A ‘Fast and Furious’ Conspiracy
In 2010 a Border Patrol Officer, Brian Terry, was shot and killed close to the US/Mexican border in Arizona. An investigation into Terry’s death sparked a controversy which still rages beneath the surface.
Writer and lawyer David T. Hardy wrote “Did Fast & Furious Violate the Arms Export Control Act?” for his blog, “Of Arms and the Law.
Hardy was referring to the Arms Export Control Act which authorized the President to define defense articles and regular exportation.
As there isn’t an exemption from the State Department permitting process for “official use” as no is admits “walked guns” are part of recognized American foreign policy, the answer seems to be anyone willfully violating the provision shall be fined not more than $1 million for each violation and be imprisoned for no more than ten years — or both.
Hardy continues to note that the US Code includes provisions for “principals” who cause offenses.
That was enough for conspiracy theorist Mike Vanderboegh to take the questions to the next level. Posting on “Sipsey Street Irregulars,” Vanderboegh concluded that America’s federal government and mainstream media were missing the legal points of the Gunwalker Scandal. Vanderboegh called it a conspiracy to “illegally export weapons to a foreign country.”
Vanderboegh died in 2016.
Tactically, Good. Strategically, A Complete Failure.
Fast and Furious wasn’t the first time a similar operation occurred. A similar operation, codenamed “Project Gunrunner” began during George W. Bush’s administration and was the seed for Fast and Furious as well as other gun-trafficking programs.
Robert Plumlee, a former freelance pilot under contract to the CIA, told the Times he believed that the Zetas cartel has been buying property in the Columbus, Mexico border region to store weapons.
“From the information gathered, it seems a company was established in Mexico to purchase guns through the US Direct Commercial Sales Program,” said Plumlee, as confirmed by New York criminal lawyer Arkady Bukh.
While not comforting to Mexican citizens, very few American citizens were ever in real danger. The Republican Congress attempted to make political hay out of something which caused fewer deaths than the hourly vehicle accident total on American highways.
Operation Fast and Furious was a good idea which was poorly executed. It occurred at a time when former-President Obama’s administration’s opponents could get media attention and cripple the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) at the same time.
Holder in Contempt
At the time some Congressional Republicans thought the Obama Administration had purposely handed automatic weapons over to Mexico’s drug cartels. The reason, Republicans believed, was the Obama administration knew the cartels would then perpetuate violent acts which would scare Americans into advocating for stricter gun regulations.
Those events led Congress to hold then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt.
Holder was caught up in a scandal over Terry’s death when one of the intentionally sold weapons turned up at the crime scene.
Republicans pointed to the case as a national security issue as they simultaneously changed it into an indictment over what they saw as a conspiracy determined to take away American citizens’ guns.
The conspiracy was started by Vanderboegh, a man who had issued a call for militias to break the windows of Congress. Rachel Maddow found evidence that Vanderboegh had been encouraging Congressional members to embrace his theory.
Vanderboegh and other conspiracy theorists blamed Holder for a law he didn’t write. Even if a person believes the vast conspiracy theory, a keystone in the theorists’ argument is built on a shoddy foundation. Theorists hold to the idea Holder ordered the (ATF) to report everyone who purchased more than one large gun in a five day period as a way to monitor American gun owners.
AFT made a request about reporting gun purchases, and the Justice Department delayed giving its approval.