Monday, February 10, 2014

"The Unarmed Truth" by John Dodson (2013)

I have wanted to read this book since it came out; and for a very good reason. Many people lay Operation “Fast and Furious”; the government sponsored program in which guns purchased by “straw buyers” are allowed to leave the country, supposedly to track their destination; at the feet of the Obama Administration.

While it is true that the program of that name began under his administration, the same program was already in operation during the Bush Administration’s second term under the name Project “Gun Runner.”  Much to his credit, author John Dodson does point this out on page 146. It was operated by more than one government entity, including the Blackwater Security group which was responsible for security in Iraq. I know about this program because I had a personal “experience” with it in late May 2007. But that’s for later…

John Dodson was working for the ATF in Virginia before he transferred to Phoenix, Arizona to participate in what was being dubbed “Fast and Furious.” He had no way of knowing about the true ramifications of the program. He quickly learned. “Fast and Furious” was; at the best; a vehicle by which the government aided and abetted the sale and transfer of automatic weapons through “straw buyers”, who then transferred those weapons to criminals who were then transferring those weapons to Mexico and the drug cartels in order to “track” them and see where they were bound.

The other side of this equation is that nobody ever got arrested and, in effect, the government was deputizing Federal Firearms Licensees to sell the weapons to the suspected straw buyers. In most cases the firearms dealers were the first to approach ATF about the bogus sales, which they wanted to stop. But the ATF responded by enabling more and more weapons to leave the country for Mexico with no tangible results to show. This infuriated Agent Dodson, who was under the impression that the program was designed to stop the trafficking of the illegal weapons.

On December 15, 2010 all of Agent Dodson’s fears about the program were realized when Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in a shootout with criminals whose weapons were traced directly back to “Fast and Furious.” This was the straw which broke the camel’s back; the camel in this case being Agent Dodson, who felt almost responsible for Brian Terry’s death. At that point he teamed up with a journalist from CBS and embarked on a phase of his life he had never even dreamt about. He was about to become a “whistle-blower.”

From the very first page of this book, and through the last paragraph, this book chronicles the insanity that passes for intelligence at the highest levels of our government. It is a world of acronyms and agencies with strings of letters that never really identify their true purpose. With a sharp pen Agent Dodson enumerates the times he tried to make his superiors realize that they were actually legally culpable for the weapons they were allowing to flow freely across the border. His superiors; concerned more with statistics rather than actually fighting crime; continuously ignored his concerns; at least until December 15, 2014 when it all “hit the fan.”

The story which follows is typical of the bureaucratic cover my ass  syndrome which plaques the entire government, rendering it ineffective. And when someone like Agent Dodson does take steps to right the wrong, they are cast aside and sometimes even dismissed for their efforts. 

The rest, as they say, is history. Mr. Dodson does a credible job of chronicling the whole sordid affair, and does it in such a manner that you can’t wait to get to the part where he has had enough. The trials of being a whistle blower become evident to him immediately as he is systematically ground up by the powers that be, placing his entire career in jeopardy for telling the truth. Just like Anthony Snowden, Agent Dodson becomes a pariah.

There are those who would argue that Snowden’s revelations might lead to the unintended death of one of our operatives overseas by an agent of an enemy government, and that’s a valid point, though those “assets” are fully aware of the risks that they run. This is not the same when it comes to people like Brian Terry, or any of the other law enforcement personnel who go to work each day expecting not to be killed with a weapon provided to the criminal by their very own government.

This is the end of the review. The following is my own story concerning "Project Gunner." 

And now, let’s go back to the beginning of this post and the story I have to tell about Project “Gunrunner.”

There are very few people who have not heard of John Dodson or the “Fast and Furious” program. But what many people don’t know is that this program was begun during the Bush administration in 2006 as “Project Gunrunner”, which was pretty aptly named, as that was the true purpose of the program; to run guns. The link between these two programs is clear; the United States is engaged in an effort to destabilize foreign governments. We have seen this in Iraq, and also Mexico.

In  May of 2007  I was on my way home from work in Hickory, travelling South on I-77 and passing through Mooresville, N.C. At the time Blackwater was working for the Federal Government in the capacity of providing “support” to the troops in Iraq. Their excesses are widely known and chronicled. But some of the things they were involved in were not related directly to the War in Iraq. Running guns was one of those activities.

It was Memorial Day Friday and it seemed as if everyone had hit the road for the 3 day weekend. I was driving a company provided pick-up truck and thinking about the weekend when I got rear ended by a guy in a BMW. Somehow, in spite of all the traffic, he managed to get around me after hitting me, so that his car was in front of mine on the shoulder when the State Police arrived 20 minutes later.

During that time I was offered cash to take care of the damage and I noticed that the driver was intoxicated. I explained to him that it was a company vehicle and the decision was not mine to make. He then proceeded to show me his identification and asked if I had heard of Blackwater. I replied that I had but that it did not alter the fact that he had hit my vehicle and that no amount of cash; or muscling; would alter that fact.

When the Trooper arrived I explained what happened and that the other driver was drunk and had offered me money if I would allow him to leave the scene. The trooper then went to interview the other driver and what happened next still has me shaking my head in wonder.

He showed the trooper some identification which he had not shown me and the whole atmosphere of the situation changed. The officer was joking and laughing with the other driver and they both went to his trunk, which the driver proudly opened, displaying an array of automatic weapons and high capacity ammunition clips. No boxes, just loose weapons and cartons of ammunition. There were about 20 weapons in all. But it gets even better.

Within a few minutes the trooper was joined by another and they began to play with some of these weapons; unloaded; by the side of the road. The troopers seemed to give no thought to the fact that they were handling these weapons, marking them with their own fingerprints. What a bizarre sight this must have been for all who passed by in their cars. I’m sure they thought they were witnessing a big time “bust.” After all, that’s what should have happened. But wait, it gets better still.

At one point the other driver; who was very well rehearsed in all of his dealings with me; somehow convinced one of the troopers to show him what kind of ammo he used in his state issued 9 MM. The officer actually unholstered his weapon and ejected the clip. Removing a round he passed it freely to the other driver for inspection. At this point I was apoplectic. But there was clearly nothing that I could do about it.

Returning home I related the experience to my wife, as well as a friend who was Lieutenant on the police force in my town. He was hocked beyond belief; as every protocol known to law enforcement had been violated by the actions of the troopers who were clearly enamored of the mysterious other driver. When I asked him what he thought I should do about it all; I did have the man’s name and address etc; he told me quite seriously that the best thing I could do about it was to keep quiet.

Two weeks later my boss called me into his office and thanked me for the $1,200 dollar check which he received as payment for the damaged bumper. And I have never written this story down until now. But, I assure you, every word of it is true.

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