A July 4 meeting between the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) front man Kenneth Melson and Congressional investigators revealed the Department of Justice has actively engaged in a “cover-up” and “remain silent” campaign concerning the controversial firearm program that allowed U.S. weapons to cross into Mexico in the hands of criminals.
The hush, hush meeting revealed a couple of things, first, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder knew a lot more about this operation than he has previously admitted and Melson will not be the Obama Administration fall guy.
This investigation began when senior Republican Congressional lawmakers embarked on quest to find out why Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered in December of last year with a gun that traced back to an ATF program. However, Agent Terry’s family and lawmakers were met with roadblocks from ATF leaders.
That all changed with the Fourth of July meeting between lawmakers and investigators when Melson exposed that it was the Department of Justice (DOJ) who silenced ATF leaders.
"If his account is accurate, then ATF leadership appears to have been effectively muzzled while the DOJ sent over false denials and buried its head in the sand," Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-CA) chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote in a letter Tuesday to AG Eric Holder. "That approach distorted the truth and obstructed our investigation."
"According to Acting Director Melson, he became aware of this startling possibility only after the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and the indictments of the straw purchasers." (Straw purchasers are criminals who buy weapons for other known criminals who cannot legally buy firearms)
The secret meeting also produced admissions that ATF “made many mistakes” with the controversial gun walking program “Fast and Furious.” In fact Melson's private attorney, Richard Cullen, a former federal prosecutor was present at the July 4 meeting with investigators to protect the acting director.
Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) who also sits on the Government Oversight Committee said this scandal has quickly lent itself to a “he said, she said” scenario.
Chaffetz also cited his concern about AG Holder’s knowledge of the reckless ATF program. “We received page after page of redacted ATF documents. And in May Holder said he only learned about the gun walking program, even though we have questionable ATF memos that date back to January of this year.”
Another concern with ATF's "Fast and Furious" program is wire-tapping. “Wire tapes require senior administration approval and we still don’t know who authorized them for this program,” Chaffetz finished.
Lawmakers also learned over the holiday weekend that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) were involved in buying guns with taxpayer money using an informant in order to target Mexican drug cartels.
The informant in question happened to be a high-ranking drug dealer the DEA used as an informant before deporting him for undisclosed reasons. His name resurfaced after the FBI reportedly hired the drug dealer as a counter-terrorism informant who claimed he could offer intelligence that al Qaeda suspects were traveling back and forth along the southern border.
Once the FBI activated the former-DEA informant a new DEA wiretap overheard a questionable conversation and alerted the ATF.
Adding insult to injury are claims from a high-ranking Los Zetas leader that the U.S. sanctioned firearm sales. The Los Zetas leader was arrested over the weekend in connection with the murder of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agent Jamie Zapata earlier this year.
Mexican federal police say, Jesus Rejon Aguiler boasted that all the weapons his cartel uses are bought in the U.S. The cartel leader even accused the American government of participating in the sale of weapons, something U.S. officials adamantly deny.
While the exact number of weapons that have walked to Mexico is not known, the disastrous result is violent cartel members are now in procession of these guns and they will turn up at crime scenes on both sides of the border for years to come.
The question Americans’ must demand from lawmakers is “why?” Why were guns allowed to be purchased by known criminals? Why was Mexico kept in the dark about the failing program? Why did DOJ allow this program flourish and carry on?
The level of incompetence surrounding this program is very telling. It appears that the U.S. government’s intelligence agencies have failed to learn the tragic 9/11 lesson; it is imperative that three-letter acronym agencies must share information.
As the country approaches the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, America and her enemies now recognize that agencies like the DOJ, FBI, DEA and ATF are not sharing intelligence and continue to put intra-agency politics ahead of national security.
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© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
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