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US Justice Department pulls another bone-headed move

#1
Another example of our Justice Department (yes, the same one that among various faux pas due to its politicization contrary to the Constition handled the issue of civil trials in the US for terrorists at Gitmo and the one that dropped charges against the New Black Panther Party for blatant voter intimidation against whites coming to vote in the 2008 presidential election that put Him in office).

It is ironic that the code name for this completely botched operation was "Gunrunner."


Here is the background of this scandal:

February 23, 2011 6:54 PM

Gunrunning scandal uncovered at the ATF
By Sharyl Attkisson
.


(CBS News) WASHINGTON - Keeping American weapons from getting into the hands of Mexican gangs is the goal of a program called "Project Gunrunner." But critics say it's doing exactly the opposite. CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports on what she found.
December 14, 2010. The place: a dangerous smuggling route in Arizona not far from the border. A special tactical border squad was on patrol when gunfire broke out and agent Brian Terry was killed.
Kent, Brian's brother, said "he was my only brother. That was the only brother I had. I'm lost."
The assault rifles found at the murder were traced back to a U.S. gun shop. Where they came from and how they got there is a scandal so large, some insiders say it surpasses the shoot-out at Ruby Ridge and the deadly siege at Waco.
To understand why, it helps to know something about "Project Gunrunner" an operation run by the ATF the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Read the indictment
"Project Gunrunner" deployed new teams of agents to the southwest border. The idea: to stop the flow of weapons from the US to Mexico's drug cartels. But in practice, sources tell CBS News, ATF's actions had the opposite result: they allegedly facilitated the delivery of thousands of guns into criminal hands.
CBS News wanted to ask ATF officials about the case, but they wouldn't agree to an interview. We were able to speak to six veteran ATF agents and executives involved. They don't want to be quoted by name for fear of retaliation. These are their allegations.
In late 2009, ATF was alerted to suspicious buys at seven gun shops in the Phoenix area. Suspicious because the buyers paid cash, sometimes brought in paper bags. And they purchased classic "weapons of choice" used by Mexican drug traffickers - semi-automatic versions of military type rifles and pistols.
Sources tell CBS News several gun shops wanted to stop the questionable sales, but ATF encouraged them to continue.
Jaime Avila was one of the suspicious buyers. ATF put him in its suspect database in January of 2010. For the next year, ATF watched as Avila and other suspects bought huge quantities of weapons supposedly for "personal use." They included 575 AK-47 type semi-automatic rifles.
ATF managers allegedly made a controversial decision: allow most of the weapons on the streets. The idea, they said, was to gather intelligence and see where the guns ended up. Insiders say it's a dangerous tactic called letting the guns, "walk."
One agent called the strategy "insane." Another said: "We were fully aware the guns would probably be moved across the border to drug cartels where they could be used to kill."
On the phone, one Project Gunrunner source (who didn't want to be identified) told us just how many guns flooded the black market under ATF's watchful eye. "The numbers are over 2,500 on that case by the way. That's how many guns were sold - including some 50-calibers they let walk."
50-caliber weapons are fearsome. For months, ATF agents followed 50-caliber Barrett rifles and other guns believed headed for the Mexican border, but were ordered to let them go. One distraught agent was often overheard on ATF radios begging and pleading to be allowed to intercept transports. The answer: "Negative. Stand down."

CBS News has been told at least 11 ATF agents and senior managers voiced fierce opposition to the strategy. "It got ugly..." said one. There was "screaming and yelling" says another. A third warned: "this is crazy, somebody is gonna to get killed."
Sure enough, the weapons soon began surfacing at crime scenes in Mexico - dozens of them sources say - including shootouts with government officials.
One agent argued with a superior asking, "are you prepared to go to the funeral of a federal officer killed with one of these guns?" Another said every time there was a shooting near the border, "we would all hold our breath hoping it wasn't one of 'our' guns."
Then, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered. The serial numbers on the two assault rifles found at the scene matched two rifles ATF watched Jaime Avila buy in Phoenix nearly a year before. Officials won't answer whether the bullet that killed Terry came from one of those rifles. But the nightmare had come true: "walked" guns turned up at a federal agent's murder.
"You feel like s***. You feel for the parents," one ATF veteran told us.
Hours after Agent Terry was gunned down, ATF finally arrested Avila. They've since indicted 34 suspected gunrunners in the same group. But the indictment makes no mention of Terry's murder, and no one is charged in his death.
Kent Terry said of his brother, "He'd want them to tell the truth. That's one thing my brother didn't like was a liar. And that's what he'd want. He'd want the truth.
In a letter, the Justice Department which oversees ATF says the agency has never knowingly allowed the sale of assault weapons to suspected gunrunners.
Watch video here:
Agent: I was ordered to let U.S. guns into Mexico - CBS News

Here is the latest as of yesterday:

Issa, Grassley: DOJ Obstructed Mexican Guns Probe

Wednesday, July 6, 2011 01:20 PM


By: Martin Gould and Abigail Walls
The top man in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) has turned sensationally against his Department of Justice bosses saying they were trying to stymie an investigation into the Operation Fast and Furious scandal.


