Thursday, September 22, 2011

Operation Fast and Furious LX

Secretly-Recorded Tapes Emerge in Fast and Furious Probe

William La Jeunesse, Fox News
WASHINGTON - There are new tapes and new accusations against the government in connection to the botched gun-tracking program called Fast and Furious.
Has a federal official undermined and obstructed the investigation into operation Fast and Furious by releasing secretly recorded audio tapes?
"I'm painted as either the biggest snitch ever in this industry or I'm working for you," Andre Howard, owner of the Lone Wolf Gun Store, said to Hope MacAllister, lead ATF agent in the Fast and Furious case.
Howard secretly taped MacAllister after becoming convinced the ATF was lying to him about stopping the guns he sold before they reached members of the Mexican cartels.
"He was acting under the direct supervision of the Department of Justice and ATF. He thought he was making a difference and that these people were being arrested and there were going to be indictments and that there were going to be prosecutions," says Howard's lawyer, Larry Gaydos.
Records show Lone Wolf sold more than 1,000 weapons to suspected buyers, including those guns allegedly used to kill Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
"Agent Terry's death just brought about, I guess, a tremendous amount of regret and sorrow, disappointment, disgust to myself," says Alt.
Whistleblower agent Larry Alt is speaking out for the first time after MacAllister disparaged his family on one of the recordings. MacAllister said the FBI found three guns at Terry's murder scene -- not two -- as the agency claims.
The FBI says MacAllister is confused, that there were only two guns at the scene.
A lawyer involved in the case said an FBI field agent mistook an SKS rifle for an AK-47, even though the AK is much shorter
Regardless, Gaydos claims his client was set up as the fall guy by former ATF Phoenix chief Bill Newell.
"He thought he was helping the good guys. And he had no way of knowing that those guns were going to crime scenes in the United States and Mexico," says Gaydos.
Senator Charles Grassley and Congressman Darrell Issa released a letter demanding to know why the Justice Department's Inspector General shared those audio tapes with the U.S. Attorney in Arizona and ultimately Agent MacAllister -- both targets of their probe. The lawmakers say the release harmed and compromised their investigation. 

ATF Counsel email to Melson on Gunwalker-Terry murder link preceded intimidation
Gun Rights Examiner/Sipsey Street Irregulars exclusive
by David Codrea
A just-uncovered January 5, 2011 email to former Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Acting Director Kenneth Melson from Stephen R. Rubenstein, Chief Counsel, ATF, responded to a request by Melson for information regarding allegations on whistleblower website CleanUpATF that walked guns were linked to the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, and indicated this was a violation of ATF Orders and Standards of Conduct.
Copies of the email and Melson’s reply are posted in this correspondent's Scribd account and included in the sidebar slideshow accompanying this article.  Per Rubenstein’s email:
This is in response to your request regarding information posted on "Clean Up ATF." Specifically, on December 22, 2010, "1desrtrat" [screen name used by CUATF comment poster--DC] stated that "word is" that Phoenix FD ASAC George Gillet "[a]llegedly approved more than 500 AR-15 type rifles from Phoenix and Tucson cases to be 'walked' into Mexico." The post further states that "[o]ne of those rifles is rumored to have been linked to the recent killing of a Border Patrol Officer in Nogales, AZ."

