I guess I still don’t get it

As we get closer to the November election, I’m unusually sensitive to the levels of adoration – on both sides of the aisle – directed at their mutual champions. I’m particularly concerned about the polarization that’s occurring in my country, and that despite the cliff we are heading towards. A cliff, that a middle school aged young man or woman could interpret independently, and understand the importance of.

Today, as I was reading, I saw something that hasn’t really been reported on that fits into my observational constraints nicely, and exemplifies what I mean.

Brian Terry – a US Dept. of Homeland Security Border Agent was shot and killed near Rio Rico, Arizona in pursuit of armed individuals who had been preying on illegal immigrants with the intent to rob them. While attempting to arrest the group, Terry was shot in the pelvis with a round from an AK-47. Shortly afterwards, he died from his injuries. Terry was a former US Marine Corps veteran, and had served in the Border Patrol for 3.5 years.

The weird thing about the tragedy was this. You and I bought the guns that killed him. Money came out of our paycheck, and was handed to someone from our government who subsequently facilitated the purchase of these weapons, and shot Agent Terry in the back, ripping through his midsection and shattering the largest bones in his body as the round tore through him.

This quote from Washington Post author Sari Horowitz, explains:

…On his first day undercover, John Dodson, who had been an ATF agent for seven years in Virginia, sat in a Chevy Impala with Olindo Casa, an 18-year veteran from Chicago. They watched a suspected gun trafficker buy 10 semiautomatic rifles from a Phoenix gun store and followed him to the house of another suspected trafficker. All of their training told them to seize the guns.

The agents called their superior and asked for the order to “take him.” The answer came back swiftly, instructing them to stay in the car. The message was clear: Let the guns go.

This was all part of an ambitious new strategy allowing Fast and Furious agents to follow the paths of guns from illegal buyers known as “straw purchasers” through middlemen and into the hierarchy of the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel.

But Dodson and Casa were confused and upset. ATF agents hate to let the guns “walk.” Yet it happened again, day after day, month after month, for more than a year.

They feared the worst, and a year later it happened: A Border Patrol agent was killed in an incident in which Fast and Furious guns were found at the scene. And it was later revealed that the operation had allowed more than 2,000 weapons to hit the streets.

It is the agency’s biggest debacle since the deadly 1993 confrontation in Waco, Tex. What began as a mutiny inside ATF’s Phoenix office has blown up into a Capitol Hill donnybrook that is rocking the Justice Department.

Apparently, the plan was to fund the purchase of a lot of guns…and let the people who bought them initially go. The plan was to let the guns go “upstream” and try to get the big fish. The plan had the legal backing of U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke in Phoenix, with approval and funding from a task forces at the Justice Department – the ATF’s parent agency.

But the plan started raising concerns across the board, from the people on the ground who were watching the purchase and sales of the weapons. What started out with a purchase here and there, started to grow exponentially – with as many as 212 weapons being purchased at a time and driven off to safe houses.

18 year ATF Veteran, Olindo CAsa from Chicago began raising serious concerns about the operation when he saw the quantity and speed of the weapons being purchased and shipped back to Mexican drug cartels.  Casa later said, “We were all sick to death when we realized…what was going on”. When these concerns were relayed to supervisors David Voth and Hope MacAllister, Voth responded via email,

“I will be damned if this case is going to suffer due to petty arguing, rumors, or other adolescent behavior,” Voth wrote in a March 2010 e-mail. “I don’t know what all the issues are but we are all adults, we are all professionals, and we have an exciting opportunity to use the biggest tool in our law enforcement tool box. If you don’t think this is fun you are in the wrong line of work — period!”

ATF agents in Mexico were getting the willies, too. Darren Gil, ATF attache to Mexico was alarmed by the large number of weapons being recovered at bloody crime scenes in Mexico – guns that were easily traced directly back to Phoenix.

Gil later recalled shouting at his boss, “Hey, when are they going to shut this, to put it bluntly, damn investigation down….We’re getting hurt down here”.

In May 2010, Agent Dodson of the ATF asked one of his supervisors if they “were prepared to attend the funeral of a slain agent or officer after he or she was killed with one of those straw-purchased firearms.”

