Why?!

The biggest question in the Gunwalker scandal is also the simplest: Why? The ATF trafficked thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels, making no effort to track them. Why do such a thing?

The administration has refused to answer this simple question. They continue to call it a “botched” operations, as though they accidentally gave criminals the money for weapons, they accidentally let the weapons walk, they accidentally ordered ATF agents not to track the weapons, and when one ATF agent did track the weapons in violation of those orders, they accidentally refused his calls for backup. Moreover, the people responsible for Gunwalker have all been promoted, which is not how one responds to a botch.

No, they sent those weapons to Mexican drug cartels on purpose, and they won’t say why.

In the absence of any explanation, we are left to speculate on our own. Did the administration deliberately channel weapons to Mexican drug cartels in order to bolster the false story that most guns used in Mexican crimes come from the United States, and thereby advance its domestic gun-control agenda?

I don’t want to believe that any American administration, even this one, could be capable of such a thing. But the evidence is mounting.

We learned in July that William Newell, the agent in charge of Fast and Furious, was being pressed for evidence to support a new policy restricting gun sales in border states. (The new policy was later put into effect despite the scandal.) But we didn’t have any information that specifically linked Fast and Furious to the political agenda. Until now.

Last week, the Justice Department handed over documents to Congress detailing the DOJ’s internal deliberation on how to respond to Congress’s demand for information on Gunwalker, and how it happened that nearly everything the DOJ ended up saying in response was false. What caught my eye in those documents was this:

[US Attorney Dennis] Burke wrote, “By the way, what is so offensive about this whole project” of response “is that Grassley’s staff, acting as willing stooges for the Gun Lobby, have attempted to distract from the incredible success in dismantling” Southwest Border “gun trafficking operations” . . .

(ASIDE: Burke’s name has come up in this story before.) By referring to the “Gun Lobby” here, Burke indicates that the administration’s gun-control agenda was a consideration in how it responded to the scandal. This doesn’t prove that Fast and Furious was originally conceived to advance a political agenda, but it does tie it to that political agenda after the fact.

The connection grew much stronger this week, with new documents obtained by CBS News:

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.”

These emails make it clear that the gun-control agenda was part of Fast and Furious. Was there any other purpose to Fast and Furious? It’s high time the administration gave us an answer.

(Previous post.)

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