That post can be read here, and was the basis for Mike Vanderboegh’s initial December 28 report on the Gunwalker/Terry nexus.
“The disclosure of this information has a potential deleterious effect on ATF's undercover operations,” Rubenstien continued. “In that regard, suspects may alter their behavior if they know that law enforcement is allowing certain firearms to 'walk' into Mexico. In addition, public knowledge of this type of operation potentially places informants and undercover agents in jeopardy. Finally, public disclosure of such information could ATF's working relationship with Mexico.”
Examined objectively, Rubenstein admitted guns were purposely allowed to walk, that walking guns to a foreign country must be hidden from the public, and that if the Mexicans found out about it, cooperative law enforcement efforts would be jeopardized.
“If ‘1desertrat’ is an ATF employee,” Rubenstein advised, “then he/she is subject to our Orders and Standards of Conduct.”
Examined objectively, Rubenstein admitted "1desertrat's" allegations were true, otherwise, there could be no disclosure of official information, nor jeopardizing of operations, personnel or relationships.
Copied on the email to Melson, and apparently taking this assessment from his boss as marching orders, was ATF Associate Chief Counsel Barry S. Orlow. Per The Washington Times in a July report:
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, said at least two scheduled witnesses expected to be asked about a controversial weapons investigation known as “Fast and Furious”received warning letters from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to limit their testimony…after receiving subpoenas, at least two of the agents got letters from ATF Associate Chief Counsel Barry S. Orlow warning them to keep certain areas off-limits, including those still under investigation. Neither of the targeted agents was identified.
Mr. Issa said at least one witness wanted to back out of testifying to his committee after receiving the letter, but the chairman declined that request. Instead he fired a letter back to William J. Hoover, deputy director of ATF, saying the “timing and content of this letter strongly suggest that ATF is obstructing and interfering with the congressional investigation.”
Gun Rights Examiner’s June 22 report on the Issa letter, including a copy of it, can be read here.
Melson’s reply to Rubenstein:
Thanks, Steve. I am going to forward this to A. Ken.*
His self-interested cooperation with Congressional investigators notwithstanding, the former Acting Director’s cognizance and involvement warrant further examination of his role in covering up Gunwalker activities and retaliating against whistleblowers. And who "A" is remains to be determined, but should be.*
Also worth noting in light of the former Acting Director's public expiation, a perception from the ranks of the anonymous, the ones who feel compelled to hide their identities before passing on damning documentation about management words and deeds lest they run afoul of vaunted Standards of Conduct that evidently don't include anything about letting people die, then covering it up and intimidating underlings:
Spread this far and wide and show everybody what a lying sack of s*** he really is!!!!
*UPDATE: An adviser believes "A" should be "IA" (Internal Affairs) and that the "I" was broken up in the poor-quality photocopy.  That makes sense and offers strong circumstantial evidence that ATF management pulled out all stops to identify the whistleblowers and pursue standards of conduct violations.
Also see:
Note to newcomers to this story: “Project Gunrunner” is the name ATF assigned to its Southwest Border Initiative to interdict gun smuggling to Mexico. “Project Gunwalker” is the name I assigned to the scandal after allegations by agents that monitored guns were allowed to fall into criminal hands on both sides of the border through a surveillance process termed “walking” surfaced.

'Fast and Furious' Coverup at Justice Department?

By On the Record
Read more:

