fast and furious research project

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Dylan Douglas POS 303 Fast and Furious Research Project On December 15, 2010 in the Arizona desert near the border with Mexico, a patrol of four Border Patrol agents were given a unique mission. Instead of trying to stem the flow of illegal drugs and migrants from Mexico to the United States, they were ordered to track down violent bandits. These bandits were known to rob and abuse illegal immigrants as they tried to cross the border into the United States. (Richard) The weakly enforced border between Mexico and United States has been a contributing factor that has allowed bandits like these to roam relatively unchallenged in the vast desert border areas. Also, the past 20 years, the Border Patrol has grown from not just a law enforcement agency, but also conducts humanitarian missions. (Cornelius) The agents first made contact with five bandits near the border with Mexico in the Arizona desert by Rio Rico. A firefight soon erupted between the four Border Patrol agents and the cartel members. From the start, these Border Patrol agents were at a disadvantage. Due to Border Patrol

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Dylan DouglasPOS 303

Fast and Furious Research Project

On December 15, 2010 in the Arizona desert near the

border with Mexico, a patrol of four Border Patrol agents

were given a unique mission. Instead of trying to stem the

flow of illegal drugs and migrants from Mexico to the United

States, they were ordered to track down violent bandits.

These bandits were known to rob and abuse illegal immigrants

as they tried to cross the border into the United States.

(Richard) The weakly enforced border between Mexico and

United States has been a contributing factor that has

allowed bandits like these to roam relatively unchallenged

in the vast desert border areas. Also, the past 20 years,

the Border Patrol has grown from not just a law enforcement

agency, but also conducts humanitarian missions. (Cornelius)

The agents first made contact with five bandits near

the border with Mexico in the Arizona desert by Rio Rico. A

firefight soon erupted between the four Border Patrol agents

and the cartel members. From the start, these Border Patrol

agents were at a disadvantage. Due to Border Patrol

Dylan DouglasPOS 303regulations, these agents were forced to use less than

lethal ammunition when they first confronted the cartel

members. By the time the agents were permitted to use full

powered ammunition to defend themselves, the cartel members

already had fire superiority over the Border Patrol Agents.

(Richard) By the end of the gunfight, a Border Patrol agent

named Brian Terry was dead. He was murdered with a weapon

that was bought by suspected straw buyers in the United

States and smuggled into Mexico, all facilitated under the

BATFE’s sting operation known as Fast and Furious.

(Attkisson)

Operation Fast and Furious was a failed sting operation

run by the BATFE between 2009 and 2010. This operation

facilitated the sale of at least 2,000 firearms to known

Mexican drug cartel associates, with the knowledge that many

of these weapons would be smuggled into Mexico to fuel the

drug war. Even under the objections of the gunstore owners

where the sales took place and from agents within the BATFE,

the sales were allowed to proceed. These weapons sold under

Operation Fast and Furious have shown up in crime scenes all

Dylan DouglasPOS 303across Mexico and starting in December 2010, they began to

have an affect here on United States soil.

The reason why I’m choosing this topic is because I see

this as a very important story and I don’t think the

mainstream media is reporting on this nearly as much as it

should. My research will cover these core questions; why did

the Obama administration conduct Operation Fast and Furious

and what is the effect of the operation on border security

and government accountability?

Hypothesis: In order to bolster The Administration’s

case for more restrictions on 2nd Amendment rights,

(specifically a new assault weapons ban) Eric Holder pushed

Operation Fast and Furious, which dramatically increased the

number of American firearms found in Mexico.

Dependent Variables: Border Security, Government

Accountability

Independent Variables: Mexican drug cartels, illicit

arms transfers, and leadership.

Literature Review

Dylan DouglasPOS 303

In Edward Alden’s peer reviewed journal, Are U.S. Borders

Secure, he addresses some of the key flaws in our immigration

enforcement system that facilitate uncontrolled immigration.

His main argument in this piece of writing is that our

Border Patrol is severely under equipped to successfully

handle the task of securing our roughly two thousand mile

long border. Another point the author brings up is that the

Border Patrol is under funded as an agency to handle such as

task.

