In late September 2009, ATF Phoenix Group VII supervisor Hope MacAllister walked into the Lone Wolf Trading Company. She had a message for the owner Andre Howard, according to sources familiar with the investigation into Fast & Furious in both DC and Arizona, and the message was this: "The amount of weapons you sell is about to dramatically increase." Howard, the sources say, was cautioned that "he might not have enough stock" to supply the straw buyers that MacAllister somehow knew were on the way and that "he should stock up on what they wanted."
MacAllister seemed to know "exactly how many weapons (the straw buyers) wanted, how much cash they had and when they would be coming in," said one of the sources.
Less than a week later, the straw buyers -- all of modest means -- began flocking to Andre Howard's shop. Operation Fast and Furious was off to the races.
According to sources close to the investigation, there are two explanations for this prior knowledge. One innocent, the other not.
"Let's say," said one, "that they had these guys under wiretap. Maybe it was the ATF, maybe it was the DEA . . . so they (ATF) found out the money was coming in and the orders had been placed by the cartel. . . So they just decided to facilitate that to see if they could demonstrate law breaking and then try to roll it upwards to the bigger fish like they claimed."
On the other hand, said the sources, since we now know that much, if not all, of the "buy money" was coming from an FBI paid confidential informant, it could simply be that the ATF was being used as part of a deliberate plot to "let the guns walk" in order, as the early ATF whistleblowers related to us back in early January, "to boost the statistics" of American civilian market firearms found at Mexican crime scenes.
Sources say that the Issa committee is well aware of SA MacAllister's curious prior knowledge of the straw buyers' intentions and bankroll. "Maybe somebody should ask her under oath," said one.
The next hearing, sources say, will be a joint one between the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee and its larger, parent House Judiciary Committee, sometime in November.