Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fast and Furious: Interpretations of the Trail

Fast and Furious
Interpretations of the Trail
Bovines and Politicos
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

     A neighbor called me.  He was confounded why some of his cows were down by the highway.  He had concluded maybe they had gone through our fence further north and we had picked them up and put them through the fence when we had moved cows south.  We hadn’t.
     As we worked through the riddle, I asked him how many there were.  With his response, I suggested I had seen those cows the week before at another water trough in yet another pasture.  I described the cattle to him.  I admitted that I had been surprised to see his cattle there because it wasn’t a pasture he had been using, but, with the drought, perhaps he had moved them there.  He hadn’t.
     The Bigger Problem
     In an instant, my neighbor figured out the mystery.  Those were cattle he had hauled into a pasture where he had received rain, but green feed wasn’t their highest priority.  They had found their way through at least two fences.  There were no holes in the fences.  They had made their own. Those cows were going home.
    The realization the problem wasn’t simply to fix the fence was troubling.  Fixing the fence wasn’t going to fix the problem.  My neighbor was now dealing with a more complex issue. 
     The problem was greater  . . . just like Fast and Furious is to our country.
     From Bovines to Politicos
     In 2008, Barack Obama made a campaign pledge to reimpose the ban on assault rifles that had been lifted during the Bush administration.  Later, the White House privately acknowledged the issue had been taken off the table because there wasn’t Congressional support to reverse the decision.  The problem would have to be solved in a different manner.
     In the spring of 2009, Obama was in Mexico for his first visit.  In a speech to the Mexican people, the American president reminded the world that “90%” of the guns used in the Mexican conflict could be traced to the United States. 
     The president went on to remind the audience the guns were coming from border state gun stores.  He said, “The war is being waged with guns purchased not here, but in the United States, many from gun shops that lay in our shared border.”  His comments grated heavily on a wide swath of Americans.
     The hidden tracks
     The Obama posturing was supported by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms’ (ATF) William Newell who testified that indeed 90% of the firearms which were successfully traced were determined to have originated within the United States.  What he failed to clarify was that those guns represented less than one gun in five found at high impact crime scenes.
     In May, 2010, the picture was being sold to the American people in a more compelling way.  The Mexican president was in Washington for meetings.  He reported to the president, the Congress, and the American people that the United States was complicit in the conflict that raged in his country.  He agreed with the president that American gun dealers were fueling the violence within his country.
     In covering the administration’s tracks, ATF backed the assertion there was no correlation between increasing violence and the discovery of more guns turning up in a cartel training camps.  ATF bureaucrat Thomasson indicated there was no way to track the actual sales of American sourced guns.
     Americans were left with the impression that private citizenry with capitalistic freedoms was the cause of the Mexican violence.  Our stomachs flinched every time we heard that dagger thrown at us. 
     In November, 2010, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the effort to keep guns going into Mexico “was unwieldy, mismanaged, and fraught with significant weaknesses.”  Since the information disseminated was slanted toward the suggestion of private American complicity, the press carried the ball without a countering defense. DOJ concluded with a reminder, “ATF focus (was) only on small gun sales.”
     Then, disaster struck.  Forty year old Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry was killed on December 14, 2010 by illegals near Rio Rico, Arizona.  The gun used to gun down Terry was a gun that came out of a scheme run by ATF. 
     ‘Gun Runner’ was brought into focus.  ATF claimed the program had gone a long way in combating illegal flows of arms from the U.S.  At least some form of the program had been in place as early as 2005. 