This information is relevant to my paper because it

addressed border security (DV #1) between Mexico and The

United States. I plan to use this information to show that

our weakly enforced border has been a contributing factor in

the growth in violence near the Mexican border. Showing how

it helps to enable cartel bandits – also giving more incite

about Independent variable #1 (Mexican drug cartels) such as

the ones that killed Brian Terry (Case Study #2), to get

away with what they did.

Dylan DouglasPOS 303

Sharyl Attkisson is a CBS investigative reporter based

in Washington D.C. In Gunrunning scandal uncovered at the ATF, Sharyl

Attkisson takes a closer look into the inner workings of

Operation Fast and Furious. Her hypothesis was that a top

goal for ATF and the Obama Administration was to stem the

flow of weapons from the United States into Mexico but this

operation did exactly the opposite. She explains how even

under the objections of BATFE agents and gun store owners,

BATFE not only facilitated the sale of thousands of weapons

to alleged straw purchasers but allowed them to walk across

the border into Mexico to fuel the raging drug war.

She reported that at least eleven BATFE agents and

senior managers voiced their opposition about the program,

yet their outrage fell on deaf ears. The higher management

in BATFE decided to allow most of the weapons on the

streets. Their idea was to gather intelligence and observe

where the guns ended up. This information is relevant

because it gives the audience an inside view into ATF’s

Operation Fast and Furious. Sharyl Attkisson is an

investigative reporter for CBS News, she is the leading

Dylan DouglasPOS 303reporter on this controversy. Attkisson was the first

reporter to break this story when she discovered that the

weapon that killed Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was one

of the weapons allowed to walk across the border into Mexico

facilitated by Operation Fast and Furious. I will use this

as one of my main sources to help provide sufficient

background information about the details of Operation Fast

and Furious. This source is most crucial to my research due

to the fact that without Ms. Attkisson’s investigative

journalism (which nobody else in her field of study at the

time wanted to pursue) we would not know half as much about

Operation Fast and Furious as we do today. It is because of

her investigation into this issue, that we know Border

Patrol Brian Terry (Case study #2) was in fact killed by a

cartel member with one of the firearms transferred under

Operation Fast and Furious.

In the Daily Caller, Matthew Boyle analyzes the

controversy over Attorney General Eric Holder’s testimony

over Operation Fast and Furious. In his article, Boyle

reports about the heated response Eric Holder gave to the

Dylan DouglasPOS 303congressional investigators about Operation Fast and

Furious. In his five page response, Eric Holder accuses the

investigators and the media of overly heated rhetoric aimed

at him. He also continued to claim that his testimony back

in May was truthful, that he had no idea what Operation Fast

and Furious was about until a few weeks before the

investigation. The hypothesis of the author was that Eric

Holder’s claim that he knew nothing about Operation Fast and

Furious until recently is false.

One main supporting point was that prior to Holder’s

testimony, an investigative reporter recorded a conversation

with a Justice Department spokesman who admitted that Eric

Holder did know about Fast and Furious. He just didn’t know

the details of the operation. This information is relevant

due to the fact that this recording with a Justice

Department official refutes Attorney General Eric Holder’s

claim that he did not know about Operation Fast and Furious.

This source directly helps to explain my third Independent

Variable (Lack of Leadership at the Justice Department

Dylan DouglasPOS 303level) and how this utter lack in leadership influences my

second dependent variable (Government Accountability).

In this peer-reviewed journal, Wayne Cornelius examines

the issues with trying to control immigration. Specifically,

he looks at the attempts by the United States government to

try and control illegal immigration from Mexico into the

United States. He also talks about how the Border Patrol has

changed as a federal law enforcement agency in the last ten

years. Cornelius writes about how the Border Patrol has

expanded their responsibilities of operation from solely law

enforcement, to also playing a humanitarian role.

This source relates to my research because it helps to

explain case study #2. The operation that Border Patrol

agent Brian Terry was involved in when he died, was largely

a humanitarian mission. Brian Terry and three other Border

Patrol agents were ordered to track down suspected bandits

with connections to drug cartel organizations. These bandits

were known to rob, rape, and kidnap illegal immigrants

attempting to cross the border. This source also helps to

explain dependent variable #2, in how Operation F&F made a

Dylan DouglasPOS 303dangerous situation near the border even worse with the

addition of over two thousand assault weapons in the hands

of cartel members.

