Today, James V. Grimaldi deigned to finally cover the story in detail for the Washington Post. I guess after feature stories in the L.A. Times and Christian Science Monitor, multiple reports by Sharyl Attkisson for CBS News, CNN, and an in-depth report by the Center for Public Integrity this scandal could no longer be ignored without looking like (more of) a fool.
The article entitled ATF's tactics to end gun-trafficking faces a federal review breaks virtually no new ground in its summary of the scandal. It does try to place the blame on "weak gun laws" and "investigative restrictions" for the tactics used by ATF managers to try and build a "big case".
The controversy highlights the difficulty ATF agents face in complex cases against increasingly sophisticated gunrunning rings, said former and current government officials. Because of weak gun laws and investigative limitations imposed at the urging of the gun lobby, many gunrunning cases end with little more than paperwork violations against buyers who procure guns for others. Such so-called straw purchaser cases rarely amount to more than charges of lying on federal documents.Sebastian at Snow Flakes in Hell does an excellent job of demolishing this argument by pointing out the penalties for "paperwork violations" which, by the way, are Federal felonies.
Not satisfied with glossing over what are Federal felonies, Grimaldi and the Post then call upon the anti-gunners favorite ex-ATF Special Agent "Waco Jim" Cavanaugh to help buttress their argument.
"There is no gun-trafficking statute," said James Cavanaugh, a retired ATF supervisor. "We've been yelling for years that we need a gun-trafficking statute because these cases are so difficult to prove."Grimaldi, in a back-handed slap that would make Mark Potok of the SPLC salivate with joy, then acknowledges the work that that David and Mike have done bringing this scandal to light.
This means that agents who want to make bigger cases must sometimes watch guns travel to criminals who use them in more serious crimes, such as drug trafficking.
Anti-ATF bloggers sympathetic to the militia movement picked up the allegations late last year, dubbing the scandal "Project Gunwalker" and alleging ATF agents let guns "walk" to boost the numbers of U.S. weapons recovered in Mexico. The bloggers theorized that the ATF wanted high numbers to gain support for an assault-weapons ban.It must suck to have a pair of middle-aged white guys with blogs just thoroughly beat you at your own job.
Grimaldi tries to defend the tactics used by ATF by quoting Andre Howard, owner of Lone Wolf Trading in Glendale, AZ, who cooperated with ATF in selling substantial numbers of AK's to straw purchasers. Howard said "It appears that any state or federal agency charged with said tasks are damned if they do, and damned if they don't." Mind you, Howard was probably paid twice on the guns he sold. Once, by the straw purchasers and second, by the ATF as I understand he was a paid Confidential Informant.
This was the same store Grimaldi tried to savage back in December when he identified them as No. 8 on the list of gun stores with the highest number of traces. At the time he said they couldn't be reached for comment. He did add that "ATF officials said they have no indication that Lone Wolf is doing anything wrong or illegal." I'm sure that if Howard was in the midst of allowing guns to go to Mexico at their behest that is exactly what they would say.
The question now is when the New York Times - the self-proclaimed paper of record - will see Operation Fast and Furious as "news fit to print".