Monday, March 14, 2011

BATF Mexican Cartel “plant and track” Gunrunner program raises serious questions for the Obama Administration's Stance on Gun Law Enforcement and the Rule of Law

  The Obama Administration's promotion of the under-the-radar gunrunner (i.e. "gunwalker") program to distribute weapons to the Mexican drug cartels responsible for potentially thousands of deaths in border towns with the United States has come under new fire upon the revelation that one of those weapons may have been used in the murder of U.S. Customs and Border agent Brian Terry last December in Mexico and ICE agent Jaime Zapata in Feb of 2011, see here and here.  Well, duh!  What else do you expect when your own Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms allows guns to be illegally sold to "strawmen" buyers known to be associated with the cartels and allows them to be transferred across the Southern border?  The ensuing controversy-- which some have likened to Reagan's Iran-Contra affair which threatened to bring down his Presidency in the '80's-- and the stonewalling of the Obama Administration towards releasing details to members of Congress trying to investigate this growing scandal, see herehere and here, raises serious questions about the motives of the Obama Administration and its basic disregard to the rule of law for its own political purposes.    

 Aside from the fact that American agents like Terry under Mexican law are not allowed to carry small arms for their own defense, (even when working on “joint” Mexican/American anti drug/terrorist missions largely funded by American tax dollars), the Gunrunner program (watch a cbs news video about it by clicking here), raises serious questions re: the Obama Administration's basic dedication to the Rule of Law as well as revealed its apparent willingness to zealously bend the rules when it suits its own political ends and desires additional powers to encroach ever more on the rights of lawful gun dealers-- and by implication American citizens'-- rights to sell, buy and keep arms under the Second Amendment, see here

 Moreover, it appears the BATF under this Administration has aggressively, (and illegally?)  pressured lawful gun dealers to openly break federal law and may even have manipulated/ threatened to close down those who questioned the fraudulent gun sales or means of the government's actions in an effort to prevent them from speaking up about this flawed government "program" paid for with federal "stimulus" money, see here (potentially constituting serious civil rights violations or even criminal obstruction of justice, see Title 18 Ch. 73 Section 1513 of the U.S. Code, also previous Section 1512 of the same Title).

 Aside from the questionable legality of the BATF's actions in even executing such a program, the rank hypocrisy this evinces vis a vis the Administration's stance on gun control and the horrible consequences to the Terry and Zapata families-- not to mention countless others that shall never make it to the lamestream media-- stemming from this bizarre operation which was, in the very least, foolhardy and reveals a disturbing recklessness both towards human life and the rule of law in the Obama Administration even pursuing such an "operation," the potential damage on future joint Mexican-American missions-- as bad as such damage could be in light of our dependence on Mexico to help us combat illegal drug and human trafficking smuggling into America-- is still not what concerns us the most here at the ACLP.

  What concerns us the most are the serious unanswered questions raised by the Obama Administration's conduct in this case and the lackadaisical, indeed, even cavalier dedication to the Rule of law it has exhibited while blatantly undermining Congress' oversight of the Executive under settled Constitutional principles regarding Separation of Powers. (Indeed, when asked directly about “Project Gunrunner” in previous Congressional hearings Attorney General Eric Holder blatantly denied the existence of such a program, see LINK).

 But first, a bit more background on this politically-explosive story.

 The program-- which actually was conceived under the Bush Administration-- has been expanded heavily by the Obama Administration apparently for political purposes under the oft-repeated canard that "the majority of guns used by Mexican drug cartels have come from America" in an effort to garner support for requiring additional federal gun registration rules, see here and here.   The program was the subject of a U.S. Inspector General report in November, (click here to download pdf of report), and revealed in the mainstream media by CBS news, (here), the Washington post (here), as well as chronicled in the Washington Times (see here).   It was ostensibly instituted by law enforcement as a sort of “sting” for purposes of baiting junior members of the notorious Drug Cartels into procuring these weapons so they could be “tracked” and lead Federal Enforcement officials to ever larger Cartel figures, (see here).

