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ATF finally admits to cover-up on StrawMan Gun Sales

Discussion in 'Politics' started by BTPost, Jun 17, 2011.

  1. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Exposed: The secret guns sting that backfired on the US
    America's firearms watchdog allowed weapons to flow in, failed to catch ringleaders, then tried a cover-up

    By Guy Adams Thursday, 16 June 2011

    Some of the thousands of military-grade modern weapons seized from the drug gangs.

    The lethal fallout from a botched operation by the US Department of Justice which allowed almost 2,000 illegally purchased firearms to be transported from the streets of Arizona to drug gangs in Mexico has been laid bare in a scathing Congressional report, which concludes that it resulted in countless deaths.

    A mixture of arrogance, over-confidence, and staggering ineptitude by the Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives [ATF] was outlined in a 51-page investigation by two Republican members of a House panel charged with getting to the bottom of what went wrong during a two-year operation called "Fast and Furious".

    It tells how, between 2009 and this year, the ATF instructed agents to turn a blind eye to hundreds of AK-47 assault rifles, sniper rifles, and revolvers purchased from gunshops in Phoenix and en route to Mexico. They hoped to eventually recover them from crime scenes and build a complex conspiracy case that might take down the leaders of a major drug cartel.

    In the event, the operation resulted in the arrest of a handful of small-time crooks. But it exacerbated an already-huge spike in violence on both sides of the border. Two of the guns allowed to "walk" into the hands of criminals were used in a shoot-out that killed a US border patrol agent, Brian Terry.

    The report describes his death as "a preventable tragedy", detailing how many of the ATF agents involved in Fast and Furious began to object to what they saw as the "reckless" nature of the operation, which conflicted with all known protocol and may turn out to have been illegal. But when they raised their concerns, they faced "punishment and retaliation" from their superiors.

    It also highlights the symbiotic nature of the deadly drug trade between the US and Mexico, which has resulted in approximately 38,000 deaths since 2007. Cartels make their money smuggling cocaine and cannabis north from Mexico, and simultaneously equip their private armies with assault weapons purchased thanks to America's notoriously relaxed gun laws.

    Fast and Furious revolved around so-called "straw" purchases of firearms, in which a buyer purchase military-grade hardware from a gun-store with the intention of illegally passing it to a criminal third party. ATF agents who track suspected straw purchases typically run intensive surveillance operations allowing them to arrest suspects and recover the guns. During the Fast and Furious operation they were instructed to simply let the weapons disappear.

    A record was kept of their serial numbers. The idea was that this would later allow agents to link individual weapons to particular crime scenes. Somehow, this was supposed to help the ATF build up a nuanced picture of the complex structure of a major drug cartel, which would in turn lead to high-level arrests. But it wasn't to be.

    "Both line agents and gun dealers who co-operated with the ATF repeatedly expressed concerns", about the operation, the report says. "But ATF supervisors did not heed those warnings. Instead, they told agents to follow orders because this was sanctioned from above."

    In total, agents watched at least 1,730 guns flood on to the black market, knowing they would be used to commit murders and other violent crimes. Their concerns about the policy were ignored. In one email to field staff printed in the report, ATF supervisor David Voth suggested that staff who objected to his orders would be fired.

    "I will be damned if this case is going to suffer due to petty arguing, rumours, or other adolescent behavior," he wrote. "We are all adults, we are all professionals, and we have an exciting opportunity to use the biggest tool in our law-enforcement tool box. If you don't think this is fun, you are in the wrong line of work, period!"

    John Dodson, a special agent from Phoenix who eventually blew the whistle on the "flawed" operation, told congressmen his superiors would be "giddy" with delight when "their" guns were found at a crime scene in Mexico, because they believed it "validated" their tactic. With regard to potential loss of life, an ATF boss told him: "if you are going to make an omelette, you need to scramble some eggs."

    On 14 December, disaster struck when the US border patrol guard, Brian Terry, was killed during a shootout with suspected illegal aliens on the Arizona border. His killers dropped their rifles to flee faster. Two of the weapons were AK-47s which had been intentionally allowed to walk during Fast and Furious.

    Rather than admit to any mistake, the ATF embarked on a cover-up. William Newell, the special agent in charge of the operation, ordered the arrest of 20 of the people agents had been watching buy weapons for months. Then, although not one senior cartel member was arrested, he held a press conference declaring the operation a success.

    Newell was then asked if any weapons had been deliberately allowed to end up in the hands of criminals. He replied, "Hell no!" The report describes that statement as untrue and "shocking." It alleges that the Department of Justice continued to attempt a cover-up for several months.

    The fallout from the report's publication remains to be seen. It was written by two Republican congressmen, Darryl Issa and Charles Grassley. Some right-wing commentators have suggested that Fast and Furious was sanctioned by the Obama administration in an effort to justify tightening US gun laws. But the White House has said it had no direct knowledge of the operation.


    It is my HOPE and Prayer, that Sen. Grassley hauls ALL the ATF BigShots up in front of a Senate committee, and roasts their collective Goodies, over a Giant Bonfire, and then forces any of these Supervisory Agents, to Resign without ANY Benefits. My Opinion.... YMMV....
    IceNiner, hank2222 and tacmotusn like this.
  2. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Yup, that's it in a nutshell. And this is only one of the few cases we know about.
    tacmotusn likes this.
  3. beast

    beast backwoodsman

    like he or anyone in gov would admit to such a thing
    even if they were caught on film doing it theyd lie
    Cephus likes this.
  4. BAT1

    BAT1 Cowboys know no fear

    They must grab our guns somehow. Armed citizens are in the way of their goals.
    By hook or by crook. I'll bet the school shootings could help their cause too.
    America needs to be out of the U.N. They can't fool us, and will never rule us.
    IceNiner likes this.
  5. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Heads are going to Roll, at ATF......

