The PJ Tatler

CBS report: ATF was ordered to let guns get into Mexico

The story hits the CBS Evening News tonight:

Tonight on the CBS EVENING NEWS WITH KATIE COURIC (6:30 PM, ET), CBS News Investigative Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson will follow up on her February 23 report about a major scandal within the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).  In an exclusive interview with Attkisson, a Phoenix-based ATF agent risks his job to describe the practice of letting guns “walk,” and gives an insider’s perspective about how the ATF knowingly contributed to the escalating violence in Mexico and American border states to that country.

This story’s relevance went up a notch just yesterday, when Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced his support for southbound checkpoints on the US-Mexico border. Those would be set up ostensibly to stop guns, money and technology from going south from the US into Mexico, where it would be used by the cartels. And this, in turn, is based on that study that purported to show that the vast majority of guns used in the Mexican drug war are coming from the US.

The problem with that study is, it’s skewed.

The study only looked at a few select kinds of guns which are common in the US, but banned in Mexico. And it was done by the ATF, which we now know was ordering its agents to let US guns walk into Mexico. Back to that CBS story:

But the agents who objected within their own agency were repeatedly rebuffed, they were told to keep their mouths shut, to stop complaining about it, in one case we have an internal email that describes a supervisor telling somebody ‘If you don’t like it you can go work for the Maricopa County Jail—if this isn’t fun to you then you can go find something else to do.’

It’s tempting to see all this as one big effort within the US government to put the blame for Mexico’s violence on US gun owners. Why they would want to do this is obviously up for speculation, but given the hidden agendas that are always at work inside the current administration, any of several possibilities could work. Perhaps they wanted to blame the US for Mexico’s problem to dent enthusiasm for increased security on the US side. Or to bolster an excuse to clamp down on Americans’ second amendment rights or target gun sales at pawn shops, which are singled out in the ATF study. The “why” is up to interpretation. But the fact is, the ATF is embroiled in a major scandal now, one that won’t go away anytime soon.