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Fast and Furious - the real story thus far ....

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posted on Jun, 28 2012 @ 12:06 PM
Whether you just read the source blog; or take the time to digest this thread... you'll know more than any one media outlet has told you before

CNN: The truth about the Fast and Furious scandal

(Disclaimer - there's always more to the truth....)

A Fortune investigation reveals that the ATF never intentionally allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. How the world came to believe just the opposite is a tale of rivalry, murder, and political blood-lust.

The author introduces a key player, Dave Voth, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; leader of Phoenix Group VII, tasked with stopping guns from being trafficked into Mexico's vicious drug war.

The environment that Voth was operating in was far from optimal...

The ATF is hobbled in its effort to stop this flow. No federal statute outlaws firearms trafficking, so agents must build cases using a patchwork of often toothless laws. For six years, due to Beltway politics, the bureau has gone without permanent leadership, neutered in its fight for funding and authority.

At this point the narrative takes a strange turn....

...Their greatest difficulty by far, however, was convincing prosecutors that they had sufficient grounds to seize guns and arrest straw purchasers. By June 2010 the agents had sent the U.S. Attorney's office a list of 31 suspects they wanted to arrest, with 46 pages outlining their illegal acts. But for the next seven months prosecutors did not indict a single suspect.

This is what I believe the politicans, the talking heads (like the author) and others fail to expose more deeply.

This entire law enforcement effort was intended to catch criminals, no? How could they have coordinated, planned, and then executed the operation without knowing that the prosecutors would NOT prosecute?

Could it have been a lack of actual communication, perhaps prompted by the divisiveness that the DHS was supposed to eradicate by its inception? Could it have been political gamesmanship by some dissafected member of one party or another? Could some political appointee been trying to set these operations in motion via untended "remote control"? Could it have been a case of "can't be bothered to follow up" which prevails in the halls of corporate government nowadays?

In December of 2010, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry died from wounds inflicted by a weapon purchased almost a year earlier; the weapon which killed him was among those included in the federal operation called "Fast and Furious."

Ten weeks later, on the CBS Evening News, allegations were publicly made that this weapon was in fact, one of those which should have been tracked. The ATF agent who made the allegations claimed that his supervisors repeatedly ordered him not to seize weapons because they wanted to track the guns into the hands of criminal ringleaders (for the Mexican Drug Cartel).

It's 2012 now; and people are clinging to the idea that this is a recent political stunt; especially politicians who are aligned with the party that appointed the ultimate authority in such matters, US Attorney General Eric Holder.

This author claims that the media's sensationalization and continued coverage prompted numerous congressional hearings.

This is what I believe the politicans, the talking heads (like the author) and others fail to expose more deeply.

Is congress really only holding these hearings because it is politically expedient? Are the ideal of accountability and competent management really not conse quential, only the "show" that politicans are - in fact paying attention? Or could it be that the investigations were warranted and the opportunity is being politically crafted into an expedient ploy to influence voters? Is it possibly that trhe media inadvertently (or nor) exploited the event to engender more political spending and use their marketing savvy production and scripting technique to make it more profitable for themselves? Or is it possible that the furor and coverage, the scrutiny and inquisition have to do with not going any deeper... because as Mexican political leaders have claimed; high-level US political figures and authorities have more to hide than we will ever be told?

Enter the politicans play.

Holder, grilled for over a year on this has been harranged, confronted, admonished..., as his use of expedient answers and elusive cooperation offended those who believe they know exactly where the fault need to be laid.

Congress alleged that Holder had not complied sufficently with subpoenaed documents, which the Justice Department contended could not be released because they related to ongoing criminal investigations. President Obama asserted executive privilege to block the release of the documents.

According to our author:

As political pressure has mounted, ATF and Justice Department officials have reversed themselves. After initially supporting Group VII agents and denying the allegations, they have since agreed that the ATF purposefully chose not to interdict guns it lawfully could have seized. Holder testified in December that "the use of this misguided tactic is inexcusable, and it must never happen again."

This is where the possible "power" lies come in.

First of all - the politically-appointed masterminds at the highest level...

