Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The ATF scandal hits the mainstream media at last

I've written before about the growing scandal involving the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). At long last, it appears that it's hit the mainstream media, who've studiously ignored it for far too long. The Los Angeles Times reports:

In a sign of the cost of widespread U.S. weapons smuggling into Mexico, federal law enforcement sources have confirmed that two guns, part of a series of purchases that were being monitored by authorities, were found at the scene of the firefight that killed a U.S. Border Patrol agent in southern Arizona.

Sources said U.S. authorities did not have the ability to adequately monitor the movement of the guns toward the southern border, in part because current laws and low levels of staffing.

As a result, "the next time they became aware of those weapons was when they turned up at the crime scene," said one source, who, like others connected to the case, spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing criminal investigation.

. . .

The disclosure comes amid a widening congressional investigation into allegations lodged by whistleblowers within the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. They allege the agency has been aware of the purchase of assault weapons in the U.S. by buyers suspected of selling across the border, but failed to adequately track them.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has asked the bureau for detailed answers about its gun smuggling investigation, known as Project Gunrunner.

In a letter to the bureau, Grassley said there are "serious concerns that the ATF may have become careless, if not negligent, in implementing the Gunrunner strategy."

. . .

The whistleblowers have complained that Project Gunrunner has focused on gathering intelligence on suspicious weapons sales, but has put less attention on actually stopping those weapons from moving south. Some also have complained that Mexican authorities had been dangerously kept out of the loop.

Federal sources confirmed that there has been controversy over the program within the bureau and, at least in the early stages, little communication with Mexican authorities, many of whom are often targeted with U.S.-smuggled weapons.

. . .

Dick DeGuerin, who represents Houston gun dealer Bill Carter, owner of Carter Country, said the company is now being threatened with a federal indictment as a result of multiple sales to purported straw purchasers - sales he said were not only reported to the ATF, but which federal agents encouraged Carter Country employees to complete.

"What's going on now is some of these agents are scared of their own careers, and are afraid to own up to the fact that they encouraged Carter Country to go through with these sales," DeGuerin said. "The breakdown came with, what did the ATF do with the information that Carter Country was delivering to them? Apparently, they didn't do much."

There's more at the link.

What this report didn't mention was that the ATF is suspected of not only allowing, but encouraging increased weapons smuggling across the Mexican border, so as to provide 'evidence' that it needs increased funding, manpower and authority to do its job.

Sipsey Street Irregulars sums up the scandal as follows:

Jeff Knox laid it out this way:

"There are actually four separate but connected accusations against ATF officials:

First, that they intentionally arranged to have hundreds of firearms "walked" across the U.S. border into Mexico.

Second, that they instructed U.S. gun dealers to proceed with questionable and illegal sales of firearms to suspected gunrunners.

Third, that they intentionally withheld information about U.S.-sanctioned gun smuggling from the Mexican government.

Fourth, that one of the guns ATF allowed or helped to be smuggled into Mexico was involved in the death of Agent Terry."

I would [add] a fifth: that ATF, FBI, DHS and DOJ officials are covering up the true circumstances of Project Gunwalker, the decision not to inform the Mexicans, and the death of Brian Terry by threatening whistleblowers and others to remain silent "or else."

For more information, see this collection of links.

All I can say is, if anyone in the ATF can be proved to have authorized, encouraged, supported or actively taken part in criminal acts that led to, or contributed to, the death of a Federal law enforcement officer, they should spend the rest of their lives in prison. Furthermore, if higher authority in the agency approved (or even tacitly permitted and/or tolerated) this project, they should suffer the same punishment, and the agency should be shut down. Permanently. It will have lost any right to exist, and any claim on the trust of the American people. Let its responsibilities be transferred to another agency, one that can be trusted to uphold the oath its members take upon entering Federal law enforcement service:

I [name] do solemnly swear [or affirm] that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

I took that oath as a prison chaplain, and meant it. It saddens and disgusts me that apparently some in the ATF didn't mean it at all.


1 comment:

Tom said...

Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms should be the name of a roadside store not a government agency.