Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Operation Fast and Furious LXII

Who Knew
by Chris W. Cox, NRA-ILA Executive Director

Where Will The Buck Stop When It Comes To BATFE’s Failed “Fast and Furious” Operation?

Fast and Furious.” Until a few months ago, those words may have been best known as the title of a series of action movies featuring fast cars and the sort of reckless action Hollywood loves to promote.
Now, thanks to ongoing media and congressional investigations, those words represent another kind of recklessness—the reckless disregard for public safety shown in a misguided and foolish law enforcement operation on the southwest border, accompanied by a lack of sound judgment and a clear failure of leadership at the U.S. Department of Justice.
The operation known as “Fast and Furious” is, of course, the Obama administration’s program in which Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents allowed the sale of thousands of firearms to suspected illegal purchasers. Even worse, the bureau literally sat back and watched those firearms walk out the door. Many of those guns, moving unhindered by the BATFE, have now turned up at crime scenes, both in Mexico and in the United States.
Much of what we’ve learned recently is thanks to U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. For months now, Rep. Issa, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Sen. Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, have pressed for full disclosure of the facts. During that time, the Justice Department has fought to hide what really happened, using every excuse it could come up with to deny the truth to the American people.
But in the end, the truth is coming out, and many of the most damning truths appeared in a joint staff report on the scandal, released by the two lawmakers in advance of hearings held by Chairman Issa’s committee.
Some of the most important findings include:
• BATFE knowingly allowed 1,800 or more firearms to be sold illegally to known or suspected straw purchasers. Just one of those purchasers accounted for more than 700 illegal guns.
• BATFE supervisors specifically ordered agents working the program not to arrest illegal gun buyers or to interdict thousands of guns that were allowed to “walk” into criminal hands.
• Senior BATFE officials in Washington were regularly briefed on the operation and approved of the tactics employed.
• BATFE agents who opposed the operation and who raised objections were told to “get with the program” and threatened with job retaliation if they continued their opposition.
Key to these findings was testimony provided by a number of whistle-blowing BATFE field agents.
Special Agent John Dodson, in his prepared testimony, made the key point most plainly: “Simply put, during this operation known as Fast and Furious, we, ATF, failed to fulfill one of our most fundamental obligations, to care take the public trust, in part, to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.”
Dodson, along with Special Agents Olindo James Casa and Peter Forcelli, among others, put their careers at risk to object to the operation’s tactics. In each case, not only were their objections dismissed by BATFE superiors, but it was made clear their jobs could be on the line if they did not get on board with the program.
Agent Casa testified that BATFE officials sent an e-mail rebuking those who opposed the plan. “Based on my 18 years of experience with ATF,” testified Casa, “I did not think the e-mail was an empty threat and took it very serious. It has become common practice for ATF supervisors to retaliate against employees that do not blindly toe the company line, no matter what the consequences.”
Agent Casa went on to describe the operation as “recklessly” planned and implemented with the purpose of allowing firearms to be illegally trafficked. He reported that agents were ordered not to take action against illegal gun buyers or to seize the firearms. Instead, surveillance was regularly broken off without further action—a drastic departure from BATFE’s usual practice.
Giving the lie to anti-gun claims that U.S. gun stores are part of the criminal gun trafficking network, the field agents also opposed the operation because of the negative impact it was having on lawful firearms dealers, who are crucial law enforcement allies in identifying illegal traffickers.
Though the firearm industry has long worked with BATFE to educate dealers about how to spot and block suspicious transactions, the agents testified that they were ordered to instruct cooperating gun dealers to complete sales to suspicious persons, including known straw purchasers.
