July 12, 2011

The Fast and Furious Scandal

I haven't really been following the Obama Administration's Fast and Furious scandal, but this is from the LA Times:
Are high-profile suspects in Mexican drug cartels also paid informants for U.S. federal investigators? If so, could a brewing scandal in Washington implicate more U.S. agencies in the ongoing drug-related violence in Mexico? 
Kenneth Melson, the embattled chief of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), made the earth-shaking revelation in testimony early last week, The Times reports. Melson reportedly told congressional leaders that Mexican cartel suspects tracked by his agents in a controversial gun-tracing program were also operating as paid informants for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the FBI. 
The revelation is further complicating an already tangled scandal unfolding in Washington that ties U.S. weapons to the violent drug war in Mexico. The conflict has left about 40,000 dead in 4 1/2 years. In effect, the scandal also points to a deeper involvement of the U.S. government in Mexico's drug war than the public has previously known or suspected.

The Fast and Furious scandal may perhaps be related to the Obama Administration looking to gin up a politically correct set of bad guys to blame for Mexican violence. If Mexican narco-cartels are obtaining guns in the U.S., they're probably mostly using immigrants and Mexican-Americans as their conduits, but that's not the kind of thing we're supposed to think about. Diversity is good!

But that gets me thinking about a more general topic: Mexico is to the U.S. as Afghanistan is to Pakistan. Nobody is surprised to find out that Pakistan's ISI spy agency pulls a lot of strings in Afghanistan.

Does the U.S. pull a lot of strings in Mexico the way Pakistan does in Afghanistan?

You know, that's an interesting question. What's even more interesting is that I've never heard anyone ask it before.

My guess would be "not really," but what do I know? Nobody in America pays much attention to Mexico.

Well, not exactly nobody. The Bush family, for one, has long paid close attention to Mexico.

Now that I think about it, it seems to me that you could write a Secret History of the Three Bush Administrations that could provide a coherent tale that the central plan of the Bushes, father and son, was to unify North America, economically and politically, under Washington's hegemony.

George H.W. Bush, owner of Zapata Oil was doing business, illegally (through a Mexican cutout who went on to be head of Pemex and then to jail for corruption), in Mexico from earlier than a half century ago. His son Jeb married a Mexican girl.

Look at it from GHW Bush's point of view coming into office in 1989. G.H.W. Bush is often derided as an "in-box President" who didn't have big ambitions like Reagan, but who felt up to dealing with events, like Iraq seizing Kuwait.

But I suspect that understates GHWB's strategic vision, which was directed at a place that nobody in New York or Washington cares much about, but is highly relevant to the business and political leadership of Texas: Mexico. Bush probably felt that Mexico should be a highly profitable country for American business.

But ever since the overthrow of dictator Porfirio Diaz in 1911, the government of Mexico has been overtly anti-American (e.g., the Plan of San Diego of 1915 or the Zimmerman Telegram of 1917). This reigning philosophy of anti-Americanism helped Mexico avoid being a banana republic minion of Washington like poor Honduras. But, it came with costs, especially for American companies, but also for Mexicans. Much of the Mexican economy was locked up in stodgy government owned monopolies. Nobody in Mexico could do much in the way of offshore oil drilling the way GHWB's Zapata could, but he had to hire a Mexican frontman, Jorge Diaz Serrano (who later became head of Pemex and then was one of the three symbols of 1970s corruption sent to prison by the new President who came in in 1982.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, President Salinas of Mexico decided to get very cozy with President Bush. He sold off many of the government-owned businesses to insiders and allies (this is the source of the fortune that made Carlos Slim the world's richest man). And they negotiated NAFTA.

But the Mexican public wouldn't let the politicians sell off the crown jewel, Pemex, the national oil monopoly, which long remained lusted-after by the Bush coterie. GHWB's Commerce Secretary Robert Mossberger said his dream job was CEO of Pemex.

The second Bush concentrated more on integrating the two countries' labor markets, with perhaps a hazy view toward eventual political integration of some sort under Jeb's half-Mexican son George P. Bush.

20 comments:

Thomas said...

You'd mentioned before, Steve, the degree to which we weren't paying attention to the undeclared civil war on our own borders while concerning ourselves with ones on the other side of the world. Looks like somebody was paying attention after all.

