Foreign Policy Blogs

Global Organized Crime

NYT Compares DEA to Fast and Furious: Bad Journalism, Good PR

NYT Compares DEA to Fast and Furious: Bad Journalism, Good PR

The New York Times gets it wrong again…after all I’ve written about spin, diversion, and just plain sloppy reporting on Fast and Furious, New York Times reporter Ginger Thompson lands on page A1 with a claim that DEA agents are ‘walking’ narco-dollars into Mexico and back to the cartels the same way ATF, we now know, has been ‘walking’ lethal, military-grade weapons across the US-Mexico border into the hands of cartel killers.

Bunkum.

US Drug Agents Launder Profits for Mexican Cartels isn’t true or fair or even journalism.

What it is, instead, is public relations, a business that, unlike old-fashioned reporting, is safe, simple, and sure to enhance the bottomline for all concerned–corporate owners, editors, and reporters. PR is the new news, the art of pitching client-friendly narratives by pinning them to the general assumptions and fact set of the audience. The New York Times is not the first to go, nor will it be the last.

The point is–it’s working.

Ginger Thompson and the New York Times do us a disservice, not just because they play to our concern for the 40,000 men, women and children already lost to political corruption and criminal greed, but because they portray the commitment of the American people to the rule of law as naïve, misplaced, and unattainable.

Indeed, what the reporter suggests (Is this her aim or just bad research?) is that US law enforcement has proved it is unable to make a difference, that federal agents are bunglers or miscreants, and that, if we aren’t careful, the ‘good guys’ sent in to solve the problem may instead become the worst part of it.

Back up, Ginger. The only kind of money laundering investigations DEA is allowed to conduct today are the kind designed “‘never to embarrass the government of Mexico,” which means US enforcement’s “war against drugs” is, at best, only a skirmish…

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Fast & Furious: Mack jabs, Clinton dodges, US Attorneys duck

Fast & Furious: Mack jabs, Clinton dodges, US Attorneys duck

Three House Committees and one Senate Committee are spotlighting ATF’s Fast and Furious. Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas) sent a letter to President Obama more than a month ago asking him to appoint a Special Counsel to investigate Eric Holder for perjury. What no one seems to understand is that any US Attorney with jurisdiction in a district where a ‘gun walker’ crime transpired has the statutory authority to empanel a grand jury and open an investigation into more than just perjury…think violation of the Export Control Act. You don’t need a ‘designer prosecutor’ to investigate high profile officials. No one in Washington is going to go out of the way to tell you about this. Read all about it here..

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Plot to Assassinate Saudi Ambassador or Murder-for-Hire Sting….

Plot to Assassinate Saudi Ambassador or Murder-for-Hire Sting….

It’s called a ‘murder-for-hire’ sting, a standard law enforcement ploy designed to help the criminal find the very worst in his nature and act on it. But sting operations come with their own risks as well as rewards—and attorneys know that ‘entrapment’ can be a strong defense. . .

Informants are like sharks, scouring the underworld for opportunities and targets the feds can use as springboards to career-making cases. It’s the informant’s job to find two sticks (agent and opportunity), to rub them together vigorously, and to blow gently on the sparks of criminal enterprise.

Think about this as well….the ‘downpayment’ for the ‘hit,’ the100k wired to the US undercover bank account is enough to trigger a case for conspiracy, but it still doesn’t prove that the Iranian government was driving the bus. To do that, US authorities must establish a link between the owner of the account in the UAE — or the owner/s of an account held by an international financial institution with correspondent branches/banks around the world — and the government of Iran.

This is a critical point–one that could defuse the Obama Administration’s claim that ‘senior officials at the highest levels of the Iranian government’ were tied to the assassination plot and challenge the call of senior US officials for alterations to current foreign policy, in the US and abroad, toward Iran. If US authorities cannot prove that this was something more than a plot formulated by a small group of non-state actors, the President, the Secretary of State, DEA and the FBI have some explaining to do. . .