[TABLE="align: left"]
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[TD]Kenneth Melson told Congress in a secret deposition that the Justice Department falsely leaked stories to the press that he was about to resign over Fast and Furious, Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley say. (Associated Press Photo)[/TD]
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Kenneth Melson, acting director of the ATF, gave a secret deposition to Congress on July 4, it was revealed today. He took his own lawyer instead of relying on one from the ATF.

The stunning move will increase pressure on Attorney General Eric Holder to resign over the operation that saw some 2,000 guns sold to straw buyers who then sold them to Mexican drug cartel leaders.

But Fast and Furious and its sister plan, Project Gunrunner, went disastrously wrong, and 80 percent of the weapons went missing. Two were found at the Arizona site where Border Agent Brian Terry was killed in December.

Republicans leading the investigation in both the House and Senate wrote a stinging letter to Holder yesterday informing him of Melson’s move, calling it “extremely helpful to our investigation.”

Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley wrote, “He was candid in admitting mistakes that his agency made and described various ways he says that he tried to remedy the problems.”

Issa and Grassley said Melson claimed that ATF’s senior leadership would have preferred to be more cooperative with the congressional probe.

“However, he said that Justice Department officials directed them not to respond and took full control of replying to briefing and document requests from Congress. The result is that Congress only got the parts of the story that the Department wanted us to hear,” they wrote.

“If his account is accurate, then ATF leadership appears to have been effectively muzzled while the DoJ sent over false denials and buried its head in the sand.”

Issa and Grassley also said that Melson claimed that the Justice Department falsely leaked stories to the press that he was about to resign over Fast and Furious. They warned Holder against firing him now. “It would be inappropriate for the Justice Department to take action against him that could have the effect of intimidating others who might want to provide additional information to the Committees.

“Knowing what we know so far, we believe it would be inappropriate to make Mr. Melson the fall guy in an attempt to prevent further congressional oversight,” they concluded.

Just last week, Iowa Sen. Grassley told Newsmax.TV that he did not want to see Melson quit because one resignation would make it seem like the matter was over. “There are too many people involved in it for me to be satisfied with one resignation,” he said at the time.

In their letter Grassley and California’s Issa said Melson had been scheduled to give evidence on July 13 but brought the date forward when he realized he could take his own lawyer, Richard Cullen.

“We are disappointed that no one had previously informed him of that provision of the agreement,” the two GOP members wrote.

“Instead, Justice Department officials sought to limit and control his communications with Congress. This is yet another example of why direct communications with Congress are so important and are protected by law.”

The release of the letter came on the same day that Mexican officials said that any officer accused of supplying guns to the cartels should be tried in Mexico.

“I feel my country's sovereignty was violated," Sen. Rene Arce Islas, the chairman of Mexico's Commission for National Security, told Fox News. "They should be tried in the United States, and the Mexican government should also demand that they also be tried in Mexico since the incidents took place here. There should be trials in both places."

Operation Fast and Furious came to a head on Dec. 14, when Terry was killed in a scuffle along a smuggling route close to the Mexican border, and assault rifles found at the murder scene were traced back to Jaime Avila, who had bought them from a Phoenix gun shop.

Avila had been allowed to buy the assault weapons even though the ATF suspected he would sell them to the drug cartels. The plan was to trace the guns, with the hope of leading ATF agents to the drug kingpins.

Even before Terry’s murder, ATF agents and senior managers had expressed fierce opposition to the policy. One agent called the strategy "insane."

Another said, "We were fully aware the guns would probably be moved across the border to drug cartels where they could be used to kill."

For months, ATF agents followed 50-caliber Barrett rifles and other guns believed headed for the Mexican border but were ordered to let these highly dangerous weapons go.

CBS reports that one distraught agent often was overheard on ATF radios begging and pleading to be allowed to intercept transports. The answer: "Negative. Stand down."

