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The truth about the Fast and Furious scandal

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Floridatexan

Floridatexan

A Fortune investigation reveals that the ATF never intentionally allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. How the world came to believe just the opposite is a tale of rivalry, murder, and political bloodlust.

By Katherine Eban June 27, 2012

FORTUNE — "In the annals of impossible assignments, Dave Voth’s ranked high. In 2009 the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives promoted Voth to lead Phoenix Group VII, one of seven new ATF groups along the Southwest border tasked with stopping guns from being trafficked into Mexico’s vicious drug war.

Some call it the “parade of ants”; others the “river of iron.” The Mexican government has estimated that 2,000 weapons are smuggled daily from the U.S. into Mexico. The ATF is hobbled in its effort to stop this flow. No federal statute outlaws firearms trafficking within the U.S., so agents must build cases using a patchwork of often toothless laws. For six years, due to Beltway politics, the bureau has gone without permanent leadership, neutered in its fight for funding and authority. The National Rifle Association has so successfully opposed a comprehensive electronic database of gun sales that the ATF’s congressional appropriation explicitly prohibits establishing one.

Voth, 39, was a good choice for a Sisyphean task. Strapping and sandy-haired, the former Marine is cool-headed and punctilious to a fault. In 2009 the ATF named him outstanding law-enforcement employee of the year for dismantling two violent street gangs in Minneapolis. He was the “hardest working federal agent I’ve come across,” says John Biederman, a sergeant with the Minneapolis Police Department. But as Voth left to become the group supervisor of Phoenix Group VII, a friend warned him: “You’re destined to fail.”

Voth’s mandate was to stop gun traffickers in Arizona, the state ranked by the gun-control advocacy group Legal Community Against Violence as having the nation’s “weakest gun violence prevention laws.” Just 200 miles from Mexico, which prohibits gun sales, the Phoenix area is home to 853 federally licensed firearms dealers. Billboards advertise volume discounts for multiple purchases.

Customers can legally buy as many weapons as they want in Arizona as long as they’re 18 or older and pass a criminal background check. There are no waiting periods and no need for permits, and buyers are allowed to resell the guns. “In Arizona,” says Voth, “someone buying three guns is like someone buying a sandwich.”

By 2009 the Sinaloa drug cartel had made Phoenix its gun supermarket and recruited young Americans as its designated shoppers or straw purchasers. Voth and his agents began investigating a group of buyers, some not even old enough to buy beer, whose members were plunking down as much as $20,000 in cash to purchase up to 20 semiautomatics at a time, and then delivering the weapons to others.

The agents faced numerous obstacles in what they dubbed the Fast and Furious case. (They named it after the street-racing movie because the suspects drag raced cars together.) Their greatest difficulty by far, however, was convincing prosecutors that they had sufficient grounds to seize guns and arrest straw purchasers. By June 2010 the agents had sent the U.S. Attorney’s office a list of 31 suspects they wanted to arrest, with 46 pages outlining their illegal acts. But for the next seven months prosecutors did not indict a single suspect.

On Dec. 14, 2010, a tragic event rewrote the narrative of the investigation. In a remote stretch of Peck Canyon, Ariz., Mexican bandits attacked an elite U.S. Border Patrol unit and killed an agent named Brian Terry. The attackers fled, leaving behind two semiautomatic rifles. A trace of the guns’ serial numbers revealed that the weapons had been purchased 11 months earlier at a Phoenix-area gun store by a Fast and Furious suspect...

[...]

"Quite simply, there’s a fundamental misconception at the heart of the Fast and Furious scandal. Nobody disputes that suspected straw purchasers under surveillance by the ATF repeatedly bought guns that eventually fell into criminal hands. Issa and others charge that the ATF intentionally allowed guns to walk as an operational tactic. But five law-enforcement agents directly involved in Fast and Furious tell Fortune that the ATF had no such tactic. They insist they never purposefully allowed guns to be illegally trafficked. Just the opposite: They say they seized weapons whenever they could but were hamstrung by prosecutors and weak laws, which stymied them at every turn.

Indeed, a six-month Fortune investigation reveals that the public case alleging that Voth and his colleagues walked guns is replete with distortions, errors, partial truths, and even some outright lies. Fortune reviewed more than 2,000 pages of confidential ATF documents and interviewed 39 people, including seven law-enforcement agents with direct knowledge of the case. Several, including Voth, are speaking out for the first time.

