Michael P. Ackley has worked more than three decades as a journalist, the majority of that time at the Sacramento Union. His experience includes reporting, editing and writing commentary. He retired from teaching journalism for California State University at Hayward.More ↓Less ↑
Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell which is which.
Kenneth Melson’s removal last week as head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Americans hasn’t stopped American’s from asking, “What were they thinking?”
Citizens still are demanding an explanation for the “Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal. We think the following transcript will help. It is a conversation between Amy Handleman, a top aide to Attorney General Eric Holder, and Howard Bashford, innovative programs director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. We obtained the transcript from a highly placed Justice Department source. It begins:
Handleman: Look here, Bashford, Mexican officials claim guns from America are finding their way into the hands of the drug cartels. It would be helpful in our effort to curb runaway gun ownership if we could prove this allegation. You’re the director of innovative programs. I want you to come up with a way to find that proof.
Bashford: I’ve already been working on the problem, Ma’am, and I’d like to outline a plan to provide us the intelligence we need.
Handleman: Well, spill it.
Bashford: We’ll call it Operation Dumb and Dumber, after the popular motion picture. Easy to remember, don’t you know. We’ll buy firearms, take them across the Rio Grande to Mexico, and sell them. Then, we’ll trace them and find out where they end up.
Handleman: Who, exactly, are you going to sell them to?
Bashford: Well, whoever wants to buy them. We figure at least some of these “customers” will be aligned with the cartels. What could be simpler?
Handleman: Hmmmm. It makes sense. But once the guns are in the hands of the Mexican customers, how are we going to trace them?
Bashford: Good question! We couldn’t do it if we didn’t have advanced satellite technology.
Handleman: Satellite! Our look-down capability is excellent, but how in the world are we going to be able to see individual guns from space?
Bashford: You don’t need to see the guns. Just put a drop of a special chemical on them. The satellites can track the chemical.
Handleman: No kidding? I never knew we had that capability.
Bashford: Yeah. You put the stuff on guns or other contraband, or even on human beings, and you can keep and eye on them anywhere in the world.
Handleman: And we have this chemical on hand?
Bashford: Not yet, but I’m sure we can get it. I saw it on “NCIS: LA.” It’s pretty incredible.
Handleman: OK then. Now, who’s going to buy the guns for Operation Dumb and Dumber? Are we going to put ATF agents under cover to handle the job?
Bashford: No. We think that would be too risky. We’re going to use some ex-felons.
Handleman: But … Lalalalalalalalalala! I didn’t hear that.
Bashford: Got ya, Ma’am. It’s need to know, and you need not to know.
Handleman: So, we’re going to use … er … persons unknown to buy firearms, transport them into Mexico and sell them to persons unknown and track the guns by satellite so we can find out if they end up with the drug cartels. Gee! This sounds great!
Bashford: It’s beautiful, isn’t it?
Handleman: Wonderful, wonderful! But I wonder … These will be working firearms, won’t they? What if somebody gets shot with them?
Bashford: Good question! We think that’s unlikely. After all, how often do the cartels shoot anybody? And even if they did, wouldn’t that bolster our case for gun control? Besides, if it happens to Mexicans, like, who cares?
Handleman: You’re right. It’s foolproof. But I’m a little concerned with the title. “Operation Dumb and Dumber” might be misinterpreted if it ever leaked. How about something a little sexier … like … I’ve got it! Operation Fast and Furious!
Bashford: That works! After all, it’s a movie about reckless thugs.
Handleman: It’s a perfect fit! And if it leaks, it has that bit of glamour. Let’s get this operation on the rails.
Bashford: Yes, sir! I think we’ve covered all contingencies. I don’t see how we can go wrong.
Handleman: What could go wrong?
END OF TRANSCRIPTION
And we know where it went from there. It happened fast, and our nation is furious.
California thinking: The Los Angeles Times’ website carried last week’s story about the Yellowstone hiker who was killed by a grizzly bear. We’re wondering: Why was this logged under the heading “Environment”?