Readers will recall my earlier Tampa Gunwalker stories last week with David Codrea here and here. My analysis of "Why Honduras?" is here.
A TURD BY ANY OTHER NAME SMELLS JUST AS FOUL
Over the weekend, CleanUpATF.org, someone identifying themselves as "ATFSA" from "Otown" (presumably Orlando FL) took a hard shot at David's and my reporting of the Tampa/Honduras gunwalking and cover-up allegations. Except he doesn't seem to have read it.
Here it is:
I am a long-term ATF street agent who likely has worked with, knows, and/or respects most agents on this site. I feel the need to post here for the first time to set the record straight regarding Tampa's Operation Castaway. I will absolutely guarantee that I am more intimately knowledgeable with Operation Castaway than anyone else here on this website, and I will guarantee that what is being reported about this investigation / operation is false. First, I will start by stating that the Sipsey Street Irregulars blogs, and all of the other rumor-mills that copied their original, unsubstantiated, false story of Operation Castaway, are incorrect and irresponsible to publish those unverified untruths. It disturbs me greatly that Sipsey received their information from a "credible" ATF source. Well, perhaps this source may have provided credible information in the past, but the new information provided by this source about Operation Castaway is not firsthand information and has not been verified in any manner by the source, and the source cannot dispute that. Otherwise, the "credible" source would not have provided such false information (so I hope).
Operation Castaway was an extremely successful, long-term firearms trafficking investigation and prosecution in the Middle District of Florida (Google it). During the course of the investigation, numerous ATF personnel, as well as personnel from several different agencies, employed a variety of innovative techniques to identify targets, investigate violators, develop probable cause, and seize numerous firearms and currency, as well as search, arrest, and prosecute numerous intrastate, interstate, and international firearms traffickers, who had (prior to the commencement of the investigation) and attempted to continue (during the course of the investigation) to illegally divert numerous firearms from the Middle District of Florida to Honduras, Colombia, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico. During the course of the investigation, numerous investigative techniques were discussed, agreed upon, and ultimately implemented, all of which I will guarantee did not involve allowing guns to walk to Honduras or elsewhere. In contrary, the investigative and prosecution team made every effort possible to prevent any firearms from “walking”, and numerous firearms were seized under multiple pretextual and/ or ruse law enforcement activities. Everyone involved in the investigation and prosecution, as well as anyone who has heard the facts of the investigation, agrees that Operation Castaway was one of the most significant and leading ATF firearms trafficking investigations and should set the standard for future ATF firearms investigations.
I hope that the good people of this site (including the above mentioned “credible” source) spread this correct information, or at least make the effort to learn the truth. ATF does not need anyone falsely accusing us of wrongdoing (especially one of our own), and we certainly don’t need to decimate an outstanding ATF investigation and prosecution – we should proudly stand behind cases like Operation Castaway and highly promote the successes of this agency, not just promote mistakes or create false allegations about investigations because we believe it may promote an agenda. That is not fair to this agency and not fair to the great agents that make great cases everyday (don’t forget the brotherhood). Since ATF is comprised of the best investigators on Earth, I am confident that if any ATF agent on this website wants to discuss this case with me any further, then they should have no difficulties getting in touch with me. I would be more than happy to discuss this investigation with anyone in ATF who does not have ulterior motives.
Now, as above, here are the stories David and I posted on the Tampa gunwalking allegations:
First, Breaking News: Source claims ATF's Tampa SAC walked guns to HONDURAS! Part of Operation Castaway?
Second,Breaking News: Tampa SAC 'in full meltdown...shredders are buzzing'.
You will note the question mark in the header of the first story after "Part of Operation Castaway?"
Here is the exact wording:
Whether the allegations of our source refer to the on-going Operation Castaway remains at this hour unclear, but our source is certain that O'Brien has allowed the "walking" of straw-purchased firearms to Honduras using the same failed strategy as the Phoenix Field Division's Operation Fast and Furious. That Operation Castaway involved arms smuggling to Honduras is also certain.
This is careful language for a reason. We asked the question because although other sources suggested it might be related to Operation Castaway we could not confirm it. We went with what our central source (who was closest to the source of the story than anyone else) said, which was that although he was certain of gunwalking to Honduras he was not certain it was a part of the Castaway operation.
Our second story, my analysis piece on "Why Honduras?" and my letter to Melson included nothing about Castaway.
Elsewhere on the Internet and in the mainstream media, others made the connection to Castaway, which may have been related to a combination of this language in the DOJ press release on Castaway, "Operation Castaway remains an ongoing investigation," and to this from our source in our second story:
At one point the case was ready to be wrapped up with arrests and remain relatively efficient but O'Brien and McCampbell decided on their own to keep it going to "get more" against the advise of their field employees and the walked guns numbers got out of control.
It is easy to see how someone might assume that the new gunwalking allegations were part of Operation Castaway but WE DID NOT DO IT.
ATFSA made a very categorical defense of Operation Castaway, but he did not deny the central allegations of O'Brien, gunwalking to Honduras and cover-up that our stories described.
Whose would those be, exactly?
MORE TAMPA ALLEGATIONS
Whether or not the Tampa-to-Honduras gunwalking was a part of, or spin-off of, Operation Castaway, I had a long exchange of information with two of our sources on the Tampa nexus of the Gunwalker Scandal and ATFSA's non-denial denial of Tampa gunwalking last night. They had both solid confirmation that it took place and more allegations of misdeeds on the part of Virginia O'Brien, Tampa Field Division SAC and the ATF Chief Counsel's Office in DC.
"The Honduras story is solid," one source said. Not only that, but it seems the "walked" firearms, amounting to about 200 (not 1000 as has been reported), "were surveilled by agents to Honduras 'on the walk,'" all the way through to the point where "they watched the delivery."
COMPLICITY OF CHIEF COUNSEL'S OFFICE IN THE COVER-UP
At some point after the death of Brian Terry and the first stories in the "mainstream" press about Fast and Furious in the Phoenix office, according my sources, the Chief Counsel's Office was asked by Tampa FD about the Honduran operation. "They were told by the lawyers 'you will not report this,'" said the source, "It has nothing to do with Fast and Furious."
"O'Brien told the street guys, 'you are going to lie about this," according to the source. But, they said, the street agents are "very anxious to be interviewed" by "someone in authority" from Senator Grassley's or Congressman Issa's offices.
So, despite the legalistic quibbling of ATFSA, I am sticking by my sources and sticking by the story.
The Tampa Field Division of ATF, headed by Virginia O'Brien, is said by ATF agents in her own office to have crafted and executed a plan to "walk" 200 hundred firearms to cartel buyers in Honduras, thus involving yet another sovereign nation in what amounts to an act of war.
It goes without saying that the chances of this happening without the knowledge of the DEA, State Department and CIA are slim to none.