Only the Gunwalker scandal/wikileaks forced truth telling..take heat off DOJ/ATF/obama...
ATF/DOJ tells Congress to pound sand..
U.S. general says scores of millions of guns in Mexico from Central America
April 8th, 2011 11:59 am CT
St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner
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It has long been enormously popular in gun prohibitionist circles to blame Mexican drug war violence on the U.S. commercial gun market (and enormously unpopular in those same circles to point out the role played by the Justice Department's "Project Gunwalker"--itself seemingly intended to implicate gun dealers and gun shows in the U.S.). Now, though, it is becoming more and more difficult to justify blaming American civilian firearms commerce. With the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosvies (BATFE), with full knowledge and approval of top DoJ officials (at least) "walking" thousands of guns into Mexico, and with one (Joyce Foundation-funded) study finding only about 3,000 U.S.-marketed guns seized in Mexico over the last four years, there wouldn't seem to be much room to blame America's supposedly "lax gun laws."
And now, there's even less. An article Wednesday in IHS Global Insights/Jane's Defence (subscription required), titled "US Claims Central American Arsenals Are Supplying Mexican Drug Cartels," provides some some perhaps startling numbers.
According to [U.S. Southern Command head, U.S. Airforce General Douglas] Fraser in testimony to the Senate, more than 50% of military grade weaponry flowing through the region originated from Central American arsenals, with the total quantity in circulation estimated at between 45 million and 80 million firearms.
The article makes no bones about what this means:
Firstly, they challenge the working assumption of Mexican authorities that around 80-90% of illegal firearms in the country come from the US. This may well be seen as a riposte to the government of US president Barack Obama, which has accepted the country's major role in southwards arms trafficking fuelling Mexican violence.
This information, although more detailed than much of what has been made available, is not completely new, with cables released by WikiLeaks having implied much the same thing, as reported in Fox News Latino just over a week ago:
The most fearsome weapons wielded by Mexico's drug cartels enter the country from Central America, not the United States, according to U.S. diplomatic cables disseminated by WikiLeaks and published here Tuesday by La Jornada newspaper.
Items such as grenades and rocket-launchers are stolen from Central American armies and smuggled into Mexico via neighboring Guatemala, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City reported to Washington.
Actually, we've been talking about some aspects of this for more than two years. Not that the forcible citizen disarmament lobby is ready to give up. When blogger Thirdpower pointed this out to the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV), via Twitter, they tried to dismiss that inconvenient truth--not very convincingly:
You shared no data, just an article about "heavy weapons," which is not the issue.
See? Those "heavy weapons" are "not the issue." Um--why not? Don't they provide a lot more killing capability than firearms more typically available to civilians? Isn't their enhanced killing capability much of the reason for their issuance to military forces? Why, then, would they be less "the issue" than semi-automatic, civilian firearms?
Actually, come to think of it, I thought the anti-gun groups would like us to believe that so-called "assault weapons" are "weapons of war"--would that not mean that the "military grade weaponry" of which, according to General Fraser, over 50% reaches Mexico via Central America, is "the issue"? The Brady Campaign sure seems to think that semi-automatic rifles are "military grade":
Assault weapons are military-style weapons of war, made for offensive military assaults.
But now, CSGV wants to make a distinction between "heavy weapons" (which for some reason, are "not the issue"), and so-called "assault weapons." This remember, despite the fact that the only reason CSGV changed its old name, National Coalition to Ban Handguns, was that they decided in 1989 to expand their focus to banning "assault weaons," too. I'll bet they've never tried to argue that "assault weapons" were different from "heavy weapons" before now. And, in fact, they even quote a police lieutenant referring to "assault weapons" as "heavy weaponry," on a page they have dedicated to banning these popular firearms:
December 15, 2007—The Gainesville Police Chief announces that it will be considering arming all patrol officers with semiautomatic rifles such as the AR-15 or Mini-14. "When we get into a situation where the bad guys are carrying heavy weaponry, then we start to worry that we don't have enough firepower," says Gainesville Police Lt. Brian Helmerson, the commander of the agency's Operational Skills Unit and Advanced Law Enforcement Rifle Team. "We would need something to at least equal or surpass their weapon capabilities. They have greater firepower than we do."
"Not the issue," CSGV?
Mexican drug cartels do not need U.S. gun shops in order to arm themselves
Mexico City newspaper points to source of drug cartels' guns--the government
Mexican drug cartels not getting THOSE through any 'gun show loophole'
Ordnance crossing into Mexico over border—its southern one
Key figure in ATF's Gunrunner operation cooperating in congressional inquiry
George Gillett Jr. is expected to reveal crucial information about how a federal operation allowed weapons from the U.S. to pass into the hands of Mexican drug gangs.
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A U.S. Border Patrol agent passes photos of slain Border Patrol agent Brian Terry during a memorial service in Tucson, Ariz. Two guns involved in the Gunrunner operation were found at the scene of a shootout in southern Arizona in December in which Terry was killed. (John Moore / AFP/Getty Images / January 21, 2011)
By Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times
April 9, 2011
A key leader in the federal law enforcement operation suspected of allowing high-powered assault weapons to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels is now cooperating with congressional investigators, providing a crucial new window into the controversial operation known as Project Gunrunner.