     As the process unraveled, another name surfaced.  Fast and Furious had been set in motion in the fall of 2009.  It was an operation intended to wheel guns into the cartel network ostensibly to identify cartel operatives.  At least two thousand tactical arms were pumped into the Drug War.
     Killing data
     The number of Mexicans killed in the conflict is now being suggested as 44,000.  Since a minimum of 25-35% of the atrocities in Mexico are not reported, the number of Mexicans killed in the conflict could be as high as 63,000.   Does that number mean anything?  If nothing else it should conjure memories of another war a generation ago.  Like it, the conflict south of the border is not a police action.  It is a war . . . a horrific war.
     Even as Fast and Furious was breaking, the Obama Administration came forth in July, 2011 with the expanded reporting requirement for border state gun dealerships.  In the announcement it was noted that there were 7000 licensed gun dealers along the 2000 mile border.  Again, the implication suggested that in order to limit guns flowing into Mexico, private American businesses must be more closely regulated.  The matter was treated as if the government operation was never run!
     Devil in the detail 
     The time line is interesting.  Notwithstanding his May 3, 2011 statement to the congressional committee to the contrary, records verify Attorney General Eric Holder knew about Fast and Furious at least by the time Mexican president Felipe Calderon visited the United States and vilified the American public in a speech to a joint session of Congress.  Since then, hundreds of Mexicans and at least two Americans were killed by those guns.
     What is really going on here?  Is this a matter of naiveté . . . is it political posturing, or . . . is there an agenda that aims for an intended consequence?
     The horror of the war
     The memory of Viet Nam being fought on our television screens will linger forever.  In the age of color TV, we saw blood.  We heard about atrocities being carried out against civilians, and we heard the expanding suggestions that our way of life was the real matter of consequence.
    We have seen little of the same daily horrors in this drug war.  We cannot even fathom the impact to our country if one of our major cities had suffered the loss of 40% of its business community and fully 25% of its residential structures abandoned.  The social structure of that city, Juarez, is shattered.
     It is worse in the poor communities.  Fifty miles east of Juarez in Prexedis, sixteen of the original 18 police officers are dead or have fled.  Its Chief of Police, a 21 year old criminology major has fled to El Paso to save her life.  One of the remaining officers is a grandmother of five.  Its mayor has taken the reins because there was no one else.  His predecessor, along with 12 other mayors across the country, was executed.
     Village after border village is abandoned or suffering from the same attrition of social structure and hope.  The horrors they face included ‘hit lists’ posted at gas stations, police stations riddled with bullet holes, decapitated heads of city leaders discarded like trash, and absent fathers . . . executed, drafted by the cartels, or simply gone.   
     From Politicos back to Bovines
     Obama’s campaign promise to reinstate the ban on assault rifles is a gargantuan contradiction.  The guns of Fast and Furious, guns he pledged to oppose, have been allowed to become tools in the barrage of horror inflicted on innocent Mexicans that live in the midst of this war. 
     These are human beings.  These people are the uninvolved who cannot even legally own a gun to protect themselves.  Without a single conviction of the cartel operatives targeted in the program, Americans can only assume this was another social engineering opportunity too important to be wasted.
     There is blood on the hands of people we needed to trust.  If there is American innocence at the highest levels of this carnage, those leaders should be indicted and impeached for being myopic.  More likely, a grave and dangerous circumstance is upon us, and  . . . the defenseless Mexicans who are simply trying to exist.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico.  “A cow can be trusted to be a cow.  Her priorities are very simple, but she is honest in her relationship with those priorities.”


