Monday, September 26, 2011

Operation Fast and Furious LXI

Letter implicates ATF in committing straw purchases for Gunwalker
by David Codrea
A Gun Rights Examiner/Sipsey Street Irregulars exclusive
A letter forwarded on Friday by a proven reliable source to Gun Rights Examiner and Mike Vanderboegh of Sipsey Street Irregulars documents Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives management authorizing the sale of firearms, which sources say were intended for delivery to  cartel purchasers as part of the “Fast and Furious” / ”Gunwalker” scandal.  Written by then-ATF Phoenix Group VII Supervisor David Voth, the June 01, 2010 letter to a Federal Firearms Licensee, whose name is redacted, advises:
Per Section925(a)(1) of the Gun Control Act (GCA) exempts law enforcement agencies from the transportation, shipment, receipt, or importation controls of the GCA when firearms are to be used for the official business of the agency.
Please accept this letter in lieu of completing an ATF Form 4473 for the purchase of four (4) CAI, Model Draco, 7.62x39 mm pistols, by Special Agent John Dodson. These aforementioned pistols will be used by Special Agent Dodson in furtherance of the performance of his official duties. In addition, Special Agent Dodson has not been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. If you have any questions, you may contact me at telephone number 602-605-6501.
A hand-written note at the bottom says:
Picked up guns 6/10/10
Paid Cash [underlined in original]
A copy of the letter is posted at this correspondent’s Scribd account, and a jpg version is included as this column’s sidebar photo.
Dodson is the agent who put a face to the whistleblowers in Sharyl Attkisson’s bombshell CBS News interviews. Other sources tell Mike Vanderboegh that this letter indicates Dodson would have been fearful to proceed without documentation to prove management not only knew and approved of this activity, but had directed it.
Per Vanderboegh:
Official ATF documents and sources in both Arizona and Washington D.C. confirm that in at least two instances in 2010, agents of the United States government purchased Kalashnikov-pattern semi-automatic pistols directly from licensed federal firearms dealers with taxpayer money and delivered those weapons directly into the hands of cartel smugglers.
"The existence of this letter," Vanderboegh writes, "coupled with interviews of other sources across the country which put it into context, provides startling proof that the Federal government did not merely 'lose track' of weapons purchased by 'straw buyers' under surveillance by the ATF and destined for the Mexican drug cartels. In an undercover operation ordered by Fast and Furious supervisor David Voth, the U.S. government purchased firearms with taxpayer money from licensed firearms dealers, instructed them to conduct the sales 'off the books,' and used an ATF agent, John Dodson, to deliver them directly to people that Dodson believed were conducting them across the border."
Vanderboegh conducted these supplemental interviews, and provides this narrative:
According one source close to the Issa committee and knowledgeable of its workings, this revelation "puts a stake in the heart of the 'botched sting operation' lie." He continued, "There never was any 'sting,' there was only a deliberate effort to provide weapons to the DTO's (Drug Trafficking Organizations)." He added, "this was one hundred percent us -- our money, our guy, our (gun)walking."
This source also provided context and explanation of how the letter came to exist in the first place.
(It should be noted that although we would never reveal our sources for any story, it is important in this case for the readers to understand where we did NOT get it. Neither John Dodson nor his lawyer provided us this letter. Nor did they pass it through to us via a third party, as the DOJ has been known to do lately.)
"Dodson was given this undercover assignment by Voth," said the source, "to purchase weapons directly and provide them to the smugglers. He was operating under cover, pretending to be a 'straw buyer.'" He continued, "I think Dodson demanded the letter from Voth to cover both himself and the FFL (Federal Firearm Licensee). He didn't want to be hung out to dry" by Voth.
The source also said that the letter was an effort by Voth to "dirty him (Dodson) up," pointing out that by the time of the undercover assignment that Dodson's vocal opposition to "letting guns walk" was well known to his superiors in the Phoenix ATF office.
Sources also describe a second letter from Voth to another FFL authorizing Dodson to purchase two more Draco pistols. One source stated flatly: "Issa and Grassley have copies of both letters, and have had for a long time."
Subsequent to this undercover weapons buying and transfer to cartel smugglers by Dodson, say the sources, "Dodson just about came apart all over them (his supervisors)." In a "screaming match" that was heard throughout the Phoenix office by many employees, Dodson yelled at Voth and Assistant Special Agent in Charge George Gillett, "Why not just go direct and empty out the ATF arms room" to the cartels," or words to that effect.
After this confrontation, say the sources, Phoenix managers transferred Dodson to a post as "liaison to the intel guys at FBI" in the Phoenix office. For clarification, it is worth noting that the Brian Terry murder investigation was at this time being carried out by the criminal side of the FBI out of the Tuscon office, not Phoenix.