In Gretchen Gavett’s PBC article, ATF’s Fast and

Furious: A Gun Store Owner Speaks Out, she analyzes some of the

inherent problems that faced Operation Fast and Furious from

the start. Her main point was giving it from the perspective

of a gun store owner who was compelled by BATFE to allow

these suspected straw purchasers to walk in and buy dozens

of firearms at a time. She also explains how for owners of

gun stores, the BATFE has the power to put you out of

business and throw you in jail. So when they tell you to do

something, for your own best interests, you should do it.

Gavett reports that due to the fallout of this failed

operation, this trust between BATFE and many owners of gun

stores has been broken. This source gives much needed

background information for my first case study and it also

helps to explain Independent variable #2 (Illicit arms

transfers).

Dylan DouglasPOS 303

In J. Richard’s article in AOL News, he examines the

details behind Brian Terry’s murder. The article does not

have a main argument, however it does report about the

circumstances of Terry’s death. He goes into detail how

Terry was part of a group of four Border Patrol agents who

were trying to track down a group of bandits who were

stealing from illegal immigrants. He then writes about when

the group came into contact with the bandits, shots from

both sides were fired, and during that firefight Agent Terry

was killed. The author writes about Terry and his history of

service, mentioning that before he signed up for the Border

Patrol he served in the United States Marine Corps.

This story matters to my research because it gives

background information into how the death of Brian Terry

came about. It also explains my second case study in detail.

It describes how the bandits that killed him were using

weapons that our own Federal Government allowed to be bought

by cartel members and smuggled into Mexico. I plan to use

this source to give my audience an idea of what happened

that day when Brian Terry was murdered.

Dylan DouglasPOS 303

In Jerry Seper’s article in the Washington Times, he

reports on the reaction from the family of the slain Border

Patrol Agent about Operation Fast and Furious and Eric

Holder’s testimony before congress. One main supporting

point in this story is that the family of Brian Terry want

Eric Holder to take responsibility for this operation. When

asked by congressional investigators if he had spoken to the

family of the killed Border Patrol agent, he replied that he

never once contacted his family. Another supporting point in

this story is that Holder claimed that it was, “unfair to

assume that mistakes from Fast and Furious directly led to

the death of Agent Terry.”This source matters to my research

because it shows the effects this failed operation has had

on the killed Border Patrol agent. This source also directly

relates to my second dependent variable (Government

accountability) and gives some incite into the reaction the

Justice Department had to the outbreak of this scandal.

In Jerry Seper’s Washington Times article, “Memo:

Holder Told of 'Fast and Furious' he addresses,” he takes a

close look into the ongoing developments in the

Dylan DouglasPOS 303congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious.

In particular, the author looks into looks into whether or

not Attorney General Eric Holder committed perjury in his

testimony to congress. Perjury is a crime where an

individual is convicted of lying in court. He examines some

new evidence that emerged from the Justice Department that

indicates that Eric Holder could have known more about Fast

and Furious than he said he did. This evidence is an

internal memo in the Justice Department that was addressed

to Eric Holder.

This information is most relevant to my topic because

it uncovers another piece of evidence that contradicts Eric

Holder’s testimony. This piece of information is key to

examining my second dependent variable (Government

Accountability) and how the utter lack in leadership in the

higher levels of this administration (IV #2) has influenced

accountability in government. I am planning to use this

source as one of the main supporting points in my research;

that Eric Holder knowingly misled congressional

investigators in his testimony that amounted to perjury.

Dylan DouglasPOS 303

In Richard Serrano’s LA Times article, “Gun store owner

had misgivings about ATF sting,” he writes about the

misgivings one gun store owner had about Operation Fast and

Furious. His main point was that BATFE compelled the owner

to allow them to install hidden video recorders to monitor

suspected drug cartel straw purchasers, but at key points

BATFE failed to monitor these cameras and did not follow

these leads. He also writes about how BATFE encouraged him

to permit suspected straw buyers and assured him that they

had everything under control.

This information is very relevant to my story, this

shows that BATFE compelled gun store owners to proceed with

sales they wouldn’t normally allow. It also sheds light into

the incompetence within BAFE as an agency. I plan to use

this source in my paper to give the reader some further

background information about the operation. This source also

helps to explain how my first IV (illicit arms transfers)

came about and how it has influenced border security DV #1.

