Filed Under:  ATF, Crime, Fast and Furious, ICE, Murder

ATF and US Attorneys at fault in Fast and Furious scandal

August 1st 2012   ·   17 Comments

A new Congressional report hoists blame on five ATF agents and, three U.S. attorneys for the “Fast and Furiousgunwalking operation that led to the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, ICE Agent Jamie Zapata and hundreds of Mexican nationals. The report concludes agency supervisors failed to reign in the reckless operation, yet none of the agents named in the congressional report have been fired for their roles in the botched gunwalking program that allowed high-powered weapons, purchased with taxpayer stimulus money, to fall into the hands of ruthless drug cartels.

The new report comes 18 months after Agent Terry’s murder and a month after Congress voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for not providing thousands of documents related to the investigation.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tabacco and Firearm and Explosives (ATF) agents named in the report include, (then) Acting Director Kenneth Melson, Phoenix field office Agent Bill Newell, Deputy Director William Hoover, Deputy Assistant Director of the Phoenix office, William McMahon and Assistant Director for field operations Mark Chait. The three attorney’s named were Dennis Burke, U.S. Attorney for the Arizona District, Emory Hurley, assistant U.S. Attorney in Arizona and Lanny Breuer, the Assistant Attorney General at Main Justice.

Acting ATF Director Melson suggested the Obama Administration tried to pin responsibility for the wrong-headed gunwalking scheme on him after he secretly testified before Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Melson claims that once details of the gunwalking operation were leaked to members of the media, ATF as well as Department of Justice (DOJ) officials went into damage control mode.

“I think they (ATF/DOJ) were doing more damage control than anything,” Melson said in the Fast and Furious report. “My view is that the whole matter of the department’s response in this case was a disaster.”

Part of Justice’s cover-up strategy was to blame ATF’s Phoenix office and label the gunwalking program as nothing more than a “rogue” operation. However, Holder was forced to reveal at a previous hearing that his office’s premier Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDEF) committee approved the flawed program. By admitting that OCDEF played a role in Fast and Furious, Holder essentially turned the spotlight back on his office as the highly coveted program includes a representative from most federal law enforcement agencies, oversees millions of dollars and approves arrests worthy of national headlines.

ATF agents have admitted time and time again that supervisors in the Phoenix office were extremely interested in bringing down the “bad guys” and making “headlines.” They did. In fact, the new report confirms that Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) played a significant role in Fast and Furious, and ICE agents wanted to catch the drug cartels’ “big fish.” The flawed gunwalking program failed to deliver a high-profile arrest, but ICE has escaped Congressional scrutiny?

The scathing report cites many flaws with Fast and Furious and said the program “was marred by missteps, poor judgments and (using) an inherently reckless strategy.” The report also concludes that ATF agents in Phoenix received little guidance from supervisors who seemed content to “rubber stamp” a deeply suspect program that sent more than 2,000 guns directly to drug cartels in Mexico.

The Democrats see things differently. Publically, the Democrat leadership has called the GOP investigation a “witch hunt” and politically motivated. Senate leader Harry Reid (D-NV) even says the Republican investigation lacks merit, is only partisan and hopes to win back the White House by disgracing Attorney General Holder. Yet several Democrats crossed party lines and voted to hold the Attorney General in contempt. Moving forward, House members will push for a contempt (civil lawsuit) proceeding, but said the legal issue will take place after the November elections.

Nevertheless, law enforcement agencies across the country knew the consequences of a program like Fast and Furious were predictable- someone would die. That’s what happens when guns “walk” into the hands of ruthless cartels- they have the propensity to kill people. Regrettably, Operation Fast and Furious successfully did exactly what it was designed to do- make headlines with multiple murders. And to this day no federal workers have been held accountable and fired for the murders of Agents Terry or Zapata, as well as the November 2010 death of Mario Gonzalez, the brother of Patricia Gonzalez, then Attorney General for the state of Chihuahua. Two of the 16 firearms recovered at the police shootout scene in Mexico were later traced to the ill-fated Fast and Furious program.

Previous Fast and Furious story:

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© Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

A version of this column originally appeared in

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Readers Comments (17)

  1. …according to the GOP committee whose role it was to frame them.

  2. Frame them, I believe they framed themselves………

  3. Sam Sanchez says:

    They all need to be fired and never allowed to work for ANY government agency.

  4. Marie Maitia says:

    They did this on their own, no framing. If you believe that, well that is your choice.

  5. frame them; what in the hell are you talking about

  6. Robert Rich says:


  7. So, no charges against John Dodson, the rogue agent that actually let guns “walk”?

    Oh, that’s right–he’s Issa’s boy. Free to go.

  8. Sure they blame someone else so Holder can walk… We’re not stupid

  9. Any blame or recommendations in the report regarding Arizona’s weak gun laws that make it legal to purchase and re-sell as many guns as you want, without limit? How do you stop something that’s legal?

    Can’t buy a six-pack of beer at 18 years old, but can buy 20 semi-automatics at a time at any of the 853 gun shops in Phoenix.

  10. Thank you American Government, I am no longer (smh) @ you for the illegal immigration infestation, for you have redeemed yourself, life is getting better daily in the African American communities, though we have a long way to go before we able to figure out what was lost and begin to restore our resourses.

  11. John Hagaman says:

    the government broke the law not the gun dealers

  12. 5 lower down will take the blame while the attorney general goes on pushing our country down the drain.

  13. We are Doomed says:

    Gun running and money laundering were going on long before President Obama and Eric Holder entered office. I know from experience, it can take months, even years, to learn and understand everything that is going on in an organization. I was hired to manage a very small organization (approximately 15 people) and because of the politics, misplaced loyalities, illegal activities and personal agendas I did not learn about everything that was going on for almost three years. We need to realize that these people (Eric Holder and President Obama) have full time jobs to do and the people actually running the money laundering and gun running are constantly mis-directing, and lying.

    The organization I was involved in was part of a larger organization that was laundering money. Everytime I got close to the truth about the money laundering, there was a personal or professional disaster I had to deal with. (Underage family members were being given illegal drugs, vandalism to cars and other property, mail theft, attempts to run me off the road, break-ins, …) President Obama and Eric Holder may be pawns in this situation. The people that were/are laundering money were/are very connected at the higest levels of government and banking.

    • We are Doomed says:

      P.s. I applaud Darrell Issa’s efforts to get to the bottom of these illegal activities. (Obviously, I am neither a Republican or Democrat.) Criminals do not make the truth easy to find. The more money and power a criminal organization has the harder the facts and truth are to determine

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