Freedomnomics

Article published Friday, July 8, 2011 at Fox News.

The Puzzle of 'Operation Fast and Furious' -- When Will Team Obama Come Clean About Failed Gun Program?

By John R. Lott, Jr.

There are two puzzles in the so-called “Gunwalker” or “Operation Fast and Furious” case. This is the shocking case where Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents ordered American gun dealers to sell guns to obvious Mexican drug gangs over the objections of the gun dealers.

Here are just some of the questions that the Obama administration still has not answered:

1. Why would the government go through with the policy when it was seemingly obvious to everyone that there was no law-enforcement benefit to the operation?

2. Why won’t the Obama administration remove Acting Director Ken Melson from continuing to run the agency? The Obama administration claims that guns were sold to Mexican drug gangs with the hope of tracking those guns. Yet, everyone involved in the operation knows that there were no mechanisms available for following the guns once they have left the gun stores. There were no also tracking devices placed on the guns used in the operation.

Additionally, the Mexican police were not even informed of our operations.

And... then there's this: we had no undercover agents following the guns. Indeed, when ATF agents' warnings that the guns couldn’t be tracked went unheeded, in despair at least one agent went to his local Radio Shack store to try jerry-rigging a GPS tracking bug for the guns. Unfortunately, the battery life for these self-made devices was too short to be of any practical use.

This case can almost be viewed as if the Obama administration wanted to increase the number of American guns used in crimes in Mexico.

The timing of the “Gunwalker” case is even more troubling since the program got going at about the same time that the Obama administration was trying to claim (falsely) that American guns were showing up in a significant number of Mexican crime scenes.

Is it possible that the Obama administration pushed this program to help gin up more support for gun control in the United States?

The administration could eliminate the possibility of such seemingly wild suspicions from spreading if they could clearly explain their plan to track the guns in the operation.

The second puzzle may have gotten a little clearer this week. Given the disaster that this program has become if these programs really were the result of initiatives by the acting director, he should have been removed long ago.

The failure to remove him from his post raises questions of whether his dismissal might prompt Melson to reveal information that is embarrassing to the Obama administration.

Possibly Melson has information that might implicate officials higher up in the Justice Department or even someone in the White House.

Representative Darrell Issa’s (R-Ca) statement this week raises real concerns that a cover up to protect those higher up in the administration may have occurred:

"If his account is accurate, then ATF leadership appears to have been effectively muzzled while the DOJ sent over false denials and buried its head in the sand. That approach distorted the truth and obstructed our investigation.”

The possibility that senior administration officials were involved in these two failed programs seems much more likely given that the alleged cover up involves three different law enforcement agencies within the Department of Justice. Those agencies are: the ATF, FBI, and Drug Enforcement Administration.

At least one American has been killed by this operation, and Mexican officials are furious that many Mexicans have also been killed with weapons supplied by our government. Mexicans are calling for American officials to be extradited to their country for trial.

With dead bodies piling up and the damage being done to Mexican-American relations, the Obama administration can't come clean soon enough.

John R. Lott Jr. is a FOXNews.com contributor. He is an economist and the author of "More Guns, Less Crime (University of Chicago Press, 2010), the third edition of which was published in May.".

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