Thursday, February 24, 2011

What's Going on at the ATF?

by David Codrea

The following is a summary and time line of articles appearing on the Sipsey Street Irregulars blog and Gun Rights Examiner, reflecting original reporting on the developing "Project Gunwalker" story by Mike Vanderboegh and myself. That's the purposely ironic name I assigned it, a parody of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive's "Project Gunrunner," and it refers to allegations by whistleblowing ATF insiders that:
  • ATF management was allowing potentially hundreds of semiautomatic firearms to be walked across the Mexican border in order to pad statistics used to further budget and power objectives.
  • Mexican authorities were kept in the dark, and protests that they should be informed were overridden, first by the Phoenix ATF office, and ultimately by higher-ups in Washington, DC.
  • A gun used in this operation was involved in a December 2010 incident in which a Border Patrol agent was killed.
The original allegations were posted on Vanderboegh and I, who have a history going back years of documenting allegations posted there, and pressing for congressional hearings to investigate the claims, were both contacted independently by various ATF insiders claiming to have corroborating information and documentation. Mike vetted his sources and I used my contacts to help validate that my informant was who he represented himself to be. Mike and I did what we could throughout our separate and coordinated investigations to test and corroborate what was being told. We also had a small circle of behind-the-scenes consultants, including firearms designer Len Savage, and a few other knowledgeable advisors, all with contacts and informed insights of their own, and all of whom have earned our trust over the years.
Our primary goal was to help arrange for protection for our sources, and quickly, as retaliation was feared. Because the allegations involved higher ups within the Justice Department, the added protection afforded by separation of powers was sought. Through various contacts and machinations that are documented in the following timeline, the whistleblowers came under the protective umbrella of Sen. Charles Grassley, a senior member of the Committee of the Judiciary.
Our secondary goal was to push this story outside our limited spheres of influence and into the "mainstream press," so that it would be problematic to ignore or bury things. Again, making this happen has been an ongoing struggle, but we've seen the first cracks in the dam. The following time line will bring journalists just getting involved with this story up to speed by walking them though it, from its genesis to where we are today as major media outlets finally begin to take notice and get involved.
By way of a FAQ, two seem to be recurrent:
Will you have your sources contact us?
Will you provide us with copies of documentation?
The answer to both is "No." The reason is one of protection. You will need to observe official proceedings and develop/consult sources of your own.
Here's what's happened so far, at least what I can publicly disclose:
Dec. 28:
Jan. 3:
Jan. 5:
Jan. 6:
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Jan. 10:
Jan. 12:
Jan. 13:
Jan. 18:
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Jan. 30:
Jan. 31:
Feb. 1:
Feb. 2:
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Feb. 15:
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Feb. 17:
Feb. 18:
Feb. 19:
Feb. 20:
Feb. 21:
Feb. 22:
This post will be regularly updated with new links, so those interested in having a one-stop resource to keep up with Mike and my posts should bookmark it and return to keep apprised of new developments.
From other Gun Rights Examiners:
Sean McClanahan/Des Moines:
Kurt Hofmann/St. Louis:
Dave Workman/Seattle:

Continue reading on A journalist's guide to 'Project Gunwalker' - National gun rights |

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