Dodson later testified that he was told in response by supervisor Voth,

“If you are going to make an omlet, you need to scramble some eggs.” A statement Voth would later deny making.

Late December 14th, 2010 – Brian Terry was patrolling Peck Canyon in the Arizona desert. Terry, nicknamed “Superman” for his good looks and strength was planning to fly back home to Michigan for Christmas after his shift ended. The next morning, he was dead.

What, if anything does this have to do with President Obama, or Candidate Romney, you might ask? For me, it has to do a lot.

See, people started investigating this operation gone wrong. Started asking for documents and following the trail to see who knew what….who approved what. Standard investigation stuff. One of America’s heroes lay slain. Multitudes more of American and Mexican residents slaughtered by weapons purchased – visibly purchased, and tracked, on US Soil. People who had been involved in this war for years were saying, “this went way to far, and no one seemed interested in stopping it”.

On March 31, 2011 Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government reform subpoenaed the Fast and Furious documents. An operation commented on by comedy show host Jon Stewart in the following statement:

The ATF plan to prevent American guns from being used in Mexican gun violence is to provide Mexican gangs with American guns. If this is the plan that they went with, what plan did we reject?”

Through all of this, ATF Director Melson sat in his office in New York, watching Congress pummel his agency as Representative Issa called for his resignation. Melson later would say that he was told by the Justice department to say nothing….

Melson went back and studied the Fast and Furious case file. He would later say it “tied his stomach in knots”, and on an airplane flight he typed an email telling Justice Department officials that their public stance was inconsistent with the files and documents he had.

Not long afterwards, Melson – head of a Democratic Federal Agency agreed to testify before Issa’s committee  – the perceived political enemies of his employers in the Obama administration.

Melson confessed that mistakes had been made by the ATF. And that he was frustrated that the Justice Department had not let him speak to Congress months prior. He testified that the Federal Justice Department officials “seemed to be more concerned about protecting the political appointees at the top of the department”.

Issa, after Melson’s testimony – wrote a five page letter embracing the ATF director, and warning Eric Holder not to pink slip him. They also demanded the emails and notes of 12 Justice Department officials who said they were “aware” of the botched Fast and Furious campaign.

Eric Holder contended at first that he “did not know” about the largest Federal Justice Department gun running operation in United States history – an admission that worried concerned parties on both sides of the aisle. How could he NOT know, they confessed.

All told, 2,020 firearms were purchased. 227 were recovered in Mexico. 363 were recovered on US soil. 1,430 remain on the streets. The US Attorney General – the top banana of the Justice Department “didn’t now” about the largest US prosecution sting operation involving over 2,000 weapons.

Really?

But wait….it gets better.

Holder said, “I”m not giving you all the documents you want to see”. He did hand over 7,600 pages of documents. But not all of the documents they wanted to see.

Holder, witholding the last 1,300 pages of documents essentially said, “I want something in writing that says once I give these to you, your investigation of this office will stop…will end”.

Issa, said – “No way”.

Holder has said he is prepared to turn over the materials showing how the Justice Department arrivede at the conclusion that federal agents engaged in a “risky” tactic called “gun walking”. Remember – initially this department categorically denied that gun-walking had ever taken place.

Gun walking had taken place in the Bush administration – illegally. And now, it had taken place again – illegally – in the Obama administration.

The man who was responsible for the Justice Department that said, “We didn’t know anything about gun-running”, now says, “Yes, we knew about the gun-running”.

The weirdest part – the reason for this post – is the day after Holder’s plea to drop the investigation should he provide the documents to the Reform Committee was denied….his boss….President Obama….cited something called “Executive Privilege”. It means that the President – knowing or not – has stopped the investigation cold. There would be no more ‘vestigatin.

I remember stuff. Like, I remember the first few days and weeks of this administration. There was this really cool series of promises of transparency. (YouTube clip here). This president was going to be the most transparent administration in history. He used words like “sunshine” to describe how brightly you’d be able to see what was really going on in your government.

He promised that the Health Care bill negotiations would be broadcast on CSPAN.

