CBS covers ATF gunrunning tonight
UPDATE: Here's the video.
CBS NEWS UNCOVERS GUNRUNNING SCANDAL WITHIN THE ATF
Agency Secretly Endorsed Practice of Letting Guns "Walk"; ATF Agent to CBS News: "God Only Knows How Many Guns Were Used to Kill People"
Tonight on the CBS EVENING NEWS WITH KATIE COURIC (6:30 PM, ET), CBS News Investigative Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports on a major scandal building within the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), one of America's top law enforcement agencies. CBS News uncovered evidence which supports the allegation that the agency that is supposed to stop border gunrunning to Mexico's drug cartels actually participated in letting it happen. Attkisson reports that these guns have turned up at the scenes of violent crimes, including the murder of a U.S. border patrol officer in Arizona.
CBS News reveals that "Project Gunrunner," an ATF operation that aims to stop the flow of weapons from the U.S. to Mexican drug cartels, has allegedly facilitated the delivery of thousands of guns into the hands of criminals. Often bought with cash, and sometimes brought in paper bags, sources tell CBS News that several gun shops wanted to stop the questionable sales, but were encouraged to continue selling by the ATF, so that they could continue gathering intelligence and see where the weapons ended up. This dangerous tactic is referred to as letting the guns "walk."
Veteran ATF agents called this strategy "insane" and "appalling," with one, speaking under a condition of anonymity, telling CBS News, "We were fully aware the guns would probably be moved across the border to drug cartels where they could be used to kill." CBS News has been told that at least 11 ATF agents and senior managers voiced fierce opposition to the strategy.
Sharyl Attkisson's full report, including a potential link between "Project Gunrunner" and the murder of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, broadcasts tonight on the CBS EVENING NEWS WITH KATIE COURIC.
Sometimes you have to watch some crime happen so you can trace it back to the source. There is very little reason to believe that the border patrol agent wouldn't have been shot with another gun if they had stopped the sale of that one.
Posted by: Critic at February 23, 2011 05:34 PM
Critic tell that to his family. What the Batf did if not criminal should certainly be. The agents approving this should be charged. You can do this type of operation with some things such as pot or bootleg alcohol, counterfeit money etc.. but NOT GUNS. Wtf was the BATF thinking.
Posted by: Anonymous at February 23, 2011 08:20 PM
Contrary to their usual anti-gun position, CBS hit a home run on this one. The ATF ‘spin doctors’ will be getting a lot of overtime pay covering this up! We’ll probably see more lies, the guilty promoted, the innocent punished (maybe even fired – and then rehired), and it will be business as usual with ATF.
Remember Waco? 1994. Two ATF supervisory agents, Phillip J. Chojnacki and Charles D. Sarabyn, who were suspended for their roles in leading the botched raid and despite a Treasury Department report of gross negligence, were reinstated in December, 1994 with full back pay and benefits (with a demotion), and had the incident removed from their personnel files.
More “business as usual”.
Posted by: Ike at February 23, 2011 08:23 PM
This is a very good piece of work by CBS. Kudos!
It raises all kinds of legal questions in my mind: Did federal agents break the law? Are federal agents personally liable? Is the agency liable?
It's disgusting and obscene that Agent Brian Terry essentially lost his life in an ATF publicity stunt gone horribly wrong. But, on the upside, my bet is that we don't see any more about reporting multiple long gun sales, that Travers will not get the helm of AFT, and that the "evil US guns are fueling the violence in Mexico" meme will abruptly disappear from the stage.
Posted by: denton at February 23, 2011 08:39 PM
There is something else. Whoever forced the Border Patrol to to bring Beanbags to a gun fight must be exposed and slapped down HARD. That is so stupid that only a political idiot could have ordered it. He needs to go.
Posted by: Dan Hamilton at February 24, 2011 07:53 AM
I see it now. ATF will cite lack of money and manpower as the excuse.
Posted by: 475okh at February 24, 2011 08:06 AM
4750KH - they already are. The BATF has been a political organization that is out of control for years. It should be on the closed down forever list.
Posted by: Rich at February 24, 2011 08:35 AM
"good work by DBS..." for finally picking up on a story that has been in the blogs for weeks, and an active item for the US Senate...
Yeah...finally...not like they did any original journalism or uncovered anything that wasn't already known, but it's good that it's finally reaching the mainstream Obama-media.
Posted by: kalashnikat at February 24, 2011 09:22 AM
There is very little reason to believe that the border patrol agent wouldn't have been shot with another gun if they had stopped the sale of that one.
This is an oxymoron in a classic textbook example. Why does the government do, "Buy Back" gun events and the list is endless with the government saying, "we need to get these guns off the streets".