Part of the real story with this scandal, and one that needs to be said a lot more often and a lot more explicitly, is that the Obama Administration and its minions were using that fact of guns originating in the US winding up in the hands of Mexican narcotraficantes as the the point of the most-recent chisel they were going to use to chip away at our Second Amendment rights. Turns out, of course, that they were letting the guns go to the cartels the whole time. I think that this may have been more of a collateral benefit to the operation than its main purpose, but it's a rather breathtaking and cynical display of double-dealing, even for this Administration. And to think that we heard all during the last decade that it was Republicans using the excuse of foreign terrorists to chip away at Americans' rights.

Whiskey said...

The whole thing was cooked up to "show" that the Mexican violence was caused by US Gun owners, so the solution was a gun ban. Holder, and Obama personally approved it -- it was something that would have required their approval. The DOJ has stonewalled and threatened (both Melson and Congress) to protect both Holder and Obama.

Obama ought to by now see there is very little political payoff in going after (mostly White) gun owners, but as a Black man he cannot help himself. Gun ownership makes an "equalizing" element in Black on White violence. Obama does not want THIS. No private gun ownership, "anarcho-tyranny" punishing those who are in Steve's words "the wrong sort of White person."

Thomas said...

By the way, I think this cartoon on the scandal is priceless:
http://bit.ly/n1Vq0m

agnostic said...

No one will notice, and if they do they won't care. Look at how ignorant or apathetic everyone was about the Iraq War. So, they will care even less about this story.

The cause is the falling violence levels of the past 20 years. When people see the order of the universe being restored somehow or other, they turn off their mental security cameras normally aimed at the powerful. They become complacent, naive, and credulous.

We saw that before during the 1950s, when the average American didn't notice or didn't care about the US government / CIA engineering coups against Mosaddegh in Iran and Arbenz in Guatemala, not to mention the start of our involvement in a land war in Asia (Vietnam).

Yet everyone at the time was interested in and glued to the TV or newspaper during the '60s and '70s phase of the Vietnam War, and later during the Iran-Contra scandal.

By that time, soaring violence levels had made people peel their eyes for rotten behavior that could do them in, especially among the people to whom they'd outsourced their moral policing function earlier on.

In general, it's the mindset of the average person that determines whether some affair will become a scandal for the history books, and less so the properties of the affair itself.

Mr. Anon said...

Makes one wonder if there isn't a Mexican Whitey Bulger. Or perhaps several.

Anonymous said...

Is Speedy Gonzalez involved with this?

Hehe, this reminds me of the Wild Bunch trying to get American army rifles for Mapache.
No need for the Bunch here. The government itself obliged.

This should be called THE WILD BUNCH scandal.

Anonymous said...

'Iraq seizing kuwait'...

Bush Sr's lady diplomat gave Hussein the green light. It was the same pretense/false flag used by Hitler and every other tyrant in history:never be seen as starting a war, but come to the rescue instead.

Christ, Reagan survived and at least delayed Bushdom for eight years. Do we really think Bush senior aka lifelong CIA had nothing to do with the hit on Reagan? Reagan was forced to put Bush on his ticket due to unknown blackmail. Top CIA man then VP and then two months into Reagan's first term BANG he's shot by another lone wach

beowulf said...

"Are high-profile suspects in Mexican drug cartels also paid informants for U.S. federal investigators..."

Well duhh, the drug cartels have been careful to steer clear of killing Americans, especially cops, street members who break the rules are punished by their cartel bosses with an astonishing lack of due process. When one cartel (the Zetas) takes the gloves off and starts killing gringos, of course Uncle Sam is going to start making new friends.

The disturbing part of this article is that federal law enforcement is so disorganized (remember ATF, the FBI and the DEA are all in the same cabinet department!) that we're simultaneously targeting and befriending the same people.

Meanwhile, who knows what the CIA and the Pentagon are up to (other than that the Army just moved an armored division from Bavaria to El Paso).
FORT BLISS, Texas, May 24, 2011 -- The last U.S. Army division to leave Germany, the 1st Armored Division, unfurled its colors Monday at Fort Bliss, Texas.
http://www.army.mil/article/58070/1st_Armored_Division_uncases_colors_at_Fort_Bliss/

john marzan said...

shouldn't the cartels be listed as terrorists under the state dept Foreign Terrorist Orgs already?

imagine if the US can tap in to their phone or electronic messages. we'll know which politician and law enforcement officials in mexico (and in the US) is in cahoots with the cartels.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I believe the name of the Commerce Secretary you mentioned is Robert Mossbacher. Minor point.