As Agent Forcelli put it: “The gun dealers were our friends. They helped us make a lot of these cases. … But the problem is then, by getting them mixed up in this thing and … encouraging them to sell guns when they decided to stop did not help our reputation with the gun industry.”
In total, the witness statements and the findings of the staff report paint a shocking picture of an operation that intentionally allowed thousands of guns to end up in the hands of some of the most violent criminals in North America. It also showed that senior officials of the BATFE, and not just regional or local supervisors, approved of the operation and received regular reports on its progress. (Acting BATFE director Kenneth Melson even wanted to know how he could log in from his office to watch online video feeds from the bureau’s surveillance cameras in gun stores.)
What remains to be answered, however, is who really approved this operation. And the Justice Department does not appear willing to provide that answer.
Since the story of this reckless operation became known, the Department of Justice has refused to fully respond to congressional inquiries. Both Rep. Issa and Sen. Grassley have repeatedly had their requests for information denied. And even now, when the full seriousness of the scandal is becoming known, the department continues to stonewall.
Chairman Issa pointed out that even the information that has been provided is heavily redacted, with most of the key information blacked out.
One exchange between Rep. Issa and Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich at the hearings clearly shows the ongoing refusal of the DOJ to cooperate:
Chairman Issa: “Who authorized this program that got people killed? Who here in Washington authorized it?”
Weich: “We don’t know.”
“We don’t know” is simply not an acceptable answer, but Weich is not the first to use it.
Attorney General Eric Holder gave the same answer when asked the same question a few weeks before. After so many months of scandal and scrutiny, it seems hard to believe the Attorney General still can’t—or won’t—answer this simple question.
As NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre told Fox News’ Lou Dobbs in June, “The administration needs to stop the cover-up,” adding, “Either they were doing this to prop up a political agenda of sending thousands of guns across the border and blaming it on American gun laws . . . or they were completely incompetent.”
Either way, those who approved this operation, and all those who should have known about it and failed to stop it, are responsible for the operation’s horrendous outcome. And that certainly includes Attorney General Holder.
At the core of this scandal is the effort to politicize BATFE’s law enforcement activities and to take advantage of yet another crisis to achieve a political agenda: the passage of new gun control laws.
The explosion of violence in Mexico as the various drug cartels fight with each other and with the Mexican government is a serious problem. But rather than focusing on ways to fight the cartels, anti-gun politicians in the U.S. have focused their efforts on American gun laws and the rights protected by the Second Amendment. And anti-gun groups and media outlets have tried to deflect attention from the scandal by blaming gun owners for blocking anti-gun laws.
All of these people are using the violence in Mexico as an excuse to promote the gun restrictions that they supported long before today’s drug war—restrictions such as the re-imposition of the semi-auto ban and a ban on private sales of firearms between law-abiding Americans. Both measures would threaten the right to arms, but neither would affect the cartels one bit.
The real solutions to the violence in Mexico will not be found in new restrictions on law-abiding Americans’ Second Amendment rights. Rampant drug abuse by Americans, widespread corruption in Mexico and a serious lack of effective border security have created an environment where drug cartels have billions of dollars to finance their wars.
Yet while none of those problems can be solved easily, one thing is clear: American law enforcement agencies must never be allowed to make the situation worse. Reckless operations like “Fast and Furious” must never be allowed to happen again. That will take not only a leadership change at the Justice Department and BATFE, but legislative reform. And that means it will be time once again for NRA members to roll up their sleeves and get to work.


