted Democrat for decades and they’re still poor as dirt. Not all but most of them.

“Black folks have voted for Democrats for years and they’re still broke.” – Charles Barkley

Mike Lovvorn

August 1st, 2011
1:29 pm

No this is much worse than tragic. This is governmental mass stupidity at it`s worst. How in the world did these people come up with this logic. I surely hope that the dead agent`s family can sue each individual who had anything at all to do with this.

FINGER LAKES CRANK

August 1st, 2011
1:45 pm

The last thing we need is another investigation. Simple, straight forward facts are well known and cry out for a series of indictments by a grand jury, with trials to follow.

RGB

August 1st, 2011
1:50 pm

Those freedom-loving liberals stop at nothing to selectively enforce the Constitutional amendments they like. They hate the Second, abhor the First for conservative speech, and don’t like some of the others.

The blood of the agent is on the hands of the Justice Department.

to carlosgv:

If you really think politicians don’t have the time to confiscate citizens’ weapons, you must think we were born last night.

Obama supports the U.N. effort to regulate guns that are already protected by the Second Amendment.

As a state senator in Illinois, Obama voted repeatedly for legislation that would have resulted in the prosecution of a man who shot an intruder after the man entered the residence of the homeowner the second time in as many days. If Obama had his way, the man, who had a wife and two children, would be in prison for protecting his family.

Rickster

August 1st, 2011
1:53 pm

And wasn’t this the same administration that railed against the fact that large numbers of guns sold in America were being used in Mexico in order to try and pass new gun legislation?

Alex

August 1st, 2011
2:16 pm

This administration officially sickens me. That sorry excuse for even a politician should have stuck to his whistle and clipboard and let the intelligent people run the country.. oh wait… not enough of those to run the country on either side.. dang. Well people, the idiots wanted change, voted for change and now they have change… just not the monentary kind. Did it scare anyone else when the change was never desrcibed in any real detail? The change Obozo seemed to be referring to was to bring the United States of America to its knees, from the looks of it.

Behind Barr's

August 1st, 2011
2:24 pm

It’s always sad to hear about a “tragic gun operation” Bobby. But blame it on the Gunsmith doing the work.

Ezra

August 1st, 2011
3:27 pm

Could you imagine the political fall out if Bush were still POTUS? Nonetheless, the progressives will give each other a buy on it. After all it was for the good of the community.

caslosgvv

August 1st, 2011
3:28 pm

Greg Camp

“but didn’t the Feds realize that backing them into a corner would have only one outcome”?

So the only thing David Koresh could do was to set the place on fire and kill all those men, women and children?

caslosgvv

August 1st, 2011
3:31 pm

RGB

Why don’t you list 5 or 10 recent instances of politicans confiscating citizens’ weapons.

TruthBe

August 1st, 2011
4:25 pm

The ATF, FBI, will not get in any trouble for their criminal acts because we don’t have a real Justice Department we have a Corrupt Department headed by a racist murderer Eric Holder. This is not his first rodeo in crime. Remember Waco, Ruby Ridge, or Sec.Brown death. Eric Holder was involved in all of these crimes. Nothing ever happens to the feds or the people who head these criminal agenices. The law is only for us “Little People”.

Alex

August 1st, 2011
4:26 pm

I believe what RGB meant was that the libs in Congress have not rested their gun grabbing agenda, even in the face of the whole national debt thing that seems to be causing quite a ruckus still.

Dennis o'H

August 1st, 2011
4:42 pm

@caslosgvv
Chicago, California, New Jersey, Washington, DC, Morton Grove, New York City…

BTW the fire at the Koresh compound was caused by the flamable liquid used as a carrier for the CS gas. The CS was of such a concentration that it would have asphixiated anyone.

caslosgvv, why don’t you try reading and doing a little research before flaunting your ignorance?

AmVet, Granny Godzilla and getalife are all losers

August 1st, 2011
4:54 pm

I can’t find one single VP in the history of the USA who has ever said anything as stupid as this.