Methods

Dylan DouglasPOS 303

This study examines the ongoing government scandal, an

operation known as Fast and Furious. Operation Fast and

Furious was a sting operation run by the Bureau of Alcohol,

Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) between 2009 and

2010. This operation facilitated the sale of at least 2,000

firearms to known Mexican drug cartel associates, with the

knowledge that many of these weapons would be smuggled into

Mexico to fuel the drug war. This study is going to examine

how border security and government accountability (the

dependent variables) are affected by illicit small arms

transfers (Operation Fast and Furious), Mexcan drug cartels,

and lack of leadership at the upper levels of The Justice

Department (the independent variables). The main questions

this study seeks to answer are: Why did the Obama

administration conduct Operation Fast and Furious and what

is the effect of the Operation on Border Security and

Government Accountability?

Operation F&F Hypothesis:

H1: If Attorney General Eric Holder was not able to persuade

Congress to renew the Federal Assault Weapons ban, then

Dylan DouglasPOS 303Attorney General Holder decided to inflate the number of

traceable American firearms in Mexico to make the case for

more restrictive gun laws.

This study is a qualitative driven analysis on current

events centering around developments on the United States

and Mexican border. My data will come from a range of

sources which include: Peer reviewed journals, books, and

press sources.

Variables:

Dependent Variables:

Border Security, Government Accountability

Independent Variables:4

Small Arms Transfers, Drug Cartels, Lack of Leadership in

Government

Independent Variables:

Dylan DouglasPOS 303Small Arms Transfers: Small arms is a term used to define

weapons that an individual soldier is able to carry. This

includes weapons such as handguns, submachine guns, light

machineguns, assault rifles, and grenade launchers.

According to a study conducted for the Geneva Declaration,

it was found that over 740,000 people die every single year

as a result from armed violence. Of these people that died

from armed violence, the vast majority of those deaths are

from people using small arms. Small arms transfers deals

with the trade of these defined weapons from one party to

another. This influences border security in that with the

procurement of assault style weapons from Operation Fast and

Furious, members of drug cartels are now in some cases

better armed than members of the United States Border

Patrol. With these weapons now in the hands of violent

cartel members, the numbers of deaths from narco traffickers

have increased on both sides of the border.

Drug Cartel: Drug cartels are defined as an illicit cartel

formed to control the production and distribution of

Dylan DouglasPOS 303narcotic drugs. Often times, drug cartels have the ability

to expand so far in their power and influence that they can

replace the authority of the state, often controlling entire

regions of a country. A great example of this is the current

situation the state of Mexico is facing. Drug cartels have a

virtual death grip on it’s people and government. There are

entire regions of Mexico where even the Mexican military

dare not venture into in fear for their lives. With the

money that comes from the profits of dealing in narcotics,

these drug cartels have the ability to infiltrate and

corrupt all levels of government with their buying power.

This massive growth in power is not only limited to Mexico,

it also has a real and violent affect here in the United

States, especially on the border.

Lack of leadership in Government: Leadership is defined as

the act of guiding and directing a group of people toward a

common goal. In this study, this lack of leadership in

government will be examined on two levels: One being on the

Arizona state level of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and

Firearms and the other on the National level with Attorney

Dylan DouglasPOS 303General Eric Holder at the Justice Department. Both of these

key failures in leadership had an effect on border security

and government accountability. Specifically, these failures

in leadership are what led to the creation and execution of

Operation Fast and Furious and the loss of human life that

followed.

Dependent Variables:

Border Security: The central dependent variable in this

study is border security, specifically dealing with the

border security between The United States and Mexico. Border

security can mean a lot of different things to people and

thus there is little common ground for a definition of it.

However in this study, border security is going to deal

specifically with the amount of violence near the border due

to factors such as cartel members and the arms they are

using.

Government Accountability: Government (or political)

Accountability is defined as the accountability of the

Dylan DouglasPOS 303government, civil servants, and politicians to the public

and to the legislative bodies such as congress or a

parliament. This study is going to analyze the relationship

Operation Fast and Furious has with government

accountability. Specifically looking into the responses from

different sectors of the Federal government concerning this

issue. One key example will be how the House Oversight and

Government Reform Committee led by Darrel Issa is looking

into this botched gun sting operation and what sort of

response came from the upper levels of the Justice

Department from this investigation.

