Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Sources, Timeline & Summary of the ATF "Project Gunwalker" scandal and the death of BP agent Brian Terry.
Timeline & Summary of the ATF "Project Gunwalker" scandal and death of BP agent Brian Terry, with sources.
19 January 2011
by Mike Vanderboegh
PO Box 926
Pinson, AL 35126
Summary: For many months the ATF's "Project Gunrunner" initiative was under fire for poor management, exaggerated statistics, etc. Floundering to carry out an agenda that wasn't entirely covered by the law, stung by poor publicity and an Inspector General's report that excoriated their performance, it is alleged by ATF's own agents that the Phoenix office of ATF began a policy of "walking" semi-automatic rifles south of the border -- at first with a wink and a nod, later, according to one agent:
"(The agency was) not only looking the other way but actually facilitating trafficking, threatening and punishing agents who voiced objections, covering up trace information, the truth about the gun that killed BPA Terry, what I.C.E. knew, it goes on and on."
My own sources tell me that this was done at the direction of the "highest levels of Main Justice and the West Wing."
During this time, it is alleged by an experienced ATF street agent, that the ATF deliberately did not inform the Mexican authorities that this was going on:
"(REDACTED) former attache to Mexico is an honest and honorable guy. He was forcefully removed from Mexico w o warning in Nov in large part because he wouldn't sit silent on these matters. He will tell the truth if asked by competent authority. He retired Dec 31 because of all this."
Also during this time, gun stores along the border were calling ATF and reporting multiple sales, only to be told to allow the sales to go through, and in some cases, follow the purchasers out into the parking lot to get license numbers. The case of Carter's Country in Houston (see timeline below) is but one example. There are other firearm dealers who are willing to come forward and detail their similar experiences to the Congress if asked under oath. They are reluctant to do so without Congressional protection because their livelihoods are at the mercy of ATF regulation.
All of this, it is alleged, was done in order to boost the numbers of seized semi-automatic "assault weapons" in Mexico to justify continued, or expanded, Project Gunrunner funding.
On 15 December 2010, Border Patrol officer Brian Terry was killed with a semi-automatic rifle in the hands of a smuggler. It is alleged by ATF street agents that this weapon was one of the "walked" rifles. An FBI murder investigation is proceeding, as is an internal ATF investigation. In the opinion of some ATF agents, these investigations have been used by ATF management to extort silence from agents in the furtherance of a cover-up of the complicity of ATF and Justice Department senior management in the death of BPA Terry.
What is known is that an unknown but significant number of ATF agents with personal knowledge and documents of this scandal, which has been dubbed "Project Gunwalker" by blogger and Guns Magazine columnist David Codrea, are willing to tell their story to any Senator who asks them. At present, their careers, their liberty and perhaps even their lives are on the line. They need whistleblower status. They remain twisting in the wind, subject to all the considerable coercive forces that any administration under pressure of the exposure of its own lawbreaking can bring.
Yet to date no Senator has stepped forward to assist them.
Not even, with the least excuse, my own Senator Jeff Sessions, former ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose staffers Stephen Miller and Sarah Haley, have been regularly apprised by both email and phone of this and other ATF scandals. To date, Senator Sessions has taken no action. He has, to all external evidence, shamefully looked the other way and left these brave agents in the lurch.
Timeline on ATF "Project Gunwalker" scandal and the death of BP agent Terry.
21 September 2010: Michael Isikoff story, written from a leaked draft report, criticizes ATF performance in interdicting smuggled weapons to Mexico: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39282887/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/
"A major Justice Department program aimed at intercepting the flow of U.S. weapons to Mexico’s drug cartels is misfiring due to bureaucratic turf battles and a failure to share critical intelligence about illegal firearms purchases, according to an internal department report."
This story has followed on the heels of much disputation of ATF statistics used to justify Project Gunrunner. Contact David Codrea, of the National Gun Rights Examiner column for background. Email: email@example.com.
November 2010: U.S. Department of Justice Office of Inspector General report, "Review of ATF's Project Gunrunner" excoriates ATF performance. Report found here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/41724438/Inspector-General-Report-on-ATF-s-Project-Gunrunner
12 December 2010: Washington Post runs an article based on leak from ATF claiming that Carter's Country gun store outlets in Houston area are guilty of straw-man sales. Storyline attacked the next day by celebrated Texas criminal defense attorney Dick Deguerin, representing Carter's Country, who says:
"Let me tell you something about Carter's Country. They have been co-operating with ATF from the get go," says attorney Dick Deguerin who represents Carter's Country owner, Bill Carter.
Deguerin says the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms asked Carter's Country to complete transactions, even when sales people strongly suspected the weapons were headed to Mexican drug gangs.
"They were told to go through with what they considered to be questionable sales. They were told to go through with sales of three or more assault rifles at the same time or five or more 9 millimeter guns at the same time or a young Hispanic male paying in cash. It's all profiling, but they went through with it," said Deguerin.
I cover the story a month later here http://sipseystreetirregulars.blogspot.com/2011/01/following-various-threads-of-project.html along with links to stories and video.