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 21, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: The "Fast and Furious" operation scandal -- it just got hotter! Tonight, we learn about secret audiotapes. Not only did a gun seller secretly tape the ATF agent, but Congressman Darrell Issa has those tapes. Congressman Issa spoke with us a short time ago.
VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, nice to see you, sir.
REP. DARRELL ISSA, R-CALIF.: Thank you, Greta. Thanks for coming out to the Hill.
VAN SUSTEREN: Oh, happy to be here. I come here every day, as a matter of fact. All right, now you're doing the "Fast and Furious" investigation, the oversight. Tell me, is the Department of Justice 100 percent cooperating with you?
ISSA: Closer to zero percent. This has continued to be frustrating that as the Mexican government tells us publicly they're being kept in the dark, we can't give them information from the Department of Justice. We can only give them information we're getting from whistleblowers. And we're getting a lot.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why isn't the Justice Department cooperating? I assume that you send communications over to them or make phone calls and say, What's up?
ISSA: We try. We send communications, including subpoenas. This is one of those situations in which they haven't admitted that they let guns walk, even though there's no credible way to say that they didn't not just let them walk, but let them run. We have one sale -- one group of sales of over 700 to just one straw buyer. What do you mean you didn't know where these things were going?
VAN SUSTEREN: How many people estimated now have been murdered as a result of this -- this "Fast and Furious," the guns going from the United States to Mexico?
ISSA: Well, the LA Times has a number of about 150.
VAN SUSTEREN: That's horrible!
ISSA: One is horrible. Brian Terry being gunned down in Arizona...
ISSA: A border patrol agent being gunned down in the prime of life is too much. One Mexican citizen having to face weapons that should not have gotten to drug lords is too much. More importantly, out of 2,000-plus weapons, most of them are still unaccounted for. They will over time kill again.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, whose idea was this program? Have you figured that out? How high up was it authorized?
ISSA: Well, those are two separate questions. It could well have been thought of at a very low level by an ambitious ATF agent. And it appears as though it may have been. But it had to be approved by the top levels of Justice.
VAN SUSTEREN: What's top level?
ISSA: Lanny Brewer, people involved in this, because this was a joint exercise. It required funding and coordination with virtually all of law enforcement.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, why -- I mean, when you send information -- or I take it you want to know how high up it went and so that we can even begin to investigate, you know, how it went off the rails, or whether -- you know, where it went bad, where it went south.
ISSA: Well, Greta, as you know, we're the Oversight and Reform Committee. We don't get reform until you get an admission that this kind of thing shouldn't have happened and then you start looking at how it won't happen again. We're not looking to go as high as we can for the sake of going high. We want to know where the safeguards have to be put in place so this can never be approved at any level but certainly not in the hierarchy of the Justice Department.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, do you think this was a good idea, this program?
ISSA: Couldn't have been worse.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK, so doesn't it make a difference how high it goes so we know who had the bad judgment so at least we can have a talk with the person so he or she doesn't exercise that bad judgment again?
ISSA: Well, the Justice Department has chosen to reassign, accept resignations of some of the people that were clearly involved. That's probably good judgment on their part. But if they cannot look inward, if the IG cannot look inward and say, Here are the additional systems and people who broke down, and do the same thing, we have a big problem especially when the Mexican government, the attorney general and others, are calling this a betrayal, and it could affect the cooperation we need in order to intercept drugs that are killing an estimated 44,000 people in Mexico due to violence.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, here's where I sort of differ with you, is I think we do need to know how high it went up because oftentimes in this city -- I'm not saying it happened this time -- but that sometimes middle- level people are made scapegoats for the decisions that are made above. So it makes sense to find out who lacks the good judgment.
If this is a bad judgment idea, and that's what you say it is and I think many people agree, is we ought to -- I mean, you know, we ought to lay the cards on the table, find out who did -- not necessarily, you know, have someone's head, but a least know, you know, where did this originate? Why did someone think it was originally a good idea? Where did it go south so that we can do the reform.
ISSA: Well, I couldn't agree with you more. I call this felony stupid at all levels, at any level that thought it was a good idea. Ultimately, you're right. We do need to get to the top decision maker because that person is dangerous for having this kind of thought being an acceptable program.
Again, though, the real question is where did the safeguards break down? In Iran-contra, we had an Ollie North who went through excruciating detail of how proud he was about this and why he thought he was doing the right thing. Here, we have everyone saying, It didn't happen, It didn't happen, as we get tapes, we get e-mails and we get more knowledge of how widespread it was, including the deliberate denial of the U.S. ambassador in Mexico City of the opportunity to know about this program. His ATF people didn't know it. His DEA people didn't know it because they were kept in the dark so they wouldn't tell the ambassador.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, there's a tape, though. That's one problem, right? Tell me about this tape.
ISSA: Well, this tape is both a solution in that it tells lot, but it's a problem in that...
VAN SUSTEREN: What is it, though? Tell -- I mean, tell me what it is. Who got taped?
ISSA: The agent in charge was taped by the licensed gun dealer who was concerned that he was being set up. That was delivered to the inspector general back in June specifically as part of cooperation. Within virtually minutes, without the inspector general ever listening to the tape, it was forwarded to the Justice Department, who then forwarded it to the object of the investigation, the actual agent in charge, meaning it ultimately became an obstruction of our investigation by the very people that we were looking to help us with our investigation.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Justice knew about it in June. When did you learn about this tape that tracks this whole little episode of selling guns?
ISSA: We knew about it. We had copies of it.
ISSA: We had it before Justice had it, before the IG had it...
VAN SUSTEREN: Before June.
ISSA: Before June.
ISSA: But part of what we were doing -- and Greta, I know you have a strong history as an attorney. We wanted to interview that agent without that agent knowing what we knew. Ultimately, we've been denied that. We were delaying that evidence and that interview out of deference to the ongoing prosecutions. But ultimately, we were betrayed by the Justice Department delivering it to that agent so that we no longer get a fair right to have an interview where we know things that that person doesn't.
VAN SUSTEREN: One quick question. Is this -- I mean, let me use the word that we all want. It is a coverup?
ISSA: Ultimately, when you delay and deter us getting to the facts, it's a coverup. It's one that can be remedied, but so far, we see no willingness by Attorney General Holder to tell his people to cooperate. Just the opposite. We're still being stonewalled.
VAN SUSTEREN: Which is so foolish because, you know, if it's ultimately going to come out, when you look like you're stonewalling, if you're dragging your feet, I mean, it begins to look so much bigger than it is and you begin to look like you're doing everything to cover it up.
ISSA: Exactly right. If this had been quickly explained, including people taking the fall, if you will, for what they've done wrong at the highest levels, this would have been a story that would never have gotten traction. Today it's got international traction, and it shouldn't because, ultimately, it was so stupid that people should have quickly said, We shouldn't have done it, we're sorry and heads will roll. Just the opposite. We think there's protections of people at the top.
VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you, sir.
ISSA: Thank you, Greta.