Selection of Appropriate Cases

The cases chosen for this comparative case study have

directly been affected by and also affected the development

of Operation Fast and Furious. These cases include the

internal protests from individual BATFE agents and gun store

owners about the wisdom of the operation and about the

Justice Department’s response to this growing scandal and

also the Congressional investigation that followed.

Dylan DouglasPOS 303Internal Protest of F&F: The first case study that will be

examined will be the protest of the operation from members

within BATFE itself. From the beginning of the sting

operation, there were many voices within the department that

were outspoken against the program. They saw what their

supervisors refused to acknowledge, that they were letting

firearms fall into the hands of drug cartel members. The

only response they received from their supervisors was to

stand down and not ask questions, threatening them with job

retaliation if they continued to speak out against the

program. On top of BATFE agents that protested the sting

operation, many gun store owners that were involved with the

Operation spoke out against the program when it was

underway. Going against their conscious, they were coerced

to sell as many as thirty firearms a day to shady

individuals who they knew had no business buying a firearm.

Justice Department response/investigation: My final case

study will be about the initial response from members from

the Justice Department about Operation Fast and Furious. In

particular, it will be focusing on the response from

Dylan DouglasPOS 303Attorney General Eric Holder who is ultimately responsible

for this operation. This case study is important to my

research due to the fact that it helps to explain why a lack

of leadership (my 3rd IV) in the higher levels of the

Administration led to this disaster of a sting operation and

thereby having a negative impact on our border security.

This case study also examines the current Congressional

investigation into Operation Fast and Furious and what sort

of facts this invitation was able to uncover.

Analysis

Case Study #1:

The stated purpose of this operation was to allow

alleged “straw buyers” – a person who purchases a firearm

for the sole purpose of selling it to people who are not

legally able to buy guns – to purchase firearms in the

United States and transport them to Mexico, all in order to

build a larger case against Mexican cartel organizations.

This operation allowed the sale of at least 2,000 firearms,

with the knowledge that many of these weapons would be

Dylan DouglasPOS 303smuggled into Mexico to be used against the Mexican

government in the drug war. (Attkisson)

When the owners of gun stores called BATFE asking to

turn away these suspected straw buyers, ATF told them not to

worry and ordered them to allow the transaction to proceed.

(Serrano.) One example is a Phoenix gun-store owner who

spoke out about the operation. He said BATFE made a deal

with him; to allow them to install surveillance cameras in

his gun store and let suspected cartel straw buyers walk in

his shop and buy as many as 30 firearms at a time. In a

period of fifteen months he sold over $100,000.00 worth of

weapons, but was never informed about any arrests made. The

problem was that when many of the straw buyers came in and

bought thousands of dollars worth of rifles BATFE agents

weren’t watching the surveillance cameras. He feared these

weapons could fall into the wrong hands but BATFE kept

reassuring him they had it under control. When the scandal

broke and it became apparent these guns fell into the hands

of the Mexican drug cartels, the owner told reporters, “Was

I betrayed? Absolutely yes.” (Serrano) Predictably, these

Dylan DouglasPOS 303weapons that BATFE allowed to be bought and walked across

the border began showing up in crime scenes all across

Mexico. Ultimately, this failed operation started to have an

impact here on United States soil.

Even during the operation, many in BATFE spoke out against

the program. In one case, BATFE field agents were tracking a

shipment of weapons they believed to be headed to the

Mexican border, but they were ordered from their superiors

to let them go. CBS reported that, “One distraught agent was

often overheard on BATFE radios begging and pleading to be

allowed to intercept transports. The answer: “Negative.

Stand down.” (Attkisson) Agents who complained about the

wisdom of letting these firearms fall into the hands of drug

cartels were ignored. Instead, their superiors told the

objecting agents to “get with the program” because senior

BATFE officials have endorsed this program. Agents who

continued to voice their concern were also threatened with

job retaliation. (National Review) In a similar situation,

an agent was arguing with one of his superiors and said over

the radio, “are you prepared to go to the funeral of a

Dylan DouglasPOS 303federal officer killed with one of these guns?” (Attkisson)

They didn’t have to wait very long.

