Mexican authorities have announced the arrest of a third suspect in the December, 2010 murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, Reuters reported this morning. Ivan Soto Barraza was apprehended in Sinaloa by “Mexican Interpol agents working with federal and state police” and the FBI, and awaits extradition to the United States.
Terry’s killing prompted a post a week later on CleanUpATF, a website established by agents frustrated with Bureau waste, abuse, corruption and fraud, alleging weapons found at the murder scene were tied to federally-sanctioned “gunwalking,” now known to the world as Operation Fast and Furious. That post was initially reported on by “unauthorized journalist” Mike Vanderboegh on the Sipsey Street Irregulars blog:
Word is that curious George Gillett the Phoenix ASAC stepped on it again. Allegedly he has approved more than 500 AR-15 type rifles from Tucson and Phoenix cases to be “walked” to Mexico. Appears that ATF may be one of the largest suppliers of assault rifles to the Mexican cartels! One of these rifles is rumored to have been linked to the recent killing of a Border Patrol Officer in Nogales, AZ. Can anyone confirm this information?
The commentator who posted under the screen name “1desertrat” soon became the subject of scrutiny by then-ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson and ATF’s Chief Counsel Stephen R. Rubenstein, who, as detailed in an exclusive Gun Rights Examiner/Sipsey Street Irregulars report, were seeking ways to identify him and retaliate via Orders and Standards of Conduct. The Chief Counsel’s Office also initiated an email warning top officials about Gun Rights Examiner’s open letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee. That document publicly called on the committee to provide protection for Fast and Furious whistleblowers and investigate their claims, which began a process that eventually, after public prodding, led to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform taking point.
Vanderboegh and Gun Rights Examiner had been monitoring CleanUpATF since 2009, and publicly, but futilely, urging the then-Democrat-controlled Oversight Committee “to ensure hearings into these serious criminal allegations are conducted without delay.” Curiously, Democrats on the current Oversight Committee have become the primary opponents of investigating the role of the administration and of Attorney General Eric Holder, and thus of holding responsible parties accountable. Since they showed deliberate indifference to the request made over a year before Terry's death to investigate the allegations, it’s more than possible a serious investigation might have put the brakes on bad practices, and the hundreds of deaths attributed to the "phony scandal" that ensued might have been avoided.
Don’t look for such background details in the new Reuters report. Repeating prevailing media talking points that Fast and Furious was a failed gun tracking operation and relying on the ubiquitous “botched sting” meme, the “real reporters” fail to enlighten their readers on how one can track guns across a border and capture cartel leaders when the "trackers" make no attempt to follow the guns onto foreign soil and actually keep Mexican authorities in the dark. As St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner Kurt Hofmann has pointed out in a clever, logical and apropos analogy:
We are … being asked to believe that the BATFE's grand strategy for bringing down the drug cartels … resembled South Park's Underpants Gnomes' business plan …with the BATFE adaptation going something like this:
- Phase 1: Encourage gun dealers (and sometimes pay them, as confidential informants) to sell guns to known traffickers
- Phase 2: ?
- Phase 3: Humbly accept plaudits as Mexican drug cartel comes crashing down
There is one point the Reuters report does raise, however, that should remind all interested in determining the truth about Fast and Furious of a loose end that has been all but ignored when it comes to public scrutiny, and it’s a shame that so little is known almost three years after Brian Terry’s death.
“It was unclear if the weapons were used in his murder,” the report states about the Fast and Furious "walked" guns found near the slain agent’s body.
There could be legitimate reasons for that. Understanding that real life forensics and ballistics tests and lab analyses can’t be expected to resolve things in a way fictional programs such as “CSI” would have the public believe is the norm, it’s still fair to ask “Why is it unclear?”
Why has there been no dedicated open hearing, with experts testifying in front of cameras to reveal exactly what they found, what evidence they had to work with, what methodologies they used, what opinions they consulted, what equipment they calibrated, what reports they filed, what correspondence and communications ensued, what other agent witnesses reported, and what admissions they’ve obtained from suspects arrested to date? It could be that the found guns were not the guns used, and that those who ran from the scene took the murder weapon(s) with them. Still, with a victim to examine, with recovered guns to test, with expelled casings, with expended projectiles and fragments (or the absence of same, which ought to be disclosed), and with all the other evidence at the scene, if it truly is still “unclear,” it’s important to understand why, and to gain that understanding with unrestricted public cognizance.
The excuse will be, of course, that the information cannot be released because there is an ongoing criminal investigation, something that never seems to factor in when federal investigators sense a media opportunity they can exploit by giving reliable “Authorized Journalists” a heads-up on staged raids they can count on to produce favorable headlines.
That reporters with organizational resources have not made digging and pressing on the Terry guns a priority is symptomatic of the quality of “journalism” exemplified by a “legitimate media” that, with few, albeit outstanding exceptions, has consistently either ignored Fast and Furious, or made excuses for and misdirected on the story in coordination with the administration. This is what makes recent actions in the Senate to usurp the power for government to decide who they will recognize as a journalist, and thus, who they will grant special shield law privileges to, so dangerous, and why learning that this is being done in coordination with the establishment press is so transparently unethical.
Unfortunately, a column like this, and the detailed documented background information it links to, will only be seen by a relatively small handful of people compared to how many will walk away from the Reuters story thinking they have a pretty good grasp of relevant facts. Even fewer will thoroughly read such a long and boring report as this (it doesn’t even mention the Kardashians or twerking), and the number who will follow the trail back through the historical links to gain a more complete understanding will probably diminish to a few dozen at most.
The “mainstream media” has no interest in investigating and exploring, meaning much of this information has and will not find its way even to most gun owners, let alone to the general public. That in turn means there will be no public pressure on government to aggressively pursue what is truly warranted for the Fast and Furious perpetrators: criminal prosecutions, as opposed to tepid personnel policy actions.
Those who complain about the lack of any real punitive outcomes must realize that there is only one way to alter this reality. That is if they become force multipliers, and share information that will otherwise remain confined to limited niche readerships. That means they must also actively demand action from their representatives with “or else” consequences, and recruit others to do the same. Absent a commitment to do that, and if the “profiles in apathy” inertia prevails, expecting anything to change is unrealistic.
Absent that effort resulting in those changes, not only will Fast and Furious matters stay buried and unresolved, but the prospect of future confidential source whistleblowers coming forward, willing to entrust mere #justabloggers who are unable to claim legal shield protections, could become a curiosity of the past that was tried but just didn’t pan out.
Imagine what we wouldn’t know if that had been the case in early 2011. You don't have to -- it's been documented. And for the most part ignored.
So the question now is, what are you willing to do about it?
What the Obama administration can’t get through legislation they’re determined to get just by issuing orders. The latest GUNS Magazine "Rights Watch" column is online, and you can read it before the magazine hits the stands. Click here to read "Executive Actions.”
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