Associated Press reporting on the Gunwalker (“Fast and Furious”) scandal has been sporadic but fair. However, not many newspapers around the country have picked up the AP’s stories on Gunwalker, apparently because they would rather cover up than expose scandals that originate in the Obama administration. (That’s only my theory, but if anyone can think of a better one, feel free to propose it.) Today, the AP released its longest and most thorough story on the scandal so far. Written by Pauline Arrillaga, the AP article is “based on interviews with ATF agents, past and present; gun dealers who cooperated in Fast and Furious; court records in the Fast and Furious case; the testimony of current and former ATF agents before congressional committees and to congressional investigators; and a review of internal ATF emails and investigative documents assembled as part of the congressional inquiry into Fast and Furious as well as government strategy documents and reports regarding ATF’s approach to gun probes.” Ms. Arrillaga’s story is a very good starting point for those who are new to the story.
The article needs to be read in its entirety to get the full impact, but one notable point is that firearms dealers made sales of AK-47 type weapons that they normally would not have, because they were encouraged to do so by ATF:
But soon, the agents weren’t the only ones voicing concerns. Gun dealers also grew wary as more and more weapons were sold.
Speaking on condition of anonymity because of ongoing inquiries, one dealer described the pace of the sales as “unprecedented … It had never happened like that before.”
Still another said that because of the volume, “our sales people would go behind the door and have a direct dial to ATF, speak to somebody and they’d say, `Yup, they’re on our list. Go ahead and make the sale.’ Otherwise, we probably wouldn’t have.”
One dealer even met with Voth and the lead prosecutor on the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Emory Hurley, to seek assurances that guns weren’t going south of the border. That same dealer emailed Voth in June 2010, saying he was worried for friends who were Border Patrol agents. “I want to help ATF with its investigation but not at the risk of (agents’) safety,” wrote the dealer.
The dealers’ fears, of course, turned out to be prescient. It was the shooting of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry that finally brought the scandal to light:
The very day after the shooting, ATF agents arrested Jaime Avila. According to court documents, Avila allegedly admitted on the spot to buying some 40 AK-47 variants.
Dodson, who had been transferred out of Group VII several months earlier, figured that at last his supervisors would admit mistakes had been made. Then he saw the ATF’s initial investigative report regarding the shooting, and it made no mention of the fact that Avila had been a known suspect for months on end.
Fearing a potential cover-up, he tried calling the ATF’s chief counsel in Washington but got no reply. He called the inspector general’s hot line and again got nothing.
Then he learned that U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley’s office might be looking into the operation and sent a note via an email address set up for potential whistleblowers.
Talk to me, he wrote.
The Obama administration’s cover-up continues to this day, as Eric Holder’s Department of Justice stonewalls Congress, seemingly in order to prevent the investigation from reaching into the highest levels of the administration. If the media’s need to protect the fast-sinking Obama administration were not so acute, this would be quite a scandal. It will be interesting to see how many newspapers outside the Southwest border region print the AP’s latest story.