George Gillett Jr., assistant special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' field office in Phoenix, has met with congressional investigators and is expected to provide crucial information about how dozens of U.S. guns may have been transported with the ATF's knowledge into Mexico. Agents say Gillett provided much of the day-to-day oversight of the Gunrunner operation.
Two guns involved in the operation were found at the scene of a shootout in southern Arizona in December in which U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer Brian Terry was killed, prompting at least three inquiries on Capitol Hill.
ATF officials have acknowledged that at least 195 weapons sold under the investigation have been recovered in Mexico, traced as a matter of routine via serial numbers after their recovery from crime scenes, arrests and searches.
Several ATF agents who objected to the gun transfers but were rebuffed by their supervisors already have provided extensive information to Congress and in interviews with The Times.
Gillett, who supervised the group running the Arizona component of Project Gunrunner, known as "Fast and Furious," initially dismissed those concerns and previously ordered ATF agents to avoid all communications with whistle-blowers who were cooperating with the congressional inquiries, several agents said in interviews.
Now, though, Gillett is talking. In a letter Friday to ATF management, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, disclosed that Gillett was cooperating with a congressional inquiry and had participated in two preliminary meetings with investigators.
Gillett, who was named to the Phoenix field office's No. 2 post in June 2008, previously served as an ATF field supervisor in Los Angeles.
After repeated refusals by the ATF and the Justice Department to provide detailed information about the conduct of the Gunrunner investigation and how the guns found at the scene of Terry's death got into criminal hands, Gillett's decision to come forward is crucial, agency sources said.
Vince Cefalu, an ATF agent in California who says he has suffered retaliation for criticizing ATF management in another case, said Gillett would be able to provide crucial information on who approved the operation. He will also be able to say to what degree ATF supervisors deliberately allowed guns bought by known "straw purchasers," acting on behalf of Mexican drug cartels, to be "walked" into Mexico under the eyes of ATF agents in an attempt to arrest higher-level suspects, Cefalu said.
ATF officials acknowledge they were monitoring the sale of guns to suspect buyers but say they did not deliberately allow any guns into Mexico — an assertion contradicted by several ATF agents and the agency's policy document.
Gillett "has the key to all the skeletons in the closet. You can rest assured he's going to be pointing the finger at everybody but himself," Cefalu said. "I should also add that I'm disgusted by the fact that only to protect himself is he coming forward. We came forward when we didn't have to, and we've taken a beating for it. He's coming forward with a lawyer, and he's going to glide through it with some kind of immunity."
Gillett could not be reached for comment. His lawyer, Peter Noone, said he could not discuss the case. In response to questions, he confirmed that Gillett had received death threats before making the decision to cooperate.
ATF street agents excoriate Gillett. "He is no whistleblower";"The silver lining in this that (Melson, et.al) are about to be served up by an insider"
The latest on the ATF "Gunrunner" scandal: Wondrous things, the subpoena...
Submitted by cbaus on Fri, 04/08/2011 - 07:00.
Guns in the News
by Jim Shepherd
In the Paul Newman classic "Absence of Malice" a federal investigator played by Wilford Brimley is trying to get to the bottom of a case that has gone off the rails and threatens the careers of everyone associated with it.
In a pivotal scene, Brimley sets all the involved parties in a room and tells them his deputy "has a briefcase over there full of subpoenas."
"Wondrous things, the subpoena. I hand you one and you have to tell me anything I want to know about whatever's on them or you go to jail. Now two things are going to be certain when I leave here, I'm going to get to the bottom of this mess - and I'm going to have someone's ass in my briefcase. So, deputy, start passing out them subpoenas."
When subpoenas start flying, it's a sign that things are about to get complicated.
Friday morning, Congressman Darrell Issa issued a congressional subpoena to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for documents related to the Gunrunner probe. Issa had tried nicely to get the documents, writing acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson to request the information by a Wednesday, [March] 30, 2011 deadline.
Melson ignored the deadline.
Seems now he's kicking another hornet's nest when it would seem everyone else in the Justice Department would prefer the whole Gunrunner deal just disappear. Now, instead of drowning a Congressman in a sea of redacted documents, Melson's simply made Issa angry.
The entire Gunrunner story has done more than simply embarrass administration officials, it has demonstrated that government officials were not only dead-flat wrong about the "iron river of illegal guns" flowing into Mexico; they were - in the case of the Justice Department and ATF- allowing the "river" to run unchecked. In fact, they were feeding the river, supposedly so they could follow the firearms to higher-ranking Mexican bad guys.
Instead, this sordid affair seems to have cost Agent Brian Terry his life and blown up in their faces of administration officials who have since 2009, tried to convince the American people that we needed tougher firearms laws to stanch the flow of illegal guns into Mexico. If Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious are any indication, tougher oversight over the ATF and Justice Department might be the key to curbing gun crimes.
Now, ATF and the Justice Department face almost certain public hearings on the whole ugly matter, in addition to calls from groups like the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear ARms (CCRKBA) for funding cuts to ATF.
DOJ stonewalling continues with response to House Judiciary Committee
Grassley warns ATF, takes gloves off on 'stonewalling'
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