..Nobody disputes that suspected straw purchasers under surveillance by the ATF repeatedly bought guns that eventually fell into criminal hands. Issa and others charge that the ATF intentionally allowed guns to walk as an operational tactic.

However there is something amiss with that assertion. Agents directly involved with the F&F operation refute that - so apparently "Nobody disputes" is a poor way to couch the above statement. The actual agents "insist" that:

...they never purposefully allowed guns to be illegally trafficked. Just the opposite: They say they seized weapons whenever they could but were hamstrung by prosecutors and weak laws, which stymied them at every turn.

This is what I believe the politicans, the talking heads (like the author) and others fail to expose more deeply.

Where are these prosecutors who provided no support to the operations and appear, for all intents and purposes, to actually be assisting the criminals by not levying charges? What "state" laws are being left vague enough to allow for the exploit in the first place? Are we no supposed to pressure our local representativs to impose more stringent gun control to empower these federal agents? Why is there no federal law that would empower the agents to operate, pretty much as the FBI, CIA, DEA or other agencies do? They seem to get all sorts of power to act without being "hamstrung" by state law... what is the disconnect here?

Indeed, a six-month Fortune investigation reveals that the public case alleging that Voth and his colleagues walked guns is replete with distortions, errors, partial truths, and even some outright lies. Fortune reviewed more than 2,000 pages of confidential ATF documents and interviewed 39 people, including seven law-enforcement agents with direct knowledge of the case. Several, including Voth, are speaking out for the first time.

Continued -

posted on Jun, 28 2012 @ 12:06 PM
The author then tells us who is a fault for the magnitude of the issue at this time: right-wing bloggers, CBS, and Rep Issa, among others.

Our author relates to us that former IRS employee Linda Wallace claims the Republicans are whipping the country into a psychotic frenzy with patent falsehoods. Why that matters is beyond me.

The author further indicates the policy which is being challenged doesn't actually exist... and then reports that the ATF issued a statement saying:

"ATF did not exercise proper oversight, planning or judgment in executing this case. We at ATF have accepted responsibility and have taken appropriate and decisive action to insure that these errors in oversight and judgment never occur again."

And then expands the statement by stating "ATF has clarified its firearms transfer policy to focus on interdiction or early intervention to prevent the criminal acquisition, trafficking and misuse of firearms," and it cited changes in coordination and oversight.

It is at this point in the source that the author betrays her lack of objectivity:

...the ultimate irony is this: Republicans who support the National Rifle Association and its attempts to weaken gun laws are lambasting ATF agents for not seizing enough weapons—ones that, in this case, prosecutors deemed to be legal.

This is what I believe the politicans, the talking heads (like the author) and others fail to expose more deeply.

What happened to the "non-existent" policy? What happened to the bitter complaints that the prosecutors failed to provide the force of law to the operation of the ATF agents? Suddenly, in the author's mind, these elements are gone from the discussion? Why? because the Republicans are taking advantage of the world-class screw-up?

It seems that, having made clear he thinks there is irony in the matter, he has determined the loss of Agent Terry, though admittidly terrible, is of no import in the case. To twist his irony I would add that we proably should be grateful it wasn't a small family or immigrants who were killed by the guns... because we would know nothing of the matter... and life could continue without the attention to the way our government operations are executed (pun not intended.)

The author now regails us with a littany of personality descriptions which somehow is supposed to humanize the story... and agent nicknamed "Sunshine Bear" because she never smiles, a caustic and blunt agent who is quote "an asshole sometimes" unquote, the disgruntled agent called "the renegade," and so on. Why that matters is beyond me.

Our author concedes that this troubled unit was overworked and understaffed. Morale was underground, and they were stretched far too thinly.

By January of 2010 (a year before Agent Terry was shot and killed) the unit had compiled a list of 20 suspects who spent $350 thousand dollars on 650 guns. The investigating congressional committe... now singluarly identified as Issa's, considers that should had been enough to proceed with arrests.... But the Assistant US Attorney in Phoenix had told the agents they lacked probable cause... i.e. there is nothing illegal about purchasing numerous guns, or transferring their ownership. The agents would have to prove by clear evidence that these guns were intended for use in a crime..... that particular US attorney is under a gag order not to speak of the matter.

