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The latest on the ATF "Gunrunner" scandal: Wondrous things, the subpoena...
by Jim Shepherd
In the Paul Newman classic "Absence of Malice" a federal investigator played by Wilford Brimley is trying to get to the bottom of a case that has gone off the rails and threatens the careers of everyone associated with it.
In a pivotal scene, Brimley sets all the involved parties in a room and tells them his deputy "has a briefcase over there full of subpoenas."
"Wondrous things, the subpoena. I hand you one and you have to tell me anything I want to know about whatever's on them or you go to jail. Now two things are going to be certain when I leave here, I'm going to get to the bottom of this mess - and I'm going to have someone's ass in my briefcase. So, deputy, start passing out them subpoenas."
When subpoenas start flying, it's a sign that things are about to get complicated.
Friday morning, Congressman Darrell Issa issued a congressional subpoena to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for documents related to the Gunrunner probe. Issa had tried nicely to get the documents, writing acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson to request the information by a Wednesday, [March] 30, 2011 deadline.
Seems now he's kicking another hornet's nest when it would seem everyone else in the Justice Department would prefer the whole Gunrunner deal just disappear. Now, instead of drowning a Congressman in a sea of redacted documents, Melson's simply made Issa angry.
The entire Gunrunner story has done more than simply embarrass administration officials, it has demonstrated that government officials were not only dead-flat wrong about the "iron river of illegal guns" flowing into Mexico; they were - in the case of the Justice Department and ATF- allowing the "river" to run unchecked. In fact, they were feeding the river, supposedly so they could follow the firearms to higher-ranking Mexican bad guys.
Instead, this sordid affair seems to have cost Agent Brian Terry his life and blown up in their faces of administration officials who have since 2009, tried to convince the American people that we needed tougher firearms laws to stanch the flow of illegal guns into Mexico. If Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious are any indication, tougher oversight over the ATF and Justice Department might be the key to curbing gun crimes.
Now, ATF and the Justice Department face almost certain public hearings on the whole ugly matter, in addition to calls from groups like the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear ARms (CCRKBA) for funding cuts to ATF.
Republished from The Outdoor Wire.