ATF stonewalling has got to stop
Published: Thursday, June 28th, 2012
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is facing an historic contempt of Congress vote after failing to turn over all records of Operation Fast and Furious conducted by federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) personnel in 2010. The operation resulted in the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December of that year. Terry was killed by one of the weapons involved in the gun running operation. Holder was asked to turn all records of the operation over to a Congressional Oversight Committee, but provided only 1,800 of 8,000 pages in the report.
The ATF ran a series of so-called “gunwalking” sting operations between 2006 and 2011 which had the purpose of stemming the illegal flow of firearms into Mexico by interdicting straw purchasers and gun traffickers in the United States. By using “gunwalking” tactics, ATF agents knowingly allowed thousands of guns to be purchased by suspected arms traffickers who worked through straw purchasers on behalf of Mexican drug cartels. Straw purchasers are those who buy guns for a third party, which is a felony violation of the Gun Control Act of 1968.
Operation Fast and Furious is said to be the largest ever such program and involved the sale of over 2,000 firearms, of which nearly 700 were recovered as of Oct. 20, 2011. Some straw purchasers have been arrested and indicted, but as of October 2011, none of the targeted high-level drug cartel targets have been arrested.
Firearms put in circulation by ATF officials have been discovered at violent crime scenes on both sides of the Mexican/United States border. These murder scenes involved the deaths of numerous Mexicans and at least one U.S. federal agent, Brian Terry. Operation Fast and Furious became known to the public in the aftermath of the Brian Terry murder. As the investigation into Terry’s death continues, the operation has become increasingly controversial in both countries.
In the United States, the investigation has come to the point where Holder is on the hot seat for failing to turn over all documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious. In an attempt to save his AG, President Obama invoked Executive Privilege as the reason for withholding the majority of documents relating to the program. Last week, the Congressional Oversight Committee voted to hold the attorney general in contempt of Congress. A full vote on the matter is expected some time this week.
It was seen as an unusual move for the president to shield Holder from further Congressional scrutiny. However, it seems Obama’s move has tended to ramp up interest in obtaining all the information in this gunrunning operation because it now would appear to reach into the highest levels of the White House. Instead of being transparent, as he promised in his campaign rhetoric, this president seems to be stonewalling Congress and the American people over who is responsible for Operation Fast and Furious.
We can only hope that Congress prevails and that the truth will come out soon. Terry’s family and the American people have a right to know.
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