How Fast and Furious reached the headlines is a strange and unsettling saga, one that reveals a lot about politics and media today. It’s a story that starts with a grudge, specifically Dodson’s anger at Voth. After the terrible murder of agent Terry, Dodson made complaints that were then amplified, first by right-wing bloggers, then by CBS. Rep. Issa and other politicians then seized those elements to score points against the Obama administration, which, for its part, has capitulated in an apparent effort to avoid a rhetorical battle over gun control in the run-up to the presidential election. (A Justice Department spokesperson denies this and asserts that the department is not drawing conclusions until the inspector general’s report is submitted.)

“Republican senators are whipping up the country into a psychotic frenzy with these reports that are patently false,” says Linda Wallace, a special agent with the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation unit who was assigned to the Fast and Furious team (and recently retired from the IRS). A self-described gun-rights supporter, Wallace has not been criticized by Issa’s committee.

The ATF’s accusers seem untroubled by evidence that the policy they have pilloried didn’t actually exist. “It gets back to something basic for me,” says Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). “Terry was murdered, and guns from this operation were found at his murder site.” A spokesman for Issa denies that politics has played a role in the congressman’s actions and says “multiple individuals across the Justice Department’s component agencies share responsibility for the failure that occurred in Operation Fast and Furious.” Issa’s spokesman asserts that even if ATF agents followed prosecutors’ directives, “the practice is nonetheless gun walking.” Attorneys for Dodson declined to comment on the record...

[...]

http://fortune.com/2012/06/27/the-truth-about-the-fast-and-furious-scandal/

*********

zsomething


Yeah, it's "gun-walking," and it happens all the time. There are occasional mishaps. They happened under Dubya, too, but nobody made a big deal about it because it's an acceptable risk of the practice... they catch far more dealers than they lose guns. Republicans just glommed onto this because they know their base are morons who fall for anything, and it's easy to stir them up with bullshit. Whatever they tell them to be upset about, the brainless little sheep will oblige.

I've explained it here before, but they don't want to understand it because then the world isn't the way they believe it, and that's something they can't accept. I've watched their "logic" here, and we're dealing with people who are just barely above sub-normal.

Floridatexan

Floridatexan

The whole thing started with one disgruntled employee and ballooned into just another attempt by the GOP to throw something at Obama until it stuck. The main point was that the ATF was apprehending suspects only to find that they couldn't get prosecutions, even in the most obvious circumstances...someone on food stamps plunking down $20,000, for instance...a strawman purchaser. Both Obama and Holder backtracked over the issue because of the implication that they were trying some backdoor method to take guns away from the public at large, which is what happens each and every time the gun control issue is raised. But...but...it must be true because it was all over the right wing bubble machine. It is sickening. Fox News started in 1996...and took a sharp turn to the right not long before W was "elected".

I don't know if you heard my story about working for a guy who had 5 TV's in his house...all tuned to Fox all day every day. We were renovating, cleaning out belongings, etc. One day I showed him an anti-Bush op-ed...he turned red in the face and steam came out his ears. It was pathetic...and those were the early days of Fox...multiply the Fox effect (and Limbaugh, et al) by 20 years...and there you have it.

zsomething


FOX and Limbaugh are misery-generating machines.

Couple cases in point:

My mom had this friend. They were best friends for years. Suddenly, this lady discovered Rush Limbaugh... and turned into this mean, bitter, constantly-unhappy wretch. She quit hanging out with my mom and any of her other friends, she started hating her husband, and she moved off to another town. Didn't get a divorce or anything, just lived apart from her husband for the next 20 years or so until she died. I used to love this lady because she was one of my mom's only friends who'd talk to me like an adult. We both read horror novels. Anyway, the change in her after getting obsessed with right-wing politics was just crazy. She'd still be polite and stuff, but all the warmth was gone, replaced by this bitterness and rage. There may have been other factors besides Limbaugh, but, honestly, I couldn't find 'em. All she'd do was complain about politics and believe all kinds of conspiracy theories.

