Grassley investigates 'project gunrunner’
Senator Grassley struggles to get to the bottom of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s death and the role of ATFThursday, February 17th, 2011
Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) is like a dog that has gotten his chops on a bone and won’t let go.
Grassley found out that 2 of the weapons found at the site of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder scene in Rio Rico actually came from a gun shop in Phoenix. Of this there is no doubt any more.
Second, Grassley found out that ATF was running an investigation that called Project Gunrunner, allowing guns to be sold to “straw men” illegally, with said guns slipping into Mexico and into the hands of the Mexican drug cartels. The guns found at Agent Terry’s murder scene were tracked by ATF via Project Gunrunner.
Grassley raised the question how come ATF looked the other way while hundreds of guns are slipping into Mexico under ATF’s watchful eyes.
What Grassley has gotten from ATF and the US Department of Justice is a giant stone wall.
The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20530
Dear Attorney General Holder:
I appreciate the staff briefing that Department of Justice (DOJ) and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) officials provided on February 10, 2011. However, the briefers focused on general issues related to challenges in successfully prosecuting gun trafficking cases. They refused to answer specific questions about the facts and circumstances that led me to request the briefing.
Specifically, they refused to say whether the approximately 103 weapons seized
according to the Jaime Avila indictment were the only seizures related to the nearly 770 weapons mentioned in the indictment. They refused to say whether the third assault rifle purchased by Avila in January 2010—the one not found at the scene of CBP Agent Brian Terry’s shooting—has been recovered elsewhere. When asked whether ATF had encouraged any gun dealer to proceed with sales to known or suspected traffickers such as Avila, the briefers said only that they did not have any “personal knowledge” of that.
Therefore, please provide the following documents to the Committee:
1) All records relating to communications between the ATF and the Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) who sold the weapons to Avila, including any Report of Investigation (ROI) or other records relating to the December 17, 2009 meeting “to discuss his role as an FFL during this investigation.”
2) All records relating to communications between ATF headquarters and Phoenix Special Agent in Charge (SAC) William Newell from December 1, 2010 to the present, including a memorandum, approximately 30 pages long, from SAC Newell to ATF headquarters following the arrest of Jaime Avila and the death of CBP Agent Brian Terry.
3) A copy of the presentation, approximately 200 pages long, that the Group 7 Supervisor made to officials at ATF Headquarters in the Spring of 2010.
4) Copies of all e-mails related to Operation Fast and Furious, the Jaime Avila case, or the death of CBP Agent Brian Terry sent to or from SAC Newell, Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) George Gillette, Group 7 Supervisor, or the Case Agent between November 1, 2009 and January 31, 2011.
Please provide documents in batches on a rolling basis as they are identified and located. Also, please prioritize your search for documents and produce them in the following order: (1) documents in response to requests one through three, (2) documents in response to request four dated between December 13, 2010 and January 31, 2011, and (3) documents in response to request four dated between November 1, 2009 and December 13, 2010.
I look forward to receiving your response. Please provide the first set of requested documentation by no later than February 23, 2011. If you have any questions please contact Jason Foster or Brian Downey at (202) 224-5225. All formal correspondence should be sent electronically in PDF format to Brian_Downey@judiciary-rep.senate.gov or via facsimile to (202) 224-3799.
Charles E. Grassley
cc: The Honorable Patrick Leahy, Chairman, United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary
The Honorable Robert S. Mueller, III, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Kenneth E. Melson, Acting Director, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
The Honorable Alan D. Bersin, Commissioner, United States Customs and Border Protection
What Grassley is focusing on is that ATF announced a big bust of this guy Avila, but 2 of the guns found at Agent Terry’s murder scene were bought by Avila.
What ATF is trying to do is beat their chests how good a job they are doing investigating the sale of guns…and Grassley is trying to dig deeper and find out if this isn’t just a smoke screen to hide the facts that hundreds of assault weapons have flowed into Mexico under ATF’s surveillance, including the 2 guns found at Agent Terry’s death site.
A really interesting fact of this growing story is apparently there are ATF “boots on the ground” agents who are ratting out their bosses in the cover-up.
Called “whistle blowers”, the ATF agents who are feeding Grassley and others the real skinny on what is going down are either heroes if you want truth and justice and an honest government, or traitors if you are high-ranking Obama Administration lackeys who want to sweep under the rug the fact that if they had not let the 2 guns slip, Agent Terry might still be alive today.
This whole mess gives new meaning to the “friendly fire” definition…our law enforcement folks being killed by our law enforcement folks pursuing their mission to the disregard of the safety of other law enforcement officials. This is the ultimate betrayal of our law enforcement people.