Sources describe continuing harassment of Dodson as his access to the Phoenix office building was restricted. "They removed him from the (Fast and Furious) case as politically unreliable," said another source, adding, "And of course after the Terry murder all the shots were being called by D.C."
After the death of Brian Terry, the "rumor" post on the ATF agent's website, and the initial coverage by these reporters in the early weeks of January, 2011, "things got ugly" for Dodson. Blamed by his immediate supervisors as well as many of his fellow agents in the Phoenix office for "treason" as one source described it, Dodson's existence at the Phoenix office was described as "precarious" by one D.C. source. The threats to his life were perceived to be so great that "solitary range days" were arranged by a sympathetic supervisor to Dodson could practice marksmanship in safety. "He (the supervisor) didn't want him (Dodson) to eat one in the back" in a range "accident," said the source.
Dodson has not given any more interviews of late. "Not since the hearings as far as I now," said one source, and it is not because he hasn't been asked.
"They're coming at him hard, looking for anything they can use against him," said another. "Can you blame him for keeping his head down?"
Although our sources firmly agree that Senator Grassley and Congressman Issa have both of the Voth/Dodson letters, we have forwarded a copy of the June 1, 2010 to staffers of both men, asking for comment on this story and an explanation as to why they have not previously released the letters.
Given the fact that it is a weekend, these reporters do not expect any reaction until later on Monday morning.
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.
Republicans Step Up pressure on Holder as More Details Surface on 'Fast and Furious'
By William Lajeunesse
Congressional Republicans once again are turning up the heat on Attorney General Eric Holder, asking more questions about whether he had a role in the controversial anti-gunrunning operation known as "Fast and Furious."
The new inquiry comes from Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. Despite recent personnel changes at the Justice Department, Smith told Holder in a letter Friday the department cannot "pin this scandal on a few individuals and expect it to be forgotten."
"Fast and Furious was a result of systemic problems at the ATF. Congressional interest will continue until we fully understand who authorized the failed program," Smith said.
The idea behind Fast and Furious, hatched in the ATF's Phoenix office, was to let so-called straw buyers purchase guns in the United States so they could be traced to big-time gunrunners in Mexico. But documents and testimony now show that U.S. officials lost track of thousands of guns, some of which later were found at the scenes of violent crimes, including the murder of a U.S. border agent.
On Friday, National Rifle Association President Wayne LaPierre accused Holder of stonewalling Congress.
"This is the biggest cover-up since Watergate, and it's time to ask the Watergate question. Who authorized Fast and Furious, and how high up does it go?" LaPierre asked during a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando.
According to a source close to the investigation, despite numerous subpoenas and demands for potentially thousands of pages of records, the Justice Department has turned over just 12 documents. Unless the House Oversight Committee can cut lose more incriminating documents from the Justice Department or additional whistleblowers come forward, the investigation could stall, said a person familiar with the situation.
So far, the scandal has produced headlines but only one resignation, that of the U.S. attorney in Arizona.
The paper trail however has revealed blatant lying by the Justice Department, which originally told Sen. Charles Grassley the ATF did not "walk" guns. That position conflicts with agent testimony and pages of internal emails.
A document obtained Friday by Foxnews shows the following agencies all had some hand in Operation Fast and Furious: ATF, IRS, DEA, ICE, the U.S. Marshall's Service, Phoenix police and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The operation allowed members of the Sinaloa Cartel to buy in excess of 1,900 weapons for more than $1.25 million dollars over a one-year period beginning October 2009, according to a briefing paper dated last January. The briefing paper did not delineate the duties of each agency, but other records have shown the IRS investigated the income sources of the straw buyers, Phoenix police assisted occasionally with surveillance, the DEA shared its informant and ICE “saw everything and had access to everything” the ATF did, according to an agent tasked to Fast and Furious.
But throughout the operation, the agency recovered just over 10 percent of the weapons.
An ATF whistleblower agent told Fox News the agency made "absolutely no attempt to follow the weapons." And even though agents used electronic vehicle trackers, they only used them on the strawbuyers, not on those to whom they transferred the weapons.
This does not jibe with an amended statement issued Thursday by ATF Agent in Charge Bill Newell, who claimed in a letter to Congress his the agency used "a wide variety of well established law enforcement investigative techniques" to interdict and seize weapons.
In his letter to Holder on Friday, Rep. Smith demanded to know what oversight role the Justice Department had over Fast and Furious. He also noted that President Obama promised a new era of government "transparency and openness" when elected in 2008, a promise that Smith says rings empty.

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