ATF Death Watch 73: Phoenix U.S. Attorney’s Office Implodes Over Gunwalker

 

“Federal prosecutors from Los Angeles and San Diego will take over cases arising from a flawed law enforcement operation in Arizona that is being investigated by Congress and the inspector general’s office at the Justice Department,” the AP reports. “The change comes at the request of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix, which was deeply involved with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in carrying out Operation Fast and Furious, the program aimed at taking down major arms traffickers.” Or not. . . .

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said the decision to switch prosecutors is clearly in the best interest of achieving just results and removes the apparent conflict of interest that Arizona prosecutors had in bringing cases from a mishandled operation.

This action signals a complete loss of confidence by the White House in the credibility of the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s office.

Remember way back in June, when former BATFE supervisor Peter Forcelli testified before Congress that he couldn’t beg, bribe or blackmail Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke into arresting the actual straw purchasers that were hauling hundreds of guns to Mexico? Burke’s complacency—or complicity—in the straw purchases would have been (and probably still is) a major issue for the defense attorneys in these criminal cases to parade before the jury.

When playing ‘follow the guns’ (the drug cartel version of Watergate’s ‘follow the money’) for the benefit of the Twelve Angry Men And Women of the jury, the defense attorneys would have made hay while the sun shined and done their best to summon members of the prosecution team as fact witnesses on the question of how these guns ended up where they did.

The defense attorneys may still try and subpoena the former members of the Phoenix U.S. Attorney’s Office. But at least (from the prosecution’s side of the field) they’ll be former, not current, members of the prosecution team.

If and when former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke and his minion Emory Hurley take the Fifth and refuse to testify,  the new prosecutors might be inclined to throw them under the bus. This, at least, removes the ‘apparent conflict of interest’ that Rep. Issa is referring to: the inability of Burke, Hurley et al to diligently investigate the Gunwalker scandal because they were up to their eyeballs in it.

Many of the defendants still will argue that they were entrapped into breaking the law by scheming Federal agents with Ulterior Motives and Hidden Agendas. If those agents’ testimony, and those of the disgraced former U.S. Attorneys, lead the jurors to suspect that Uncle Sam was intentionally using the defendants as pawns to arm a ruthless Mexican drug gang, acquittals may result.

By outsourcing the prosecution of these cases, the White House is trying to bring some fresh and untainted talent into the game.

Will the newly assigned prosecutors really take up the challenge and investigate all the violations of U.S. law that occurred around Project Fast & Furious? Will they follow through with their investigation, wherever the leads and evidence take them? We can only hope so, dim though that hope may be.

Fiat justitia ruat caelum.  Let the heavens fall: agent Terry’s memory demands it.

21 Responses to ATF Death Watch 73: Phoenix U.S. Attorney’s Office Implodes Over Gunwalker

  1. avatarRalph says:

    So the Feds are going to investigate the Feds? I’ve seen this movie before. Wake me when it’s over.

  2. avatarM. Simon says:

    So where is your criticism of Drug Prohibition ? The foundation of this mess.

    And assuming you are a Constitutionalist:

    I never noticed a Prohibition Amendment. Except for Alcohol.

    • avatarChris Dumm says:

      We all have opinions (hopefully, informed ones) about many issues. I try to save my personal opinions about The Cheesecake Factory (sucks), Pat’s King Of Steaks in Philadelphia (OMFG delicious) and the liberalization of most drug laws (just say yes) for other fora than The Truth About Guns.

      When RF wants to blog The Truth About Cheesecakes, The Truth About Cheesesteaks, or The Truth About Drug Policy, I’ll probably write for him there too.

    • avatarSteveP says:

      The war on drugs has been more destructive to America than the drugs. Not everyone who advocates ending it is a druggie.
      What worries me is people who are incapable of understanding the creation of a police state when they see it.

  3. avatarAgoraphobic Plumber says:

    I’m more optimistic about this. It’s the closest thing to honest government I’ve seen out of the Obama administration, even given that they were basically forced into it. If things tip JUST the right way, Holder is in deep shit.

