Sunday, October 23, 2011



Diane DimondTelevision journalist, Author, syndicated columnist

Who in their right mind would think using criminals to smuggle thousands of guns in to Mexico was a good idea? Our Justice Departmentrefuses to reveal the creator or cost of Operation Fast & Furious. Why?

What the hell is going on in this country? And why don’t our federal officials just man-up and admit when mistakes have been made?

Now, keep in mind — I don’t write about politics so this is not a partisan attack. I write about crime and justice. So, take what I’m about to say in that spirit.

And remember the name “Fast and Furious” because I predict you’ll be hearing a lot about it in the days ahead.

Here’s the backstory: Someone at the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (the ATF is a division of the Justice Department) decided a couple years ago that it would be a good idea to allow thousands of firearms to flow from Arizona into Mexico to help identify gun routes and the drug cartel kingpins buying illegal weapons. The idea behind the program was that if we followed the weapons, massive arrests would surely follow.

Yeah, well — it didn’t quite turn out that way. We promptly lost track of most of the 2,000 firearms involved. And, sadly, some of those weapons are linked to the death of a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent.

The official record doesn’t reveal exactly when Fast and Furious came to be, but it started sometime in 2009. The operation focused on Arizona gun shops and ATF agents were ordered to watch for buyers with suspected ties toMexican drug cartels. These mules were then supposed to be monitored to see which cartel leaders took possession of the smuggled weapon.

This plan was so secret our government never informed Mexican officials that it was underway.

According to a Congressional report the purpose of Fast and Furious was, “To wait and watch, in hope that law enforcement could identify other members of a trafficking network and build a large, complex conspiracy case.” Well, that didn’t work out because there was no plan to adequately track the buyers and the weapons once they crossed into Mexico.

ATF’s field agents, who were used to stopping suspicious gun sales, began to complain up their chain of command about the weaknesses of the program. It was impossible to follow all the guns, they said, and Fast and Furious wasn’t rooting out any Mexican kingpins. The agent’s biggest fear was that the guns might be used to commit crimes in the United States. But the program continued.

And, sure enough, their fears were realized. On the night of December 14, 2010 a deadly gun battle broke out in a border canyon near Rio Rico, Arizona. When the dust cleared U.S. Border agent Brian Terry, 40, was dead and near his body were two or three (depending on which account you believe) of those suspect firearms.

The Attorney General of Mexico said at least 200 Mexican deaths were traced to weapons from the Fast and Furious program.

Our Attorney General, Eric Holder, has told Congress he didn’t know anything about his ATF’s Fast and Furious program until things went bad. But then, documents surfaced indicating Holder had been briefed about it nearly a year earlier. When challenged, Holder dismissed his critics as “politically motivated” and took no responsibility for the misguided plan.


Diane Dimond may be reached through her web site: Her latest book, “Cirque Du Salahi” – the inside and untold story of the so-called White House Gate Crashers – is available through