Remember when gun-control activists insisted that loose purchasing regulation of American firearms had led to a massive uptick in arming the drug cartels in Mexico?  Advocates demanded action to curtail gun sales in the US, and the Obama administration responded with new efforts at the ATF and Department of Justice — including Operation Fast and Furious.  Now it seems that the big spike in arms supply to cartels didn’t come from local gun shops at all, but from the US government approving a rapid increase in direct sales from manufacturers to the Mexican government, whose purchases got diverted to the cartels — a fact known to the Obama administration all along.  Sharyl Atkisson continues her excellent investigative reporting for CBS on OF&F with this exposé:

Selling weapons to Mexico – where cartel violence is out of control – is controversial because so many guns fall into the wrong hands due to incompetence and corruption. The Mexican military recently reported nearly 9,000 police weapons “missing.”

Yet the U.S. has approved the sale of more guns to Mexico in recent years than ever before through a program called “direct commercial sales.” It’s a program that some say is worse than the highly-criticized “Fast and Furious” gunrunning scandal, where U.S. agents allowed thousands of weapons to pass from the U.S. to Mexican drug cartels. …

Here’s how it works: A foreign government fills out an application to buy weapons from private gun manufacturers in the U.S. Then the State Department decides whether to approve.

And it did approve 2,476 guns to be sold to Mexico in 2006. In 2009, that number was up nearly 10 times, to 18,709. The State Department has since stopped disclosing numbers of guns it approves, and wouldn’t give CBS News figures for 2010 or 2011. …

The State Department audits only a tiny sample – less than 1 percent of sales – but the results are disturbing: In 2009, more than a quarter (26 percent) of the guns sold to the region that includes Mexico were “diverted” into the wrong hands, or had other “unfavorable” results.

Well, well, well.  This puts OF&F in a completely different light, doesn’t it?  While the ATF allowed two thousand or so guns to “walk” across the border without the ability to track them, the Obama administration was already aware that the direct-sales program had a 26% fail rate — which would have meant almost 4,900 weapons fell into the hands of the cartels based on sales approved by the Obama administration’s State Department in 2009 alone.  That’s more than twice the amount “lost” by the ATF and DoJ in OF&F. And we don’t know how much worse the problem got last year or this year, thanks to the stonewalling of the Obama administration on the  numbers.

This makes OF&F look like a dodge by the Obama administration to support tougher gun laws at home while hiding the actual source of the gun diversions — which is, as it always has been, the Mexican army and police forces that defect to the cartels and take their guns with them when they do.