None of the ATF agents doubted that the Fast and Furious guns were being purchased to commit crimes in Mexico. But that was nearly impossible to prove to prosecutors' satisfaction. And agents could not seize guns or arrest suspects after being directed not to do so by a prosecutor.

This is what I believe the politicans, the talking heads (like the author) and others fail to expose more deeply.

Really? Agent Terry died because of this? How can the prosecutor be gagged when their direction made the entire operation impotent? According to the timeline... this was tax-payer dollars going to waste... why create a unit that can not accomplish it's mission? Who is responsible for that?

Apparently the ATF unit decided to minimize risks and cut their losses after the proscutor pulled the rug out from under them:

"Currently our strategy is to allow the transfer of firearms to continue to take place, albeit at a much slower pace, in order to further the investigation and allow for the identification of additional co-conspirators."

edit on 28-6-2012 by Maxmars because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 28 2012 @ 12:06 PM
Despite the change in strategy....

Ten days after the meeting with Hurley, a Saturday, Jaime Avila, a transient, admitted methamphetamine user, bought three WASR-10 rifles at the Lone Wolf Trading Company in Glendale, Ariz. The next day, a helpful Lone Wolf employee faxed Avila's purchase form to ATF to flag the suspicious activity. It was the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, so the agents didn't receive the fax until Tuesday, according to a contemporaneous case report. By that time, the legally purchased guns had been gone for three days. The agents had never seen the weapons and had no chance to seize them. But they entered the serial numbers into their gun database. Two of these were later recovered at Brian Terry's murder scene.

This is how Agent Terry died. A long weekend, a missed opportunity, and state-imposed legal impotence.

Our author notes something very critical here...

William Newell, then special agent in charge of the ATF's Phoenix field division, suspected that U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, an Obama appointee, was not being briefed adequately by deputies about the volume of guns being purchased.

Now the author seems to give credence tot he allegation that the federal prosecutor wasn't being adequately briefed.... it seemed that in january of 2010 he was briefed and made his directives clear based on that briefing... all documented.... so why is the fact that he was an Obama appointee relevent?... I'm sure an inference could be drawn...

He wrote to colleagues in February 2010 that the prosecutor seemed "taken aback by some of the facts I informed him about"—by then, the Fast and Furious suspects had purchased 800 guns—"so I am setting up a briefing for him (alone no USAO 'posse') about this case and several other cases I feel he is being misled about."

Ah the passively constructed sentence... how I loathe thee! Who misled him? Why? Why a briefing "alone." And if he knew the details - how did the actual US attorney claim he did not? Gag order. Although one agent claims rather strongly that ""Despite the existence [of] probable cause in many cases," he testified, "there were no indictments, no prosecutions, and criminals were allowed to walk free." Prosecutors in Los Angeles and New York were far more aggressive in pursuing gun cases, Forcelli asserted.

In evident desperation for meaningful action, the agents resorted to taking their case to the Arizona State prosecutor... who in typical 'cover-your-ass' style prevaricated and obstructed until it became clear to the agents that they would get no support there either.

By this point, the unit was suffering a true morale crisis which decended to the depths of shift allocations, seniority, and fractious behavior, like the posting of a fake policy on the leader's door by Agent Alt, Agent Dodson refusing to report for duty properly... the most egregious of which was the true incident of "gun-walking" by Agent Dodson... who apparently collaborated with Alt in drafting some very troublesome emails... Apparently, Alt and Dodson (along with Agent Casa) were at odds with their leaders' inability to overcome the obbstacles in their way.

... [Dodson] proceeded to walk guns intentionally, with Casa and Alt's help. On April 13, 2010, one month after Voth wrote his schism e-mail, Dodson opened a case into a suspected gun trafficker named Isaiah Fernandez. He had gotten Casa to approve the case when Voth was on leave. Dodson had directed a cooperating straw purchaser to give three guns to Fernandez and had taped their conversations without a prosecutor's approval.