If every crime is going to happen by a criminal who wants to do a crime with a gun and there's no stopping them. Aaaaa gee, what's the point because the folks in the system will always come up with reasons to justify their being in the system.
Posted by: AvgJoe at February 24, 2011 03:50 PM
"Critic tell that to his family."
The idea is that if they let one gun go through then they can follow it so that they can later prevent ten guns from going through. If they stop the one gun and it just results in ten guns being acquired from other sources, then I'll let you explain the consequences of your overly simplified logic to the family of the border agent who would very likely still die and also to the nine or more other families that may be grieving if they do it your way. If you stop one gun you may save a life, if you track it deeper you may save ten. Or maybe you won't. You can't know for sure. You have to make a judgment call about what course of action will most likely result in the fewest innocent deaths. Even if you make the right decision, random chance may give you a terrible outcome.
"Why does the government do, "Buy Back" gun events and the list is endless with the government saying, "we need to get these guns off the streets"."
It is still very likely that any crimes that would have been committed by the bought back guns will still be committed. But in this Mexico smuggling case the disadvantage of not allowing any of these guns to get out there, is that it inhibits the investigation from going deeper and preventing even much more harm. With the gun buy backs, there is no way to track the guns before they're turned in, so that disadvantage doesn't exist. In fact the buybacks may result in the recovery of evidence that otherwise wouldn't be recovered. I'm no great fan of buybacks. I have doubts about whether the buybacks are worth the money and I think it's an outrage that they destroy the guns instead of reselling them.
But I want to make clear that it was not my argument that they should just let the crooks buy all the guns they want because they'll just get them some other way anyhow. I'm just saying that it is not logical to claim that this officer would not have died if they had stopped the gun transfer. It is very unlikely that it would have made a difference.
Also, I'm not one of the folks in the system. I have no relationship to the ATF or any other law enforcement.
Posted by: Critic at February 25, 2011 12:09 AM
Critic-you are welcome to an opinion, but the logic you put forward to justify the opinion needs to be reviewed. Out-lawing gun ownership does not stop criminals from owning guns--UK, Chicago,DC, and others are examples where strick controls on guns and their sales/possession did nothing to limit their availability to criminals... arresting the person purchasing the guns in the straw purchase can lead to arrests and/or the identification of the people for whom the guns were purchased. No need to let the guns get through unless you want to see the extent of their distribution. Enough facts seem present to discount the 90% from the USA statement, and do we need to know where these guns go if we are able to stop the guns going through the birder? Sure, Mexico might want to track them and stop them, but why is the ATF involved in a job Mexico should be conducting? Would you like Mexico to let arms into the USA and give your reasoning? That seem "right" somehow?
Posted by: counsel at February 25, 2011 09:29 AM
Any of the buyers who signed the 4473s been arrested? Or maybe they were ATF agents? Jack.
Posted by: one-eyed Jack at February 25, 2011 11:51 AM
It seems to me that sale and tracking of contraband tobacco and alcohol may be a good law enforcement technique, but allowing the sale of contraband firearms, explosives or atomic weapons is probably a bad idea - with deadly consequences.
Posted by: Ike at February 26, 2011 06:59 AM
Whether it would be a good idea to stop the sale of a gun would depend largely on the probability that stopping it would make any difference. For example they may not have had any evidence of a crime by the buyer. Consequently if they stopped the sale the buyer may just go do the buy elsewhere a short time later. It might not even have been theoretical, they may have actually stopped some sales and then found the buyer was scarcely impeded in making buys elsewhere anyway. Or maybe that's not what happened at all. My point is just that there are very plausible scenarios where letting the sale happen and tracing it was the only obvious reasonable course of action.
On the other hand, nukes are so hard to come by that stopping the sale of one nuke stands a good chance of preventing the buyer from obtaining another for want of any other unblocked source.
Posted by: Critic at February 26, 2011 02:13 PM
Consequently if they stopped the sale the buyer may just go do the buy elsewhere a short time later.
I have to wonder if the gun stores all call a different phone number to do a gun sale check and every phone number has a totally different data base.
Posted by: AvgJoe at February 27, 2011 06:26 PM
I suspect most of these straw buys for Mexican criminals are carried out by people with clean records. I've heard of gun shops calling nearby shops to warn of straw buyers, but I don't know if federal policy allows the ATF to put a note in the national background check database to prevent a person from buying at any gun shop. Even if they do, the Mexican's might have little problem hiring someone else to do the buy.
Posted by: Critic at February 28, 2011 01:35 AM
I'm tired of this circle. Read the story and view the information that is out there on this topic. There were over five hundred firearms a very few buyers bought. Have a nice day.
Posted by: AvgJoe at February 28, 2011 04:17 PM