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Fox News, Washington Times, MSM Jump on Fast and Furious: All Sizzle, No Steak

Fox News, Washington Times, MSM Jump on Fast and Furious: All Sizzle, No Steak

On Monday morning, Fox News ran a cover story— “ATF ‘Fast and Furious’ Claim SHOT FULL OF HOLES” (The caps belong to Fox). The visuals were pretty exciting, but the revelations in the article, hardly breaking news, were SHOT FULL OF SPIN. Listen. It’s time for the media and Congress, to get the story (the whole thing) right. We need more focus more on the criminality that may attend Fast and Furious and less discussion about the outrageous, but not illegal, aspects of the operation. More news and less
noise…

Let’s review.

Fox reporter William LaJeunesse (US Government Bought and Sold Weapons) tells us, first, that it was ‘taxpayer money’ (1.25 million—ok, sounds right) that paid for the military-grade weapons ATF sent across the US-Mexico border as part of Fast and Furious.

Where else would that money have come from? Do we think ATF agents in Phoenix passed the hat…

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Melson Out, Holder Digs In: 1700+ Violations of the Arms Export Control Act?

Melson Out, Holder Digs In: 1700+ Violations of the Arms Export Control Act?

Ok. Now we’re into it. Administration top dogs have thrown ATF Director Ken Melson and US Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke under the truck.In firefighting, they call it a ‘controlled burn,’ torching a perimeter of just enough man-made flame to meet and beat the advance of a wildfire impervious to less-drastic solutions.

Good luck, gentlemen.

The House Oversight Committee’s investigation into the DOJ/ATF gun-running operation known as Fast and Furious is roaring through the halls of Congress, and despite DOJ’s efforts to spin the story every which way but up, Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif) and Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) are on a trail insiders whisper may lead investigators all the way to the top.

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Congress takes aim at Holder, ATF, Mexico

Congress takes aim at Holder, ATF, Mexico

The House Oversight Committee calls ATF’s Fast and Furious a ‘failed and reckless operation,’ but was it? If you look at it from Calderon’s perspective, or from the perspective of administration officials–including Obama, Holder, and senior ATF executives–who favor stronger gun legislation, Fast and Furious was a huge success….

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ATF’s Fast & Furious- Obama’s ‘Weaponsgate’?

ATF’s Fast & Furious- Obama’s ‘Weaponsgate’?

…evidence that the US did in fact sign such an agreement with Mexico, authorizing ATF, in cooperation with Mexican authorities, to implement the gun-walking ‘sting’ that provided Mexican gunman with killing tools used to fire on and murder US agents would corroborate the intent and involvement, at the highest levels, of ATF officials, of the Attorney General (either Holder or his representatives would have had to sign off on the operation), and of the President of the United States—who, as Holder’s supervisor, must be held accountable for the decisions and actions of his subordinates.

It would be difficult, as well, to believe that Eric Holder would have undertaken such a risky endeavor, such a politically sensitive gamble, without a discussion having occurred between Holder and Obama before the implementation of the ATF operation. The stakes, in terms of US-Mexico relations, would have just been too high.

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US gets bin Laden:China gets US stealth technology

US gets bin Laden:China gets US stealth technology

Did the US get away clean? Almost. As close to it, maybe, as Fate allows. For the past few days, another story, a sidebar to the bigger report, has been gaining steam: one of the Stealth Blackhawks used to invade the bin Laden compound crashed as a result of a ‘hard landing.’ An accident. No matter. It turns out that the Stealth Helicopters used to transport the Navy SEALs are “never-before-seen,” state-of-the-art military technology, composed of carbon fibers that resist standard detection by the enemy. Cutting edge, top-secret, and not available to the world.

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Killing bin Laden: how much did it cost?

Killing bin Laden: how much did it cost?