Voth first learned these details a month into the case. He demanded that Dodson meet with him and get approval from prosecutors to tape conversations. Five days later, Dodson sent an uncharacteristically diplomatic response. (He and Alt had revised repeated drafts in that time, with Alt pushing to make the reply "less abrasive." Dodson e-mailed back: "Less abrasive? I felt sick from kissing all that ass as it was.") Dodson wrote that he succeeded in posing undercover as a straw purchaser and claimed that prosecutor Hurley—who he had just belatedly contacted—had raised "new concerns." The prosecutor had told Dodson that an assistant U.S. Attorney "won't be able to approve of letting firearms 'walk' in furtherance of your investigation without first briefing the U.S. Attorney and Criminal Chief."

It was the first time Voth learned that Dodson intended to walk guns.

---- Answer to basic question number 1: Did ATF agents intentionally allow guns to "walk"? YES.

Note however, that our author opens this story with a simple definitive "take away" message....

A Fortune investigation reveals that the ATF never intentionally allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

Which is an interpretation of the findings... not "the findings"

- Continued

posted on Jun, 28 2012 @ 12:07 PM

On June 1, Dodson used $2,500 in ATF funds to purchase six AK Draco pistols from local gun dealers, and gave these to Fernandez, who reimbursed him and gave him $700 for his efforts. Two days later, according to case records, Dodson—who would later testify that in his previous experience, "if even one [gun] got away from us, nobody went home until we found it"—left on a scheduled vacation without interdicting the guns. That day, Voth wrote to remind him that money collected as evidence needed to be vouchered within five days. Dodson e-mailed back, his sarcasm fully restored: "Do the orders define a 'day'? Is it; a calendar day? A business day or work day….? An Earth day (because a day on Venus takes 243 Earth days which would mean that I have plenty of time)?"

The guns were never recovered, the case was later closed, and Fernandez was never charged. By any definition, it was gun walking of the most egregious sort: a government agent using taxpayer money to deliver guns to bad guys and then failing to intercept them.

As this picture of institutional stupidity and petty professional rivalries starts to coalesce in your mind... remember that in all of this not a single person is saying "it was my fault, I am responsible" and to make matters more disappointing... every is pointing at someone else...

Once the Justice Department took it's knee-jerk stance of "we've done nothing wrong!" going so far as to put in writing that the allegations were false... Senator Grassley countered with the case reports showing that it had in fact happened.. while the Agent names were redacted... it was clearly then and now the Dodson-Fernandez case record.

The tangled web of back and forth continued for months. Agents delivering names and evidence; prosecutors seeming unmoved by it... among the information was the name of one suspect, "Avila" who had purchased some 2,000 guns... it took mover a month of meetings to work out a target time frame for indictments .. October 2010.

But it didn't happen...

But as weeks and then months passed, prosecutors did not issue indictments. The ATF agents grew increasingly concerned. By December, prosecutors had dropped Avila's name from the indictment list for what they deemed a lack of evidence.

Only when Terry, the U.S. Border Patrol agent, was murdered in December 2010 did the prosecutors act. Voth's agents arrested Avila within 24 hours of Terry's death. On Jan. 19, 2011, a federal grand jury indicted him and 19 other suspects.

It appears thus far from the telling of this tale that the prosecutor needs to be charged with obstruction... or worse.

Our author includes at this point the web site of a disgruntled former ATF employee as a factor in the story... but fails to actually identify "how." Leaving the reader to infer, perhaps incorrectly, that this particular politically transparent blog owner had somehow changed the course of American history by focusing on his favorite organization to hate - publicly.

Shortly after, Agent Dodson met with congressional staffers and subsequently appeared on CBS for his stellar performance - one that it appears may have been far from accurate:

As Voth watched the program from his living room, he says, he wanted to vomit. He saw sentences from his "schism" e-mail reproduced on the TV screen. But CBS didn't quote the portions of Voth's e-mail that described how the group was divided by "petty arguing" and "adolescent behavior." Instead, CBS claimed the schism had been caused by opposition to gun walking (such alleged opposition is not discussed anywhere in the e-mail, which is below). CBS asserted that Dodson and others had protested the tactic "over and over," and then quoted portions of Voth's e-mail in a way that left the impression that gun walking was endorsed at headquarters. CBS contacted the ATF (but not Voth directly). The result was a report that incorrectly painted Voth as zealously promoting gun walking. (A CBS spokeswoman, Sonya McNair, says CBS does not publicly discuss its editorial process but notes, "The White House has already acknowledged the truth of our report.")

