Yesterday, Fortune ran a long article claiming that there is no “there” there in Fast and Furious. The article does clear a few things up, such as the ATF not actually “walking” guns into Mexico. However, some things bothered me about it. For one, it never addresses why the Administration first claimed no gun walking occurred, then retracted that claim. It never asks why they are witholding documents that are not related to criminal investigations and are related to how they decided to respond politically. And, most important, it relies heavily on interviews with the ATF agents who are under investigation. Surprise, surprise — they blame the attorneys who refused to issue arrest warrants for people the ATF knew were running guns.
Today comes not one but two responses, pointing out big problems with Fortune’s six-month investigation. The biggest problem is that Fortune left out a key fact: that the ATF ordered gun dealers to stop questioning people buying large numbers of guns:
And gun dealers who cooperated with the ATF report a shift in policy that coincided with Fast and Furious — from stopping sales and questioning customers, to telling store owners to just go ahead and sell the guns. While Fortune reports that the ATF had no chance to interdict the guns that might have killed Border Patrol agent Brian Terry — the shop that sold the guns informed the ATF that the transaction was suspicious, but it was a holiday weekend and the fax wasn’t seen for days — the gun store’s owner has said he was told in advance to go ahead and sell guns to people he normally wouldn’t. The entire Fortune piece seems to neglect the distinctions between probable cause for an arrest, the act of at least questioning people who are trying to buy guns illegally, and the ATF’s advice to store owners that they refuse to make any sale that they “doubt” is legal. A big part of Fast and Furious is that store owners were told to make illegal sales when the ATF couldn’t follow up on them or chose not to.
Exactly. I know gun dealers. They don’t just hand over a gun to any Tom, Dick or Harriet that walks into the store. They are human beings and don’t want to sell to someone they think is suspicious. The ATF essentially told them, “We got this” when they clearly didn’t.
I’m still shocked that so many on the Left want to just write this off as if it’s no big deal. I don’t buy the conspiracy theories that this was a deliberate ploy to support gun control. But you don’t have to buy the conspiracy theories to see that someone fucked up. And you don’t have to buy them to see that the Administration is trying to sweep this under the rug.