  4. avatarRon Norman says:

    Any time you have a felony and a homicide occurs during the commission of the crime, everyone who had prior knowledge are complicit in murder, this is a little more serious than gun running. All of those agencies, agents, who put this felonious operation together, that thought up the idea to sell guns to Mexican and Honduran Gangsters are complicit in the murder of over 150 Police Officers in Mexico and the United States and thats not counting the thousands of civilians that have been murdered. Who wrote the money bill that got slipped into the Stimulus Bill to fund this murderous conspiracy, they bought into planned conspiracy also, who were they??

  5. avatarankle says:

    Since the Fast and Furious story first broke, we’ve discovered Florida and now Indiana were also in on the plot. I’m not terribly confident San Diego, Los Angeles, and basically everywhere else isn’t equally tainted; we just don’t know about it yet.

  6. avatarwillem says:

    Do we not understand who Dennis Burke really is? … why HE was chosen to be in put in the middle of this?

    “Burke was born in Chicago … (on) September 16, 2009, … was sworn in as the United States Attorney for the District of Arizona … recently appointed to serve on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee (AGAC) which advises the Attorney General on policy, management, and operational issues at the Department of Justice … selected to be the Chair of the AGAC Subcommittee on Border and Immigration Law Enforcement … 20 years of public service at both the Federal and State levels. Burke was most recently a Senior Advisor to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. He served as Chief of Staff to Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano from 2003 to 2008. Prior to that position, he worked in the Arizona Attorney General’s Office as the Chief Deputy Attorney General … a former Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Arizona … the Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs at the United States Department of Justice … Senior Policy Analyst for the White House Domestic Policy Council during the Clinton Administration … Majority Counsel for the United States Senate Judiciary Committee …” (wiki)

    Sometime in the latter half of 2011, it appears the carefully groomed and consummate Obama/Napolitano/Clinton insider has been frantically thrown under the bus somewhere between Sedona, Nogales, Hyde Park and Foggy Bottom.

    Burke is no cowboy. He is no fool. A gambler might bet Burke was ordered by the most highly-positioned and powerful administration elites to betray his professional duty to the law … or else.

    And, as is common with the crowd Burke threw in with, “or else” seems to have happened anyway.

    At least he didn’t turn out like Vince Foster, Ron Brown or Donald Young.

    What you wanna bet Burke can sing better than Buble.

  7. avatarSardondi says:

    Having been a career federal prosecutor I necessarily gained a working knowledge of the traditional way in which the mucks at “Main Justice” (DOJ), composed of Attorney General Holder, and the politically appointed do-boys and -girls with whom he has surrounded himself at the highest levles, handle scandals like Fast and Furious. What removing the Gunwalker cases from the US Attorney’s Office in Arizona means is that the US Attorney there will be the next sacrifice.

    I suppose it’s no secret that in most gov’t bureaucracies the Prime Directive is “cover the big guy’s ass”. Every administrative act taken to this point by DOJ and/or ATF has been to limit the damage at the lowest level possible. First was to can the street-agent whistelblowers; then their supervisors; then their supervisors; then finally “Acting” ATF chief Kenneth Melson took one to cover Holder. Rest assured there were promises to Melson of future career enhancement if he kept a stoic silence about what Holder and the White House knew, and who ordered the op in the first place. Time will tell if he bites.

    What the latest move means is that US Attorney Office prosecutors in Arizona are being positioned for not just career-ending hits, which have already occurred for the most part, but very possibly for future criminal prosecutions.

    AG Holder is now running scared. He sees that Cong. Issa isn’t going to be satisfied with a couple of firings, but is going to keep on until he uncovers the whole putrid conspiracy. It is painfully apparent that not only did Holder know, but that so did President Obama. Indeed, it is just as obvious that the impetus behind the whole Fast and Furious/Gunwalker plans came from the White House itself …and Obama’s and Rahm Emanuel’s fingerprints are all over it. It will turn out that this was how they planned to finally impose federal gun registration and the virtual destruction of the 2d Amendment.

    The Fast and Furious scandal is going to turn out to be the massive scandal of gross abuse of presidential power and criminal behavior in the White House that liberals have so desperately (and unsuccessfully) tried for almost 40 years to convince us Watergate was.