Here's the email that failed to reach "us" the people until after the media had made it's "production"...

- Continued

posted on Jun, 28 2012 @ 12:07 PM
It was at this point that "informed" citizens... mostly other ATF "insiders" began acting on the "factual news" reported by CBS and threatening Voth and his family... going so far as to break into his home - among other things.

Investigators into the threats found...

...the malicious intent of insiders" had led directly to Voth's becoming the target of a "nation-wide…libel campaign."

Congressional inquiries consisting of mostly interviews with Dodson, Casa, and Alt identified Voth as a central figure in the scandal.

It quoted Dodson describing Voth as "giddy" over the slaughter in Mexico—Voth says he was deeply upset by the violence—but didn't reflect Voth's perspective.

As the allegations mounted, pressure intensified. In early July the ATF's once supportive acting director, Melson—who according to e-mails had been briefed weekly on the case—went to Congress and threw his own people under the bus. Melson told Grassley that he had read the case reports only after the scandal broke, and had been "sick to his stomach," according to press accounts of the meeting. In August, Melson resigned, as did Arizona's U.S. Attorney, Burke. (Melson's lawyer, Richard Cullen, says the Justice Department's inspector general will likely answer many of the continuing questions.) In December 2011, the Justice Department retracted its Feb. 4 letter, in which it had denied walking guns in the Fast and Furious case.

Our author closes noting the personal effect this has had on others, and points out that she feels the idea of this event being instrumental in degrading 2nd amendment rights is far-fetched.

Such a closing indicates where the authors perspective lies... in politics....

This story is far from over. But more importantly, how the media is sued to disseminate information - disinformation - and lies can be made very clear if we keep our own bearings and recognize that we are all human, and I can't begrudge the highly esteemed author, Doris Burke, her point of view....

But there are other possibilities not explored in her "investigation" ... and it is likely they will not be... only by following the future careers of Agents like Dadosn, Alt, Casa, and others can we see exactly who was really being "used" and who was "using" the circumstance for their own gain... and with the prosecutor resigned... is he still practicing law?.... is he "political" too?

Personally I blame political parties for engendering political expedience and loyalty over loyalty to the people you serve.... but that's just me.

posted on Jun, 28 2012 @ 12:20 PM
Holder didn't make any friends when he forced his people to turn a blind eye on the voter intimidation cases in 2008. He certainly didn't win any friends when he pondered whether the President could murder Americans WITHIN the United States and not just overseas.

I don't see the problem with ending his influence 6 months early.

posted on Jun, 28 2012 @ 12:42 PM
I had an argument on this article yesterday.

IMO the article is extremely one sided.
They did a 6 month investigation and spoke to agents involved?
The whole article reeks of CYA!
They didn't allow a few guns to walk. They allowed 2,500 guns to walk.
That's an intentional act. Make no doubt.

Also there is no mention about store owners who were told by the ATF to allow sales of weapons even if the buyer had fake id or anything.

CBS News

In late 2009, ATF was alerted to suspicious buys at seven gun shops in the Phoenix area. Suspicious because the buyers paid cash, sometimes brought in paper bags. And they purchased classic "weapons of choice" used by Mexican drug traffickers - semi-automatic versions of military type rifles and pistols.

Sources tell CBS News several gun shops wanted to stop the questionable sales, but ATF encouraged them to continue.

Jaime Avila was one of the suspicious buyers. ATF put him in its suspect database in January of 2010. For the next year, ATF watched as Avila and other suspects bought huge quantities of weapons supposedly for "personal use." They included 575 AK-47 type semi-automatic rifles.

ATF managers allegedly made a controversial decision: allow most of the weapons on the streets. The idea, they said, was to gather intelligence and see where the guns ended up. Insiders say it's a dangerous tactic called letting the guns, "walk."