Vice President Joe Biden joined House Democrats in lashing tea party Republicans Monday, accusing them of having “acted like terrorists”

I can’t wait to see all the bed wetting libs after Nov 2 of next year. I can not wait to see Chris Matthews cry on national television. I can not wait to see Rachel Maddow cry like the little girl that she really is.

TruthBe

August 1st, 2011
4:58 pm

The use of flame throwing U.S.Military tanks are what caused the fires at the Waco Church Compound. My father used to work on those tanks when he was in the Army. He watch the tanks punch holes in the outer walls and inflame the Building. Also during the Senate hearings Sen.Schumer had one of the star witness in his office for over 3 hours so that she could be brainwashed and lead what to say so that it would help protect the governments actions. You know leading the witness. The feds MURDERED those people and nothing was done to the people incharge that caused this act of murder and abuse. Posse-Comitatus was committed by the feds aganist it’s Citizens.

publius2012

August 1st, 2011
5:40 pm

The cure is to Impeach Obama and his entire administration for coming up with such subversive and criminal attempts to violate the second amendment. This was the work of cowards and criminals. People died because of this program and no one is being held responsible. Something is very wrong about this and if it were a republican administration, there would be recurrent screams from liberals for politicians heads to roll. Where is their voice and concern? The same place their brains are – on the toilet seat!

MY VICE

August 1st, 2011
6:03 pm

Caslosgvv, if you would spend just a little time on the net and do some research about what went on at Waco you would find out that it was the government that set fire to the compound at Waco NOT the branch davidians and the reason why is they did not want any witness”s left alive to tell their side of what went on for those 50 days.

You need to ask your self why did the feds make ALL the media back up over a mile away from the compound the day the fire started, why because they didn’t want to be caught in the act of killing people on film so that way the only story that would be told would be the governments side of the story and we all know they never make any mistakes do they.

A few years after Waco a researcher did an in depth interview with everyone left alive from inside the compound and also had one of the top research firms do a review of all the photos and film of the fire that a government chopper took that was flying over head that day. The researcher had to use the freedom of information act to get the photos and film and what they came up with was the government used tear gas cans that caught the compound on fire, by the way the government says they never used that type of tear gas can in their official report but you can clearly see it being used in the film, then the snipers just waited for anyone left in the compound to come out to get away from the fire and shot them, of course the ATF said they had to shot them and when your side of the story is the only one being told it easy to get away with or so they hoped, to bad for them, that little freedom of information act got in their way of telling more lies to the American people.

The films from the chopper that flew over head during the fire were taken with a Flier camera (it films in the inferred) and you can see the flash coming from the rifles of the ATF snipers on the ground as they shot each and everyone of the men and women who ran from the burning compound you can also see the tear gas cans put in the compound by ATF start the fire too.

Oh ya a few more things that most people and the left wing press won’t tell you about Waco, the gun battle that took place outside the compound lasted for over haft an hour, during that time the ATF ran out of ammo (poor planing i guess) and could no longer return fire and had no way to retreat without the branch davidians being able to shot all of them because they had nothing but open ground with no cover at all to protect them from gunfire on their retreat to the road outside the compound.

Now if the branch davidains were the crazy people that the ATF and media made them out to be they could have walked out side and killed each and every ATF agent but they didn’t, all they were doing was protecting their home and family’s from a bunch of jack booted thugs just like many of us would do if we had a bunch of a$$holes braking down our door.

One more item most people don’t know, one of the ATF snipers who was at Waco and shot some of the branch davidians was the same agent that shot Randy Weavers wife, dog and son, and by the way he shot his son in the BACK as the kid was running AWAY FROM THE AGENT, ya trust the government you would have to be an idiot to trust anything they tell us!

After Waco not ONE agent from the ATF was held accountable for their actions or the death of all those men, women and children. Clinton, Reno and the DOJ let all the ATF agents get away with murder and to this day not one has been charged with those deaths, but the branch davidians all did time in jail so i ask you were is the justice for them.

Streetracer

August 1st, 2011
6:04 pm

While the seemingly criminal behavior bothers me, I think that I am more bothered by the ineptitude. Whole operation reminds me of behavior my father would describe as “Ever see a monkey ####ing a football?”