December 19, 2011
December 19, 2011. Nogales, AZ. Almost one year ago to the day, on December 15, 2010, US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was shot and killed in a firefight along the Mexican border. Murdered by a suspected group of Mexican drug cartel soldiers, Terry’s body was found along with two AK-47 assault rifles. Those guns just happened to be two of the 2,500 weapons the ATF knowingly sold to the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel. After one year and numerous admissions of wrong-doing, many alleged to be criminal, by the Federal officials, the family of slain officer Brian Terry wants justice.
Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Image courtesy of AP.
Known as Fast and Furious, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives executed a secret program to supply Mexican drug cartels with military weaponry. The question everyone keeps asking is, ‘why’? Read the Whiteout Press article from August titled, ‘DOJ and Treasury Covering for Someone Big’ for more information. Even at that early date, it was obvious, at least to us here at Whiteout Press, that something bigger was going on.
It didn’t take long before the questions turned into accusations. In the months after the operation was exposed, a number of Federal officials have been either relieved of duty or transferred to other agencies. It was on that day that the Justice Dept announced that US Attorney in Arizona, Dennis Burke, was resigning from the DOJ. It was also at this time that it was revealed that acting Director of the ATF, Kenneth Melson, was transferring to a senior position within the Justice Dept. Both men were at the center of the Fast and Furious operation. At the time however, nobody knew just how involved they were.
They weren’t the only Federal officials being quietly removed or reassigned over Fast and Furious. According to various news accounts, Phoenix ATF Special Agent in Charge Bill Newell was reassigned. Two Assistant Special Agents in Charge, George Gillett and Jim Needles, were also moved to other positions. And US Asst Attorney in Phoenix, Emory Hurley, would be next.
Then, earlier this month, the Justice Department announced it was withdrawing written testimony it had provided to Congress earlier in the year as part of the Congressional investigation into wrongdoing on behalf of government authorities. When Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered by the ATF’s own illegally trafficked guns, Congress was outraged. Led by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle wanted answers. They were even more shocked when DOJ officials recanted their own statements.
The statements they were recanting were the most incriminating of all.
One of the claims the Justice Department says it no longer stands by is the insistence that it investigated the BATF and found that it had no evidence that the Bureau had “sanctioned or otherwise knowingly allowed the sale of assault weapons.” Another part of their testimony they were taking back was the guarantee that the BATF “makes every effort” to stop illegally sold firearms. Those two original accusations were at the heart of the original accusations concerning the BATF’s Fast and Furious gun trafficking operation.
Upon the announcement by DOJ officials, Congressional investigators immediately ordered Attorney General Eric Holder to turn over all documentation regarding the testimony the DOJ was now renouncing. Congress wanted to know who the specific individuals were that wrote the false statements. Contempt of Congress, especially in an investigation of a murdered US Border Patrol Agent, is a serious offense.
In response, Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole delivered 14,000 pages of documents to Congress and their investigators. Outraged again by the DOJ’s apparent hindering of the investigation, the Senate Republicans’ lead investigator Beth Levine assured those hiding something, “After a first glance at today’s document dump from the Justice Department, there appears to be even more questions for Assistant Attorney General Breuer, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Weinstein and former US Attorney Dennis Burke.” Read the Whiteout Press article, ‘DOJ admits to False Congressional Admissions’ for the full story.
Now, one year after US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder, and just ten days before Christmas, Terry’s family marked the heartfelt anniversary by demanding that the Federal officials responsible for the Fast and Furious operation, as well as the cover-up, be arrested and criminally prosecuted.
In a statement released through their attorney and published in part by NPR, Brian Terry’s family said:
“Brian’s death has been extremely difficult to accept. We find it incomprehensible that members of ATF and DOJ would embark on such an egregious operation and then try to conceal the link between this failed investigation and Brian’s murder. Much to our dismay, no one in ATF or DOJ has come forward to accept responsibility for Operation Fast and Furious.
Our priority continues to be the successful arrest and prosecution of all the individuals involved in Brian’s murder. However, we will continue to press for answers and accountability from our government. Those responsible for such a misguided and fundamentally flawed operation must be held fully responsible for their decisions which allowed so many weapons to flow to the criminal element on both sides of the border. We now believe that if it can be shown that laws were broken, then all those responsible for Fast and Furious should be held criminally liable.”
Speaking for the family, attorney Pat McGroder said the family’s, “not interested in using Brian’s life as a political football. They just want to know the truth.”