15 December 2010: Border Patrol officer Brian Terry killed with a semi-auto rifle in the hands of a smuggler. Story here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40678058/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/
28 December 2010: My first post on the subject headlined: "Border Patrol agent killed with ATF-smuggled AR? Some ATF agents seem to think so." Link: http://sipseystreetirregulars.blogspot.com/2010/12/border-patrol-agent-killed-with-atf.html It referred to a CleanUpATF website post (CUATF.org is a website run by ATF agents who desire that the ATF clean up its own act.): http://cleanupatf.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=153
Gist of the rumor posted by ATF agent:
Word is that curios George Gillett the Phoenix ASAC stepped on it again. Allegedly he has approved more than 500 AR-15 type rifles from Tucson and Phoenix cases to be "walked" to Mexico. Appears that ATF may be one of the largest suppliers of assault rifles to the Mexican cartels! One of these rifles is rumored to have been linked to the recent killing of a Border Patrol Officer in Nogales, AZ.
29 December 2010 to 5 January 2011: We continue to get rumors from ATF agents and others that this story is correct. Among those who are hearing from ATF agents are David Codrea, myself and Len Savage, Georgia firearms designer and SOT manufacturer who has a federal court C.V. as an expert witness on firearms. Having previously incurred the wrath of ATF's Chief Counsel's Office by testifying against them in various court cases, Savage is himself the victim of what is called by the ATF an "economic Waco." Len's email is: firstname.lastname@example.org. David Codrea runs stories both on his Examiner column and his blog, The War on Guns. David dubs this scandal "Project Gunwalker."
On 3 January, David runs a story entitled: "Media coverage of ATF corruption investigation developments nonexistent."
Here's the link: http://www.examiner.com/gun-rights-in-national/media-coverage-of-important-atf-corruption-investigation-developments-nonexisten
On 5 January, I run a story which says:
Remember this story from the 28th of December? "Border Patrol agent killed with ATF-smuggled AR? Some ATF agents seem to think so."
The DOJ computers have been hitting this story big-time the last two days. Usually they out-click to CUATF.org.
Well, here's what a solid source within ATF says about this story this morning:
"It's true. Pure fact verified. Ongoing inv(estigation) I can't discuss."
Now, to be careful, let's assume that this confirmation applies only to what would be knowledge to the ATF -- that the Phoenix SAC and ASAC were responsible for allowing the smuggling of semi-auto rifles into Mexico to boost the statistics to justify Operation Gunrunner. I do know that "mainstream" reporters are working on the mysterious circumstances of the death of Border Patrol officer Brian A. Terry and getting close to verifying the rumor posted on CleanUpATF.org that he was killed with one of the "walked" weapons.
If this story makes it to the cable news cycle, there is no possibility that ATF can avoid the antiseptic qualities of sunlight on all of their criminal acts. All credit should go to the agents of CUATF who broke this story and to David Codrea who has shoved the story along and into a wider audience.
7 January 2011: I report that "A long-time friend of mine . . . informs me that his sources tell him that the White House is now fully briefed on the "Walking Gun-gate" scandal and is now calling the shots. "They are in desperate need of a cover-up, but aren't competent enough to arrange one," he said with a laugh. "They don't know whether to shit or go blind."
Among the things we know:
1. ATF’s Phoenix office allowed the guns to go across the border.
2. The ATF office in Mexico was denied permission to share this information with their Mexican counterparts. Believing this was wrong, they went over the heads of the Phoenix office and requested permission directly from headquarters in DC.
3. The higher-ups sided with the Phoenix decision to withhold the information from Mexican authorities.
As David asks: "That would make this an international law enforcement incident, would it not?"
Yes it does, and that is reported to be part of the White House dilemma.
In terms of proof that one of ATF "walking guns" was used to murder Brian Terry, it can be simply answered under oath by settling two questions:
1. What does ATF trace data show?
2. Were any prior traces ever run on this particular firearm, and what did they show?
I also report on 7 January that the CleanUpATF.org website was hacked overnight.
Link to my story: http://sipseystreetirregulars.blogspot.com/2011/01/white-house-now-in-decision-making-loop.html
7 January 2011: Later that day, I post this story, based on an email I received from an ATF agent:
This just in on the Mexican end of what David Codrea has called "Project Gunwalker."
Just received this in over the electronic transom:
(REDACTED) former attache to Mexico is an honest and honorable guy. He was forcefully removed from Mexico w o warning in Nov in large part because he wouldn't sit silent on these matters. He will tell the truth if asked by competent authority. He retired Dec 31 because of all this.
OK, Senators and Congressmen. If you want to have a name to pursue in your investigation(s) you have only to contact me.
(Senator Sessions' office received this email, among many others on the same subject over the past months. So did his man on the Senate Judiciary Committee. We have the name of this man which is redacted but it is said he prefers to talk to Senator Sessions or other federal legislator rather than the media due to the on-going investigation. The FBI has opened a murder investigation of BPA Terry, and my info is that both Main Justice and ATF internal affairs are on this, but their traditional default position is to "investigate" in order to cover up.)
Link at: http://sipseystreetirregulars.blogspot.com/2011/01/this-just-in-on-mexican-end-of-what.html
17 January 2011: ATF agent contacts David Codrea, saying, in part:
The risk that comes with me putting it out there is so great; I need to know that whomever is going to do the right things with it. It needs to stop - now. Your numbers are way too low and there's so much more: not only looking the other way but actually facilitating trafficking, threatening and punishing agents who voiced objections, covering up trace information, the truth about the gun that killed BPA Terry, what I.C.E. knew, it goes on and on. And I can prove it all. So you tell me - who do I talk to?
18 January 2011: Numerous people, including myself, spend most of the day contacting various Senators' offices, including those who had previously indicated that they would help us. By the end of the day, none have agreed to contact the courageous ATF agents who are risking so much. Most calls go to voicemail. None are returned.