The cover-up is always worse than the crime: considering the Gunwalker scandal, it’s hard to know if that is true — for the moment. America is now a bit closer to that answer, and is also closer to an answer for the question at the heart of all Washington scandals: what did the president know, and when did he know it?
July 20: The Examiner reported that the State Department, through a little-known program called “U.S. Direct Commercial Sales,” supplied considerable small arms to the Zeta cartel. In fact, a Zeta leader has said that all of their weapons were purchased in the U.S. Evidence indicates that weapons not obtained through the State Department were obtained through straw purchasers in the Gunwalker investigation.
The Zetas apparently purchased land in Columbus, New Mexico, which was used as a transshipment point for taking weapons directly across the border. Another method reportedly saw weapons flown out of Alliance Airport north of Ft. Worth, an air operations center of the Drug Enforcement Agency.
July 25: Fox News reported that two of the 20 people indicted in Operation Fast And Furious for making straw purchases of firearms which were primarily shipped to Mexican drug cartels were cleared by the FBI to make those purchases. Federal officials refuse to explain how this occurred.
Those who have been following the case will recall that when it began to blow up in public, 20 people — all bottom-level straw purchasers — were arrested, and claims were made that no guns were allowed to walk across the border (claims that have been exposed as false). The FBI runs the instant check system (NICS) that must be used to allow anyone to purchase a firearm, yet two convicted felons — apparently in the system as felons — were allowed to buy more than 360 weapons. The FBI has had no comment, however an ATF source told Fox that whenever the NICS flagged a felon trying to buy guns, the ATF in Phoenix was called. Obviously, the ATF and FBI allowed the purchases to go through.
July 26: The Examiner reported that in the fall of 2009, ATF agents in Mexico noticed an unusual number of American guns coming into Mexico, and were surprised to learn that many were traced back to the Phoenix ATF office. Over the year that followed, ATF agents in Mexico complained, and were told only that things were “under control” and that the investigation would end soon — but it did not end until the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in January 2011.
The agents sent their concerns to Phoenix, and up the chain of command to ATF headquarters and to the Department of Justice. This caused ATF agent Darren Gil to get into a screaming match with ATF International Affairs Chief Dan Kumor.
DOJ Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Lanny Breuer, on a visit to Mexico, praised the operation, to the horror of the agents in Mexico. The ATF withheld information from their own agents because they did not want the Mexican government to know what was going on.