Tomorrow, June 15th- Hearing into ATF Operation "Fast & Furious" by House Committee on Oversight and Gov’t. Reform

Hi Gang:
As you likely know, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) is coming under extreme scrutiny as an result of what appears to be one of the most unfathomable investigations imaginable that was code-named, “Fast and Furious.”  Under the auspices of this investigation that was conducted under the aegis of “Project Gun Runner,” gun shops were encouraged if not ordered to permit hundreds or perhaps thousands of fully functioning firearms, including high powered firearms, to be sold and delivered to identified “straw” purchasers who were seeking to buy those guns on behalf of Mexican drug cartels.
Here is a link to an account published by the Tucson Citizen, of how information about “Project Gun Runner” and “Operation Fast and Furious” came to light:
According to published reports the owners of the gun stores were greatly concerned about permitting to let those guns “walk,” that is to say be delivered to the purchasers, loaded into their vehicles and literally, disappear down the road.  Apparently there were a number of ATF agents who also resisted this insane strategy with the purported hope that by allowing the guns to walk that the ensuing investigation would lead agents to the cartels.  Several of these agents became “whistleblowers” and went public with their grave misgivings about this undercover investigation that put dangerous weapons into the hands of some of the most violent criminals on the face of this planet.
We all owe those courageous whistleblower a debt of gratitude!
Were it not for the guts and the integrity of ATF Special Agent John Dodson and others, this investigation might still be ongoing with still more guns literally, heading south!
Tomorrow, Wednesday, June 15, 2011, at 10:00 AM, Eastern Daylight Savings Time, a Congressional oversight hearing will be conducted by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.  The hearing will be conducted in room 2154 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
This hearing is entitled:

“Operation Fast and Furious: Reckless Decisions, Tragic Outcomes” 
This hearing will begin a process to determine who bears the responsibility for permitting this investigation to be conducted and to permit those guns to “walk.”
You will be able to watch the hearing online.  I have been provided with information about the hearing and about other material from a couple of my former colleagues of the INS who are, as you might well imagine, watching the unfolding saga closely.
Here is the link where you will be able to watch a streaming video of the hearing:

Here is a link to information about the hearing:


On December 15, 2010 United States Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was shot to death by drug smugglers as he confronted those smugglers while on duty with other agents.  A firearm found at the murder scene was subsequently traced and determined to have been one of the many guns that “walked” across the border to Mexico.  A number of Border Patrol Agent Terry’s family members will be appearing before the hearing tomorrow.  According to a Fox News report, that weapon was, in fact the weapon that was used to kill Brian Terry.
Here is a link to the Fox News broadcast that laid out the information about this sordid mess:
On February 15, 2011 two Special Agents of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) were attacked while on official business inside Mexico.  One of the agents, Jaime Zapata died while the other agent, Victor Avila was seriously wounded but, thankfully, survived.  According to information that was released by the Justice Department, the gun used to kill Special Agent Zapata was sold by a gun store in Texas.  I have provided you, below, with a newspaper report concerning the shooting of these two agents and how “Operation Gun Runner” was helping to stop the flow of guns from the United States to Mexico.  That newspaper article is dated March 1, 2011.  Back then the administration claimed that some 90% of the guns recovered in Mexico were traced back to the United States.  
The obvious question is if the murder weapon that killed Jaime Zapata was another one of those “walked” guns.
 
As a former INS Senior Special Agent I can tell you that I have never heard of anything so bizarre or wrong headed.  For the last ten years of my career I was assigned to the Organized Crime, Drug Enforcement Task Force.  Under this task force I was assigned to a number of diverse federal agencies where I joined and assisted in the investigations of drug trafficking organizations in which aliens were involved.  For a number of years I had a desk at the ATF and worked closely with those agents as I did with agents of the FBI, DEA and other federal, local and state law enforcement agencies.  I can tell you that every time that we succeeded in recovering firearms that had been in the possession of criminals we reacted the way that team members on a baseball team would react to a teammate hitting a home run!
I could not imagine any of those ATF or other agents intentionally permitting criminals to walk off with functioning weapons.
I can also tell you that under various undercover guidelines, there is no way that any sanctioned undercover investigation could be undertaken without authorization coming from the upper levels of the chain of command.
At the former INS, any time that legitimate immigration documents were to be issued to aliens who, under the aegis of an undercover investigation believed that they were dealing with a corrupt INS official, INS headquarters had to authorize the release of such documents.  Often the managers at headquarters would reduce the number of documents that were to be issued and a big deal was made about it.  The risks that these documents posed was absolutely minimal since the file that related to the documents would reflect the circumstances under which those documents were issued and hence it would be easy to track the aliens who had documents.  Furthermore, and most obviously, no one has ever been killed by a Green Card (Alien Registration Receipt Card).
Fully functioning firearms are another matter altogether and yet, even given the extreme dangers inherent in handing over guns to criminals, this would appear to be precisely what happened.
Thus far the administration is reportedly resisting efforts by Congress to determined how this lunacy was permitted to occur.
I urge you to watch the hearing.  I suspect that the video of the hearing will be made available afterwards.
Some folks I have spoken with have compared this with the “Watergate” scandal of the Nixon administration.  Frankly I see little similarity.  Certainly Watergate involved government corruption and abuse of power, but no one died as a result of the Watergate break-in.  The guns that are now “out there” and may be used in many shootings over God knows how many years to come.  I don’t even want to imagine how many people in Mexico and the United States, will be shot and killed or shot and wounded as a result of the decisions made by those involved in this ill conceived undercover investigation.
So far one U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed by one of these hundreds or perhaps thousands of firearms.  Additionally, it would appear that perhaps two ICE agents were shot by another of these guns and one of those agents died.
The time for accountability it now!

