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.