Then, there was my friend's wife's dad. He got wrapped up in FOX News and became so pissed off all the time his daughter (who's liberal) finally couldn't even have him around, because he wouldn't stop picking fights. She got breast cancer and he'd still rag at her. She had to get her hair cut really short because of chemotherapy, and he'd think it was funny to tease her that she "looked like a lesbian" and would rail against that. She'd beg him to lay off the politics so he could still visit, and he'd try... but, he couldn't, so they finally had to quit having him over because he was provoking her all the time. He had a bunch of health problems himself because he was enraged all the time. Then he got killed in a car wreck and they had to clean out his house... and figured out he'd basically become insane. He had about 30-40 guns in the house, a safe buried in the floor with around $50,000 in it, surveillance cameras all around the property because he was paranoid that "Muslims" or something were coming to get him, and he had about ten TVs in the living room... all of them tuned to FOX so much that the FOX logo at the corner of the screen was permanently branded into 'em. I saw one of 'em that he'd given his daughter before he died, and it, too, had that FOX logo ghosted on the screen, whatever else you were watching.

There's something about the way that channel's run that provokes rage and fear in its viewers, and then feeds it. It supports every bad habit and weakness they have, and makes them insane and gullible, until they start believing Alex Jones type of nonsense. It's why the voting public was ripe for Russian meddling... they've been trained to gulp down propaganda like it's funnel cakes at the fair. I'm not sure what can be done about it, because regulating TV content isn't a good idea in a democracy, but people still need to realize what that propaganda crap is doing to them. I don't know of anyone who started watching FOX and became a better, happier person. The opposite, though? Happens all the time.

Floridatexan

Floridatexan
zsomething wrote:FOX and Limbaugh are misery-generating machines.

Couple cases in point:

My mom had this friend.  They were best friends for years.   Suddenly, this lady discovered Rush Limbaugh... and turned into this mean, bitter, constantly-unhappy wretch.  She quit hanging out with my mom and any of her other friends, she started hating her husband, and she moved off to another town.  Didn't get a divorce or anything, just lived apart from her husband for the next 20 years or so until she died.  I used to love this lady because she was one of my mom's only friends who'd talk to me like an adult.  We both read horror novels.  Anyway, the change in her after getting obsessed with right-wing politics was just crazy.  She'd still be polite and stuff, but all the warmth was gone, replaced by this bitterness and rage.  There may have been other factors besides Limbaugh, but, honestly, I couldn't find 'em.  All she'd do was complain about politics and believe all kinds of conspiracy theories.

Then, there was my friend's wife's dad.  He got wrapped up in FOX News and became so pissed off all the time his daughter (who's liberal) finally couldn't even have him around, because he wouldn't stop picking fights.  She got breast cancer and he'd still rag at her.   She had to get her hair cut really short because of chemotherapy, and he'd think it was funny to tease her that she "looked like a lesbian" and would rail against that.  She'd beg him to lay off the politics so he could still visit, and he'd try... but, he couldn't, so they finally had to quit having him over because he was provoking her all the time.   He had a bunch of health problems himself because he was enraged all the time. Then he got killed in a car wreck and they had to clean out his house... and figured out he'd basically become insane.   He had about 30-40 guns in the house, a safe buried in the floor with around $50,000 in it, surveillance cameras all around the property because he was paranoid that "Muslims" or something were coming to get him, and he had about ten TVs in the living room... all of them tuned to FOX so much that the FOX logo at the corner of the screen was permanently branded into 'em.  I saw one of 'em that he'd given his daughter before he died, and it, too, had that FOX logo ghosted on the screen, whatever else you were watching.  

There's something about the way that channel's run that provokes rage and fear in its viewers, and then feeds it.  It supports every bad habit and weakness they have, and makes them insane and gullible, until they start believing Alex Jones type of nonsense.   It's why the voting public was ripe for Russian meddling... they've been trained to gulp down propaganda like it's funnel cakes at the fair.   I'm not sure what can be done about it, because regulating TV content isn't a good idea in a democracy, but people still need to realize what that propaganda crap is doing to them.  I don't know of anyone who started watching FOX and became a better, happier person.  The opposite, though?  Happens all the time.

Yeah, that pesky First Amendment, on which Trump is completely inconsistent. He's always attacking the press but never Fox. I knew what Fox was and what it was doing back in 2000. "Fair & balanced"...right. I do wish we could bring back the Fairness Doctrine and actually debate the issues. Watch this interview with Bruce Bartlett:



2seaoat


A big nothing burger......just make up chit about nothing and make sure you spew frequently, and loudly.......then that ugly thing called the truth seems to rise to the surface........the cockroaches run like the kitchen light just got turned on.....then they wait to repeat the lies loudly and frequently......over and over again.

