A document linked to a news story about the controversial Project Gunrunner may prove to be the “smoking gun” in the Obama administration’s attempt to distance itself from the operation, according to a team of Second Amendment advocates.
Gunowners of America President Larry Pratt says that the official U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobaco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF, document linked on MSNBC suggests a coordinated effort between the bureau, the Department of Justice and the White House.
“In the Gunrunner document, they talk about the need to have policies that are consistent with policies directed by the White House and the Department of Justice,” Pratt explained.
“It seems to me that not only does this field manual describe what’s been going on in bureaucratic language, it’s pretty clear it’s pointing that the origin of this (operation), the request or the demand for this is right up to the White House,” he said.
Pratt is referring to a two-sentence section on Page 2 that talks about the White House role in developing strategies to deal with the gun-smuggling issue.
“Over the past few years the White House, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security and even the U.S. Northern Command have developed various strategies and policies designed to leverage the full capabilities of the U.S. government in this effort,” the document stated.
Then there’s the reference to the need to continue the cooperation in Project Gunrunner.
“It is essential that our efforts support the strategies and policies of the president and the attorney general and where possible, complement the strategies of other agencies,” the document stated further.
Pratt says he agrees with some of the ATF agents who have come forward to talk about the operational purpose of Operation Gunrunner.
“This was an effort on the part of the administration to change the dialogue on the gun issue. Right now the Democrats don’t want to touch it; it’s like a third rail in American politics,” Pratt said.
Listen to Pratt:
“But if you can blame all the dead bodies on bad gun stores, bad gun shows, then ATF would be able to step up and say, ‘We’ll fix that with more money, more agents and more gun control,’” he said.
Pratt’s statement is based on a line from Page 5 that speaks about gun shops playing a role in the Mexican deaths.
“While the United States is not the only source of firearms and munitions used by the cartels, it has been established that a significant percentage of their firearms originate from gun stores and other sources in the U.S.,” the document stated.
Pratt believes that the administration had to know, from the beginning, that the operation would fail.
“The official story is false on its face. There is no way they were going to be able to track guns once they went into Mexico and follow those guns up the food chain to the big boys that are running the cartels,” Pratt observed.
Pratt said the operation was set up to fail because of Mexican law.
“When you go into Mexico without papers, you’re in jail for a year,” Pratt stated. “They don’t mess around. That’s their immigration law.”
“If you go in armed, much, much more time. The agent that was killed inside Mexico with one of the guns from Gunrunner or Fast and Furious as it was called at the point was there without a gun,” he lamented.
“The idea that somehow we were monitoring those guns inside Mexico, that’s just not true,” he added.
The publicly announced purpose of Project Gunrunner is discussed on Page 11 of the document, in the section dealing with the need for “an intelligence, prosecutor led, multi-agency task force.”
“The DOJ strategy concludes that ‘the most effective mechanism to attack those organizations is the use of intelligence-based, prosecutor-led multi-agency task forces that attack all levels of, and all criminal activities of, the operations of the organizations.’ A significant component of the DOJ strategy pertains to attacking the southbound flow of firearms,” the document read.
The document suggests that the purpose of the operation was to put it into a wider anti-narcotics strategy.
“This document recognizes that Project Gunrunner is both an ATF strategy and a component of a larger U.S. government counternarcotics strategy,” the document said.
However, Pratt states that he believes the operation is really about gun control.
“It clearly could have only had a purpose that some of the agents themselves have alleged. That’s why they were so aghast that it was being done,” Pratt said.
Pratt says the ATF is based on what he calls a culture of corruption, and he agrees with an earlier WND report in which Houston attorney Dick DeGuerin said the ATF is corrupt.
“The culture of corruption is in management, not necessarily in the agents on the ground. They (the agents) were objecting and they were saying this can only end poorly. Someone’s going to get killed,” Pratt stated.
Pratt says the corruption in the ATF is the reason the “whistleblowing” agents are being retired or transferred.
Pratt affirms that the document may be the key to a successful congressional probe of Project Gunrunner.
WND reported earlier when Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., had sharp words for the Department of Justice after Attorney General Holder sent a recent letter denying that the ATF had knowingly authorized the sale of weapons to gun smugglers as part of what has become known as “Project Gunrunner” and its suboperation, dubbed “Fast and Furious.”
In a return letter, the congressmen wrote that the department’s self-exonerating claims were flat-out “false.”
“We are very concerned that the department chose to send a letter containing false statements,” wrote the congressmen. “The department sent a letter on February 4, 2011, claiming that … ‘ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico.’ When questioned in transcribed interviews last week in Phoenix, agents with first-hand knowledge of ATF operations contradicted that claim.”
“We are extremely disappointed that you do not appear to be taking this issue seriously enough to ensure that the department’s representations are accurate, forthcoming and complete,” the legislators wrote. “We will continue to probe and gather the facts independently, as it has become clear that we cannot rely on the department’s self-serving statements to obtain any realistic picture of what happened.”
The program run by the ATF reportedly allowed guns purchased in the United States to be smuggled into Mexico for the purpose of tracking them to high-ranking members of Mexico’s drug cartels. The White House to date has disavowed knowledge of the procedures.
As WND has reported, officials on both sides of the border are fuming over the operation, which is being blamed not only for the infusion of hundreds of guns into the hands of Mexican drug lords but also provision of the weapon that killed U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.