Case Study #2

Currently, The House Oversight Committee of

the House of Representatives is conducting an independent

investigation into Operation Fast and Furious. The purpose

of this investigation is to discover how this failed

operation was able to take place and to find out who was the

highest-ranking official from the Administration to know

about it. Earlier this year, the Oversight Committee called

Attorney General Eric Holder to testify about Fast and

Furious on the House floor. On May third, the Chairman of

the House Oversight Committee Darrel Issa questioned Eric

Holder, “When did you first know about the program called

Fast and Furious?” Eric Holder then answered, “I’m not sure

about the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and

Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.” (Seper)

In addition, a spokesman for the Justice Department (Eric

Holder heads this department) said that, “Operation Fast and

Dylan DouglasPOS 303Furious was a discrete law enforcement effort largely

isolated to the ATF office in Phoenix,” (Seper) On October 4

of this year, the Oversight Committee obtained a Justice

Department memo that proved Attorney General Holder and

other high ranking Justice Department officials were briefed

about Operation Fast and Furious as early as July of 2010.

This memo also specifically talks about the methods this

operation used, such as letting straw purchasers obtain

2,000 firearms and allowing these firearms to walk across

the border. It also indicates that the Justice Department

under Attorney General Eric Holder was actively pushing

Operation Fast and Furious. The memo contradicts the

testimony Eric Holder gave before the House Oversight

Committee; he never mentioned the ten-month-old memo he was

given. Congressman Grassley, a member of the House Oversight

Committee, said, “Now to find out he knew some pretty

detailed information about the operation back in the summer

of 2010 is troubling.” (Seper)

Dylan DouglasPOS 303

In response to this development, Eric Holder sent a

heated five-page letter to the Committee Chairman, Darrell

Issa. Holder claimed that he knew nothing about these memos.

He points out that the Justice Department receives many

memos and he shouldn’t be responsible to know about the

details about every one. Holder said, “My testimony was

truthful and accurate and I have been consistent on this

point throughout. I have no recollection of knowing about Fast

and Furious or of hearing its name prior to the public

controversy about it.” (Boyel) This statement’s consistency

has been called into question. According to investigative

reporter Sharly Attkisson, a Justice Department spokesman

told her that Eric Holder did in fact know about Operation

Fast and Furious, he just didn’t know the details of the

operation. (Boyel) Some in the media are now questioning the

Attorney General’s competency. How could a man who’s job is

to oversee BATFE not know about an international operation

that allowed thousands of firearms to be walked across the

border into Mexico?

Dylan DouglasPOS 303

In Spring of this year, The House Oversight Committee

pressed for access to documents from the Justice Department

that related to Operation Fast and Furious. With the

Administration not responding to these requests (of the

documents given many of them were heavily redacted) Eric

Holder was called up to testify before Congress about

Operation F&F multiple times. On June 20th 2012, after

multiple attempts to access this information and continued

obstruction from The Justice Department under Eric Holder,

the House Oversight Committee voted along party lines to

recommend Eric Holder to be held in contempt of Congress. On

that same day, the Obama Administration invoked the use of

Executive Privilege over the documents in question. This was

the first time in his term the President has used this

power. On June 28th, The House of Representatives held Eric

Holder in contempt of Congress, the first member of the

Obama Administration to be held in contempt. Following

Congress’ holding of Holder in criminal Contempt, the House

also filed a civil suite against Holder, looking to gain

access to these documents concerning Fast and Furious and

Dylan DouglasPOS 303also attempting to challenge the Administration’s use of

executive Privilege in court. (Seper)

Assuming Eric Holder knew about Fast and Furious, what

motivation would he and the administration have to allow

these weapons to be smuggled into Mexico? Back in spring of

2009 – around the same time F&F was created – Attorney

General Eric Holder, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and

President Obama claimed that 90% of all Mexico’s recovered

firearms from crimes come from the United States. They were

blaming our gun laws here in the United States for the

violence happening south of the border. The one problem

about this statistic is that it is completely misleading.