The Department of Justice, which oversees the ATF, claimed in a letter that the agency never knowingly permitted the sale of assault weapons to suspected gunrunners.
In spite of this incredible screw up by the same government that assures us it can take care of our health, security and every other thing we need!!! Hah!
 

LancePrivateJones

MIA
Book Reviewer
#2
ATF seems to be getting a bad press at the moment JJH.

Didn't they balls up a huge Hells Angels sting in Arizona a while ago?
Pretty much a water tight case ruined by bad management techniques resulting in most of the perps getting low sentences or nothing at all IIRC.
 
#6
ATF seems to be getting a bad press at the moment JJH.

Didn't they balls up a huge Hells Angels sting in Arizona a while ago?
Pretty much a water tight case ruined by bad management techniques resulting in most of the perps getting low sentences or nothing at all IIRC.
Their screw ups are legion but in this case they were pushing back on a ill-conceived op and the Justice Department for political reasons intervened and now curiously denies any involvement. I hasten to add I am no fan of the ATFE in general, although I rarely criticize serving law enforcement officers except in individual cases where they deserve it. My displeasure is mainly that the ATFE has been hijacked by superior ideologues over the last 25 years or so (both parties by the way although taken to a new level by the current administration both to placate the gun-control part of the base of voters and some of our current Masters are also anti-gun ideologues since control of the people is a fundamental tenet of progressivism).

My personal beef with the ATFE is at the policy level where they have turned their raison d'etre on its head in terms of how law-abiding owners of firearms are concerned. Originally, their remit in this regard was to foster gun ownership for law-abiding citizens in keeping with the Second Amendment but due to the pressure from above the approach of the ATFE is now to put every impediment (ridiculous paperwork, frequent "raids" on owners of large numbers of firearms just because the have so many and then pick through every slip of paper to see if an "i" is not dotted or a "t" crossed. It is even worse for those of us who deign to have automatic weapons and suppressors. (to my knowledge there has only been one instance of a crime being committed or a fatal injury due to negligent or unsafe discharge by a duly licensed owner of such weapons).
 
#7
Well a few less tooled up crazies in the world can only be a good thing :)
Let's just say it was not the ATF's finest hour and shows the problems that can occur with the trend over the last 25 years to militarize law enforcement that regrettably too often means heavily armed officers who are often not sufficiently vetted or trained to perform such missions and are driven to excessive force by the excitement of the op itself and the fact they are so highly tooled up when compared to their handgun-carrying counterparts on the beat.
 

LancePrivateJones

MIA
Book Reviewer
#8
Their screw ups are legion but in this case they were pushing back on a ill-conceived op and the Justice Department for political reasons intervened and now curiously denies any involvement. I hasten to add I am no fan of the ATFE in general, although I rarely criticize serving law enforcement officers except in individual cases where they deserve it. My displeasure is mainly that the ATFE has been hijacked by superior ideologues over the last 25 years or so (both parties by the way although taken to a new level by the current administration both to placate the gun-control part of the base of voters and some of our current Masters are also anti-gun ideologues since control of the people is a fundamental tenet of progressivism).

My personal beef with the ATFE is at the policy level where they have turned their raison d'etre on its head in terms of how law-abiding owners of firearms are concerned. Originally, their remit in this regard was to foster gun ownership for law-abiding citizens in keeping with the Second Amendment but due to the pressure from above the approach of the ATFE is now to put every impediment (ridiculous paperwork, frequent "raids" on owners of large numbers of firearms just because the have so many and then pick through every slip of paper to see if an "i" is not dotted or a "t" crossed. It is even worse for those of us who deign to have automatic weapons and suppressors. (to my knowledge there has only been one instance of a crime being committed or a fatal injury due to negligent or unsafe discharge by a duly licensed owner of such weapons).
This pretty much confirms what I have heard and read about bad and contrary management in what should be a respected organisation.

Thanks for clarification.
 
#9
Oh god no, if you ever saw the video of their raid....

One agent slipped on the ladder and put 3 rounds though his foot from his MP5. Another wounded a fellow agent in a shootout on the 2nd flr, his rounds going through the wall and hitting agents outside on the roof.

Goatfuck, Clusterfuck, Circle Jerk, but success?

IIRC ATF hasnt had a permanent director appointed by Obama Yet.
 
#10
In my corner of the US the BATF agents I have dealt with are good competent guys (and gals). Problems arise when they are engaged in active criminal investigations in conjunction with local officers and get pulled off to go visit licensed gunsmiths and dealers to make sure all those damned "i"'s and "t"s are dotted and crossed. That said, their accelerant sniffer dogs, usually Labs, are top shelf working dogs. Sometimes hard to get themm to come out as the handler is busy reviewing inventory and paperwork at a shop but...Agents are OK but the political pressure from above makes it hard for them.
 
