Sharyl Attkisson for CBS News:
Selling weapons to Mexico – where cartel violence is out of control – is controversial because so many guns fall into the wrong hands due to incompetence and corruption. The Mexican military recently reported nearly 9,000 police weapons “missing.”
This sounds like a problem, yes? You would think that if we are going to fight this “war on drugs” that we should probably stop doing this.
Yet the U.S. has approved the sale of more guns to Mexico in recent years than ever before through a program called “direct commercial sales.” It’s a program that some say is worse than the highly-criticized “Fast and Furious” gunrunning scandal, where U.S. agents allowed thousands of weapons to pass from the U.S. to Mexican drug cartels.
Well, maybe it’s just a fluke.
One weapon – an AR-15-type semi-automatic rifle – tells the story. In 2006, this same kind of rifle – tracked by serial number – is legally sold by a U.S. manufacturer to the Mexican military.
Three years later – it’s found in a criminal stash in a region wracked by Mexican drug cartel violence.
That prompted a “sensitive” cable, uncovered by WikiLeaks, dated June 4, 2009, in which the U.S. State Department asked Mexico “how the AR-15” – meant only for the military or police – was “diverted” into criminal hands.
And, more importantly, where the other rifles from the same shipment went: “Please account for the current location of the 1,030 AR-15 type rifles,” reads the cable.
This sounds like a big deal. That’s a lot of weapons that are likely more powerful than the ones the cartels can go buy at Cabela’s or Wal-Mart.
(Aside: WikiLeaks strikes again.)
There’s no response in the record.
Oops. (Of course it’s possible that this response just never fell into the hands of WikiLeaks.)
The problem of weapons legally sold to Mexico – then diverted to violent cartels – is becoming more urgent. That’s because the U.S. has quietly authorized a massive escalation in the number of guns sold to Mexico through “direct commercial sales.” It’s a way foreign countries can acquire firearms faster and with less disclosure than going through the Pentagon.
And it did approve 2,476 guns to be sold to Mexico in 2006. In 2009, that number was up nearly 10 times, to 18,709. The State Department has since stopped disclosing numbers of guns it approves, and wouldn’t give CBS News figures for 2010 or 2011.
Hey, guys? I think you’re forgetting a little thing called “cause-and-effect.” Good job acting the reverse of what a sane person would do.
Nice to see that our government is being open and honest about what’s going on, too. That helps.
The State Department audits only a tiny sample – less than 1 percent of sales – but the results are disturbing: In 2009, more than a quarter (26 percent) of the guns sold to the region that includes Mexico were “diverted” into the wrong hands, or had other “unfavorable” results.
I suppose it’s also “unfavorable” that people—I am assuming in a lot of cases innocent people or law enforcement—are being killed by these weapons.