This figure only represents the percentage of firearms that

Mexico has submitted to the United States for tracing, not

the total number of firearms collected. When you calculate

these weapons out of the total number recovered, this brings

the number of U.S. made guns down to 12%. (Jeunesse)

Proving what many in the United States have been saying

for years, that these Mexican drug cartels with billions of

Dylan DouglasPOS 303dollars to spend on weaponry are not going to spend the time

and effort to buy semiautomatic civilian versions of

military firearms in the United States. Instead, they get

the vast majority of their weapons from other countries in

Central America such as Guatemala and Honduras. (Jeunesse)

Why would they want to spend the time, money, and effort to

acquire an American semiautomatic AR-15 when they can

purchase a fully automatic M-16 on the black market for half

the price? It’s been proven that the drug cartels are

getting their hands on 40mm grenade launchers; rock

propelled grenades, fully automatic submachine guns, hand

grenades, fully automatic Colt M16 assault rifles and even

20mm anti aircraft cannons. These weapons listed are most

definitely not available to civilians in the United States.

(Jeunesse)

During the same year when Operation Fast and Furious

was created, Eric Holder also pushed for the renewal of the

1994 Federal Assault Weapons ban. The ban expired in 2004.

The Federal Assault Weapons ban of 1994 banned a wide range

of weapons, based largely on cosmetic features. For example,

Dylan DouglasPOS 303the definition of an assault rifle under this ban would be a

semiautomatic rifle that accepts a detachable magazine with

two or more of these features: a pistol grip, adjustable or

folding stock, flash hider, or a bayonet lung. Why is this

relevant? The vast majority of the weapons used in Operation

Fast and Furious were AK type rifles imported from Romania

into the United States. (Miller) These weapons that were

used in Operation Fast and Furious happened to be the same

type of firearms that Eric Holder wanted banned for sale to

civilians. At a press conference in March of 2009 Eric

Holder said, “As President Obama indicated during the

campaign, there are just a few gun-related changes that we

would like to make, and among them would be to re-institute

the ban on the sale of assault weapons… I think that will

have a positive impact in Mexico, at a minimum.” (Miller) At

the same time of this speech, Holder’s Department of Justice

was implementing a program that did exactly what the

administration vowed to stop, putting more firearms in the

hands of criminal Mexican drug cartel members. Is this the

“positive impact in Mexico,” that Holder was talking about?

Dylan DouglasPOS 303

Within a week of Eric Holder calling for the renewal of

the Federal Assault Weapons ban, 65 Democratic members of

the House of Representatives wrote him a letter telling him

not to pursue this issue any further. They were not willing

to support this legislation. The congressmen brought up

studies that proved that the previous Assault Weapons ban

had no impact on crime when it was in effect and implored

Holder to focus on enforcing the laws that are currently on

the books instead of seeking new legislation. Back in

2009, The Democratic Party had solid control over the House

of Representatives. However, with 65 Democrats in the House

actively fighting against this new law, it was guaranteed

that there was no chance of this legalization passing either

the House or the Senate. (Bedard)

In addition, Eric Holder has had a long history of

hostility towards the 2nd Amendment. Just last year, a video

surfaced of Eric Holder speaking to the Women’s National

Democratic Club on Jan. 30, 1995. At that time he was the

U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. Holder advocated

the use of Hollywood, Government Officials, and even the

Dylan DouglasPOS 303Media to “really brainwash people” into opposing private

firearm ownership. (Klukowski) He compared using anti

smoking campaigns as a base model for opposing gun rights.

In one part of his speech, Holder said, “What we need to do

is change the way in which people think about guns…make it

something that’s not cool, that it’s not acceptable…in the

way in which we’ve changed our attitudes about cigarettes…

really brainwash people into thinking about guns in a vastly

different way.” (Klukowski)

This video gives some perspective into why Eric

Holder filed a brief to the Supreme Court in 2008 during the

D.C. v. Heller case. In his amicus brief to the court,

Holder argued that the Second Amendment’s, “right of the

people to keep and bear arms,” does not apply at all to

private citizens. He argued that the Second Amendment only

addresses state governments in equipping their National

Guard units. Thus, a complete ban on handgun ownership (as

what DC. did in the Heller case) was not in violation of the

United States Constitution. (Klukowski)

Dylan DouglasPOS 303 In combination with the 1995 video, the DC.

v. Heller Case, and his involvement in Operation Fast and

Furious, this paints a picture of an anti gun activist who

wrongfully (according to the SCOTUS decisions of DC. v.

