Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sipsey St. Exclusive: "Meetings, Part 6." "The Surge" comes to Phoenix. The interaction between Group VII, Fast & Furious & GRIT and why it matters.

"Things like this happen because of meetings. People sit in meetings and they decide what they want to happen. And then they take decisions, make policy and implement that policy to achieve those ends." He added, "That's why State is so nervous. They signed off on this. In a meeting." . . . He added, "Of course the meeting transcripts won't reflect the truth so plainly, but then neither did the Wannsee Conference. These bastards always talk in riddles about what they're really after. Watch what they do, not what they say." -- Old DC intelligence community member, quoted in Meetings: Part One.

Kenneth Melson and Dennis Burke: The Gunwalker conspirators announce a Phoenix "success," 17 September 2010.

In "Meetings, Part 5," we examined how, thanks to decisions passed down from Deputy Attorney General David Ogden, "The Surge" and the Gunrunner Impact Team (GRIT) concept came to Houston. But Houston wasn't the only place that GRITs were utilized:

ATF also increased its efforts under Project Gunrunner through its Gun Runner Impact Team initiative, a temporary deployment of 100 agents, Industry Operations Investigators, and support staff to the Houston Field Division during summer 2009. ATF deployed the personnel for 120 days to address a backlog in investigative leads and gun dealer inspections in the Houston Field Division and “aggressively target and disrupt groups and organizations responsible for trafficking firearms to Mexico.”

. . . In September 2010, ATF announced the conclusion of another Gun Runner Impact Team initiative in the Phoenix Field Division, (Emphasis supplied, MBV) reporting that the Phoenix team had initiated 174 firearms trafficking cases, seized 1,300 illegally trafficked firearms, and conducted over 800 gun dealer inspections. ATF Industry Operations staff also made 791 referrals to state and local law enforcement agencies and to other federal agencies such as ICE, the FBI, and the Internal Revenue Service. -- Review of ATF's Project gunrunner (Final Report), November 2010, page 41.

This is the announcement the OIG report refers to:

September 17, 2010

ATF Announces 7 New Gunrunner Groups and Phoenix Gun Runner Impact Teams’ Successes

PHOENIX — Deputy Director Kenneth E. Melson of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) today announced the formation of seven new Project Gunrunner firearms trafficking groups during a news conference in which he and Dennis K. Burke, United States Attorney, District of Arizona, announced the results of ATF’s Gun Runner Impact Team (GRIT) initiative, a nearly 100-day deployment of ATF resources to the Phoenix Field Division to disrupt illegal firearms trafficking by Mexican drug trafficking organizations.

As a result of the 2010 emergency supplemental appropriation for border security, ATF received $37.5 million for Project Gunrunner, ATF’s comprehensive firearms trafficking strategy to disrupt the illegal flow of firearms into Mexico. With this funding, ATF will establish and place firearms trafficking groups along traditional and newly-discovered firearms trafficking routes and hubs in Atlanta; Dallas; Brownsville, Texas; Las Vegas; Miami; Oklahoma City; and Sierra Vista, Ariz.

"Lives are being lost to violent crime every day on both sides of the U.S. and Mexico border," said Melson. "Through Project Gunrunner and its GRIT initiative, ATF is shutting down the supply routes of firearms traffickers along the border and further inland."

The GRIT initiative brought more than 80 experienced ATF personnel from around the country to Arizona and New Mexico. GRIT special agents initiated 174 firearms trafficking-related criminal investigations and seized approximately 1,300 illegally-trafficked firearms and 71,000 rounds of ammunition, along with drugs and currency. ATF’s industry operations investigators conducted more than 800 federal firearms licensee compliance inspections.

"We are fighting on a crucial front here today to reduce violence in our own communities, and to disrupt and dismantle the southbound supply of weapons to the cartels," said Burke. "We will not be a gun locker for the cartels, who have made murder and mayhem their modus operandi. We will not tolerate violent criminals and others who illegally possess, purchase or sell firearms."

Burke announced that 96 defendants have been arrested, charged, convicted or sentenced since June 2010 on gun-related charges. The majority of defendants include violent felons, drug traffickers who use weapons, and those trafficking firearms to Mexico. Cases involved more than 370 guns — many of them AK-47 style rifles and other "weapons of choice" of drug cartels — and hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition smuggled into or destined for Mexico. Some of the guns seized in the investigation, including a .50 caliber weapon, were recovered at crime scenes in Mexico.

Recent examples of firearms prosecutions in the District of Arizona:

U.S. v. Arizmendiz et al.

In July and August, two leaders of a firearms trafficking conspiracy that supplied at least 112 firearms — mostly AK-47 style — to the Sinaloa Cartel, were sentenced. Alejandroi Medrano, 23, and Hernan Ramos, 22, both of Mesa, Ariz., were sentenced to 46 and 50 months in prison, respectively, for leading a conspiracy involving 10 defendants who straw purchased firearms from gun dealers in Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz., in order to supply them to a member of the Sinaloa Cartel known as "Rambo."

U.S. v. Gaeda et al.

On June 3, following an ATF investigation involving more than 250,000 rounds of ammunition, ATF agents arrested Emmanuel Casquez, Elias Vasquez, and Charice Gaeda for unlawfully exporting ammunition to Mexico. Agents had learned the three were purchasing vast quantities of ammunition and searched a vehicle headed for the border port at Nogales and recovered 9,500 rounds of ammunition; a search of a residence ensued and an additional 27,000 rounds of ammunition were recovered.

U.S. v. Ibarra et al.

In July, a 20-count indictment announced charging 10 straw purchasers, recruited by then 17-year-old Francisco Ibarra, to buy at least 25 firearms. ATF believes the firearms were trafficked into Mexico.

