ATF Death Watch 123: Divorced from Reality

The latest from the Fast and Furious front: a 1,364 page DOJ data dump explaining how/why they lied to Congress when they claimed that their black bag job didn’t involve gunwalking (letting U.S. gun store guns “walk” to Mexico). Presidential candidate Mitt Romney calling for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation because of his “botched investigation” into F&F. And Rep. Darrell Issa’s (chairman of the House Oversight Committee) revelation that he will not call for the AG’s head on a proverbial platter. “The fact is, it’s not about any one person. It’s not about Eric Holder,” Issa told reporters. True dat . . .

It’s about disregard for the rule of law, hubris and the willful suspension of disbelief by a farrago of federal officials on a scale that’s scarcely imaginable. The doc dump contained one particularly damning email written by [now former] U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke to Assistant Attorney General Ron Weich and other high-level DOJ officials. Burke was responding to Senator Grassley’s investigation into the ATF’s gun running op.

What is so offensive about this whole project is that Grassley’s staff, acting as willing stooges for the Gun Lobby, have attempted to distract from the incredible success in dismantling [southwest border] gun trafficking operations….by not uttering one word of rightful praise and thanks to ATF — but instead lobbing this reckless despicable accusation that ATF is complicit in the murder of a fellow federal law enforcement officer . . . No commentary by Grassley on the lax laws, nor greedy gun shop owners, nor careless straw purchasers, and not boo about the evil gun traffickers for the Cartels. Just demonize ATF w/a strategically-timed repulsive letter emailed to the entire press world before we ever saw it.

This is so wrong on so many levels it’s hard to know where to start. For one thing, calling Grassley a “Gun Lobby” stooge is a vicious slur without foundation. More than that, the term itself reveals that Burke (and by extension the AG’s office) viewed/view the American firearms industry as the enemy, worthy of Germanic capitalization.

Which goes a long way towards explaining the DOJ’s willingness to cynically and illegally exploit U.S. gun stores’ good will to channel illegal firearms to Sinaloa cartel members. Sorry, “greedy gun store owners”—who called the ATF to report shady transactions and acquiesced to the feds’ demand that they allow illegal transactions to continue.

In at least one case, the ATF initiated the sale. In several others, the ATF told the dealers who was coming in to buy what. No good deed, eh?

Burke’s assertion that the ATF has had “incredible success in dismantling [southwest border] gun trafficking operations” is beyond preposterous. Fast and Furious created a gun trafficking operation—without a single arrest in its ten-month tenure. Prior to F&F, the ATF busted straw purchasers here and there. Their incredible success is literally that.

“Lax laws”? What lax laws? Burke’s demonization of the Gun Lobby gun store owners, gun laws and condemnation of U.S. gun laws certainly gives credence to the idea that the Powers That Be launched F&F to create a crisis to set the stage for draconian gun laws. In addition, perhaps, to arming the Sinaloans against Los Zetas.

I don’t care if this email was intentionally misleading: a CYA directive. It shows that Burke was, to put it plainly, nuts. Living in a reality of his own making without the slightest regard to his employers (you the U.S. taxpayer). What’s a “careless” straw purchaser? “Evil gun traffickers?” Like . . . the ATF?

But if you want textbook wrong, consider again a federal judge’s recent decision to seal the case against Manuel Osorio Arellanes, the only drug thug brought to trial for murdering U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Or this eye-opening report from suggesting that an FBI informant was among Terry’s killers:

The rip crew [drug intercepting criminals] was in Peck Canyon that evening with the intention of stealing money and drugs from a specific shipment of which they had prior knowledge.

Sources claim the Department of Justice has been trying for almost a year to hide the key information — how the rip crew knew the shipment was coming through that night . . .

The rip crew knew to be in Peck Canyon that December evening because a CI [Criminal Informant] working for the FBI found out about a smuggling run — from the FBI.

It is not clear if the information was provided intentionally, but a possible motivation for the FBI to provide the information is known to exist: the CI had previously lost a shipment of drugs, and wanted to regain the trust of the cartel with an offering of drugs or money. The other possibility is that the FBI mistakenly allowed the CI to discover the information.

The CI used this information to organize an ambush of the drug convoy. A source tells PJM that the FBI knew from wiretaps that the CI was using their information to set up an ambush.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) — through its own CIs and communications intercepts — was also aware of the planned assault.

Neither the DEA nor FBI warned Border Patrol about the expected criminal activity.

The federal government will still not reveal if one of the two WASR-10 AK-pattern semi-automatic rifles located near the scene — provided to the Sinaloa cartel via Operation Fast and Furious — was the weapon that put a bullet through Brian Terry’s heart. The existence of a third recovered gun, an SKS carbine, has been disputed by the FBI despite the fact it had been talked about openly in the beginning of the investigation among federal agents.

Multiple sources tell PJM that this third weapon “disappeared” because it was the weapon carried by the FBI CI who ran the rip crew. When it was recovered near the scene of the murder and subsequently traced by the ATF, it traced back to the FBI CI via the gun shop in Texas where it was purchased.

Let’s call this the clusterfuck theory of Agent Terry’s death. It contradicts the Washington Times story stating that the “rip crew” was hunting the CPB agents, and instead suggests bureaucratic incompetence led to Agent Terry’s death. The PJ Media take helps explain the fact that the FBI released four other suspects in Terry’s murder. 

While Brian Terry’s death may have been the result of a “botched” crime, the program that put guns into the hands of his killers was no “botched sting.” There was no attempt to trace the 2000-ish firearms enabled during F&F. A new memo by Agent Gary Styers bullet-pointed at reminds us that the exact opposite was true:

Surveilling agents were ordered off-site from where a transfer was being conducted by Special Agent Hope McAllister, at which point the suspects conducting a firearms transaction were able to leave the scene with their purchase without being followed.

Nevertheless, if PJ’s got it right, if Terry died at the hands of a American-enabled “rip crew,” it highlights one of our main contentions about Operation Fast and Furious: the black bag job was part and parcel of a U.S. policy of “accommodation” towards drug cartels and the Mexican government they bought and paid for.

In that sense, Senator Grassley is right not to target Holder—despite the AG’s obvious perjury and assent to the ATF’s extra-legal activities. The entire U.S. government—from the White House to the FBI, DEA, DHS and ICE—stands accused of persistently perverting the rule of law, putting U.S. and Mexicans in harm’s way to pursue the administration’s failed foreign policy towards Mexico.

More specifically, the administration’s failure to address the flow of tens of billions of dollars into the hands of narcoterrorists or the incessant wave of illegal immigrants taxing our economic system. The dangers remain obscured. But they’re still there. Looming larger with every day, as the cartels seize political power and tighten their grip on a country where the rule of law has drowned in a pool of blood.

If the United States is to remain a nation of laws rather than a country whose interests are controlled by unaccountable government agents, Senator Grassley and Representative Issa must reassert our right to know the truth about what our government does in our name. At the very least, the pols should demand that the federal court unseal the case of Manuel Osorio Arellanes.

How did it comes to pass that Agent Brian Terry, ICE Agent Brian Zapata and dozens of Mexicans die from bullets fired from guns the ATF more-or-less sent to our enemies?