Heller and McDonald v. Chicago) rejects the fact that The

Second Amendment recognizes the individual right to keep and

bear arms. In his failing to convince the Supreme Court, or

to convince Congress to pass an Assault Weapons Ban, Eric

Holder needed a crisis to latch onto to gain support for his

anti-gun agenda. This is where Operation Fast and Furious

came into play. The program would allow drug cartel

associates to illegally purchase so called ‘assault weapons’

and smuggle them across the border. By doing this, it would

inflate the number of American firearms in Mexico in order

to create a pretext for more restrictive gun laws here in

the United States. Remember, if it were not for those two

BATFE agents that leaked vital information about this

program – such as the list of firearm serial numbers related

to Fast and Furious – the American people would not have

known about this operation. When the Mexican drug cartel

Dylan DouglasPOS 303member with one of these firearms killed Border Patrol agent

Brian Terry, the American people would not have known that

it was from Operation Fast and Furious. How would this story

change? Instead of having the debate be about the flaws of a

Federal program that allowed this weapon to fall into the

hands of a criminal, it would have been about how our Second

Amendment freedoms are to blame for the violence in Mexico.

Exactly what Eric Holder wanted this operation to

accomplish.

Conclusion

This study of Operation Fast and Furious serves

as a solid beginning point to fully comprehending the extent

of which this Operation has impacted security along the

United States/Mexican border and it’s impact on government

accountability. With the deadly combining factors of a

destabilized government in Mexico due to the activities of

the drug cartels (creating the demand for the weapons),

Operation F&F itself, and the lack of response from the

Administration during and after the operation took place,

Dylan DouglasPOS 303the security situation along the border has been continuing

to be deteriorating.

On the individual level, security has been

drastically impacted by this deadly combination. For

example, the current number of total Mexicans killed by

cartel members using weapons from Operation F&F is at 400.

One can also look to the daily hazards facing Border Patrol

agents patrolling the border, at any moment they can face

attack from heavily armed cartel traffickers, who might be

better armed than they are. On the State level, security has

been impacted as well. The Mexican government now has to

face more heavily armed cartel traffickers wrecking havoc in

their streets.

In terms of government accountability, this

Operation has placed much doubt in the Obama

Administration’s competency in dealing with internal

scandals. The fact that the Attorney General of the United

States was held in Contempt of Congress on a bipartisan

level due to his handling of the issue made many Americans

wonder just how involved the Administration was with the

Dylan DouglasPOS 303creation of Operation F&F. To further this belief, with the

Obama Administration employing Executive Privilege for the

first time for an issue that the President himself has

barely even mentioned before, has stirred much debate into

what information these documents contain. Until a judge

rules on the current civil suite against Holder and the

Administration over these documents, we will never know what

they contain. It will however, serve as an admission of

involvement in Fast and Furious from the Obama

Administration. This will have a negative impact on the

perception of accountability in government.

Further research and policy implications: In terms of future

research, there is certainly much more to be done. Much of

this hinges on whether or not the documents under dispute by

Congress will be released for investigation. If so, there

will be a virtual treasure trove of possible research to

obtain. Internal memos, emails, correspondence, and taped

records just to name a few. It will be these documents that

will tell just how involved the Administration was in the

creation and execution of Fast and Furious. Although many in

Dylan DouglasPOS 303the Obama administration would wish it so, this issue is not

going away anytime soon for them.

This controversy has many policy implications

to consider. One implication is the simple notion that if a

branch of a Government Department (BATFE) decides to conduct

a sting operation involving thousands of weapons, wouldn’t

it be wise to inform the president and the government of

Mexico as well? Instead of conducting this rouge operation

supposedly without anyone in the upper echelons of either

governments knowing about it?

Another policy implication would be if an

agency such as BATFE decides to conduct an operation similar

to this in the future, they must find a way to keep track of

these weapons and where they end up. Such as installing some

sort of GPS or radio frequency tracking devices in the

stocks of the weapons. Or even better, why not simply make

it policy to extract the firing pin from each of the weapons

that are used in future sting operations? It is extremely

difficult to tell if a firing pin has been removed from an

AKM or AR type rifle without completely dissembling it.

Dylan DouglasPOS 303Ensuring these weapons do not fall in the wrong hands and if

so, they are rendered non operational. If such a policy was

put in place before Operation F&F was created, maybe Border

Patrol Agent Brian Terry would have had a chance of

surviving his shootout with the cartel traffickers.

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