Sunday, April 03, 2011

'Gunwalker' scandal grows to consume highest level

As ATF's problems over the "Gunwalker" operation grow, they are rapidly becoming the problems of top Justice Department and Obama administration officials. So damning is the potential of the scandal that during a recent interview with the Mexican television network Univision, President Obama made it a point to deny knowledge or complicity in the operation. He also gave a free pass to Attorney General Holder, stating that Holder had not authorized the operation, but then he admitted that someone might have made major mistakes and that he intended to investigate the matter and hold those responsible accountable. What this all suggests is that a bus is coming and Obama is looking for someone to throw under it. Mexican authorities are furious about the ATF program, code named "Fast and Furious," which permitted, and in some cases assisted or encouraged, gun smuggling from legal US channels into the Mexican underworld – without the knowledge or cooperation of the Mexican government. The degree of outrage was demonstrated by Obama's decision to do the one-on-one interview with Univision. To date the highest ranking official in Washington willing to answer U.S. reporters' questions has been ATF Acting Assistant Director for Field Operations Mark Chait, who initially took credit for and defended the ill-fated policy. He has since become very quiet, but his initial interviews have clearly affixed a large bull's-eye to his back. In my original report I said that there were four key accusations against ATF: First, that they instructed U.S. gun dealers to proceed with questionable and illegal sales of firearms to suspected gunrunners. Second, that they allowed or even assisted in those guns crossing the U.S. border into Mexico. Third, that they intentionally kept Mexican authorities in the dark about the operation. Fourth, that one of the guns ATF let "walk" to Mexico was involved in the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry...more

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