    • avatarwillem says:

      Yes. It’s truly awful on so many levels. Ruined careers. Betrayals. Murders. Craven duplicity. It’s as if Obama and Hillary at State have launched a clandestine border war against the nation of Mexico by covertly arming criminal syndicates and insurrectionist forces across the northern states of our southern neighbor. It does seem they intended this to result in a murderous crisis that would resolve with the “neutralization” of the 2nd Amendment. If such malice were to be uncovered, I would think the result is sufficiently heinous to raise serious questions of sedition regarding the behavior and role of the major players surrounding Obama, if not FLOTUS herself. There’s sepsis in the cloister. Arguably, they brought the infection from Chicago.

      A bit stranger twist is added by rumblings that SSRIs may encourage the proclivity for conflict avoidance as a side effect that renders the user unfit for trusteeship; i.e., that trustee duty and dependents are readily betrayed to prevent or otherwise avoid conflict. The rationalizations incumbent in such induced, promiscuous conflict avoidance “rationally” lead to magical thinking, which is self-reinforcing — corrective logic is perceived as conflict whose avoidance serves the ultimate good.

      Bizarre to think that stress, medication and health side-effects could result in warped government. But aren’t such states of warpage the very type of “misdemeanors” the drafters of the Constitution has in mind?

      If prescribed SSRI use is indeed “popcorn” common inside the beltway, that might explain much about the quality of Congressional and federal policy thinking and results that have been dominating The Hill since this technology hit the medicine cabinets of America. If the rumblings are real, this “failed trustee” side effect has troubling implications for human government, and the sanctity of individual rights, mutualism and equal protection under the law.

    • avatarAn Observation says:

      One of the most interesting points made in these comments is the felony murder aspect of the Fast and Furious operation. It seems to me that if we are not going to have government by gangsters that the threat of a felony murder charge is the only way to prevent it.

      I realize that people die as a result of government action every day, and that no one would ever make a decision if they thought that they could be held liable for those decisions; however there is a difference between a criminal conspiracy and normal government actions.

      As a former federal prosecutor I would like to hear your opinion on the possible criminal liability of people at the DOJ and at the White House. Is felony murder on the table or not?

      • avatarSardondi says:

        Might the “felony murder” doctrine be applied to any persons in the Executive Branch who conceived, ordered and implemented Operation F&F/Gunwalker? As you may have expected, the only answer that can be given is, “it depends”, because the felony murder rule is kind of mushy and very fact-dependent. Best guess is no, for several legal reasons, the initial one being statutory immunity for acts done in the execution and regular course of one’s duties of office.

        In general the felony murder rule makes any participant in a violent felony criminally liable for any deaths (this can include an accidental or unintentional death) which occur during or as a result of the commission of the crime. Example: 2 guys rob a bank; one stays outside with the car; the other goes inside where, just to frighten folks, he shoots a pistol into the ceiling where it ricochets off a light fixture, out a window and hits a passing motorist in the head, killing her. The guy inside might have been guilty of nothing more than a misdemeanor charge of criminally negligent homicide but for the fact that he was engaged in the commission of the violent felony of bank robbery at the time. The felony murder rule makes the shooter, as well as the accomplice waiting in the car, guilty of non-capital murder. And yes, technically the rule would allow a murder charge against the person who supplied the gun to the robber if he had a pretty good idea it would be used in criminal activity.

        But the rule requires there be a a fairly close connection between the person charged and the crime itself. While in my example it’s possible the gun supplier could be charged, in F&F, even assuming there is no immunity for official acts, there is such a distance in time, place, people and acts that I cannot see how the felony murder rule could be applied. This doesn’t address the practical problem of how evidence of who was responsible, such as who said what, would be obtained.Then there’s the practical problem of who will start a criminal investigation. No US law enforcement agency will. And I don’t see Congress appointing a Special Prosecutor.

        Now, if we change the question to whether those who came up with and pushed this plan should be morally responsible for any deaths which ultimately occurred because of their decisions and acts, the answer is, “You damn betcha”.

