- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 19, 2011

As a former police officer, I have been struggling with the account of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) bizarre “Fast and Furious” gun-running operation (” ‘Fast & Furious’: How botched operation spawned fatal results,” Page 1, Tuesday). This program was set up to identify and arrest the Mexican cartel leaders who were funding the supposed “steel pipeline” of guns coming from the United States into Mexico. But I can’t figure out just how that was supposed to be done, especially since the ATF agents in Mexico were not informed.

Neither, apparently, were the Mexican authorities. Just who was going to follow up on the weapons once they were in Mexico? What does appear to be obvious is that there is no real proof of this “steel pipeline” beyond the guns bought through this program. There also seemed to be little discussion among senior ATF leadership about the dubious morality of selling hundreds of weapons to cartels that had already killed thousands of people. That discussion only started when these weapons were used to kill a U.S. Border Patrol agent inside the United States. And that discussion was not about the morality of the program; it was apparently about covering everyone’s collective posteriors as quickly as possible.

One might be drawn to the conclusion that the real objective of this program had nothing whatsoever to do with gun-running to the cartels, but was instead intended to establish that American gun dealers (most of whom objected to supporting this program) were irresponsible in selling guns to notorious criminal elements. That is the only excuse for actually letting the guns cross the border into Mexico to kill people. This program was not about taking down the cartels; it seems like it was more about building the justification for a campaign to restrict gun rights in the United States.

Clearly, the ATF has stepped way out of bounds, and leadership there and the Department of Justice should be held accountable. They won’t be, of course, because accountability seems a foreign concept to this Justice Department. No, the ax will fall on middle managers instead. Since the ATF cannot be relied on to stay out of the political arena of the Second Amendment, it should at least have nothing whatsoever to do with firearms.

JAMES A. COVEL



Fairfax

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