    Head of ATF Is Likely to Go

    By EVAN PEREZ And DEVLIN BARRETT Associated Press
    The Justice Department is expected to oust the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to people familiar with the matter, amid a troubled federal antitrafficking operation that has grown into the agency's biggest scandal in nearly two decades.

    Moves toward the replacement of Kenneth Melson, acting ATF director since April 2009, could begin next week, although the precise sequence of events remains to be decided, these people said.
    The shakeup shows the extent of the political damage caused by the gun-trafficking operation called Fast and Furious, which used tactics that allowed suspected smugglers to buy large numbers of firearms. Growing controversy over the program has paralyzed a long-beleaguered agency buffeted by partisan battles. The ATF has been without a Senate-confirmed director since 2006, with both the Bush and Obama administrations unable to overcome opposition from gun-rights groups to win approval of nominees.
    In November, President Barack Obama nominated Andrew Traver, the head of the ATF's Chicago office, as permanent ATF director. The nomination stalled in the Senate after the National Rifle Association said Mr. Traver had a "demonstrated hostility" to the rights of gun owners.
    Mr. Traver is set to travel to Washington on Tuesday to meet with Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney General James Cole, the people said. The administration is weighing whether to name Mr. Traver as acting director or choose another interim chief while awaiting Senate action on his nomination, they said.
    ATF spokesman Scot Thomasson said: "Acting Director Kenneth Melson continues to be focused on leading ATF in its efforts to reduce violent crime and to stem the flow of firearms to criminals and criminal organizations. We are not going to comment on any speculations."
    Mr. Melson is the most senior official so far implicated in a congressional probe of the Fast and Furious operation. The ATF Phoenix office ran the program in 2009-2010 to monitor weapons purchases by suspected gun smugglers. Agency officials hoped eventually to build a case against major arms smugglers serving Mexican drug cartels. The ATF has struggled to stanch the flow of U.S. weapons to Mexican drug gangs.
    At a House hearing this week, Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, disclosed internal documents showing that Mr. Melson was closely involved in managing Fast and Furious operation. One email among ATF officials described Mr. Melson's request for an Internet link to hidden cameras the ATF had planted in gun shops cooperating with the operation, Mr. Issa said, citing the documents. That allowed Mr. Melson to watch a live feed of suspected "straw buyers," who purchase firearms on behalf of others, buying AK-47-style rifles, he said.
    Mr. Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) are leading the congressional probe of Fast and Furious, which came to light after an Arizona shootout in December that killed a U.S. border agent. Two assault weapons bought in a gun shop that was part of the operation were found at the scene. The shooter and the gun used to kill the agent haven't been identified. A Mexican national is charged in the shootout.
    Republican lawmakers say the agency was "reckless" in running the program and should have known that at least some of the thousands of weapons would end up in Mexico or be used in crimes in the U.S.
    The office of the Justice Department's inspector general is investigating the matter.
    Fast and Furious has grown into the agency's worst crisis since the ATF's 1993 raid on a religious sect in Waco, Texas, which triggered a gunbattle that killed four ATF agents. The fallout from the raid and subsequent government assault on the sect's compound led to years of recriminations and investigations of the ATF.
    The Fast and Furious operation caused dissent in the ATF Phoenix office, according to three ATF agents who testified at a House hearing Wednesday. The agents said they battled supervisors who insisted on doing surveillance instead of arresting suspected straw buyers.
    Despite the Justice Department's internal probe, the hearing helped cement the view among top Justice Department officials that Mr. Melson needed to be moved out before pressure from lawmakers grew more intense, according to the people familiar with the matter.
    Ronald Weich, assistant attorney general for legislative affairs, testified at this week's hearing but gave few details of the program. Mr. Weich said that if the investigation found "flawed strategies" or "insufficient surveillance of weapons," the responsible officials would be held to account.
    The ATF is at the forefront of the government's efforts to stem the flow of what both the U.S. and Mexican governments say is a flood of U.S. arms to Mexican cartels. ATF agents say stopping that flow is often complicated by gun-owning traditions, particularly in border states, and laws that make it difficult to prosecute illegal weapons sales.
    Gun-rights groups, which dispute that the U.S. is a major source of firearms trafficked to Mexico, have criticized ATF attempts to increase regulation of gun purchases. At the same time, the Obama administration has been under pressure from big-city mayors and others who favor tighter restrictions.
    In a 2010 audit, the Justice Department inspector general criticized the ATF for pursuing too many small-buyer cases and not using its resources to find major gun traffickers.
    It's unclear how the current controversy will affect the administration's chances of winning Senate confirmation for Mr. Traver. Mr. Traver is a 24-year ATF veteran investigator and former Navy officer. As the head of the ATF office in Chicago, he made a priority of pursuing gang cases. In particular, he focused on pursuing street gangs that had spread from urban areas into the suburbs, according to people who have worked with him.
    Some ATF agents believe the scandal could help highlight how Congress's refusal to approve an ATF leader contributes to the agency's troubles.
    White House spokesman Jay Carney, in response to questions Friday, said, "I can tell you that, as the president has already said, he did not know about or authorize this operation."
    Write to Evan Perez at evan.perez@wsj.com and Devlin Barrett at devlin.barrett@wsj.com
    hank2222 likes this.
  6. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    Lets see...An Interim director was approved by the administration...
    Mr. Travers can't get congresional approval... so we further highlight the issues by placing the non selectee in as Acting/Interim director....

    well i guess that make sense.....:rolleyes:
  7. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

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