PkrBum

PkrBum
You have no objectivity... zero... nada. Were it reversed partied you'd be crying for relief.

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/01/judge-rejects-obamas-executive-privilege-claim-over-fast-and-furious-records-217970

PkrBum

PkrBum
https://www.google.com/amp/s/mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKBN22K2UR

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's president on Friday urged the United States to shed light on a gun-running sting that caused bilateral friction under the Obama presidency, questioning the behavior of past U.S. administrations for the third time this week.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said his government would send a diplomatic note to Washington for information on the 2009-2011 operation known as 'Fast and Furious,' a topic that has resurfaced in recent days amid a debate over historic U.S.-Mexico cooperation on security and possible corruption under previous administrations.

Setting out to stop cross-border gun smuggling, the U.S. scheme allowed people to illegally buy arms in the United States and take them to Mexico so that the weapons could be tracked and lead law enforcement officials to drug cartel bosses. Some weapons were later blamed for gangland slayings in Mexico.

"How could this be? A government that invades in this way, that flagrantly violates sovereignty, international laws," Lopez Obrador said at his daily news conference.

To avoid a repeat, the matter needed to be cleared up, said Lopez Obrador, who noted that President Donald Trump had last year been "respectful" to Mexico in discussions over joint co-operation following two major security incidents.

Mexican politicians are still arguing over how much its government knew about 'Fast and Furious' at the time.

Lopez Obrador brought up the gun-running scheme on Monday when discussing the case of Genaro Garcia Luna, Mexico's security minister from 2006-12, who was arrested in the United States in December and charged with drug-trafficking offenses. As security minister, Garcia Luna had spearheaded a crackdown on drug gangs, launched under former President Felipe Calderon.

Roberta Jacobson, a former American ambassador to Mexico appointed under U.S. President Barack Obama, had suggested both governments knew about possible corruption by Garcia Luna in an interview with Mexican magazine Proceso published at the weekend.

Lopez Obrador has used the arrest of Garcia Luna to argue that corruption was rampant in past Mexican governments.

Telstar

Telstar
[quote="PkrBum             The truth about the Fast and Furious scandal Pkr_bu36
The truth about the Fast and Furious scandal Pkr_bu37
[/quote]

zsomething


I'm absolutely positive that the people who don't understand how "gun-walking" works and think Fast and Furious was a big "scandal" are just gonna lose they damn shit about the Trump administration firing the IG because he was investigating the sale of billions in arms to the Saudis (which they bypassed Congress to do, claiming they needed to "expedite" it for some reason) and they didn't want that investigation to go forward.

To distract us from that, Trump's pimping hydroxychloroquine again. Remember, Trump invested in it and the makers of it, so he has a vested interest in people taking it. Like most organized crime operations, it always veers into drug dealing sooner or later.

Anybody really believe that Trump's actually taking that stuff? You need a prescription, and what doctor's gonna give a drug known to (A) cause heart problems and (B) not be effective against COVID in the first place to a guy who already has cardiac issues? Dude's lying 'cuz he wants to create a distraction and sell his dope.

PkrBum

PkrBum
I'll tell you how gun walking works. You track the weapons and make arrests if possible... like they did under Bush2. Which is still a bad idea imo. What Obama and Holder were doing was called gun running... the direct arming of Mexican criminal cartels with no recourse. Why the fuck would anyone do that? Id love to hear a reasonable excuse.

bigdog


yeah, yeah, yeah and St. Ronald and George the first as his VP illegally traded guns to terrorists and lied about it.
I don't care about Fast and Furious anymore than I care about Reagan and Bush. Neither do any Democrats who will be voting in November. You're gonna have to do better than that Pkr.

And I can promise you this: Donald Trump needs to run against Joe Biden if he wants any chance to win. If he keeps on trying to run against Barack Obama, he WILL lose. Minorities and young people will flood to the polls just like in 2012. Running against Obama is the stupidest thing Trump could ever do.

PkrBum

PkrBum
I don't think it'll be Joe... just a hunch i have. Can't imagine they'd let him on a debate stage live. I normally just read the transcripts... but I'd tune in for that... lol.

Telstar

Telstar
PkrBum wrote: They don't allow me to operate the TV remote.



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