by James O. E. Norell
No longer content with simply stonewalling a congressional investigation into “Operation Fast and Furious,” President Barack Obama’s Justice Department is now engaging in a full-blown cover-up through the promotion of hostile witnesses as investigators within BATFE.
As harrowing details of “Operation Fast and Furious” —the BATFE/Justice Department conspiracy arming violent narco-terrorists in Mexico—continue to be unveiled, the Obama administration has responded by promoting a central facilitator in the scandal to the rogue agency’s central internal affairs division, a move that will undoubtedly garner fear and loathing among honest field agents across the nation.
The elevation of William McMahon to the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility and Security Operations is seen as a warning—actually, a threat—to agency whistle blowers.
It is the latest affront by Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department, and likely the Barack Obama White House, in a deceitful cover-up to thwart congressional investigations of the deadly administration-sanctioned guns-to-Mexico scheme.
As the deputy assistant director for BATFE’s Western Region, McMahon supervised Special Agent in Charge William Newell, who ran “Operation Fast and Furious.” McMahon told Congress he was in daily contact with Newell over the scheme that allowed thousands of guns to be “walked” into Mexican criminal commerce—a scheme held secret from both Mexican authorities and U.S. officials in Mexico, including BATFE operatives.
Nothing would have been known by the public or lawmakers about “Operation Fast and Furious” without the courageous efforts of conscientious individual BATFE agents who stepped forward to expose what is proving to be a Justice Department criminal conspiracy. That conspiracy—to passively watch continual violations of federal firearm statutes and international anti-smuggling laws, and violation of Mexican sovereignty—has inarguably resulted in the shooting deaths of hundreds of Mexican nationals and the murder of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010.
Among the most cogent red flags over the McMahon move was a posting on the BATFE dissident-insider website, CleanupATF.org:
“The promotion itself was a message that DOJ intends to charge full speed ahead on its defense-slash-deflection of ‘Gunwalker.’ But it’s also the sound of a shotgun chambering a round for street agents … telling their agents to be very careful what they say, and to whom.”
So what is the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility and Security Operations? According to the 2005 BATFE annual report announcing the then-newly reorganized internal affairs apparatus, OPRSO (pronounced “oppresso”) “determines adherence to ATF and DOJ organizational policies, regulations and procedures.”
Under the heading “Integrity,” the report declares that, “OPRSO conducts employee misconduct and integrity investigations, either criminal or administrative.” It speaks of an “early warning detection system to … strengthen adherence to organization policies and procedures.”
But what if those BATFE “policies and procedures” are politically corrupt and motivated? What if those “policies and procedures” are in violation of U.S. law and foreign sovereignty, as was the case in “Fast and Furious”? Those are the questions pursued by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and his House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.
Coupled with President Barack Obama’s failure to acknowledge congressional oversight of the BATFE scandal and his insistence that an internal investigation will suffice, McMahon’s appointment gives more than the appearance that any internal look at misconduct will be a whitewash. McMahon’s capacity for forthrightness can only be measured by his recent public performance before Congress.
McMahon’s transfer as internal ethics watchdog came just days following his July 26, 2011 rope-a-dope appearance—as a forgetful, foggy, petulant, recalcitrant, cranky witness and self-proclaimed inattentive supervisor—before Rep. Issa’s hot-on-the-trail inquiry into the two-year-long “gun-walking” operation. McMahon gave the committee the impression that, as the Western District supervisor, he slept through the whole scandal and simply wasn’t paying attention.
If McMahon’s answers appeared to be disingenuous, the performance of his subordinate in “Fast and Furious,” Phoenix Agent in Charge Newell, was a veritable fog machine. For most of his replies, Newell spoke mostly in quizzical riddles and snoozer doubletalk. But more on that later.
Newell’s and McMahon’s passive aggressive non-cooperation with the committee was counter pointed by the dramatic testimony of BATFE supervisors and field agents, including officers serving in Mexico who had been locked out of any knowledge of “Fast and Furious.” These men spoke with revulsion as to the very concept of allowing guns to “walk”—where by law-enforcement supervisors ordered that contraband arms be allowed to slip into criminal commerce out of any possible control.
And it has been clear from the outset of the Issa and Grassley investigations that there is absolutely no doubt guns were “walked.”That truth was the centerpiece of Chairman Issa’s first congressional hearing June 15.
During the second House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing, the practice was proven a certainty. Jose Wall, the current BATFE senior special agent serving in Tijuana, Mexico, told the committee:
