CBS: Don’t forget Grenadewalker, too

posted at 1:25 pm on October 14, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Well, here’s CBS’ Sharyl Attkisson again, being all unreasonable by reporting that the ATF let thousands of grenades cross the border into Mexico at roughly the same time the Mexican drug cartels were using grenades to blow up a casino and kill dozens of people. But hey, it’s not as if they could have stopped Jean Baptiste Kingery, right? Er …

CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson, who has reported on this story from the beginning, said on “The Early Show” that the investigation into the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)’s so-called “Fast and Furious” operation branches out to a case involving grenades. Sources tell her a suspect was left to traffic and manufacture them for Mexican drug cartels.

Police say Jean Baptiste Kingery, a U.S. citizen, was a veritable grenade machine. He’s accused of smuggling parts for as many as 2,000 grenades into Mexico for killer drug cartels — sometimes under the direct watch of U.S. law enforcement.

Law enforcement sources say Kingery could have been prosecuted in the U.S. twice for violating export control laws, but that, each time, prosecutors in Arizona refused to make a case.

CBS describes this as a “new twist,” but that’s not completely true. The grenade trade first came to light in July, although in a different context.  A former CIA agent said that the Obama administration sold weapons directly to the Zetas cartel, including grenades and other military weaponry.  The implication seemed to be that the State Department was playing on the side of the Zetas while the ATF and DoJ’s programs ended up benefiting the Sinaloa cartel, which would be about as inept and incoherent a strategy for stabilizing Mexico as anyone could imagine.

In this case, though, the ATF also allowed thousands of grenades to cross the border rather than stop the man trafficking them, even as grenades became the weapon of choice for the cartels.  Why?  Most people following Fast & Furious assume that the Obama administration wanted to discredit gun sellers as a means to build support for tougher gun-control laws, which certainly seems to be the only reason to let those guns get into the hands of the cartels — especially without letting the Mexican government in on the operation.  That doesn’t fit with grenades, though; to my knowledge, there isn’t a movement in the US to allow law-abiding citizens to stock up on pineapple poppers.  Why not stop Kingery?  You’ll love this answer:

The prosecutors — already the target of controversy for overseeing “Fast and Furious,” wouldn’t comment on the grenades case. U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke recently resigned and his assistant, Emory Hurley, has been transferred. Sources say Hurley is the one who let Kingery go, saying grenade parts are “novelty items” and the case “lacked jury appeal.”

Novelty parts?  Remind me not to get into a practical-joke contest with Emory Hurley.  The Mexican government ended up shutting down Kingery’s whoopie-cushion business with parts for a thousand grenades, and reportedly admitted to training the cartels to build the grenades themselves.

If it’s unreasonable to report on this story, is it at least reasonable to ask whether the ATF had a policy to arm one cartel as a matter of policy?  Because that’s the only rational reason I can see for allowing grenade trafficking to continue while merely watching from the sidelines.

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