Investigation into the "Fast and Furious" gun-walking scandal continues to reveal disturbing developments. On Sunday, Representative Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee that is leading the investigation into the operation, told ABC News’ Jake Tapper that pertinent emails revealed that the agenda of the operation was to advocate for greater gun control, not as alleged to pursue criminal prosecutions of drug cartel members.
During the interview, Tapper played a video clip of Issa speaking at a National Rifle Association convention in April. “We’ve never answered the question, ‘What were they thinking of?’" Issa commented during that speech. "Could it be that what they really were thinking of was in fact to use this walking of guns in order to promote an assault weapons ban? Many think so, and they haven’t come up with an explanation that would cause any of us not to agree.”
Noting Issa’s implication that "Fast and Furious" was in fact intentionally fumbled in order to make the case for stronger gun laws, Tapper asked, “Do you really think that it was a possibility that they were sending guns across the border — not because they were trying to get people in the Mexican drug cartels, not 'cause they were trying to figure out gun trafficking, but because they were trying to push gun control?”
“Two things, quickly," Issa responded. "First of all, this was so flawed that you can’t believe they expected to actually get criminal prosecutions as a result of it, so the level of flaw — if that’s a word — here is huge. But here’s the real answer as to gun control: We have emails from people involved in this that are talking about using what they’re finding here to support, basically assault weapons ban or greater reporting.” He continued,
So, chicken or egg, we don’t know which came first. We probably never will. We do know that during this Fast and Furious Operation there were e-mails in which they’re saying, "We can use this as part of additional reporting or things like assault weapons ban." So, the people involved saw the benefit of what they were gathering. Whether or not that was the original purpose, we probably will never know.
Much of the evidence showing that the agenda behind Fast and Furious may have in fact been greater gun control was obtained by CBS News.
According to CBS, “ATF [still the initials for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] officials didn’t intend to publicly disclose their own role in letting Mexican cartels obtain the weapons, but emails show they discussed using the sales, including sales encouraged by ATF, to justify a new gun regulation called ‘Demand Letter 3.’ That would require some US gun shops to report the sale of multiple rifles or ‘long guns.’ ”
An email from ATF Field Ops Assistant Director Mark Chait to ATF Phoenix Special Agent Bill Newell, who was in charge of Fast and Furious, showed Chait asking Newell for “anecdotal cases to support a demand letter on long gun multiple sales” based on sales included in Fast and Furious.
On Jan. 4, 2011, as ATF officials prepared a press conference to announce arrests in Fast and Furious, Newell saw it as "another time to address Multiple Sale on Long Guns issue."
Following that conference, Chait emailed Newell applauding him for taking advantage of that opportunity:"Bill--well done yesterday... In light of our request for Demand letter 3, this case could be a strong supporting factor if we can determine how many multiple sales of long guns occurred during the course of this case."
Revelations that the ATF may have in fact been using Fast and Furious to push for stricter gun control provoked an angry response from Larry Keane, spokesman for National Shooting Sports Foundation. He maintained that it was "deeply troubling" if sales made by gun dealers "voluntarily cooperating with ATF's flawed 'Operation Fast & Furious' were going to be used by some individuals within ATF to justify imposing a multiple sales reporting requirement for rifles."
And even before those discoveries, National Rifle Association president Wayne LaPierre accused the ATF of that very agenda last October 14 in an interview with NewsmaxTV.
“It’s the only thing that makes any sense,” LaPierre observed of the gunrunning "sting" operation that resulted in thousands of U.S.-purchased firearms ending up in the hands of violent Mexican drug traffickers. LaPierre noted that "over a period of two or three years they were running thousands and thousands of guns to the most evil people on earth,” while government officials were claiming that 90 percent of the guns used by the Mexican cartels were coming from the United States. However, said LaPierre:
That [90 percent] was a phony figure from the very start. Even the Wikileaks cables from our own State Department prove they are coming from Central America; they are not coming from the U.S. Every police officer will tell you that they’re coming from Russia, they’re coming from China, most of them are coming from Central America and a lot of them are coming from defections from the Mexican Army.
LaPierre continued to lay out his argument:
Look at what has happened. We had our Department of Justice under the Obama administration running thousands and thousands of guns over the border and watching them go directly into the hands of some of the most evil people on earth, the Mexican drug cartels.
At the same time they were letting the reputation of good, honest, decent Americans, law-abiding American gun dealers, be ruined.
They ordered these sales to be made — they even overrode the InstaCheck system and ordered the dealers to make the sales. Then, when it all starts coming out, there’s a massive cover-up.
LaPierre was proven right by the documents obtained by CBS News.
Congress has been investigating Fast and Furious for over a year; however, it has hit a number of roadblocks, including strong resistance from Attorney General Eric Holder to fully comply with the investigation, and President Obama’s controversial invoking of “executive privilege” to protect Holder from having to submit all the subpoenaed documents pertaining to the gun-walking operation.
Photo: In this June 19, 2012 file photo, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) speaks to reporters following his meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder on Capitol Hill in Washington: AP Images