Around September, 2009 Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) officers started allowing sales of firearms to "straw buyers" near the Mexican border. This operation came to be known as Operation Fast and Furious. "Straw buying" guns (one person buying a gun for another) is illegal in the U.S. since the subsequent sale of the gun is not traceable and the gun could have been intended all along for illegal purposes. In this case, the guns were subsequently being re-sold to Mexican drug cartels. By January 8, 2010 (about 4 months) the ATF reported that 20 individuals had purchased more than 650 guns (mostly AK-47 variants) paying $350,000 in cash. Eventually, thousands of guns were sold to straw purchasers under this program. The intent of Fast and Furious was to track the guns to the drug cartels which would lead to arrest of individuals higher up in the cartel, versus arresting those lower level people transporting the guns.
What many may not realize is that the ATF does not control the sale of firearms, that the FBI's job. It wouldn't take much of an investigator to become curious about 20 individuals buying 650+ AK-47 type guns over a 4 month period all with cash. But not this time. When someone purchases a firearm from a gun shop, the FBI must approve the sale before it happens through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The NICS is supposed to prohibit the sale of guns to felons, yet the FBI allowed Jacob Wayne Chambers and Sean Christopher Stewart (both felons) to purchase over 360 guns between the two of them. Someone at the FBI broke federal firearm laws to allow the sale of these weapons.
On October 26, 2009 a conference call was held with one of the topics being "adoption of the Department's strategy for Combating Mexican Drug Cartels". The attendees of the call included the then Director of the ATF, Kenneth Melson, and the then Director of the FBI, Robert Mueller. With the ATF and FBI working a joint operation, those they report to would also have to be involved, the Justice Department and in this case Eric Holder.
On December 14, 2010 Border Patrol Officer Brian Terry was gunned down near the Mexican border in Arizona. Two of the guns recovered at the scene were traced back to the Fast and Furious operation. The guns were marked for evidence as "K2" and "K3", with the designation "K" meaning known item. Neither of these weapons were conclusive matches to the shots that killed Officer Terry and rumors spread quickly about a third gun, item "K1". Other officers at the scene even told the family about the existence of a third gun that had disappeared.
The Justice Department eventually disclosed that item "K1" was not a firearm but a blood sample from Officer Terry. This disclosure was made in response to questions by Representative Darrel Issa (R-Calif). There was an ongoing feud between Issa and Holder, with Holder refusing to cooperate with an investigation being led by Issa and Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). Mueller eventually chimed in to the debate with assurances that there were only two weapons found at the scene of Officer Terry's murder.
Because of his actions, Holder was eventually found to be in Contempt of Congress which President Obama covered with the claim of executive privilege. No case was ever brought against Holder for the contempt charge by the DOJ. The claim of executive privilege did delay the release of 65,000 pages of documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious until through litigation a judge rebuked the President's claim of executive privilege and ordered the documents released.
These documents finally proved the existence of the third weapon which had been taken by the FBI and exposed the coverup that a flawed operation executed jointly by the ATF and FBI contributed to the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. If we actually had a functioning Justice Department it would also open Robert Mueller up to not only the breaking of federal gun laws but also to charges of lying to Congress, tampering with evidence, obstruction of justice and potentially even accessory to the murder of Officer Terry.
Fast and Furious was eventually hung around the neck of Kenneth Melson, the Director of the ATF, who was reassigned within the Department of Justice to await his retirement. Robert Mueller fully served the remainder of his term as Director of the FBI and is now investigating President Trump. I can't believe this is really justice for these two men nor do I believe that Mueller is the type of person I would have investigating anything, not even why my trash pickup was delayed last week.
There's more to this, but this post is long enough already. There's more to come.
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