ATF 'Fast and Furious' secret audio: Murder of Border Patrol agent 'collateral damage'

Sharyl AttkissonChris Scholl
ATF agent who was killed, Brian Terry(Credit: CBS)
WASHINGTON - In secretly recorded conversations between two individuals deeply entwined in the ATF's controversial "Fast and Furious" operation, the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry is described as "collateral damage."
The recordings were obtained exclusively by CBS News. The man who made them - Arizona gun dealer Andre Howard - ran the Lone Wolf Trading Company and was speaking with Hope MacAllister, the ATF operation's case agent.
Two of the guns Howard sold while cooperating with the ATF that were later found at Terry's murder.
"It happened. It's terrible," Howard said. "That's life ok we move on."
More ATF secret audio coverage
ATF whistle-blower called 'toxic' on secret tapesATF Fast and Furious secret audio recordingsSecret recordings raise new questions in ATF 'Gunwalker' operation
Both Howard and MacAllister also shared concerns about Special Agent John Dodson who by that point had gone public with allegations about "Fast and Furious" and was assigned to the FBI. It was Dodson who first publicly disclosed allegations about "Fast and Furious" in an interview with CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson. That interview took place several weeks before the recorded conversations took place. In his interview, Dodson said thousands of guns had been allowed to "walk" to Mexico - straight into the hands of the cartels - without intervention by ATF.
(Scroll down to listen to the audio and read the text of the excerpts)
In the following excerpts, they talk about the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Two weapons purchased by ATF Fast and Furious suspects were found at the murder scene. They also discuss concerns that ATF whistleblower John Dodson, who had then been moved out of the ATF office and tasked to the FBI, has information that could be damaging to the government.
Dealer: Unfortunately a consequence occurred from a weapon shall we say that found its way into the wrong area ok and that was not anticipated. Nobody could foresee that that's collateral damage I think the term is. It happened. It's terrible. That's life ok we move on. Unfortunately, Mr. Dodson with his allegation is a pain in the a--. Now, my understanding now is it will be impossible now that he will be able to substantiate anything directly because that evidence is gone. I want you to know that. It don't exist. Not that one. You understand me?
Agent: MMhmm.
Dealer: Good. I get that.
Dealer: My biggest problem is Dodson. You know this guy has damaged the hell out of me. I mean I walked out of here yesterday.
Agent: Mmhmm.
Dealer: I got it from the tattoo parlor, I got some damn Mexicans and white trash over there.
Agent: Yeah...
Dealer: Yelling across the parking lot: "can i buy 300 AK 47's?? Would you turn me in, over that?" This is the kind of sh-- i'm getting.
Agent: Yeah.
Dealer: The most damning thing that you guys got to be aware of I think hypothetically is was there, you have to ask yourselves this first I'm just throwin this out there, was there a communication that hypothetically the US Attorney's office uh was entertained with the DOJ in reference to any ballistics tests or anything? Is there any way any of these idiots..
Agent: The problem is I mean we're not investigating that case.
Dealer: I know the FBI is.
Agent: And he's (Dodson) assigned to the FBI. I, I have not, I don't have any way of knowing what he has access to. And that's on the FBI. I mean that's on them. If they consider him, don't consider him an operational security issue, that's their f-----g fault. But I don't have access to that sh--, I don't know I have no idea what the FBI.
Dealer: (unintell.) I know you don't...I'm saying that's a whole parallel issue.
Agent: Right.
Dealer: What about the emails copies he's got?
Agent: Those emails are a year ago that's why I wonder what he I mean
Dealer: Let me help you out. Here's what I smell. There's a reason you ran (unintell.) about not talking about any of your other agents out there.
Agent: Yeah.
Dealer: You got some rats in there honey...
Dealer: I'll tell you some of these motherf-----s, I don't know if they're giving it to Dodson, I think they are, somebody's got some inter-agency copies not just this sh--.


