Operation Sweep Under the Rug

By: Daniel Nardini

In testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder stated that he sees no need to fire or bring before prosecution those people responsible for the failed Operation Fast and Furious. You can imagine the expression on the House representatives’ faces when he saw no need for heads to roll. No needs for heads to roll? No need for change? No need for recriminations? I have kept largely silent on this issue hoping that some things would change and that this type of totally wrong-headed and botched operation would be examined with a microscope. Apparently our dis-functional federal government is getting more dis-functional by the day.

These facts about Operation Fast and Furious are known. Hatched by the U.S. Bureau for Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), the operation was supposed to trace guns allowed to fall into the hands of the Mexican drug cartels so that the ATF could learn about the smuggling routes the cartels used for getting their firearms from the United States into Mexico. A total of 2,000 firearms—ranging from pistols to semi-automatics—were allowed to be smuggled into Mexico. The operation ran from the fall of 2009 to the end of 2010 (under U.S. President Barack Obama). Two things happened that proved fatal. First, the Mexican government itself was not informed of this operation. Finally, no one really followed the routes where the weapons were going. The result was that not only did the cartels get a lot of top quality forearms but these weapons proved deadly in all kinds of shoot-outs in Mexico and one of them was used to kill a U.S. Border Patrol agent named Brian Terry. Out of the 2,000 allowed to be stolen, only 600 have been recovered. The other 1,400 remain unaccounted for.

What is speculation is how many innocent people in Mexico have died from all these weapons allowed to fall into the hands of the cartels? How many hundreds if not thousands of Mexican police, soldiers and civilians have been murdered by this hair-brained operation? How many of these weapons are still in use, and how can the U.S. government make amends for allowing the cartels the means of killing so many innocent people who might otherwise have lived? We have to remember that this cache of weapons included AK-47 semi-automatic machine guns. These are useful only for military purposes, and they are truly deadly weapons against not only soldiers but against anyone. Most of the weapons had been recovered by Mexican police and the Mexican military at 179 shoot-out scenes between the police and military and the cartels. The public learned of the operation from ATF agent Vince Cetalu. He blew the whistle on the whole thing, and for that he was fired from the ATF.

The investigations go on. One thing that is for sure, and that is the killings in Mexico also go on. You can be sure that these weapons from Operation Fast and Furious are still being used to claim the lives of countless innocent Mexicans. And, it seems that for the U.S. government it is business as usual.

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