Thanks Steve, for another insightful article.

For more on the 90% fiasco, see The Myth of 90 Percent: Only a Small Fraction of Guns in Mexico Come From U.S. 

As for the motive, NRA's Wayne LaPierre came right out and said it yesterday on Newsmax.TV:
The government-sanctioned gunrunning operation Fast and Furious was a plot to undermine Second Amendment rights in the United States, National Rifle Association officerWayne LaPierre charged on Friday in an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV.  “It’s the only thing that makes any sense,” LaPierre said. “Over a period of two or three years they were running thousands and thousands of guns to the most evil people on earth. At the same time they were yelling ’90 per cent… of the guns the Mexican drug cartels are using come from the United States.’ “That was a phony figure from the very start. Even the Wikileaks cables from our own State Department prove they are coming from Central America, they are not coming from the U.S. Every police officer will tell you that they’re coming from Russia, they’re coming from China, most of them are coming from Central America and a lot of them are coming from defections from the Mexican Army,” said LaPierre, the NRA's executive vice president and CEO.  But LaPierre said that President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were determined to make it appear that most weapons used by the Mexicans came from north of the border, “so they could stick more gun legislation on honest American gun owners of the United States.”

LaPierre claims the scandal would never have come to life "if it hadn’t been for the murder of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry" in December:

“We wouldn’t know about this at all if [Terry] had not been killed and some of the good, honest, decent federal agents down the line had enough of the stench coming out of Washington and started to use the Whistleblower Act to go public and call the Justice Department out on this whole rotten, stinking scheme.  “Otherwise thousands of guns would still be going over the border into the Mexican drug cartels and the president and the attorney general and the secretary of state would all be running around going ’90 percent of the guns come from America’ in an attempt to seek political advantage and in an attempt to enact more gun control laws on honest American citizens and use this whole issue politically against the Second Amendment of the United States.”

Saying Fast and Furious is "the biggest cover-up since the Watergate scandal", LaPierre continued to hit hard:

“They ordered these sales to be made, they even overrode the InstaCheck system and ordered the dealers to make the sales. Then, when it all starts coming out, there’s a massive cover-up.” 

And on the issue of a special prosecutor, La Pierre had this to say:

“My gosh, Valerie Plame gets a special prosecutor,” he said, referring to the CIA agent whose name was leaked during the George W. Bush presidency. “And all we get on Fast and Furious, where people are dead, a federal agent is dead, hundreds of crimes are being committed, is an Eric Holder cover-up.  “They crossed the line. They need to be held responsible. We need to get to the bottom of this and the only way we are going to get to the bottom of it is a special prosecutor.”

Politically, appointing a special prosecutor may not be the smart thing to do.  For instance, National Review has editorialized:

House Republicans are calling for Obama to instruct Holder to appoint a special counsel to investigate this issue. We understand the impulse, but what are the odds of Eric Holder’s appointing a counsel with the bulldoggish independence to investigate him? Even if he did, the investigation would give the administration a handy excuse to cease any cooperation with Congress and any public comment on grounds of “an ongoing investigation.” Republicans would be wiser to keep the heat on through their congressional committees. If Holder lied, it is most important that it be exposed to the public, which if aroused can act more decisively than any special prosecutor.


Anonymous said...

My Gosh. None of us are being told the truth in too many matters. You couldn't find anything like this in a newspaper in the land.

Border Watcher said...

Where is the human rights outrage? The answer of course is the fact that human rights only hold water as long as the outcome matches the agenda need.

NWPost said...

Border Watcher's point is well taken. We have heard about the human casualties in this mess, but the truth of that side of the story is weak. It is there but it is presented in a manner that emphasizes other points. Clinton, Holder, and Obama need to feel the heat by those who do have to fix the problems. 2012 is just seems too far out there!

Anonymous said...

You wanna' know the truth? If the highest leadership in Mexico wasn't in this whole deal, Calderon would not be alive. Who in the world thinks that if that guy is not part of the Sinaloan family he would be standing today. A key indicator is the prosecution rate. Less than 2% of the Juarez offenders have been indicted and less than 5% of those that have have been brought convicted. This is a four year war of few substantive results.

ADavis said...

I read in the paper this morning the trumped up bull shit about the Occupy crowd growing without leadership. It doesn't take much imagination to understand what is taking place. The press is trying to build legitamacy for a bunch of paid operatives in a comparison to the grassroot Tea Party phenomenon. Folks, this isn't a matter of differing opinions. This is the struggle of good and evil. The same money being pumped into the slime bags picketing at Wall Street is being used to poopah the Mexican civilian slaughter. Good and Evil. Right and Wrong.

Anonymous said...

My thought about this whole deal is this. If Wilmeth can compose an analogy that makes as much sense about bovines and Hillary, we will run him for office.

Frank DuBois said...

I like the bovines & Hillary proposal. We could call it Hillary's Hair-Brained Herefords, or Clinton's Cows & Commies Corral, or...I'm sure Wilmeth can come up with something.