“I could not believe that someone in ATF would so callously let firearms wind up in the hands of criminals. But it appears that I was wrong, and that hundreds and quite possibly thousands of guns have been allowed to reach the hands of organized crime in Mexico. … These firearms are now in the hands of people who have no regard for human life, pose a threat to all of us, a threat to which none of us is immune.”
His sentiments were echoed by another agent also serving in Mexico, Carlos Canino, a 23-year agency veteran and acting BATFE attaché to the Mexican government.
“Never, never in my wildest dreams would I think that ATF agents were ordered or participated in actually following known gun traffickers and just walking away,” Canino said. “That is to me inconceivable. And to this day I’m still trying to get my head around this.” He said the supervisors “went to the shredder and shredded the best practices, all the techniques that you use to investigate a gun trafficking case.”
As to fault, Canino said, “In my professional opinion, this investigative strategy was flawed. It was allowed to continue due to ineffective oversight in the Phoenix field division, and possibly beyond.”
In fact, the two individuals holding the buck on all of those scores—egregiously bad management, judgment, leadership and oversight—were sitting at the far end of the same witness table: William Newell and William McMahon.
McMahon and Newell, reluctant star witnesses before this second hearing on the BATFE scandal, hardly ever answered straight questions with straight answers. At one point, an angry Issa called Newell a “paid non answerer,” and in another exchange, U.S. Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., chairman emeritus of the committee, warned Newell that he was testifying under oath, implying his evasiveness might be skirting perjury.
Newell’s actions during the hearings exuded a comfortable contempt for the committee’s investigation.
Further, after listening to and reading testimony from BATFE witnesses in this and earlier hearings, Newell and McMahon dug in on the central issue of “gun walking.” According to them, it never happened.
Issa and other members drew out Newell to agree that “Fast and Furious” guns that he allowed to be illegally purchased at licensed dealers had, indeed, ended up traced back from Mexico. No doubt. But as for walking?
Consider this exchange between Newell and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.
Chaffetz began: “You testified today in your opening statement; ‘It is not the purpose of the investigation [‘Fast and Furious’] to permit the transportation of firearms into Mexico.’ That’s today … Yet in … January 8, 2010 … you write, ‘Currently our strategy is to allow the transfer of firearms [to Mexico] to continue to take place.’ … So it was the goal. It was the intention of the program to allow guns to be trafficked to Mexico based on this memo. Is that correct?”
Newell answered, “No, sir.”
Chaffetz shot back that he was reading from Newell’s own statement. “It also says in here, a number of different seizures in Mexico. It seems very inconsistent at best to suggest that it was not the purpose to allow them to go to Mexico.”
Newell’s answer was pure double-talk.
“Well, sir, if I may, and I’m, I’m glad I’m given the opportunity to clarify that paragraph that has been obviously well publicized. The wording in that, the way my understanding was when that briefing paper was drafted was that our efforts to allow the transfer to identify additional co-conspirators was so that we could further the investigation, takeout the whole organization. Otherwise these individuals would in fact continue in a probably a larger …”
In utter frustration, Chaffetz said, “So you allowed hundreds or thousands of weapons to continue to flow through this program and go into Mexico?”
Newell, pumping the fog machine, replied, “I’m sorry, can you repeat the question, sir?”
Then the exchange got even stranger (from the transcript):
Chaffetz: How many hundreds or thousands of weapons did you allow to be purchased knowing that they were going to Mexico?
Newell: The purchase was being done by a criminal organization, a large scale …
Chaffetz: But you facilitated it. You allowed it, did you not? You were a part of the program. Allow these straw purchases to happen so that the guns could end up in Mexico? And you know in 2009, that that’s happening.
Newell: Sir, again, the goal of the organization, the goal of the investigation was to disrupt and dismantle the entire …
Chaffetz: … the problem is you were purposely, knowingly allowing the guns to go to Mexico. And you have information in 2009 that it’s being successful.
Yet you never put a stop to it. It’s meeting the goals and intentions you laid out in this memo in January 2010and it continued on and on. And consequently there were thousands of weapons that ended up in Mexico killing people.
That’s the reason that we’re here today. When did you first know or think that guns were walking?
Newell: Sir, in this investigation, to the best of my knowledge we didn’t let guns walk from that perspective.
And so it went over and over.
On that question of “gun walking,” especially involving a straw buyer allowed to violate multiple gun laws in the purchase of 730 civilian AK variants, Chairman Issa pushed Newell to come clean:
