Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Guns and Grenades for Cartels; Firing Squad for Whistleblowers

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As the Obama administration and the embattled Justice Department struggle to cover up details of the “Fast and Furious” gun-trafficking scandal, the officials at the center of the uproar are back in the headlines following exposure of explosive and deadly new outrages. First, government whistleblowers were threatened with execution in a training manual — supposedly as a “joke,” according to officials. Shortly after that, the administration again found itself in the midst of a political firestorm after revelations of alleged federal “grenade walking” surfaced in the national media when police in Mexico were killed. Even top U.S. lawmakers suspect the scheme was aimed at bolstering attacks on the Second Amendment. 

While seemingly separate, the grenade scandal is apparently linked in several ways to the Obama administration’s “Fast and Furious” program. In Fast and Furious, under the guise of “investigating” criminals — the two drug lords supposedly being “investigated” were already on the FBI payroll — the Department of Justice put thousands of guns into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. Now, the same U.S. attorney and federal bureaucracy that oversaw the arming of criminal syndicates in Mexico are at the center of what CBS News and other media outlets are describing as a “grenade-walking” scandal. 

According to official documents and the CBS story by investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson, one of the grenades used in a recent battle that killed three Mexican police officers was supplied by a weapons trafficker who was allowed to operate with impunity by U.S. officials for years — the same bureaucrats who oversaw Fast and Furious, in fact. Headlined “Deadly drug cartel shootout with Mexico police linked to ‘grenade-walking’ scandal,” the CBS article cites a Justice Department “Significant Incident Report” linking Jean Baptiste Kingery to the deadly explosive device.

Kingery, the CBS article points out, was allegedly moving huge amounts of weaponry and parts into Mexico for cartels — all under the watchful eye of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and disgraced Attorney General Eric Holder’s DOJ. After being arrested by ATF agents trying to smuggle grenade parts across the border into Mexico, Kingery was reportedly released under orders from senior Justice Department officials involved in Fast and Furious: former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Emory Hurley. 

Unsurprisingly, the alleged weapons trafficker appears to have continued operations following his DOJ-ordered release, helping to manufacture machine guns and explosives for cartels. ATF originally told CBS that it had “no information” about the connection between Kingery and a grenade used in the battle that killed Mexican police. That false claim, however, was entirely debunked in the official DOJ report obtained by CBS and now available online for anyone to read.

“Elements of the State Police received fire from a .50 caliber rifle and at least 10 hand grenades, the evidence of one being reported as a ‘Kingery’ grenade,” explains the federal report detailing the fierce battle between Mexican police and drug cartel operatives in Guadalajara earlier this month. It was not immediately clear whether any of the guns involved in the firefight were from Fast and Furious because they had not yet been traced.  

Kingery was reportedly being monitored by U.S. officials since at least 2009, and despite protests by ATF agents who wanted to arrest him, he was allowed to disappear across the border with weapons parts. In 2010, Kingery was arrested by federal agents while trying to smuggle more explosive-device materials into Mexico, but the Fast and Furious-linked DOJ officials ordered him released, claiming they could not build a case. Kingery was eventually arrested by authorities in Mexico after they uncovered a weapons factory he was involved with. 

Unnamed sources close to the investigation told CBS that the murder of Mexican police with the Kingery grenade was just the latest example of the ongoing carnage resulting from the administration's ploy to facilitate the arming of Mexican drug cartels. Hundreds of Mexicans and at least two U.S. law-enforcement officers have been murdered with Obama administration Fast and Furious guns. Both the U.S. and Mexican governments, however, are trying to keep the soaring death toll quiet, the source added.     

It is not clear why the Justice Department would allow a weapons-trafficker caught in the act to go free. The DOJ inspector general is already supposedly investigating the conduct of officials in the case. However, as The New American has been reporting for years, drug traffickers and officials on both sides of the border have said that assorted U.S. alphabet-soup agencies are cooperating with certain cartels — allowing them to smuggle drugs, weapons, assassins, and more unmolested. Official documents also revealed that the Obama administration was plotting to use Fast and Furious-linked violence to push more assaults on gun rights. 

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is among those who suspect that administration officials were deliberately facilitating the weapons trafficking in a criminal bid to support attacks on the Second Amendment. “These aren't the only deaths that undoubtedly will come from weapons being allowed to walk and an individual allowed to escape justice for more than 18 months after he was in our hands and released,” the senior Republican was quoted as saying by Fox News, comparing the grenade scandal to Fast and Furious.

“When you have the attorney general's own offices being informed about a very dangerous person exporting hand grenades and converting AK-47s into machine guns and they let him continue as part of not, Fast and Furious, but a completely separate failure, I think what you see is an administration that I'm beginning to think really did want to let bad things happen in hopes they would get [an] assault weapons ban,” continued Issa, a leader in ongoing congressional probes about Fast and Furious, as well as holding disgraced Attorney General Eric Holder in criminal contempt for refusing to hand over subpoenaed documents. “The dots are being connected more and more to these kinds of actions.”

While Mexican cartels (and even al-Qaeda-linked jihadists in Libya and Syria) were receiving heavy weapons courtesy of U.S. taxpayers and the Obama administration, brave whistleblowers who expose the criminality to Congress or the media were being threatened with “consequences” — and even a gruesome death. Already, criticism of Obama's "war on whistleblowers" was reaching a crescendo: The administration was under fire for unlawfully thumbing its nose at congressional requests for Fast and Furious documents, lying under oath, retaliating against whistleblowers, warning agents of “consequences” for blowing the whistle, attempting to censor one of the Fast and Furious whistleblowers by blocking publication of his book, and more.

Last week, however, fresh revelations surrounding the efforts by the administration to silence honest government agents who blow the whistle took an even darker turn toward the openly macabre. In a “National Security Information” manual for federal agents obtained by the Washington Times, a photo of a firing squad presumably aimed at intimidating whistleblowers was blasted by critics and agents as an undisguised attack on the First Amendment and essential efforts to expose government criminality from the inside.

Officials with the Justice Department claimed it was all just a “joke” and that they were not aware of agents who considered it offensive. Whistleblower advocates and embattled federal agents who are under administration orders to snitch on each other, however, failed to see the humor in a firing squad. National Whistleblower Center Executive Director Stephen Kohn, for example, told the Times that the DOJ had forgotten about the First Amendment and that the image could scare employees into self-censorship.

“This is a campaign to silence and intimidate whistleblowers and what is the most troubling part of this aggressive campaign, is that the Justice Department has completely ignored the First Amendment,” Kohn explained, noting that the Supreme Court has upheld the rights of government employees to share information with the press. The firing-squad photo in the manual, he added, “would have a chilling effect on legitimate speech. And some of the rhetoric used against whistleblowers could be construed as inciting to violence because they’ve turned up the rhetoric.”        

Considering the lawless activities of ATF and DOJ bosses — as well as the lack of constitutional authority for numerous out-of-control federal agencies to even exist — now would be an excellent opportunity for Congress to start abolishing and defunding entire federal outfits. Holder and Obama are currently abusing their positions to conceal information from Congress and, in the attorney general’s case, escape prosecution for criminal contempt and possibly even perjury. However, with the scandals and the body count continuing to mount, critics say it is time for real accountability. The status quo — an administration providing guns to murderous criminals and terrorists while attacking whistleblowers and unalienable rights — cannot go on.

Alex Newman is a correspondent for The New American, covering economics, politics, and more. He can be reached at

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