I

our country is to survive and if our children and their children are to get their share of the “American Dream” the citizens of this nation must take their citizenship seriously!

We the People must be the best citizens we can be, citizens who are worthy of the gallantry demonstrated by our valiant men and women in the military, law enforcement and firefighters, who routinely go in harm’s way in defense of this nation and our citizens.  
My goal in writing this and other commentaries is to point out our nations many failings before more victims pay the ultimate price for the incompetence and ineptitude of our government.
The first step in problem-solving is to first identify the problems and vulnerabilities and then devise strategies to overcome them.
If you find yourself to be in agreement with this commentary, I ask that you forward it to as many of your friends and family members as possible and encourage them to do the same.  We need to create a “Bucket Brigade of Truth!”

The practice of good citizenship does not end in the voting booth, it only begins there.

The large scale apathy demonstrated by citizens of this nation has emboldened elected representatives to all but ignore the needs of the average American citizen in a quest for massive campaign funds and the promises of votes to be ostensibly delivered by special interest groups. There is much that we cannot do but there is one thing that We the People absolutely must do- we must stop sitting on the sidelines!


The collective failure of We the People to get involved in make our concerns known to our politicians have nearly made the concerns of the great majority of the citizens of this nation all but irrelevant to the politicians.  I implore you to get involved!
I believe our nation’s is greatly benefited by the rich diversity of our people which is why I could never imagine living anywhere except New York City, arguably the most diverse city in our nation if not, in fact, the world.  However, my idea of diversity most certainly does not include members of MS-13, the Mexican drug cartels or members of other transnational gangs or members of al-Qaeda!

If this situation concerns you or especially if it angers you, I ask you to call your Senators and Congressional “Representative. This is not only your right- it is your obligation! 

All I ask is that you make it clear to our politicians that we are not as dumb as they hope we are!

We live in a perilous world and in a perilous era. The survival of our nation and the lives of our citizens hang in the balance.

This is neither a Conservative issue, nor is it a Liberal issue- simply stated, this is most certainly an AMERICAN issue!

You are either part of the solution or you are a part of the problem!

Democracy is not a spectator sport!

Lead, follow or get out of the way!

-michael cutler- 


Please check out my website:


6-15-11 “Operation Fast and Furious: Reckless Decisions, Tragic Outcomes” PDF Print E-mail

Hearing Documents

Hearing Video

Witnesses

Panel I

The Honorable Charles E. Grassley

Ranking Member, Committee on the Judiciary

U.S. Senate

 

Panel II

Josephine Terry

Mother of Late Border Agent Brian Terry

 

Michelle Terry Balogh

Sister of Late Border Agent Brian Terry

 

Robet Heyer

Cousin of Late Border Agent Brian Terry

 

John Dodson

Special Agent, Phoenix Field Division

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

 

Olindo “Lee” Casa

Special Agent, Phoenix Field Division

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

 

Peter Forcelli

Group Supervisor, Phoenix Field Division

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

 

Panel III

Ronald Weich

Assistant Attorney General

U.S. Department of Justice



Other Documents

 

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Gun used to kill immigration agent Jaime Zapata is traced to back to U.S. 


By
Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 11:05 AM on 1st March 2011



Murdered: The gun that killed immigration agent Jaime Zapata has been traced back to Dallas

Murdered: The gun that killed immigration agent Jaime Zapata has been traced back to Dallas

The gun used to kill a U.S. immigration agent in Mexico has been traced back to Texas.


Three people suspected of smuggling guns to Mexico were arrested in the
southern Dallas suburb of Lancaster today, officials said.