“So from day one you had a straw purchaser with no credit, no means of support, buying hundreds of weapons, providing them to his intermediary … You had an individual who could be charged with his participation on the actual trafficking of weapons. You had somebody who was trafficking specifically for the intent of getting it to the drug cartels providing huge amounts of money.”
Issa pressed on: “It seems like you knowingly allowed these weapons to get out of your control, knowingly to someone you knew was trafficking into Mexico. You saw the results. You allowed it to continue, and now you’re telling us, ‘We don’t let guns walk.’
“Well, I’ve got to tell you, before this investigation ends, I’ve got to have somebody in your position or at Justice admit you knowingly let guns walk, because right now your agents, both the agents here today from Mexico and the agents that were part of Phoenix and part of this program who became whistleblowers, had told us you were letting guns walk.
“It’s only you and Mr. McMahon and other people at Justice who continue to come before this committee and say, ‘We don’t let guns walk.’ Are they lying or are you lying?”
Newell replied, mumbling, “Sir, in this investigation it is my opinion that we did not let guns walk.”
Chairman Issa snapped back, “You’re entitled to your opinion, not to your facts.”
If the elevation of McMahon was an in-your-face insult to Congress and to anyone deeply concerned about the rogue nature of the Obama/Holder Justice Department, the DOJ’s chief prosecutor in Phoenix doubled the insult to an unspeakably low level by slapping down the family of slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke—another major figure in the scandal who encouraged, expanded and oversaw the deadly gun-walking scheme—opposed what should have been a routine request to qualify the murdered agent’s family members as crime victims, thereby entitling them to testify at the sentencing of the illegal gun buyer who acquired the “Fast and Furious” guns found at the scene of Terry’s murder. Burke’s claim that the family members are not “directly or proximately harmed,” and that the victim of the illegal gun buys “is not any particular person, but society in general,” was a grievous insult.
But no less grievous an insult as the one the Obama administration, through its Justice Department, has foisted on Congress and the American people by its continuous attempts to confuse and cover up the facts—facts that show it intentionally allowed guns to go to Mexican drug cartels to further fuel its desire to pass more gun control laws here in the United States.
More Moves For A Cover-Up
In addition to William McMahon’s move to a position of immense power over the agency wide question of ethics, former Phoenix Special Agent in Charge William Newell, who first was promoted to be attaché in Mexico City—an outrageous affront to that government—was then “transferred” to be a key player in the BATFE’s Office of Management. If you think the McMahon appointment was an in-your-face insult to Congress and to whistleblowers, try this explanation from the agency’s PR office:
“On Aug. 1, 2011, Special Agent Newell, who had been selected as Country Attaché Mexico City, was reassigned to the Office of Management to assist with the OIG investigation and congressional inquiry.”
The man who is at the center of an insane project with the intended consequence of tracing guns to bloody Mexican crime scenes is promoted to “assist” Eric Holder’s internal investigation of that scandal? If there were ever a question that the Obama White House was not ordering a total whitewash, this answers it.
Further evidence of the political taint to what is touted as an “independent” investigation by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General came with a request from Attorney General Holder that Rep. Darrell Issa surrender to him transcripts of meetings that the chairman, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, had with BATFE Acting Director Ken Melson—a figure the Obama administration was prepared to crush under its bus. Since Holder may well prove to be a part of the “Fast and Furious” conspiracy, his involvement corrupts OIG’s supposed neutrality. In addition, Issa and Grassley upped their lawful demands for production of documents that Holder has refused to supply for congressional oversight.
The third principal in “Fast and Furious,” David Voth, was moved to head up BATFE’s tobacco objecting to the gun-walking scheme in a March 12, 2010, memo to the field: “If you don’t think this is fun, you’re in the wrong line of work—period.”Agent John Dodson, among the first to shed light on “Operation Fast and Furious,” has said that Voth was “jovial, if not giddy” when trace reports from crime scenes came from the Mexican government.
Who’s In Charge, Anyway?
In another strange aspect of this sordid mess, the initial announcement of William McMahon’s promotion within BATFE, came not from the acting director, Kenneth Melson—who has been cooperating with Capitol Hill investigators—but in an Aug. 1internal memo from Mark R. Chait. Many insiders say Chait, assistant director of field operations, is among those actually controlling the agency.
In his memo—coming only a week following scathing appraisals of McMahon’s lack of candor and accusations that he was far less than truthful before Congress—Chait gushed:
“I would also like to extend the same thanks to Bill [McMahon]for his leadership and work with the Western Region field divisions and IAO. While we will miss his guidance in FO, I know he will take the same professionalism and dedication he has shown us and direct that into his new position at OPRSO.