That's the PR. But what was the actual effect of "The Surge" on the operations of the Arizona ATF and how did GRIT fit into what we know of "Fast and Furious"?

Well, I've been poking around asking questions about that and what follows are some observations by folks knowledgeable about the situation. Recall that F&F was carried out as an OCDETF investigation by Phoenix Group VII. The Assistant US Attorney responsible for directing it was Emory Hurley. Because of this, according to one source familiar with the operation, Group VII exhibited a "closed door mentality." They didn't volunteer much about what they were doing and others were discouraged from asking questions. But what of GRIT?

One source said:

There were about 60 people assigned to the GRIT surge. There were about 5 of them assigned to Phoenix VII.

The rest just did follow up on old NICS cases and assisted with other cases, The reality is that the GRIT was a colossal waste of taxpayers money. The GRIT people assigned to Group VII are part of the reason that this was leaked. They with Dodson and Alt wouldn't sit by and watch while the cartel got armed to the teeth.

The whole idea of allowing guns to ride off into the sunset was Emory Hurley's brainchild. He has not been held accountable enough.

Newell is an inexperienced idiot, and political "kiss ass" who stood by and allowed it to happen because he thought it'd be his ticket up the ranks. His time spend in the streets doing real police work is almost non-existent. He is unilaterally disrespected as a political hack.

"The whole idea of allowing guns to ride off into the sunset was Emory Hurley's brainchild." Although I can see how it was easy for a street agent to form that opinion, the preponderance of other evidence since discovered says differently. Recall the celebratory emails of "our guns" found in Mexico at crime scenes and the arguments with Dodson and others by Voth, Gillett and Newell. This was such a deviation from the norm, as has been testified to under oath, SOMEONE above Hurley had to have authorized it. Otherwise a simple phone call to DOJ would have stopped it. Recall also the refusal to tell the Mexican government about F&F. Darren Gil made such a phone call, and in the end was forced out of his job over it. The source's description of Newell as "a political hack," however, is universally held by just about everybody who knew him.

Another confirmed that Group VII and GRIT were not synonymous:

My understanding of it is... Dodson, Alt, Casa etc. were PCS (Permanent Change of Station) transfers to Group VII under the Southwest Border Initiative. The GRIT deployment didn't start until around April sometime. GRIT deployee's are all TDY - the Phoenix GRIT was for 100 day TDY and then they returned to their respective field division.

Said yet another:

GRIT had a couple of agents assigned to Phoenix VII, but they are not the same. Operation Gunrunner was a funding source, and Phoenix VII and GRIT came from Gunrunner funds. Therefore Operation F & F was part of Gunrunner, but NOT all encompassing. There were some good cases that were part of Gunrunner.


(GROUP) VII had 6 or 8 (GRITs) - the majority of the detailee's were assigned to augment Group VII. A few went to help out the other groups but the compelling reason that GRIT was even deployed to Phoenix was to assist with F & F. As soon as GRIT agents questioned the strategy or case agents, they found themselves working on other things; unless it was realized that it even remotely tied back to F&F, then it was taken away from them and rolled up in it.

There has been some confusion in other media accounts of just how the "Grenadewalker" case fits into Fast & Furious. By the accounts of the Wall Street Journal and David Codrea, the supervisor on that investigation who repeatedly locked horns with Emory Hurley over failures to interdict and prosecute was Peter Forcelli, who was the Group I leader at the Yuma office. Thus, "Grenadewalker" was not part of Fast & Furious, although both Emory Hurley and Dennis Burke, of course, were the common denominators in both cases.

Sidenote: Oddly, Emory Hurley is described, even by people who despised his judgment, as "a nice guy." Thus once more proving, if any were necessary, the "banality of evil."

So, let's recap:

A. "The compelling reason that GRIT was even deployed to Phoenix was to assist with F & F."

B. "(GROUP) VII had 6 or 8 (GRITs)."

C. "The GRIT people assigned to Group VII are part of the reason that this was leaked. They with Dodson and Alt wouldn't sit by and watch while the cartel got armed to the teeth."

So, at least in part, GRIT was there for F&F and F&F used GRIT resources.

Why does this detailed accounting matter?

Easy. Because of White House word games in their denial of National Security Council knowledge of gunwalking.

From Politico:

A previous email chain between Newell and O’Reilly emerged at a House hearing in July. That exchange indicates that O’Reilly was seeking some information about southwest border gun operations for Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan.

“We want John Brennan well prepared to talk GRIT with the Mexicans next Wednesday,” O’Reilly wrote on Sept. 1, referring to a “gunrunner impact team” program to beef up ATF enforcement in particular regions.

An administration official said that email exchange referred to other investigations being conducted by the Phoenix ATF office, not to Fast and Furious.

Ah, but did Newell -- who obviously knew the details -- make the distinction to O'Reilly? Why would he since at least in part, Fast and Furious was GRIT and GRIT was Fast and Furious? And why wouldn't Newell, who after all was talking to someone much further up the policy food chain -- a long-time friend by his own admission -- someone who had knowledge of and probably a hand in writing the policy that Gunwalker sprang from, be as frank as friends often are about the details? Why wouldn't he brag about it?

And if, as it is being pimped about by the cover-up weasels at Main Justice, this was a "rogue Phoenix operation" of the evil troll Hurley's concoction, why wouldn't Newell -- whose office was having so much trouble getting Hurley to prosecute "grenadewalkers" and straw buyers -- NOT complain to his friend about this deviation of policy?

Unless, of course, it wasn't a deviation, but rather the policy itself.

Questions for another hearing.

1 comment:

Col Bat Guano said...

"We will not tolerate violent criminals and others who illegally possess, purchase or sell firearms."

The words by which US Attorney Burke hopefully has hung himself, Hurley and everyone else involved