Very Inaccurate Fortune article by Katherine Eban falsely claims that BATF never intentionally let guns go to Mexican drug gangs

New Fortune article by Katherine Eban claims that the BATF "never intentionally allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels."  Here is the first substantial paragraph in her piece (politically biased words highlighted):
Some call it the "parade of ants"; others the "river of iron." The Mexican government has estimated that 2,000 weapons are smuggled daily from the U.S. into Mexico. The ATF is hobbled in its effort to stop this flow. No federal statute outlaws firearms trafficking, so agents must build cases using a patchwork of often toothless laws. For six years, due to Beltway politics, the bureau has gone without permanent leadership, neutered in its fight for funding and authority. The National Rifle Association has so successfully opposed a comprehensive electronic database of gun sales that the ATF's congressional appropriation explicitly prohibits establishing one. . . .
There are many problems with this piece, besides it is written as an opinion piece, not a news story.  A very significant problem that isn't even mentioned in the piece is that, as CBS's Sharyl Atkisson discovered, the Obama administration demanded that gun dealers make gun sales that they didn't want to make. Here is an example of several gun dealers who only made these sales because they were told to do so by the BATF told their story to Atkisson, and they wanted to know what liability that they will face if they make gun sales that they thought were to people who were prohibited from getting the guns.

Now combine this with the fact that these guns weren't traced and that the Mexican government was not involved so that they could trace the guns on the Mexican side of the border and you have a real disaster.  You have the testimony of agents saying that they were warning officials that the guns weren't being traced.  Also compare it to the Wide Receiver case where despite actually trying to trace the guns and having the Mexican government's involvement the government wasn't able to successfully trace the guns.  If you can't successfully trace the guns when you involve the Mexicans and put tracing devices on the guns, why would anyone try Fast and Furious' approach?

Katherine Eban's biases can be seen throughout the piece.  Take the quote she has from BATF agent Dave Voth: "In Arizona," says Voth, "someone buying three guns is like someone buying a sandwich." I have a hard time believing that anyone would take this quote serious.  When was the last time that you had to wait to have a background check done when you went to buy a gun?  And when was the last time that you bought a sandwich when there was a one in twelve chance that you would have to wait up to three days to buy your sandwich because the background check couldn't be completed quickly?

Let me summarize:
1) Emails between gun dealers and BATF indicate that BATF was forcing dealers to make sales that they didn't want to make and that they were being made precisely because the BATF believe that the sales were being made to criminals.

2) Sharyl Atkisson interviewed several gun dealers who indicated to her that they only made these sales because they were told to do so by the BATF.  The BATF even
 video tapping the guns that they ordered gun dealers to sell going out of the stores (see video below).

3) Roll Call and CBS' Sharyl Atkisson reported on Friday that the wiretap application indicated that the government had evidence that gun trafficking was occurring, that the BATF watched the guns being bought by the suspected straw purchasers, and even followed them in some cases, but BATF then ended it surveillance without interdicting the guns. 
Liz Marlantes at the Christian Science Monitor pushes Eban's piece on Fox 
News Sunday.

Public Radio KCRW: To the Point: Holder Held in Contempt of Congress over 'Fast and Furious' -- Katherine Eban, David Corn, Evan Perez, and myself

It seems there's no end to the controversy over 'Fast and Furious,' the ATF operation which involved the sale of guns that reached Mexican drug lords and were involved in the death of a US Border Patrol agent. . . . .
The following video shows the BATF video tapping the guns that they ordered gun dealers to sell going out of the stores.

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Blogger CamEdwards said...

Can you please link to the Sharyl Atkisson investigation? I am open to any facts and prepared to believe the results of an investigation like this (even though I find it odd there is no correspondence FROM the ATF and that someone who would take the time to write a letter would still refer to a group as 'the bad guys'...or that they make a point of saying 'you (ATF)' as if they expect a third party to read the letter like a Conservative blogger or others). But I can't find the story on CBS and I'd really like to look into it, in all seriousness.

6/29/2012 12:19 AM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Well, if you follow the BATF link that I have here you will see a lot of evidence on this case. For the specific story see this: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-31727_162-57338546-10391695/documents-atf-used-fast-and-furious-to-make-the-case-for-gun-regulations/

6/29/2012 9:56 PM  
Blogger George Eff said...

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7/03/2012 1:14 AM  
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7/03/2012 10:46 PM  

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