”You might remember Chait as the same official who penned a July 2010 e-mail that is considered a key smoking gun in congressional questions about the underlying purpose of “Operation Fast and Furious.”
That e-mail is proof positive that BATFE’s gun-running scheme was intended to garner power and funds to prove a big-lie campaign claiming that federally licensed gun dealers were the virtual sole source of firearms used by the murderous Mexican drug cartels.
Whose idea was it to promote McMahon?
“We are looking for anecdotal cases to support a demand letter on long gun multiple sales,” Chait wrote to McMahon and his direct subordinate, William Newell, the Phoenix special agent in charge, who directed the guns-to-Mexican “Fast and Furious” criminal enterprise.
And of course, despite specific prohibitions in federal law, the Department of Justice has blithely gone ahead with the “demand letter,” which is in reality a long gun registration scheme in the border states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas that is being challenged in federal court by the NRA (see “Standing Guard,” p. 8).
Ironically, it was just that kind of information voluntarily provided by dealers to BATFE with respect to highly suspicious multiple purchases by law-breaking criminal buyers that kicked off “Fast and Furious” in the first place.
And in that case, those buyers were encouraged by BATFE leadership to repeatedly commit felony acquisition of firearms. In the Phoenix operation, dealers who reported obvious illegal activity were told to let it continue, and continue, and continue.
Fast & Furious 101
For those who might not be up on all the details of the ever-ballooning “Fast and Furious” scandal, a short primer is in order.
The government-sanctioned gun running conspiracy operated for two years, beginning in 2009, out of the BATFE office in Phoenix, Ariz.—though evidence is mounting that similar scams were also run in other locations, such as Houston, Texas.
Under “Fast and Furious,” BATFE street agents were instructed to stand down as felony violations of federal firearm and smuggling laws—punishable by decades in federal prison—were committed. When conscientious, federally licensed dealers reported illegal straw sales involving large numbers of guns, they were told by agency officials to allow the felonious sales to be completed on the spot and to look the other way in the future
Agency superiors thus forced field agents to passively observe the “walking” of as many as 2,500 illegally acquired firearms beyond agency control into the cave-darkness of criminal commerce—mostly in Mexico.
The absurd idea was, allegedly, to trace those guns to drug “kingpins” across the border.
According to William Newell, the man in charge of the Phoenix operation, “The goal of the investigation was to disrupt and dismantle an entire firearm trafficking network (in Mexico).”
How could that even be remotely feasible when neither Mexican law enforcement at any level, nor BATFE representatives stationed as guests of the Mexican government, were even made aware of the operation? It was top secret.
In truth, the scheme originated as a means to “trace” guns back to U.S. retailers from Mexican crime scenes in order to prove the big Obama administration and media lie—that 90 percent of the firearms used in Mexico’s narco-anarchy come from federally licensed U.S. gun dealers.
The purpose of that entire campaign was to glean power and money for BATFE—power in the form of more gun laws and more bureaucratic restrictions on the rights of law-abiding private citizens. Ban semi-autos. Shut down gun shows. Gun registration.
The logic of the BATFE/Justice Department agitprop goes this way—this is what we are all supposed to believe:
Mexican society is terrorized by narco-anarchy, with over 35,000 unarmed citizens murdered during the past four years. For the law-abiding, Mexico has the most restrictive gun laws in the hemisphere. Therefore, American freedom and the rights of our citizens must be equally restricted, since our guns can be illegally acquired and smuggled to that terrorized nation.
Proving that insanity is what “Fast and Furious” is really all about.
Some in the media have called “Fast and Furious” a “plan gone horribly wrong.” Led by President Barack Obama’s blithe admission that there were “mistakes,” the administration is saying, “Nothing to see here. Move on.”
This was not a mistake. Illegally moving guns to Mexico was the intended purpose.
“Fast and Furious,” when you get down to it, is a criminal conspiracy on the part of BATFE leadership and officials in the U.S. Department of Justice. It was a conspiracy hatched for propaganda purposes. The deaths and bloodletting in Mexico were the natural results oflaw enforcement leaders gone completely rogue.
For the planners of “Fast and Furious,” the free big-media ride ended a few days before Christmas 2010 in a lonely canyon in Arizona near the Mexican border, where Border Patrol agent Brian Terry—during a wee-hours beanbag versus 7.62×39 mm firefight—was gunned down. Two of the AK semi-automatics at the scene were the product of “Fast and Furious.”
The death of Terry, a family man and veteran, changed everything.
Were it not for Terry’s death, the operation doubtless would have continued unabated, with U.S. gun-control forces ghoulishly pointing to the ever-mounting body count south of the border to further their agenda.


