If you missed Eric Holder’s testimony before Grassley and Cornyn on Tuesday, take the time now to go get a look. Holder is forced to admit that his prior characterization as having learned about Fast and Furious “a few weeks ago” was considerably off the mark, and he’s also forced to concede, much against the talking points of some Democrat Representatives that Operation Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious are completely different programs. You can go here to see some of the coverage, as well as links to bloggers and journalists who insisted that they were the same thing.
There’s a terrific piece at PJM today that demonstrates that the guns that were walked in Fast and Furious were, rather than the guns really desired by the cartels, instead the kinds of guns that Obama and his fellow travellers have been trying to have banned for a long time.
In January of 2011, ATF whistleblowers came forward and exposed the multi-agency plot, a conspiracy that involved the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Treasury, and State. More than 2,020 firearms had been “walked” from gun shops acting under orders from ATF agents through a network of straw purchasers known to the Department of Justice to the Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico. Operation Fast and Furious is just one of ten alleged gun-walking operations run by the federal government in five states that may have run tens of thousands of weapons to narco-terrorists.
Mexican Attorney General Marisela Morales has stated that at least 200 Mexican citizens have been murdered with firearms that the Obama administration pushed over the border; other unofficial estimates suggest that 300+ murders have been committed with guns “walked” by the Obama administration.
The question, then as now, is “why”?
Why would the White House, Senate-confirmed cabinet-level appointees, and other administration appointees conduct such a high-risk operation?
Perhaps the answer exists in the “smoking guns” themselves.
AK-pattern semi-automatics were by far the most common weapon types obtained by straw purchasers in Operation Fast and Furious, according to various reports. The imported Romanian WASR-10 rifle and its “Draco” pistol variant, AR-pattern rifles, FN Five-seveN pistols, and 50 BMG rifles made up the bulk of the weapons purchased during the operation.
AK-pattern rifles and pistols, and AR-pattern rifles are some of the most common semi-auto firearms in America. Interest in these weapons skyrocketed due to the drama anti-gun organizations drummed up when they coined the phrase “assault weapon,” attaching it to these and similar firearms in order to craft the 1994 AW ban. The side effect was to make these firearms far more desirable. Today, entire shooting sports have been developed around the AR in particular.
Interestingly enough, the selective-fire versions of these weapons can be had far more cheaply on the black market than the semi-automatic version in U.S gun shops (selective-fire versions, if they can be found, require an extensive background check conducted over weeks, and cost tens of thousands of dollars). A selective fire AK-47 or AKM can be had for $100 or (far less) depending on conditions on the black market, while semi-automatic versions routinely cost $400 and up in U.S. gun stores.
AR-15 rifles routinely cost $750 for the most basic versions, and quality versions can easily run more than $1000 each. The cartels raid armories and buy selective-fire M-16 and M-4 rifles from deserting or corrupt Mexican military members for far less than the semi-automatic rifles finding their way to the cartels with federal government assistance, or obtain them from the same South American armories that they get their grenades from. It is a bit harder to pin-down a “street price” for an M-16/M-4 in Mexico, but cartels can probably obtain them for $5o0 or less.
The point, of course, is that it isn’t remotely cost-effective for cartels to buy these weapons in the U.S.
Yet the AK- and AR-pattern weapons that are most bitterly opposed by gun-grabbing groups and politicians in the United States are the most common weapons purchased by Operation Fast and Furious.
At the same time, internal ICE directives ordering agents not to arrest and deport illegal immigrants unless they’ve been convicted of felonies apart from re-entering the country on prior occasions have emerged.
The ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee says the Justice Department has refused to make available 11 of 12 department witnesses called by the panel for transcribed interviews in the ongoing investigation of the botched Fast and Furious weapons operation.
Sen. Chuck Grassley said that despite the department’s promises of good faith cooperation in the probe, only one witness has been provided so far – former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke in Arizona, who resigned in August after taking responsibility for his mistakes during testimony about Fast and Furious before a House committee.
“The department has refused to schedule interviews with any of the other 11 witnesses. That’s not the good-faith cooperation I was promised, and it is unacceptable,” said Mr. Grassley, Iowa Republican. “If this controversy has taught us anything, it is that you have to talk directly to the people who know the facts.
“If Congress had relied on the department’s official talking points, we still wouldn’t know the truth today,” he said Thursday during the committee’s executive business meeting.
Trying to defuse upset over their refusal to hand over Solyndra-related communications, the White House’s legal counsel argued that the subpoena was too broad and imposed a hardship on White House staff, before coughing up some tangential and useless stuff. Considering the White House’s attitudes toward its own rights to collect information, and the impositions on private business that their policies have spawned, this seems a bit hypocritical. The latest shoe to drop is a “no-bid procurement” for an anti-smallpox agent that many health officials believe is not needed, given the emergency stocks of denatured virus on hand, but that resulted in a $443 million windfall for a pharmaceutical company connected with Obama donors.
Recently demoted Obama Chief-of-Staff William Daley attended a reception with Fannie Mae crook Jim Johnson, and Justice Kagan’s conflict of interest troubles over ObamaCare explain just what the big deal over Justice Thomas’ wife’s political affiliations are really all about.