ATF Death Watch 107: How Many Guns?

 

I find it astounding that the Congressional Oversight Committee and the Justice Department are in a pissing match over a single firearm. Representative Issa’s investigators have every reason to believe there were at least three ATF-enabled firearms at the murder scene of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Their opinion is based, in part, on a recorded conversation between the owner of Badger Guns and an ATF Agent wherein the Agent said “There were actually three weapons [recovered].” As today’s letter from Issa and Senator Grassley to the FBI reveals, it’s possible there were as many as five guns involved. And yet the Justice Department decided to make the number of ATF-enabled murder weapons an issue—accusing Issa of political pandering while continuing to claim that the FBI only found two Fast and Furious-related firearms at the scene. Ah yes, the FBI . . .

The FBI is a completely unreliable source of information; the Bureau stands accused of covering-up the exact details surrounding Agent’s Terry’s murder. At the very least, the Bureau is stonewalling on behalf of the Attorney General by refusing to turn over key documents requested by the Oversight Committee. More likely they’re desperately attempting to conceal their own role in the ATF’s “Guns for Goons” program.

We know that the Federal Bureau of Investigation manipulated their NICS criminal background check system to allow ATF-favored felons to [illegally] purchase firearms from ATF-monitored U.S. gun dealers. Note: that’s not the kind of move an FBI Agent at the sharp end could or would make without authorization from the Bureau’s top officials.

Those FBI “higher ups” would not have agreed to pervert NICS without speaking to the ATF’s top officials. And those ATF officials would have had to have informed the FBI brass WTF they were doing to receive the FBI’s cooperation. Unless . . . someone even higher up in the food chain told the FBI to STFU and push the buttons that let ex-cons carry guns to Sinaloa drug cartel members.

Be that as it may, the FBI was up to its eyeballs in Operation Fast and Furious before Agent Terry was murdered by drug thugs wielding ATF-enabled firearms. When the FBI got the call to deal with the aftermath of Terry’s murder—forensics, witness interviews, the lot—they performed their duties according to the FBI’s number one priority: protect the Bureau.

Even if you focus exclusively on the Terry case, there are a large range of deeply disturbing questions surrounding the FBI’s investigation. Issa and Grassley’s letter lists 16 separate lines of enquiry, drilling down to the most basic: how many people were involved in the shooting and where the hell are they? To find answers, the pols repeat their request for F&F-related internal comms between no less than nine FBI employees.

The letter highlights a three-month delay between the Committee’s initial request and the new missive, and sets a deadline for the FBI’s cooperation: November 2. Meanwhile, high-ranking democrats are calling the new subpoenas a “politically motivated fishing expedition.” At least someone did; I heard them bitch and moan on the radio but can’t find the remarks on Google. Which tells you that the Gunwalker scandal has reached another watershed moment.

The funny thing about all this “how many guns did the FBI recover” skirmish is that Fast and Furious unleashed at least 2000 weapons during its ten-month tenure. What’s a gun or three here and there compared to this “iron river” of weapons walked across the border to the Sinaloans with Uncle Sam’s blessing? And what’s that number compared to the American fully automatic machine guns and grenades walked across town by “defecting” Mexican troops?

elimparcial.com reports that nearly 45,000 soldiers and marines deserted the Mexican Armed Forces since Felipe Calderon assumed the presidency in 2006. If each soldier brought four guns with them (on average), that’s 180k weapons for Mexican drug cartels. Which doesn’t include thousands of firearms and millions of bullets stolen from army arsenals or the thousands of machine guns that the Mexican cartels “requisitioned” from Mexican police. Your tax money hard at work.

All of which leaves the same question on the table that I brought up a bazillion Death Watches ago: why did the ATF bother enabling the smuggling of a couple of thousand guns from a relative handful of U.S. gun stores when the U.S. government had bought (one way or another) tens of thousands of guns through “legitimate” export? Now there’s a question for Representative Issa and Senator Grassley. 

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

8 Responses to ATF Death Watch 107: How Many Guns?

  1. avatarTexan says:

    I find it astounding that the Congressional Oversight Committee and the Justice Department are in a pissing match about a single firearm

    2 possible reasons:

    1. To sidetrack the investigation, and/or
    2. If they can definitively prove that Issa is “wrong” on this, it will plant seeds of doubt on the rest of the investigation…

  2. avatarmike says:

    Questions about the FBI – ATF that still need to be asked.

    1. How did the straw buyers purchase thousands of firearms without filling out a 4473?
    2. If they did fill out a 4473, how did they purchase thousands of firearms without having a NICs check called in?
    3. If they did have a NICs check called in, how did the FBI ok the sale of thousands of firearms to the known felons?
    4. Was this a complete failure by the FBI? Was the FBI told to let the felons purchase thousands of rifles? If so, who told the FBI to let this happen?

    I wonder why nobody is asking these questions.

  3. avatarPeter says:

    Mike, I do not know for sure why your questions haven’t yet been asked. I would suspect that Issa and the rest of the Republicans on the committee are acting like prosecutors in a criminal trial, saving the best for last. That way the jury remembers the strongest stuff best, because it was last.In this case, the public is the jury and they get the case in November, ’12.

  4. Well, Robert, the answer to the question is that most Americans don’t know about the “legitimate” means of putting weapons in the hands of the cartels, i.e., aid to Mexico, selling weapons through legitimate means, where they go to the cartels via desertions like you pointed out. The only ostensible reason for all of this is a self-fufilling prophesy. If the administration can only show that 90% of the weapons that the cartels use do indeed come from the U.S., then that’s the emotional ammunition needed in Congress to pass all sorts of onerous regulations on the firearms industry. Otherwise, they are left with that pesky and annoying second amendment, and with the appointments of Justices Sotomayor and Kagan, we all know what they think about that.

  5. avatarFirehand says:

    I’m reminded of a line from a book, close as I can recall “He’d decided there were only two things that would really get an FBI agent in trouble: bringing even the slightest bad publicity down on the Bureau, or having an original thought.”

    The record seems to show that the ‘bad publicity’ part has, in the Bureau’s hive mind, justified doing just about ANYTHING to ‘protect the Bureau’. As we’re seeing.

  6. avatarBrad Kozak says:

    Here’s the REALLY scary part: Most Americans have absolutely NO idea what Fast and Furious is/was or why they should be concerned about it. Why? Because the mainstream media (save for CBS) has a virtual blackout on the story. Until/unless the NY Times picks it up and runs with it, it’s not “real news,” for that’s where most of the national media takes their cues for how to determine what stories are worth covering.

    I spoke to a Liberal of my acquaintance. She’s VERY active in local politics. Just the kind of person who would be all over this story, if it happened with a Republican in the White House. She knew nothing about it. Nothing. When I started to give her the 50,000 foot view, she said that this must be some sort of B.S. thought up by Fox News to discredit Obama.

    It’s a sad fact of life today that most people don’t do their own thinking. They are content to allow the news media to shape their opinions and tell them what is – and isn’t – relevant and important. How in the Hell is this whole ATF/FBI/CIA/DHS/etc. mess gonna be an issue in the campaign, if most of America doesn’t know about it.

    Far as I’m concerned, the mainstream media has abdicated their responsibilities to inform the American public, and is absolutely complicit in this affair, making them as guilty as Holder, Napolitano, or any of those other ass-clowns.

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