White House answers Congress in Gunwalker

by Sharyl Attkisson

An administration official Congress wanted to interview before the end of the month may be unavailable. That's according to a new letter from a White House counsel to members of Congress investigating the ATF Fast and Furious "Gunwalker" scandal.
On September 9th, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) asked the White House to make former National Security Advisor Kevin O'Reilly available for an interview before the end of September to help "determine the extent of the involvement of White House staff in Operation Fast and Furious." 
Emails already obtained by Congress show O'Reilly communicated about gun trafficking efforts with then-Special Agent in Charge of ATF's Phoenix office William Newell as early as summer of 2010. In the email exchanges O'Reilly asked Newell if it was okay to share the information with other White House staffers. Congressional investigators are seeking all related communications.
The new letter from the President's counsel doesn't say O'Reilly can't be interviewed by Congressional investigators, but neither does it provide an availability date. Instead the letter states that
O'Reilly, who has moved from the White House to the State Department from where he was tasked, is "currently on a previously scheduled assignment to Iraq."
The members of Congress also asked for other documents and communications within the White House staff regarding Fast and Furious by September 23rd. No materials were provided, but the President's Attorney indicated some could be handed over by the end of this week.
In Operation Fast and Furious, ATF allegedly allowed thousands of weapons to "walk" onto the streets and into the hands of Mexico's drug cartels.
President Obama has said neither he nor Attorney General Eric Holder approved of or knew about any gunwalking. Further, a spokesman for the administration has said nobody in the White House knew of any gunwalking tactics.

Fast and Furious: Using Humans as Collateral Damage

by Katie Pavlich

Tucson, Ariz.-The Canyon Del Oro High School auditorium in Tucson, Ariz. was packed full of at least 500 people last night as anxious tea party members waited to hear from ATF whistleblower Vince Cefalu, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu and Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar about the Obama Justice Department’s Operation Fast and Furious. The theme of the night? Accountability.

“The only thing I have ever asked is to put all the cards on the table. Tell the truth,” ATF whistleblower Vince Cefalu said.

Cefalu was heavily involved in Operation Fast and Furious and has been an ATF agent for over 20 years. He has watched the bureau become a political entity rather than fulfilling its obligations as a law enforcement agency.

“We should not concern ourselves with any administration’s agenda,” Cefalu said. "It [Operation Fast and Furious] defies logic, common sense, it defies our core beliefs, our training and our experience as ATF agents.”

When Cefalu started speaking out against his superiors within ATF about the way Operation Fast and Furious was being conducted, putting high powered weapons into the hands of ruthless drug cartels and then losing track of them, he was approached within 24 hours and told to stop. He was also threatened and told if he didn’t shut his mouth, he would be relocated to North Dakota, a long way from where he had been working along the southern border with Mexico.

“To think that they could do this sort of operation knowing there could be a dead ATF agent at the ends of those guns made me nauseous,” he said.

Despite threats from his superiors, Cefalu blew the whistle about Operation Fast and Furious anyway, which has landed him under review for what he describes as “a proposal for removal for telling the truth.“

“Unchecked power corrupts,” he said, adding that there are no longer checks and balances within ATF.

In his speech, Cefalu made the larger argument that this is a major government corruption problem, not only surrounding Operation Fast and Furious, but about a runaway government that doesn't answer to the people, saying ATF agents and the Department of Justice shouldn’t be able to say no to Congress when asked for documentation surrounding operations within the Bureau. The Obama Justice Department has been stonewalling the House Oversight Committee in its investigation into Operation Fast and Furious since day one.

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, who is fighting on the ground in Arizona against the very cartels the federal government has been arming, was appalled at the operation, saying this scandal will “totally eclipse Watergate,” and made the case that Operation Fast and Furious was used as program to restrict Second Amendment rights for law abiding citizens. He brought up the lie that 90 percent of guns in Mexico come from the United States, told over and over again by President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder. The 90 percent figure has been proven false by multiple fact checking organizations, intelligence sources and even ATF agents yet, Obama and Holder have tried to make the case that all the violence in Mexico comes from the United States.