        A moral person just could not be associated with F&F without ultimately taking some action to indicate his or her disapproval and disassociation. Any moral person who was a proponent of permitting hundreds of pistols and “assault weapons” (as the left has attempted to mis-define semi-auto versions of combat long arms) to go directly into the hands of the Mexican drug cartels, which were then engaged in an extremely violent war not only among themselves but with US Border Patrol and Immigration officers and DEA agents on US territory, would be weighed down with the crushing guilt of his/her responsibility in the deaths of scores of not only cartel thugs but also Mexican as well as US law enforcement agents and even innocent bystanders. No moral person, no person with honor and integrity, no person of conscience, could possibly have endured the guilt of participating in bringing this evil program into existence. An honorable man or woman would, at a minimum, have argued against the program on moral, not political grounds. Conscience would have forced them to blow the whistle on this politically motivated program, which at heart was an unconstitutional attack on the 2d Amendment and which obviously was going to directly result in multiple deaths. Indeed, a person of integrity would be hard-pressed not to resign once he or she saw what the deadly harvest of this operation was. And I haven’t noticed any resignation of any hgh White House or DOJ figures in protest of F&F.

        So how could a moral person have come up with F&F in the first place? How could anyone with any integrity push for it to be implemented, or have acted as overseer of the ATF agents involved to make sure they were going along with the plan? Well, those questions suggest their own answers: there was no moral person who wanted this program put in place. Not a single person in the Obama White House or the Holder Department of Justice who was involved in the birth and life of F&F, even at the very highest levels, could have had a shred of integrity.

        As outrageous as are all the deaths by these guns, it is even more distressing that there was apparently not one decent, honorable person, not one man or woman of integrity and conscience, in any position of significant power or influence in the Obama White House, the Holder DOJ or ATF. I believe history will ultimately record this Administration as one of the most morally and intellectually corrupt in US history. God help us; and please let us make it to January 20, 2013 without losing what little remains of the America that George Bush handed over to Barack Obama.

  8. avatarTTACer says:

    ,em>When playing ‘follow the guns’ (the drug cartel version of Watergate’s ‘follow the money’)

    Funny thing about “Water”-gate (i.e. the only real “-gate”) I can’t help but notice that no-one was murdered in the whole operation… DUH!DUH! DUHHHH!

    But seriously though, those people killed Brian Terry and the best the MSM can say is that an FnF weapon was “recovered” at the scene of the crime? Really? WTF happened to “microstamping” or that CSI bullshit about the marks on the bullet they recovered in fantasy land?

  9. avatarwillem says:

    Another FnF/Gunwalker weapon??

    http://www.rgj.com/article/20110906/NEWS01/110906010/Report-seven-shot-inside-Carson-City-IHOP?odyssey=mod|breaking|text|FRONTPAGE

    “Carrying an assault weapon and reloading at least once, a gunman walked into a Carson City IHOP restaurant Tuesday morning and opened fire, killing four — three National Guardsmen and a woman — and wounding seven others before spraying bullets at neighboring businesses then shooting himself. The gunman, Eduardo Sencion, 32, later died of the self-inflicted wound to the head.”

  10. avatartheBuckWheat says:

    “…It will turn out that this was how they planned to finally impose federal gun registration and the virtual destruction of the 2d Amendment. …”

    Felony and murder, complicit in murder. Check. But what of a policy directed at constructing a political excuse to moot one of the Bill of Rights? If John Ashcroft had done this at Bush’s direction, how would the left have reacted?

  11. avatarRichard Aubrey says:

    Are there many canals in the Southwest? Because somebody’s going to commit suicide by shooting himself in the back of the head three times and jumping into a canal. And somebody else is going to commit suicide by slammng a giant economy size bottle of Bayer aspirin.

  12. avatarJRM says:

    This leaked wikileaks cable sets the background for the Fast and Furious operation. It also implies that the US cooperated with the Mexicans in trying to track guns and that this cooperation was at the highest level.

    http://www.wikileaks.org/cable/2009/10/09MEXICO3114.html

  13. avatarwillis says:

    “At least he didn’t turn out like Vince Foster, Ron Brown or Donald Young.”

    Patience, the night is still young.

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