The
U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) said the
gun was used in the shooting of the two federal agents who were driving
on a highway near the northern city of San Luis Potosi on February 15.

U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata was killed while
agent Victor Avila survived after being shot twice in the leg.

Some
reports at the time said the two were stopped at a roadblock, while
others said they were run off the road by other vehicles.

Both were unarmed as the Mexican government does not authorise U.S. law enforcement personnel to carry weapons.

The
news comes as the Mexican navy announced today that marines had
captured a regional boss for the Zetas drug gang that is accused of
killing Zapata.

Navy spokesman Jose Luis Vergara said that suspect Sergio Antonio Mora oversaw Zeta activities in the state of San Luis Potosi.

Vergara
did not say if Mora was involved in the attack on Zapata and Avila, but
he said that Mora, known as ‘El Toto,’ was the boss of Julian Zapata
Espinoza.

Haul: ATF officials estimate that 90 per cent of weapons recovered in Mexico come from dealers in the U.S. like this collection seized last year

Haul: ATF officials estimate that 90 per cent of
weapons recovered in Mexico come from dealers in the U.S. like this
collection seized last year


Crack down: Since 2006 the ATF's Project Gunrunner has seized more than 10,000 firearms and nearly one million rounds of ammunition destined for Mexico

Crack down: Since 2006 the ATF’s Project
Gunrunner has seized more than 10,000 firearms and nearly one million
rounds of ammunition destined for Mexico

Espinoza was arrested last week and allegedly confessed to his part in the shooting.

Mexican authorities say he told them the two agents were
attacked because they were mistaken for members of rival cartel Gulf.

However last week some U.S. officials said the attack was an intentional ambush
of the agents and that the gunmen made comments before they fired
indicating they knew who their targets were.

Arrest: Navy soldiers link arms with Sergio Antonio Mora Cortes, AKA 'El Toto, an alleged member of the Zetas drug cartel and the alleged boss of Jorge Zapata, the main suspect in Zapata killing

Arrest: Navy soldiers link arms with Sergio
Antonio Mora Cortes, AKA ‘El Toto’, an alleged member of the Zetas drug
cartel and the alleged boss of Jorge Zapata, the main suspect in Zapata
killing

Mora and five other suspects, including a Honduran man, were detained on Sunday at a hotel in Saltillo, Coahuila.

Federal police also detained another alleged Zetas member,
Luis Miguel Rojo, 27, in San Luis Potosi state on Sunday. It was not clear whether he
played a role in the attack on the U.S. agents.

More than 1,000 people turned out to pay their respects at Zapata’s funeral last week, including prominent government officials.

Closing in: Julian Zapata Espinoza, third from left, was among other suspects arrested last week. He has allegedly confessed to his part in the shooting

Closing in: Julian Zapata Espinoza, third from
left, was among other suspects arrested last week. He has allegedly
confessed to his part in the shooting

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, U.S. Attorney General
Eric Holder and ICE Director, John Morton, each paid tribute to Mr
Zapata.

They said the U.S. remains undeterred in its effort to
help Mexico end the violence by drug cartels, who are blamed for
killing tens of thousands of people, including several Americans, in
recent months.

The U.S. had promised Mexico it would crack down on the smuggling of weapons across the border more than two years ago.

In 2009 President Obama sort $350million in new Pentagon funds to help Mexico fight drug trafficking. 

Respect: More than 1,000 mourners attended Zapata's funeral last week

Respect: More than 1,000 mourners attended Zapata’s funeral last week

The ATF set up Project Gunrunner in 2006, which aims to reduce and
eventually stamp out the smuggling of weapons over the border, but the
problem still remains.

Drug gangs pick up guns in America because firearms control laws are far leaner than they are in Mexico.

Mexicans
must get approval from the military to buy guns and they are forbidden
to own large calibre rifles or high-powered pistols. 

Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano

U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder

Vow: Homeland Security Secretary, Janet
Napolitano, and U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, both said at
Zapata’s funeral that the U.S. remains undeterred in its effort to help
Mexico end the violence by drug cartels

There are more than 6,600 licensed dealers along the U.S./Mexico border, many of which operate out of their own houses.

Last year the ATF had around 200 agents assigned to policing them.

Authorities say they do not know just how many firearms are smuggled across the border each year.

This is mainly because the federal government does not track gun sales and traces only weapons used in crimes.

ATF officials estimate that 90 per cent of weapons recovered in Mexico come from dealers in the U.S.

To date, Project Gunrunner has seized more than 10,000 firearms and nearly one million rounds of ammunition destined for Mexico.

Meanwhile
the Mexican authorities say they seized 20,000 weapons from drug gangs
in 2008, the majority bought in the United States.

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