“He’s [Obama] saying that to build the argument to restrict our gun rights in America,” Babeu said, and internal ATF emails prove it.

Babeu was also disgusted at the idea that the government has never apologized to the family of Brian Terry, despite guns from Operation Fast and Furious being used by a cartel member to kill him.

“He was a cop, he was a marine and was murdered on American soil,” Babeu said.
“I want nothing out of this bit for justice to be served and for Brian Terry’s mama to know that somebody cared,” Cefalu said.  “You’ve sent that message tonight, that you cared.”

Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar described Operation Fast and Furious as “A Few Good Men being played out in real life,” adding that humans were used as collateral damage while the federal government armed Mexican cartel members with .50 caliber sniper rifles, a weapon strong enough to take down a helicopter, and AK-47s.

“I want to remind you, we had a couple of guys break into a hotel take down an administration, nobody died,” Gosar said. “When are we going to hold agencies and bureaucrats to task?”

Gosar, Babeu and Cefalu all called for accountability from the Obama Administration multiple times throughout the evening and questions from the audience were centered around who ultimately would be held responsible for not only the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, but also for the deaths of thousands of innocent Mexicans.
“These people are now being killed wholesale,” Cefalu said.
In the past 18 months, 22,000 Mexicans have been killed.

“President Obama is not above the law and he and this administration will have to account for this,” Babeu said.


U.S. Government Used Taxpayer Funds to Buy, Sell Weapons During 'Fast and Furious,' Documents Show


Not only did U.S. officials approve, allow and assist in the sale of more than 2,000 guns to the Sinaloa cartel -- the federal government used taxpayer money to buy semi-automatic weapons, sold them to criminals and then watched as the guns disappeared. 
This disclosure, revealed in documents obtained by Fox News, could undermine the Department of Justice's previous defense that Operation Fast and Furious was a "botched" operation where agents simply "lost track" of weapons as they were transferred from one illegal buyer to another. Instead, it heightens the culpability of the federal government as Mexico, according to sources, has opened two criminal investigations into the operation that flooded their country with illegal weapons. 
Operation Fast and Furious began in October 2009. In it, federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives encouraged gun stores to sell weapons to an arms smuggling gang, then watched as the guns crossed the border and were used in crimes. Each month, the agency allowed hundreds of guns to go South, despite opposition from some agents.
All told, the gang spent more than $1.25 million for the illegal guns. 
In June 2010, however, the ATF dramatically upped the ante, making the U.S. government the actual "seller" of guns. 
According to documents obtained by Fox News, Agent John Dodson was ordered to buy six semi-automatic Draco pistols -- two of those were purchased at the Lone Wolf gun store in Peoria, Ariz. An unusual sale, Dodson was sent to the store with a letter of approval from David Voth, an ATF group supervisor. 
Dodson then sold the weapons to known illegal buyers, while fellow agents watched from their cars nearby. 
This was not a "buy-bust" or a sting operation, where police sell to a buyer and then arrest them immediately afterward. In this case, agents were "ordered" to let the sale go through and follow the weapons to a stash house. 
According to sources directly involved in the case, Dodson felt strongly that the weapons should not be abandoned and the stash house should remain under 24-hour surveillance. However, Voth disagreed and ordered the surveillance team to return to the office. Dodson refused, and for six days in the desert heat kept the house under watch, defying direct orders from Voth. 
A week later, a second vehicle showed up to transfer the weapons. Dodson called for an interdiction team to move in, make the arrest and seize the weapons. Voth refused and the guns disappeared with no surveillance. 
According to a story posted Sunday on a website dedicated to covering Fast and Furious, Voth gave Dodson the assignment to "dirty him up," since Dodson had become the most vocal critic of the operation. 
"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," a source told the website "Sipsey Street Irregulars." 
Subsequent to this undercover operation, sources told Sipsey, "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 the confrontation, ATF managers transferred Dodson to a more menial job. Months later, after the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, Dodson blew the whistle and went public about the federal government's gunrunning operation.

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