Thursday, March 3, 2011

Operation Gunwalker: Boots On The Ground Spills Beans

CBS Investigative Reporter tells the world all about Project "Fast and Furious," the ATF's on-purpose assault rifle export program to Mexican drug cartels

BATFE Agent John Dodson arrived in Phoenix early in 2010.

Throughout his tenure there, he told CBS's Sharyl Atkisson, he and other ATF agents have been busy letting cartel smugglers make straw purchases of assault weapons for illicit export to Mexico – with the approval and under orders from the Washington headquarters of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

It's called Operation “Fast and Furious,” and in the context of the operation, weapons are “walked” across the border and into the arsenals of violent drug cartels who use them to kill their enemies, bystanders, rival drug dealers and smugglers, potential informants – and anyone who even looks as if they might – just might – oppose them.

Nearly 40,000 have died during the past 4 years, most of them killed with guns that came from the U.S. and were built under military contract for export to client states of the U.S.

Some came from civilian gun stores, and Agent Dodson and a group of fed-up ATF agents say “literally thousands” have been smuggled into Mexico with the express knowledge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the very agency that is supposed to ride herd on these matters.

The reason? The ATF has been wanting to aid in "padding" the numbers of guns found in the hands of cartel members in Mexico that came from federally-licensed firearms dealers in the U.S.

At least one Houston-area gun dealer, Carter's Country owner Bill Carter, is fighting back through his attorney Dick DeGuerin. Mr. DeGuerin represented gun dealer David Koresh during the last days of the Branch Davidian standoff near Waco. Mr Carter has been accused of allowing "straw purchases" for gun smugglers - after federal agents have approved the sale, according to Mr. DeGuerin.

In fact, many of the guns have shown up at crime scenes – two of them at the murder site of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in Rio Rico Canyon near Nogales, where he and other agents had staked out predatory banditos who prey on illegal immigrants making their way through the rough desert terrain near Tucson.

These rifles, most of which are of the AK-47 variety, were authorized for sale through the NICS system when gun dealers phoned the applications for sale through to the ATF. In fact, they were under surveillance the whole time. Some .50 caliber rifles known as Barrett sniper rifles have been found in the mix, as well.

Agent Dodson says he and others complained every day during the past year of the Fast and Furious operation, but were told by top brass, “You've got to scramble some eggs if you want to make an omelet.”

When the murder of Agent Terry with one of the guns involved in Operation Fast and Furious occurred in mid-December, and when Congresswoman Giffords fell to the bullets of a crazed gunman at a Town Hall meeting at a Tucson grocery store, the ATF agents came forward to blow the whistle.

They have attracted the attention of Senator Chuck Grassley, R-IA, a member of the Judiciary Committee.

Senator Grassley says top executives of the BATFE are stonewalling his investigation. “The response has been practically zilch from the standpoint of getting documents we want,” he said on-camera during Ms. Atkisson's Thursday report on the “CBS Evening News.”

Gun rights writer David Codrea, a columnist for “Guns” Magazine and a writer for the National and Mike Vanderbroegh first broke the story in their columns and on the blogsite, “Sipsey Street Irregulars” soon after the murder of Agent Terry and the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords in December.

Senatorial hearings into the matter are said to be imminent.

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