When I wrote the post below -- "Yogi Berra was right. Rumor of a big, bad ATF bust early next week." -- around midnight last night, I was acutely aware of the slippery ground upon which this shadow war for the truth of Operation Gunwalker and the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry is being fought.
Rumors can be -- and often are -- floated like dye in the sewer, just to see where it goes to close down leaks. Given the high stakes of the games being played behind the scenes by the White House and their Justice Department minions desperate to stop the truth from coming out, this is certainly a concern. But when a rumor -- any rumor -- comes from multiple sources, sources which have always been right in the past, sources who do not know each other, it is less likely to be disinformation dye and more likely to be the real turd.
But I must say that sewer dye was on my mind when I wrote the "rumor" announcement. Were this just about intelligence gathering and protecting sources -- even multiple sources -- the prudent thing to do would have been to stay silent, watch and wait. But it is not. Nor is this rumor about something trivial, like the length of ATF attorney James P. "Little Jim" Vann's penis. It is not even something merely scandalous like whether ATF "subject of interest" Ramsey A, Bear, in pursuit of whom the ATF wasted millions, was real (he wasn't). This is about something that can get a whole lot of people killed very quickly -- ATF agents and innocents as well. This is about something that, handled with all the skill that ATF has shown in the past when under pressure, could inadvertently start another American civil war.
What if the rumor is true and this brilliant plan turns into a botched shit storm like the incredibly misnamed "Trojan Horse" (the initial raid plan for Waco) and people get killed? No more free Wacos, remember? I've got a moral responsibility to try to prevent that.
It's not like the ATF street agents themselves are not thinking thoughts along these lines.
Responding to discussion of a journalist's query on CleanUpATF.org, ATF agent "Apostate" writes in response to the reporter:
If there is a cover-up and someone at ATF is at fault I hope you find out who is behind it. If you did not already know this the management culture of ATF holds no regard for the life and/or safety of front line agents. You should see first hand how they way they treat agents/employees at ATF. That is why a lot of agents/IOI's are now in the process of filling out applications for other agencies.
Look what ATF management did to the agents at Waco:
"Despite being informed that the Davidians knew a raid was coming, the ATF commander ordered that the raid go ahead, even though their plan depended on reaching the compound without the Davidians having been armed and prepared. While not standard procedure, ATF agents had their blood type written on their arms or neck after leaving the staging area and before the raid because it was recommended by the military to facilitate speedy blood transfusions in the case of injury."
They (ATF mgt) then lied under oath and covered up their mistakes. No one in management lost their job. That is the culture at ATF and remains so to this day.
RIP Steve Willis, Robert Williams, Todd McKeehan and Conway LeBleu.
ATF management has a long history of screwing up for agenda reasons and callously making bets with street agents' lives -- not to mention the lives of innocent citizenry. And worse, once it happened, not one of the bloody-handed decision makers ever suffered a moment's inconvenience. They learned no lessons.
So, once I had the unconfirmed information, I asked myself, what is my responsibility? If I had had advance warning of Trojan Horse in early February 1993, would I have told anyone? After Ruby Ridge, yes, probably. And in the harsh light of 20-20 hindsight, with dead ATF agents and immolated babies? Certainly. So what is the moral and legal hazard to me if I am wrong? Well, perhaps considerable.
Let's assume, for purposes of argument, that this is a righteous raid on evil bad guys -- a Jihadi biker gang with explosives meant for a day care. Running with an announcement of the rumor could alert them, could get agents making the raid killed. Their deaths, the Justice Department would blare, would be on my hands and on the hands of my sources. (For it is the sources they truly wish to discredit.)
Indeed, to sell this story completely, the cornered bureaucrats enmeshed in this scandal could just be cynical enough and evil enough to put their agents in harm's way -- to go through with the raid even after it was blown, a la Waco. Standing self-righteously in a pool of blood telling cool lies is something that this agency, and other federal law enforcement agencies, have done in the past to their own great satisfaction.
Operational security is an absolute necessity for raiding Jihadi biker gangs, and were I certain that this was a righteous operation I would remain silent. But if one of my sources picks up this "rumor" in idle chatter in an Arlington, Virginia, watering hole, just how "secure" is ATF OPSEC? How serious are they, even if the target is legitimate?
Cops talk informally to each other, across jurisdictions. More so for federal cops. Especially if they disagree with the wisdom of the mission or its timing. And especially if those factors can get them killed. Cops bitch about their bosses just as much as anybody else, only ATF bosses have given their street agents far more to bitch about than most.
And this strikes to the heart of the legitimacy issue for ANY raid the ATF is planning to carry out now in this toxic atmosphere which the senior executives have done so much to poison themselves. I say this now to all the adults in the decision-making chain in federal government:
THE ATF SHOULD STAND DOWN IMMEDIATELY FROM ALL MAJOR OPERATIONS UNTIL THE SENATE AND HOUSE CAN DEAL WITH ALL THE RAMIFICATIONS OF THE PROJECT GUNWALKER SCANDAL AND THE MURDER OF BORDER PATROL AGENT BRIAN TERRY WITH AN ATF "WALKED" RIFLE.
Current ATF and Justice Department senior management have, by their conduct in Project Gunwalker and other scandals, forfeited the presumption of legality, legitimacy and competence.
If Director-nominee Traver wants to retrieve this situation, draw back from the precipice, and save the agency he claims to love and wants to lead, he should by all means LEAD and stand down the ATF from major operations. He should explain to his bosses and their cover-up minions that this is the era of the Internet, that they just can't get away with running the hackneyed bureaucratic defense playbook from the 90s and obtain the same result.
If the raid on the "Jihadi biker gang" (or whoever it really is) is real, righteous and time-sensitive to protect the public, THEN LET ANOTHER AGENCY HANDLE IT. There is no shortage of federal policemen or agencies with jurisdiction. Especially take the current crop of ATF managers and their DOJ supervisors who got them into Project Gunwalker and other scandals OUT OF THE LOOP. Concerned as they are themselves right now about the break-down of their cover-up and who they can throw under the bus to preserve their own personal immunity from prosecution, they are not thinking clearly at the moment.
I call on everyone who cares about these issues to contact their Senators and Congressmen and make one simple demand.
STAND DOWN THE ATF FROM MAJOR LAW ENFORCEMENT OPERATIONS UNTIL THE DEPTH AND BREADTH OF THE PROJECT GUNWALKER SCANDAL IS UNDERSTOOD AND OUT IN THE OPEN.
Stand. Them. Down.
Alleged leader of a merry band of Three Percenters.