Issa Investigates Project Gunrunner

Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) is set to issue a number of subpoenas to federal officials who have ties to “Fast and Furious,” a secret program run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) that put thousands of semi-automatic firearms into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

Fast and Furious was a new addition to the ATF’s now-defunct “Project Gunrunner” program. It authorized (“pressed” is probably a more accurate word) U.S. gun stores located near the Mexican border to sell thousands of semi-automatic firearms to suspected and known straw-purchasers (those who buy guns for someone who can’t do so legally). The idea, apparently, was that the guns would lead the ATF to the heads of the cartels.

This program didn’t make headlines until Dec. 14, 2010. That day, during a late-night shootout between the U.S. Border Patrol and armed Mexican illegals in a remote canyon near Nogales, Ariz., 41-year-old federal agent Brian Terry was shot and killed. The U.S. Border Patrol agents had initially used beanbag rounds against the illegals. This loss of a federal agent in a beanbag-versus-rifle shootout should have been controversial enough — but the fact that agent Terry was killed by a firearm the ATF had “walked” across the border should have put this ill-considered program on every cable news network. Ditto for the fact that, as the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, a cartel arsenal recently captured in Mexico also contains guns from the sting.

But aside from CBS News, the mainstream media hasn’t been all that interested in investigating, and the Obama administration has been stonewalling. Two ATF agents — John Dodson, who is stationed in Phoenix, and Darren Gil, who was forced to retire as the agency’s attaché in Mexico City — became whistleblowers. Both Dodson and Gil have made the scandal public by speaking to CBS and other news outlets. Both agents say the orders for the program to send guns quietly into Mexico came from way over their heads, but neither knows how high up. Just where the idea began is what Representative Issa is hoping to discover.

Representative Issa’s investigation has been so stymied by the Obama administration that on June 3, some 31 congressional Democrats wrote to the president to urge him to end the administration’s stonewalling on the Fast and Furious program. In the letter, spearheaded by Rep. Jason Altmire (D., Pa.), the lawmakers called the uncooperative tactics “extremely troubling” and found the Justice Department’s failure to provide information to congressional investigators “equally troubling.” They say Americans deserve “prompt and complete answers.”

Read More at National Review By Frank Miniter, National Review