“These guns went to ruthless criminals,” Carlos Canino, ATF Acting Attaché to Mexico said in testimony on Capitol Hill Tuesday regarding the scandal-plagued Operation Fast and Furious. “It’s alleged that over 2,000 guns were trafficked in this investigation. To put that in context, upon information and belief, the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment has approximately 2,500 rangers. That means that as a result of this investigation, the Sinaloa cartel may have received almost as many guns that are needed to arm the entire regiment. Out of these 2,000 weapons, 34 were .50-caliber sniper rifles. That is approximately the number of sniper riles a Marine infantry regiment takes into battle.”
“The Acting Director of the ATF, in a transcribed interview with investigators, has said that the Justice Department is trying to push all of this away from its political appointees. That is not the response this committee, Congress and the public, should expect from the ‘most transparent administration in history,’” Rep. Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said during opening statements. “To date, President Obama has been keen to talk about who didn’t know about the program and who didn’t authorize it. These answers will not suffice. The American people have a right to know, once and for all, who did authorize it and who knew about it.”
A new report released by Issa’s office shows ATF agents working in Mexico were left in the dark about the details of Operation Fast and Furious. The report shows that in late 2009, ATF officials in Mexico began to see increasing amounts of guns traced to the Phoenix ATF Field Division office showing up at violent crime scenes. Former ATF Attaché to Mexico Darren Gil and ATF Acting Attaché to Mexico Carlos Canino expressed their concerns to officials in the Phoenix Field Office and in Washington D.C. but were ignored.
To make things worse, ATF leadership deliberately lied to agents working in Mexico, telling them Operation Fast and Furious would end in July 2010, but the program didn’t end until December 2010, only after Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed by a cartel member in the Arizona desert using a gun issued through Operation Fast and Furious.
Every time agents working in Mexico asked about the investigation, their “U.S. based ATF counterparts in Phoenix and Washington, D.C. continued to say they were ‘working on it’ and ‘everything was under control,’” according to the report.
At this point, 48 different recoveries of weapons have occurred in Mexico, and the public has only seen the beginning of the violence as a result of Operation Fast and Furious.
One suspect was able to purchase and transfer over 600 weapons to cartel members before he was arrested.
“I recall my first days at the ATF academy, where it was drilled into us as new agents that under no circumstances would any firearms, in any investigation, leave the control of ATF. Instructors stressed that even if a weapon was lost “by accident,” the agent was still subject to termination,” former ATF Attaché to Mexico Darren D. Gil said in testimony.
This, is the perfect storm of idiocy,” Canino said in an interview issued in the Oversight Committee report. “You don’t lose guns. You don’t walk guns. You don’t let guns get out of your sight.”
Yes, Mr. Canino, I would say “idiocy” pretty well sums it up.