#11
Well a few less tooled up crazies in the world can only be a good thing :)
That may be, yet every time the local sheriff took Koresh in he merely knocked on the door and the man went quietly.

ATF claimed Drug Manufacturing going on which got them Texas National Guard Hueys for support. Governor Ann richards said they would never again get anything from Texas for lying about that. The Grenades were part of a semi humorous "Complaint department-Take a Number" plaques the group made and sold. It turned out they had no Illegal automatic weapons either.

Most of the reasons for ATF involvment turned out to be lies by ATF agents.

Now the religious nutter part made them deserve to die? If so why havent we incinerated Farrakhan and Nation of Islam?

The only complaint that may have been justified was child abuse, but since the feds burned everyone to death by pumping CS diluted with Acetone into the building, we'll never know for sure.

24 British Nationals among the 8o who died during the second breach.

All in all not a proud day for Law enforcement or the country
 
#12
That may be, yet every time the local sheriff took Koresh in he merely knocked on the door and the man went quietly.

ATF claimed Drug Manufacturing going on which got them Texas National Guard Hueys for support. Governor Ann richards said they would never again get anything from Texas for lying about that. The Grenades were part of a semi humorous "Complaint department-Take a Number" plaques the group made and sold. It turned out they had no Illegal automatic weapons either.

Most of the reasons for ATF involvment turned out to be lies by ATF agents.

Now the religious nutter part made them deserve to die? If so why havent we incinerated Farrakhan and Nation of Islam?

The only complaint that may have been justified was child abuse, but since the feds burned everyone to death by pumping CS diluted with Acetone into the building, we'll never know for sure.

24 British Nationals among the 8o who died during the second breach.

All in all not a proud day for Law enforcement or the country
Apologies if my last offended was just an off the cuff crack in poor taste. Koresh was as mad as a box of frogs and a good number of his followers were as well in all likelihood and to be honest I won't have been comfortable with them having any weapons but the raid was a cluster**** and very few people deserve to die like that.
 
#13
Apologies if my last offended was just an off the cuff crack in poor taste. Koresh was as mad as a box of frogs and a good number of his followers were as well in all likelihood and to be honest I won't have been comfortable with them having any weapons but the raid was a cluster**** and very few people deserve to die like that.
I apolgise to JJH as I feel that my post about Waco has dragged the topic off course.

But just one more thing (with apologies to the late great Lt Columbo) ;

When I saw the attack on Waco I thought the National Guard or even the Regulars had gone in.
Tanks and all sorts seemed to be there and I was distinctly unimpressed, a little heavy handed I thought at the time.
WTF rather than ATF came to my mind anyway.

I did get the impression that ATF were trying to 'sex up' their image and I don't think that turf wars are unknown between the various Federal Agencies. I wonder if the ATF were 'showing off' and it just went out of control.
 
#14
In my corner of the US the BATF agents I have dealt with are good competent guys (and gals). Problems arise when they are engaged in active criminal investigations in conjunction with local officers and get pulled off to go visit licensed gunsmiths and dealers to make sure all those damned "i"'s and "t"s are dotted and crossed. That said, their accelerant sniffer dogs, usually Labs, are top shelf working dogs. Sometimes hard to get themm to come out as the handler is busy reviewing inventory and paperwork at a shop but...Agents are OK but the political pressure from above makes it hard for them.
Agreed--rarely have any problem with the actual agents on the pointy end of things. The problems are bureaucratic and political. I have 2 friends who are or were ATFE (one now with Secret Service) who expressed massive frustration at the mid-level administrators (not one of whom had been on the street and appeared to be largely affirmative action hires) and the political level that drove most of the policies and too many of their missions.
 
#15
I apolgise to JJH as I feel that my post about Waco has dragged the topic off course.

But just one more thing (with apologies to the late great Lt Columbo) ;

When I saw the attack on Waco I thought the National Guard or even the Regulars had gone in.
Tanks and all sorts seemed to be there and I was distinctly unimpressed, a little heavy handed I thought at the time.
WTF rather than ATF came to my mind anyway.

I did get them impression that ATF were trying to 'sex up' their image and I don't think that turf wars are unknown between the various Federal Agencies. I wonder if the ATF were 'showing off' and it just went out of control.
NO need for apologies old man.

