He told them he was in contact with Mexican cartel members at the time, too. But he promised them — cross his heart and hope to die — that he would help them with their imbecilic gunrunning operation if they let him go. Which they did. And of course, they never heard from him again.

If that sounds insane to you, I’d gently suggest that perhaps you need a bit more brainwashing.

An ATF “Report of Investigation” obtained by CBS News shows Border Patrol agents stopped [Manuel] Acosta’s truck on May 29, 2010. Inspectors said they found illegal materials including an “AK type, high capacity drum magazine loaded with 74 rounds of 7.62 ammunition underneath the spare tire.” They also noted ledgers including a “list of firearms such as an AR15 short and a Bushmaster” and a “reference about money given to ‘killer.'”…

ATF knew even more about Acosta’s alleged illegal activities than what he described in the interview. ATF trace records showed “a large number of the weapons purchase by the Acosta organization are AK type rifles or FN Herstal pistols” which Acosta referred to as “cop killers” and said were preferred by drug cartels.

Instead of pursuing charges, Agent MacAllister asked Acosta if he’d be willing to cooperate with federal agents. He agreed and was released. Apparently, the promised cooperation never materialized. The report notes that 17 days after Acosta was let loose, he still had “not initiated any contact with Special Agent MacAllister.”…

Before releasing Acosta, MacAllister wrote her contact information on a $10 bill at Acosta’s request, gave it to him, then warned him “not to participate in any illegal activity unless under her direction.”

That final bit is the surreal essence of Fast & Furious distilled to one unforgettable phrase. The last time we blogged about Acosta was back in September when Ed wrote a post marveling at the fact that one of the FBI’s own informants had helped smuggle guns across the border even while he was on the feds’ payroll. The man he obtained those weapons from? The “big fish” of the F&F indictment, to borrow the LA Times’s phrase: Manuel Acosta, who was finally arrested in February 2011. We had him eight months earlier but let him go, apparently because America’s brain trust in the battle against cartels is willing to take a guy who trafficks in “cop-killer” weapons at his word.

I wonder why we haven’t tried this approach with any Gitmo detainees yet. What say we drop Khaled Sheikh Mohammed off in Waziristan if he makes us a solemn promise that he’ll tell us when he locates Zawahiri? The war on terror will be over in no time.