But let’s talk about bin Laden. The first notion we can discard is that the US pulled this feat off alone–that our intelligence and military capabilities allowed a convoy of Blackhawk helicopters carrying teams of Navy Seals, along with gunships (loaded with 100+ Army Rangers or Marines) flying defense above the Blackhawks, to penetrate, probably from Afghanistan, 100 miles or more into Pakistan’s airspace to one of the country’s most heavily guarded locations (Pakistan’s ‘West Point’) without detection by Pakistan’s intelligence/ military forces or without encountering Pakistani fighter jets.

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Second attempt to ambush US anti-drug agents in Mexico: another "mistake"?

Second attempt to ambush US anti-drug agents in Mexico: another "mistake"?

Early this morning (2-25-11), Mexican gunmen armed with short rifles and driving trucks equipped with strobe lights, and in one case, missing license plates, once more attempted to box in a US government-owned vehicle (OGV) driven by US anti-drug agents a short distance from the US border on the Mexican side.

One of the Mexican gunmen in the lead vehicle was also, according to reports, wearing a badge around his neck. . .

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Mexican Ambush of Unarmed ICE Agents Planned and Premeditated: No 'Wrong Place at Wrong Time'

Mexican Ambush of Unarmed ICE Agents Planned and Premeditated: No 'Wrong Place at Wrong Time'

The sequence of events that occurred on February 15th and ended in the murder of ICE Special Agent Jaime Zapata and in the shooting of Special Agent Victor Avila are as follows–evidence that the attack on two US federal agents was premeditated and planned, not a case of ‘being in the wrong place at the wrong time,’ or an incident triggered by the desire of the assailants to hijack a valuable vehicle.

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ICE Agent Killed in Mexico: Survivor Provides Clues

ICE Agent Killed in Mexico: Survivor Provides Clues

President Obama has promised Zapata’s family that the US government will spare no effort to bring the Mexican gunman responsible for the attack to justice, and Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, has express outrage, declaring “The full resources of our department are at the disposal of our Mexican partners in this investigation.”

Given the dearth of substantive press coverage on both side of the border, and the muted attitude of US officials toward Mexico’s efforts to curb drug trafficking and cartel violence over the past five years—during which roughly 38,000 people have been killed, including scores of US citizens—the vocalization of even these stylized objections is noteworthy.

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Egypt's Criminal Status Quo: Street Says "Show Me the Money"

Egypt's Criminal Status Quo: Street Says "Show Me the Money"

The chaos in Egypt does indeed signal opportunity, but the big question is whether the Egyptian people (or their fellow protestors in neighboring countries) will end up with genuine reform or merely a different gang of corrupt officials willing to cut more (or different) people in on ‘the take.’

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WikiLEADS…Who's Following Up?

WikiLEADS…Who's Following Up?

The fact that government outrage continues to provide the international media with grist for its insatiable mill is one of the great ironies in this scenario: perturbed at the site’s revelation of embarrassing diplomatic discussions and fumblings–tales only mildly interesting to the average reader–government officials are now in the process of creating a better, and far more spectacular story over First Amendment rights and the ‘treasonable’ activities of a Dutch citizen accused of committing “sex by surprise” (in Sweden?).

Even worse, the official call from some quarters for draconian regulation of the internet has given Russia (which suggests nominating Assange for the Nobel Peace Prize) and China, a human-rights violator of mammoth proportion, opportunities to ‘prove’ to an already hostile world that when Washington suddenly finds itself looking out through wall-to-wall glass, this nation of stone-throwers is no better than anyplace else.

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Second Drug Tunnel Discovered in Otay-Mesa: So What?

Second Drug Tunnel Discovered in Otay-Mesa: So What?

It’s only the media–not a special, dedicated tunnel team–who might believe the identification of Guzman as the tunnel mastermind qualifies as breaking news.Any agent who’s worked the southwest border for a while already knows that if a tunnel or any other kind of operation is high-end, it’s almost certainly the work of “El Chapo”…

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