ATF Death Watch 55: River o’ Denial.

Brian Terry

I love one-liners. One of my favorites: “You should call her ‘Cleopatra’…Queen of Denial.” But there’s nothing funny about the latest outrage in the fallout/blowback from the ATF’s “River o’ Guns” FUBARfest that is the Fast n’ Furious/Gunwalker/SNAFU. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona as opposed a routine motion that would allow the family of murdered U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry to speak during the sentencing phase of the trial for those accused of his murder. I can hear the wagons circling from here. (Or is that the buzzards?)

Terry’s family requested “Victim Status” in the trial of 23-year-old Jamie Avilia, the Phoenix man accused of being the straw purchaser of the gun that ended up in the hands of the Mexican drug cartel members who killed Terry. Victim Status gives the victim’s survivors the legal right to speak in court, prior to sentencing. This gives them one last shot at swaying the jury or judge, providing an emotional picture of their loved-one’s death effects them.

While getting Victim Status is not an automatic thing, it’s routinely awarded to families of the victim, so they can have their day in court. It’s also routinely opposed by defendants’ lawyers, as they are fully-aware at how damaging and damning that emotional testimony can be.

Only there won’t be any testimony in this trial, because the U.S. Attorney’s Office has claimed that the Terry family was “not directly or proximately harmed” by the gun purchases. U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke also stated that it was “society in general” and not an individual that was harmed by Avilia’s “alleged” purchase of firearms.

Just to be clear, this is the same U.S. Attorney’s Office that oversaw Operation Fast and Furious, acting as liaison between the AG and the ATF. Can you say “conflict of interest”? I knew you could. 

The court has not yet ruled on the Terry family’s motion, nor the U.S. Attorney’s motion to deny them their day in court. I’ve wracked my brain, but I can’t see an angle in the U.S. Attorney’s office that screams anything but “C.Y.A.” If you’ve been paying attention to our coverage of the ATF, you’d know that this scandal touches not only the ATF, but the Attorney General, the U.S. Attorney’s office, the FBI, the State Department, U.S. Border Patrol, the CIA, and quite possibly the Oval Office, so there’s plenty of blame to go around.

It seems as though our friends at the U.S. Attorney’s office have decided that self-preservation is more important than justice, when it comes to The Mother Of All Overreaching Screw-Ups.