He promised that you’d be able to read any bill that landed on his desk for signature 5 days prior to his acting on it.

He promised that he wouldn’t allow congress to slip “pork” projects into legislation secretly.

He promised that he’d make our government “Open and Transparent”

He said, “When there are meetings between lobbyists and a government agency…we’ll put those meetings online for every American to watch“.

First promise. No.

Second promise. No.

Third promise. No.

Fourth promise. No. In fact….when the Justice Department meets with lobbyists now or any company for that matter, they have an administration policy of making the lobbyists sign what is known as a “Non-Disclosure Agreement”, or NDA. Whoever meets with them promises not to share what was said to them by members of the Justice Department, and moreover – they agree to tell the Justice Department first if they are going to talk to Congress about anything.

Agent Terry, is dead. He was shot dead with a gun bought by Americans, given to Mexicans, and brought back to America to kill Americans. A weapon that everyone would agree is pretty gnarly. Agents watched the gun purchased by the bad guys. Watched them put it in the trunk, and drive back to Mexico.

Terry never made it home to celebrate Christmas with his family that December. And the President of the United States – his Commander in Chief – a man who promised the world that his administration would be the most transparent administration in history, who had the opportunity to make it all go away and see the “sunshine”, said:

“Nuh uh”. (paraphrasing).

You’ll hear that this is a political witch hunt. You’ll hear that this was timed, politically – to make the administration look bad. But remember, you also heard, “we didn’t know anything” before you heard, “okay, we did know something”.

It took me 4 hours to sort this all out in my head, and write this out today. That’s how confusing it was to me when I first came across this link on my DroidX.

It hurts my head to think that the same people who were giving Mexicans two thousand high powered assault weapons – our nations’ Justice Department, were suing Arizona for trying to keep the people we were giving those assault weapons to, out of Arizona.

The message – in my mind, is – “Not only can you come here….whenever you want, we’ll fight to make it impossible to detain you or discover your immigration status. And when you get here, we’ll arm you – in the hopes you’ll return home, and show us who bought the guns when you’ve finished killing your enemies and we collect the bodies and the shell casings”.

And when they ask us who knew what – we’ll say we didn’t know – unless they push and then we’ll say we did know. Unless it gets to close to the top brass, and then we’ll invoke Executive Privelege after we told everyone we’d let them see everything their government was doing….because honestly, no one remembers what we said anyway. We’ll say it’s a political witch hunt, if you promise to tell your family members who are here to vote for us in November. In fact, I’ll let even more of them stay here if they were kids when your family brought them here. . .

Is Romney any better? No. But both of them bank on the fact that people love to slap, “Christians for Obama” on their X5 hybrid trucks, and “Romney in 2012” on their Chevy Tahoes, and ride happily along with their candidates on their virtual shoulders – ignoring every indiscretion that violates every one of their religious and core beliefs because it’s “too hard” to piece the puzzles together mid stream, or after the fact.

When you see or hear about South American Violence – remember – we paid for those weapons too, courtesy of Oliver North under Regan.

Every time North Korea shoots a missile in the air and the world cringes, remember – it was Clinton that gave them nuclear techology in the first place.

And now – every time you read about violence in Mexico, remember where the AK’s came from.

And if Libya ever gets horny, – remember who helped arm all the insurgents down there. [did you forget about that whole Libyan war – removal of a dictator that had nothing to do with our national securtity but cost the US Billions in military expenditures that looked an awful lot like the Iraq war?]

Let’s not forget the Afghani’s dressed in military police uniforms we helped sew, that walked right up to US troops and shot them dead. Tons of guns and weapons there, and in Iraq now. How many guys were involved in those operations saying, “to make an omlet, you have to scramble a few eggs”? Or how we’re negotiating with the Taliban now, in those regions. (weren’t they our mortal enemies 4 years ago…and the real reason we were at war?)

And if you don’t think any of that’s happening right now in Syria – as we speak – then God’s speed my friend. Maybe ignorance is bliss, and we truly do get what we deserve – on either side of the aisle.

For me, it’s all I can do to smile and wave at you as you drive by – either side, and not wince when I see the parade of bumper stickers – red and blue.

Here we go again….

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