One agent called the strategy "insane." Another said: "We were fully aware the guns would probably be moved across the border to drug cartels where they could be used to kill."

On the phone, one Project Gunrunner source (who didn't want to be identified) told us just how many guns flooded the black market under ATF's watchful eye. "The numbers are over 2,500 on that case by the way. That's how many guns were sold - including some 50-calibers they let walk."

50-caliber weapons are fearsome. For months, ATF agents followed 50-caliber Barrett rifles and other guns believed headed for the Mexican border, but were ordered to let them go. One distraught agent was often overheard on ATF radios begging and pleading to be allowed to intercept transports. The answer: "Negative. Stand down."

CBS News has been told at least 11 ATF agents and senior managers voiced fierce opposition to the strategy. "It got ugly..." said one. There was "screaming and yelling" says another. A third warned: "this is crazy, somebody is gonna to get killed."

BTW Dude. Excellent post.
edit on 28-6-2012 by grey580 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 28 2012 @ 04:27 PM
Here is "The Young Turk's" reporting of the Fortune article.
Full segment

Here is a summarized version from YouTube:

His title is "The Fast and Furious program as you know it is a myth"

So, here we go again... conflicting reports from mainstream media and politicians alike! It's little wonder why people don't know who to trust anymore, which is probably a good thing, because, in my humble opinion none of them should be trusted. (Well, at least very few of them.)

I don't want this to become a "your source is unreliable, but my source is the absolute truth" type debates, but I've thought that there has been an "off" smell to this whole thing from the beginning.

In my humble opinion, the real lesson to be learned from all this is to realize just how the manipulation of "facts" to influence public opinion is a mainstay of modern politics. Perhaps the internet gives us access to more information, but maybe that is just an extra tool in the "fact" moulding game!

the Billmeister

posted on Jun, 28 2012 @ 04:44 PM

Originally posted by Billmeister


I don't want this to become a "your source is unreliable, but my source is the absolute truth" type debates, but I've thought that there has been an "off" smell to this whole thing from the beginning.

In my humble opinion, the real lesson to be learned from all this is to realize just how the manipulation of "facts" to influence public opinion is a mainstay of modern politics. Perhaps the internet gives us access to more information, but maybe that is just an extra tool in the "fact" moulding game!

the Billmeister

Oh I agree.

Our lesson here (sad though the case is) is about how on Earth can we expect to EVER know what's true and what's not when each "report" is replete with insertions of "approved" text and "media-specific" editorialization?

While I agree the internet can be just one more vehicle for the drivel the players seek to deliver their particular "information" it is also true that they continually fail to grasp that their machinations are not "too clever to see through" and thus they have thespian talking heads and political clowns swishing about in the waters just to muddy them up... as if we would be too confused and preoccupied to see that their world is full of load-bearing lies... each one as vulnerable as the next.

Tonight I will review your links and add my comments as appropriate... thanks for taking the time to read this!

I close with a reminder for everyone... just because the media,. the talking heads, and the politicians proclaim their "facts" and "reactions" to events... doesn't mean we have to accept them at their word, or craft our understanding based on them.... we need to openly recognize these establishment drones as what they are... tools.... Only from there can we set course for the reality that they try so hard to conceal.
edit on 28-6-2012 by Maxmars because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 28 2012 @ 08:13 PM
reply to post by Maxmars

I consider myself extremely lucky that at a young age, my father explained to me that you could call "bull crap" on a "news" report. (Though he used the more traditional, though more often "bleeped" out wordage.)

That, along with the empirical teaching method has imposed a set of "doubt-colored" glasses on me when seeing things through anything but my own two eyes.

The sad (though extremely realistic) part of all that, is that I have turned into a pretty extreme cynic when it comes to things I have not witnessed with my own two eyes. All of which can become somewhat dizzying when attempting to construct an "educated" opinion on current (and not so current) events.

I'll take this opportunity to thank you for your contributions to ATS which I appreciate greatly. I'm certain that if the anonymous internet forum wasn't our connection, we could have some very interesting and enlightening discussion over a tasty beverage.

A sincere cheers from this anonymous Canadian contributor,

the Billmeister

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