Human Events Blog

Fast and Furious: Obama’s 2013 budget removes ban on gun-walking

Emily Miller of the Washington Times, who is still healing from the psychological scars inflicted by her journey through Washington, D.C.’s gun control maze, noticed that a little something was missing from President Obama’s 2013 budget proposal:

President Obama is using his budget to advance an anti-gun agenda just before the election. One particularly sneaky provision buried deep within his submission to Congress Monday would, if enacted, allow the mistakes of the “Fast and Furious” gun-walking scandal to be repeated.

In November, the president signed the Justice Department appropriations bill, which included language from Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, prohibiting federal agencies from facilitating the transfer of an operable firearm to an individual known or suspected to be in a drug cartel, unless they monitor the weapon at all times.

Now Mr. Obama is proposing to remove that provision from the 2013 spending bill, thus making it legal to revive gun-walking operations in the future. The White House justification is merely that the prohibition is “not necessary.”

(Emphasis mine.)  Devoted students of the Operation Fast and Furious scandal will recall that its predecessor, Operation Wide Receiver, actually did try to monitor the weapons at all times, through an ill-fated attempt to wire them with radio transmitters.  The cartels swiftly figured out how to defeat the radio tracking system, largely through the simple expedient of driving around in circles until the ATF’s monitoring aircraft went bingo fuel and had to return home. 

Operation Fast and Furious, on the other hand, did not make any attempt to monitor the guns at all.  In fact, ATF agents were actively dissuaded from trying to follow the weapons.  The entire strategy was to wait for people in Mexico to get killed by those ATF guns, and then pick them up from the crime scene.  Several hundred Mexicans were duly gunned down, along with at least one American law-enforcement official, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. 

Fast and Furious “worked” as designed, because its guns were indeed retrieved from the crime scenes.  Hundreds of guns are still missing, but they’ll doubtless turn up eventually, at future crime scenes.  They’ve started popping up at crimes on the American side of the border, which will make collecting them even easier.  We just have to be patient.

Oh, and the cartel big shots ostensibly targeted by this disastrous and lethal operation?  They were FBI informants all along.

Having watched Attorney General Eric Holder’s embarrassing testimony before the House and Senate, and keeping in mind that Holder is currently defying contempt of Congress charges by refusing to hand over subpoenaed documents, does anyone seriously think an outright prohibition against gun walking is “unnecessary?”  Can anyone really have confidence that Holder and his minions wouldn’t try this sort of thing again, if not expressly forbidden from doing so?  Particularly if the true purpose of Fast and Furious was to manufacture gun crimes for domestic political purposes, as many suspect?

What possible purpose could be served by removing Cornyn’s ban?  Are we supposed to believe the ATF is filled with dejected agents slumped at their desks, unable to fulfill their duties because their hearts are heavy with the knowledge they are no longer hypothetically permitted to walk guns into Mexico?  If there will never, ever be gun walking again, then what harm is caused by the Cornyn language?

Consider also, as Miller points out, that Obama’s budget is stuffed with money for gun-control initiatives.  They’re a big winner with liberal constituencies, particularly since anything resembling success in their stated goals is completely irrelevant.  The cities with tough gun-control laws tend to have horrific levels of gun crime, but that only increases the Left’s appetite for gun control.  It’s the perfect liberal imperative: the more it fails, the more urgent it becomes.  The last time I saw anything that unstoppable, it was made of liquid metal, and chasing Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The congressional investigators looking into Fast and Furious don’t sound very confident that we can trust the Administration to refrain from gun walking on its own:

Mr. Cornyn did not buy this explanation. “I understand the president has ‘complete confidence’ in Attorney General [Eric] Holder to not carry out further gun-walking operations like Fast and Furious, but 99 U.S. senators voted otherwise,” he told The Washington Times on Wednesday, referring to the upper chamber’s unanimous vote in October approving the amendment.

Even Democrats wanted to prevent the Justice Department from scheming to have guns sent over the border to Mexican drug cartels after the botched scheme led to the death of a border agent. Liberal Sen. Barbara Mikulski surprised many with her outspoken support for Mr. Cornyn’s amendment. “Fast and Furious was brought to an end but with terrible problems,” said the Maryland Democrat. “Hundreds of Mexican citizens have died, our own law enforcement people have died, and we have to do something about it.”

Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has been investigating the administration’s role in Fast and Furious. When asked by The Washington Times about the White House attempt to change policy, the California Republican replied, “It’s bewildering that anyone would seek to strip a legal prohibition on federal agents walking guns, considering the well-known tragic consequences.”

Unless you think it’s not “bewildering” at all, but horrifying.

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