Chicago said...

The number of guns allowed to go to the hyper-violent drug gangs of Mexico is more than scandalous, it's downright evil and disturbing. I wonder how deep this relationship with the drug trafficking networks actually goes on the part of the American and Mexican governments.
They'll help arm some of the most murderous people in the world and then turn around and oppose gun ownership for ordinary Americans.

Agent 86 said...

shouldn't the cartels be listed as terrorists under the state dept Foreign Terrorist Orgs already?

imagine if the US can tap in to their phone or electronic messages. we'll know which politician and law enforcement officials in mexico (and in the US) is in cahoots with the cartels.


The US already does this of course albeit in a fragmented way and confused way due to mixed signals from top politicos (which also provides the cover of deniability ).

Israel also probably has a good picture of inner details of US-Mexican drug/political coopertition in part due to dominate Israeli telcom companies.

How hard could it be for such top spy agencies using mostly technology to track a handful of large drug lords and prominent politicians moving billions of drugs and dollars through our thoroughly tapped phone, cell, Internet and banking systems?

Anonymous said...

Its time to end the war on drugs. Its destroying Mexico.

John said...

The disturbing part of this article is that federal law enforcement is so disorganized (remember ATF, the FBI and the DEA are all in the same cabinet department!) that we're simultaneously targeting and befriending the same people.

Mark Steyn calls them the "DEATFBI."

beowulf said...

"imagine if the US can tap in to their phone or electronic messages."

Like John Lennon said, its really not that hard. Its a deadlock certainty we're doing just that. Also, its more or less on the record that the CIA hacks into international bank records at will (google SWIFT CIA). Which reminds me of another example of this unique genre of crime story, where
one part of US Govt targets a suspect who turns out to be working for another part of the US Govt all along (with left hand having no idea what the right hand is up to and vice versa):

"Sir Allen Stanford, the Texan financier and cricket promoter accused of a $8 billion (£5.6 billion) bank fraud, is at the centre of allegations that he worked as a US government informer"
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/sir-allen-stanford/5304742/Allen-Stanford-was-US-government-informer.html

Anonymous said...

'Iraq seizing kuwait'...

Bush Sr's lady diplomat gave Hussein the green light. It was the same pretense/false flag used by Hitler and every other tyrant in history:never be seen as starting a war, but come to the rescue instead.



I don't buy this "some female minor functionary lured Iraq into a blunder" thing. If Hussein took her supposed verbal assent as gospel, he was looking to be deceived. What, Bush wouldn't take his call?

Svigor

jody said...

as sort of a gun nut, i have been following this situation casually. i posted about the ATF and their bumbling a few months ago.

and yeah, obama and holder ordered this, guns sent into mexico, so they could say "See? American guns are killing Mexicans. Let's get rid of this 2nd Amemndment thing." except it backfired on them. and they are now lying about it, denying they ordered it or even that they know anything about it. except we have them on video in 2009 saying they were doing it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PNhYk9NuNc

as usual the US television media is totally on obama's side and does not even acknowledge this story exists. it's strictly internet news.

NOTA said...

There have been a number of cases of government employees or informants who were also terrorists, most notably Bruce Ivins (assuming he really did it--he's too dead to ask) and David Headley

Inside Job said...

A Mexican friend with family in the government there has been telling me stories like this for as long as I've known him. I always thought he was a bit of a conspiracy nut.

He claimed that the US wanted to help further destabilize Mexico so both commoners and elites of both Mexico and the US would beg for US military intervention in Mexico.

Just recently, the US has been sending military advisers and such into Mexico - something unthinkable just 5-10yrs ago.

Thomas said...

Another crucial component to any big story regarding Mexico's future that you sort of touched on Steve: O-I-L. Mexico is the second largest producer in the hemisphere, and the fourth-largest non-OPEC foreign supplier in the world, but Pemex hit its peak in production in 2004. The model of a parastatal oil company, and the resulting incompetence, corruption, and lack of access to capital and technology, just won't fly forever. North American oil reserves are a key point to anyone who takes a gimlet-eyed view of American interests around the world and in the hemisphere (especially when the main alternatives are the Middle East or other nations in the hemisphere, like Venezuela or Brazil, that are naturally much harder to influence than Mexico).