 The problem is there doesn't seem to have been in place ANY EFFECTIVE METHOD of actually tracking these guns once they left American borders, (that's right, nata, zippo, NOTHING!) And yes, you heard it right, I said left American borders.

 The plan included setting up fraudulent “straw man” purchasers of guns from legitimate American gun dealers for the express purpose of transporting those guns across the international border into Mexico in violation of both American and Mexican law, all ostensibly with the blessing and at the direction of the BATF. Indeed, in most cases the ATF paid legitimate gun dealers to be “confidential informants” and stand by as criminals and thugs made off with what is estimated conservatively to be, thousands of weapons, some of which later made their way to brutally used at crime scenes on the Mexican/American border, (for the story of one Colorado gun dealer who decided to go public with their story click here ).

 Leaving aside how such an incredibly crackpot (and unlawful?!) plan could ever have been instituted as serious policy by the Obama Administration and to what extent the President himself may actually have signed off on this misguided effort which recalls shades of the so called “Iran-Contra scandal” of the '80's that almost brought down the Reagan Administration, the utter failure of the Obama Administration to adequately track these gun purchases, (at least one of which was traced to the murder CBP agent Brian Terry), has led many to openly question both the Administration's competence in execution of this “program” as well as its judgment for instituting the program in the first place.

 Quite naturally, all of this raises legitimate questions about what our President, (as well as Attorney General Holder), knew and when they knew it.

 It also raises very serious questions about the Administration's motives in light of the speed at which many of the President's supporters on the political left called for restrictive gun legislation after the Tuscon shootings.

 Specifically, was this flawed program all along part of a much larger “political” plan to “crack down” on lawful citizens' rights to purchase guns for self protection under the argument and oft-repeated mantra repeated since the Tuscon shootings by the political left in this country that “the majority of guns used in Mexican drug violence were purchased in the United States”?

 Was the Gunrunner program purposefully instituted to manipulate political opinion for gun regs?

 Rather than for the supposed purpose of “tracking such weapons” so the U.S. government could ostensibly “catch the big fish” of the cartels, this government “program” appears at least equally plausible to have originated as a thinly-veiled and coordinated political strategy to spur Americans to accept deeper gun restrictions, (an otherwise politically unattainable goal of the Administration). Indeed, although this story is still developing, it seems curious that an administration which generally favors restricting the rights of citizens who “cling to guns and religion” would execute, not to mention honestly conceive, such a plan to “increase guns to reduce them,” (reasoning which btw seems strangely similar to the Administration's stance on increasing debt to reduce it, see other posts on this blog).

 Indeed, judging by the completely non-existent effort at in fact “tracking” such weapons and the length of time this “program” went on it would appear that the stated aims (no pun intended) of this program have not been achieved, not to mention vigorously prosecuted (if they ever were intended to be, a matter we think is fairly suspect from the evidence so far). Indeed, we find compelling that in spite of the widespread availability of near microscopic RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags, (see _________), no such tags were utilized, nor were drones, human intelligence, or satellite tracking for that matter, (at least judging from all reports that we can find).

 On the other hand, one does not have to think very hard to-- at least prior to this story breaking-- call to mind the many assertions from pundits on the left the last year and a half that “most of the guns being used in Mexico have come from America” to find this “conspiracy theory” plausible as a way of supporting related political goals of the Administration which all too coincidentally and conveniently might have benefited had this story not come to light.

 In that light, the extent to which the Administration has remained silent on this story is unnerving, and goes against the grain of Obama's promise to us in his historic 2008 campaign to be “the most ethical and transparent” Administration in history.

 Therefore, and in order to get to the bottom of the origins and execution of this policy of the Executive branch which apparently was instituted without Congressional approval, we at the ACLP urge Congress to hold hearings on this, from our view, completely avoidable human tragedy that is costing tens of thousands of lives in what is increasingly devolving into a civil war between the Cartels and Mexican government, with particular emphasis on whether this flawed and potentially illegal “program” was either conceived or exploited by the Obama Administration for political purposes.

 Indeed, as part of its oversight over an Executive branch which increasingly seems to disregard the Rule of Law, it is Congress' duty to do so.

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