Documents obtained by CBS News show that the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) discussed using their covert operation "Fast and Furious" to argue for controversial new rules about gun sales.
In Fast and Furious, ATF secretly encouraged gun dealers to sell to suspected traffickers for Mexican drug cartels to go after the "big fish." But ATF whistleblowers told CBS News and Congress it was a dangerous practice called "gunwalking," and it put thousands of weapons on the street. Many were used in violent crimes in Mexico. Two were found at the murder scene of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
....Several gun dealers who cooperated with ATF told CBS News and Congressional investigators they only went through with suspicious sales because ATF asked them to.
Sometimes it was against the gun dealer's own best judgment.
Read the email
In April, 2010 a licensed gun dealer cooperating with ATF was increasingly concerned about selling so many guns. "We just want to make sure we are cooperating with ATF and that we are not viewed as selling to the bad guys," writes the gun dealer to ATF Phoenix officials, "(W)e were hoping to put together something like a letter of understanding to alleviate concerns of some type of recourse against us down the road for selling these items."
Read the email
ATF's group supervisor on Fast and Furious David Voth assures the gun dealer there's nothing to worry about. "We (ATF) are continually monitoring these suspects using a variety of investigative techniques which I cannot go into detail."
Two months later, the same gun dealer grew more agitated.
"I wanted to make sure that none of the firearms that were sold per our conversation with you and various ATF agents could or would ever end up south of the border or in the hands of the bad guys. I guess I am looking for a bit of reassurance that the guns are not getting south or in the wrong hands...I want to help ATF with its investigation but not at the risk of agents (sic) safety because I have some very close friends that are US Border Patrol agents in southern AZ as well as my concern for all the agents (sic) safety that protect our country."
"It's like ATF created or added to the problem so they could be the solution to it and pat themselves on the back," says one law enforcement source familiar with the facts. "It's a circular way of thinking."
The Justice Department and ATF declined to comment. ATF officials mentioned in this report did not respond to requests from CBS News to speak with them.
The family of ICE Agent Jamie Zapata is now suing Eric Holder's InJustice Dept.
CBS News has learned that the family of ICE Special Agent Jaime Zapata has filed a claim for wrongful death against the Justice Dept. and other federal agencies. Zapata was gunned down by suspected drug cartel members in Mexico in Feb. 2011 with weapons later linked to an ATF case in the Texas area. Joining the claim is Zapata's surviving partner in the attack: Victor Avila.
In an interview last November, Zapata's family told CBS News they feel that U.S. law enforcement could have stopped the sale of a gun used to kill their son. CBS News obtained law enforcement records that show the gun that killed Zapata came from the U.S., and the suspects who allegedly trafficked it had been under law enforcement's watch for months in Dallas but weren't arrested.
In February, CBS News learned a second weapon used in the Zapata attack was also linked to an ongoing case under the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
The Justice Department has said ATF "was not aware of" the suspect's purchase of the gun that killed Zapata when it happened, and that answering further questions would jeopardize the investigation.
The family of murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry released a statement yesterday.
Terry family attorney Pat McGroder on Wednesday released the following statement from Terry’s parents Josephine Terry and Kent Terry Sr.: “Attorney General Eric Holder’s refusal to fully disclose the documents associated with Operation Fast and Furious and President Obama’s assertion of executive privilege serves to compound this tragedy. It denies the Terry family and the American people the truth.”
The Terrys said that their son “was killed by members of a Mexican drug cartel armed with weapons from this failed Justice Department gun trafficking investigation. For more than 18 months we have been asking our federal government for justice and accountability. The documents sought by the House Oversight Committee and associated with Operation Fast and Furious should be produced and turned over to the committee. Our son lost his life protecting this nation, and it is very disappointing that we are now faced with an administration that seems more concerned with protecting themselves rather than revealing the truth behind Operation Fast and Furious.”
They should be disappointed as well that Congressional Democrats and their media lapdogs only care about protecting the President and are the ones making this a partisan game.