Tracing begins on 102 seized guns

Geisha Kowlessar

Electronic tracing has begun on the 102 firearms which were recovered since the state of emergency was implemented on August 21. The electronic tracing system, also known as eTrace, is being conducted by police officers of the Crime and Problem Analysis Branch (CAPA). CAPA previously was known as the Modus Operandi Unit of the Police Service. The eTrace system is a web-based firearm trace request submission system that provides for the electronic exchange of crime gun data in a secure web-based environment.
An officer at CAPA said several serial numbers found on the illegal weapons had been submitted to the unit by investigating officers. He said CAPA was still awaiting the submission of other serial numbers from the guns recovered during the emergency. He added: “Apart from the serial number the investigator will  also submit the make and model of the firearm to CAPA. “CAPA will then send the information to the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), based in the US,” the officer explained.
He said from the serial numbers submitted to the ATF thus far, there had not been any correspondence from ATF regarding the origin of the guns or whether it was linked to any other crimes abroad. The officer added that if eTrace did not relay any results to CAPA then Interpol would intercede. However, an Interpol officer said there was no doubt from the weapons found it was clear the criminals possessed far more sophisticated firearms than the police. He mentioned the recent recovery of a gun in T&T which was traced to a manufacturer in Italy. “That firearm was shipped to Barbados and it found its way in Trinidad and it was used in a murder,” the officer added.
More info
About the electronic tracing system
The Electronic Tracing System, eTrace, is an Internet-based system that allows participating law enforcement agencies to submit firearm traces to the ATF’s National Tracing Centre (NTC). Authorised users can receive firearm trace results, via this same Internet web site, search a database of all firearm traces submitted by their individual agency and perform analytical functions.
Firearms tracing is the systematic tracking of the movement of a firearm recovered by law enforcement officials from its creation by the manufacturer or its introduction into US commerce by the importer through the distribution chain to the first retail purchase. Law enforcement traces a firearm recovered at a crime scene to develop investigative leads that may link a suspect to a firearm in a criminal investigation; identify potential traffickers and detect in-state, interstate and international patterns in the sources and kinds of crime guns.

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