It bears mentioning that we have strict laws about the use of regular military forces or equipment for civil law enforcement purposes (short of a major collapse of order) because of our concern, embedded at several points in our Constitution about regular military interference with civil matters and the danger to freedom that represents. Indeed, as I teach my students, it is no coincidence that the vast majority of major regular military installations (and all of those where operational combat troops are garrisoned) are out in the hinterlands (or were until development reached them as at Camp Pendleton).

If any of you have ever been to Fort Bragg (home of the paras and Army special forces) or Camp Lejeune/Cherry Point (home of the 2d Marine Division, MARSOC and the 2d Marine Air Wing) you can relate to this phenomenon as Fayetteville NC and Jacksonville/Havelock NC are not what one would consider major cities (understatement). Also, when I ask them if they have ever traveled internationally and seen more military presence, even including formations of fully armed troops marching down major city streets in the middle of the day (and not part of a parade) and not just in 3rd world dictatorships but even in several capitals of western Europe.

Without exception they say yes and I then ask them when they have ever seen that in the US. The answer is never (except in major civil unrest where proper authorization has been issued by the President). At most you might see a military convoy traveling down our interstate highways (like your M roads) and that is ALWAYS an attention -getter for the other motorists since it is so uncommon to see military forces anywhere in the US. While most Americans respect our military (in some manner--mostly very lackadaisically), we as a people also fear what it can do if unleashed domestically.
 
#17
Apologies if my last offended was just an off the cuff crack in poor taste. Koresh was as mad as a box of frogs and a good number of his followers were as well in all likelihood and to be honest I won't have been comfortable with them having any weapons but the raid was a cluster**** and very few people deserve to die like that.
No offence taken at all. It was a tragedy, theo whole raid was designed to save the children, yet wound up killing them all. His religious beliefs I personally believe to be bizarre, but hadnt seen any reason he was considered more dangerous than Louis Farrakhans Nation of Islam, or many other sects such as the Ultra-Orthodox Lubavitcher Jews of Brooklyn. IMO the raid was staged primarily for eye wash for the congress as the ATF Budget was coming up for review and the media ATF loves to hate for the raid was Invited by ATF to film the raid. Footage of a successful raid would have loosened Congressional purse strings, so Koresh was chosen.

The Davidians up to the moment of the raids execution hadn't violated any Gun Laws, State or Federal. Every ATF allegation of Illegality turned out to be untruthful at best.

they purchased AR-15 lower recievers- so an ATF agent said they MIGHT be converting them to full auto. For one it turned out none of them were converted, and they also ran a gun store in town called the mag bag. One of them was a Federal Firearms Licencee.

either way, Agents and Innocents died for nothing.
 
#19
Should Ruby Ridge be mentioned in this context? Or not?
Another case of stupidity, but all comes down to Randy Weaver not showing up for sentencing, so a warrant was issued.

He had been entrapped into making a sawed off shotgun for an ATF agent initially. A Barking dog spotting marshalls started the shooting


The true sad thing is in the gunrunner situation a US Border Patrolman has been murdered with one of these guns, numerous Mexican civilians and Law Enforcement murdered and a Helo brought down due to absolute incompetance on ATF's part.

That Eric Holder the Chief LEO wont cooperate with congress on this should be enough to force him to step down as he is a shitbag at his job. You cant blame Obama since the ATF problems go back decades to a time when hippies roamed the earth. It needs to be thoroughly investigated and responsible person put in place as director, or disband the agency and assign its brief to another agency.
 
#20
No offence taken at all. It was a tragedy, theo whole raid was designed to save the children, yet wound up killing them all. His religious beliefs I personally believe to be bizarre, but hadnt seen any reason he was considered more dangerous than Louis Farrakhans Nation of Islam, or many other sects such as the Ultra-Orthodox Lubavitcher Jews of Brooklyn. IMO the raid was staged primarily for eye wash for the congress as the ATF Budget was coming up for review and the media ATF loves to hate for the raid was Invited by ATF to film the raid. Footage of a successful raid would have loosened Congressional purse strings, so Koresh was chosen.

The Davidians up to the moment of the raids execution hadn't violated any Gun Laws, State or Federal. Every ATF allegation of Illegality turned out to be untruthful at best.

they purchased AR-15 lower recievers- so an ATF agent said they MIGHT be converting them to full auto. For one it turned out none of them were converted, and they also ran a gun store in town called the mag bag. One of them was a Federal Firearms Licencee.

either way, Agents and Innocents died for nothing.
I also recall some evidence that Janet Reno the Attorney General wanted to "win her spurs" and show she was decisive.
 

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