Fast and Furious is not Gunrunner

The Constitution assumed local control of most government functions, not the current centralized system.
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A recent video upload has many thinking that Operations Gunrunner and Fast and Furious are the same. They aren’t—but one led to the other.

What is Project Gunrunner?

Project Gunrunner is a duly authorized multi-agency project of the Department of Justice. It aims to stop any flow of weapons from the American Southwest into Mexico. It is what Deputy Attorney General David Ogden meant to announce on March 24, 2009. (See the video below.) It is the type of thing most agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) signed on for. Everyone knows about it, and it has come up for review. Most people, or at least most independent voters, would applaud the goals that the DOJ and ATF describe for it. (Here is a search result for “Gunrunner” on the DOJ site.)

What is Fast and Furious?

David Ogden, former Deputy Attorney General. Did he authorize Fast and Furious? Maybe.

David Ogden, former Deputy Attorney General. If he authorized Fast and Furious, he did not do it in the March 24 press conference. Photo: USDOJ.

Operation Fast and Furious is something else. This is what National Gun Rights Examiner David Codrea called “Project Gunwalker.” In it, senior law-enforcement agents and supervisors let “straw buyers” buy lots of guns from gun stores in and near Phoenix, Arizona, and “walk” them back to Mexico. (And Codrea and pal Mike Vanderboegh have since learned that another ATF office was “walking” guns into Honduras, in the same way.) Most observers still think that Fast and Furious was a “sting” that served the goals of Gunrunner. Those who concern themselves the most about Americans’ right to keep and bear arms see that the “sting” is on the American people, not any gangsters on either side of any border.

What’s the difference?

The difference, other than the two projects working against one another, is that David Ogden’s press conference is not good evidence that he, or any of his bosses, authorized Fast and Furious. This is not to say that no such evidence exists. Vanderboegh reported three weeks ago that John Solomon of The Daily Beast found such evidence. Solomon quotes Ogden as saying this in a “law-enforcement-sensitive” memo in October of 2009, seven months after his press conference:

Given the national scope of this issue, merely seizing firearms through interdiction will not stop firearms trafficking to Mexico. We must identify, investigate, and eliminate the sources of illegally trafficked firearms and the networks that transport them.

That’s what Operation Fast and Furious should have been about, if it had a legitimate goal. But that is not how the Justice Department ran it. They made no effort to track any of those guns. A US border patrol agent died in the line of duty, and his killers used two of those guns in that battle.

Codrea and Vanderboegh separately plead with people not to read too much into any particular piece of evidence. Some of it is old news. Sometimes people think they have found evidence, because a document, or video, mentions a name that sounds familiar.

Happily, two senior Members of Congress are looking into this. The rest of us should be at least as careful as they have been with the evidence they have.

Featured article: the Constitution of the United States. Photo: National Archives.