Remember Operation Fast and Furious? The scandal over the ATF’s botched straw-man sting has long hung over the Department of Justice and the Obama administration, thanks in large part to a bogus claim of executive privilege over the communications relating to the operation. Thousands of weapons went across the border into Mexico without sufficient tracking capabilities to retrieve them, and they wound up in the hands of the cartels. Hundreds have been found at murder scenes in Mexico, and at least one Border Patrol agent (Brian Terry) has been killed with Fast and Furious weapons.
Just how far did those weapons go? Fox News reports that they went all the way to the top of the cartels:
A .50-caliber rifle found at Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s hideout in Mexico was funneled through the gun-smuggling investigation known as Fast and Furious, sources confirmed Tuesday to Fox News.
A .50-caliber is a massive rifle that can stop a car, or as it was intended, take down a helicopter. …
When agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives checked serial numbers of the eight weapons found in his possession, they found one of the two .50-caliber weapons traced back to the ATF program, sources said.
Federal officials told Fox News they are not sure how many of the weapons seized from Guzman’s house actually originated in the U.S. and where they were purchased, but are investigating.
Out of the roughly 2,000 weapons sold through Fast and Furious, 34 were .50 caliber rifles that can take down a helicopter, according to officials.
Jeff Dunetz reminds us of the context for OF&F:
Emails released in 2011 revealed that ATF big shots wanted to use the illegal gun sales in operation Fast and Furious to justify a new gun regulation called “Demand Letter 3”. The new rule would require U.S. gun shops to report the sale of multiple rifles or “long guns.” The fancy name, Demand Letter 3 comes from the fact that it would be the third ATF program demanding gun dealers report tracing information. If that’s how then name projects, why didn’t they name Fast and Furious, “Asinine Project 1?”
Fast and Furious was a sick attempt to deprive Americans of their Second Amendment rights by selling guns to Mexican Gun cartels. The program was a train wreck whose effects are still being discovered.
So why hasn’t Congress done more in the past five years to hold officials accountable for the lethal attempt to create anti-gun hysteria and pave the way for more gun regulation? In part, it’s because Congress can’t access all of the evidence from the government operation. In 2012, then-Attorney General Eric Holder requested a claim of executive privilege from Barack Obama, who granted it after e-mails showed “extensive” communication with the White House on the operation. The case has been in the courts ever since.
Yesterday, a judge denied executive privilege after more than three years of stonewalling by the Obama administration, calling their claim a little too selective, although it’s not a complete victory for Congress:
The very information that the administration sought to deny investigators with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reformhad been made public in 2012 by the Justice Department’s inspector general’s review of a Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives operation known as “Fast and Furious,” U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson wrote in a 32-page opinion.
The trafficking operation allowed hundreds of firearms to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartel enforcers and prompted numerous investigations and a protracted political fight in which the House voted in 2012 to hold then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents related to the ATF operation to the committee. The dispute prompted the committee’s court challenge
“There is no need to balance the need against the impact that the revelation of any record could have on candor in future executive decision making, since any harm that might flow from the public revelation of the deliberations at issue here has already been self-inflicted,” Jackson wrote. “The emails and memoranda that are responsive to the subpoena were described in detail in a report by the Department of JusticeInspector General that has already been released to the public.”
House Oversight chair Jason Chaffetz noted that the order didn’t give access to all of the documents sought in House subpoenas, but that “it is an important step forward.” The discovery of a .50 caliber in El Chapo’s lair provided courtesy of the Department of Justice might be another step forward in galvanizing public opinion to finally bring the sordid history of Fast and Furious completely into the light.