Wed Jun 27, 2012, 01:22 PM
Swede (27,093 posts)
The truth about the Fast and Furious scandal
In the annals of impossible assignments, Dave Voth's ranked high. In 2009 the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives promoted Voth to lead Phoenix Group VII, one of seven new ATF groups along the Southwest border tasked with stopping guns from being trafficked into Mexico's vicious drug war.
Some call it the "parade of ants"; others the "river of iron." The Mexican government has estimated that 2,000 weapons are smuggled daily from the U.S. into Mexico. The ATF is hobbled in its effort to stop this flow. No federal statute outlaws firearms trafficking, so agents must build cases using a patchwork of often toothless laws. For six years, due to Beltway politics, the bureau has gone without permanent leadership, neutered in its fight for funding and authority. The National Rifle Association has so successfully opposed a comprehensive electronic database of gun sales that the ATF's congressional appropriation explicitly prohibits establishing one.
Voth, 39, was a good choice for a Sisyphean task. Strapping and sandy-haired, the former Marine is cool-headed and punctilious to a fault. In 2009 the ATF named him outstanding law-enforcement employee of the year for dismantling two violent street gangs in Minneapolis. He was the "hardest working federal agent I've come across," says John Biederman, a sergeant with the Minneapolis Police Department. But as Voth left to become the group supervisor of Phoenix Group VII, a friend warned him: "You're destined to fail."
Voth's mandate was to stop gun traffickers in Arizona, the state ranked by the gun-control advocacy group Legal Community Against Violence as having the nation's "weakest gun violence prevention laws." Just 200 miles from Mexico, which prohibits gun sales, the Phoenix area is home to 853 federally licensed firearms dealers. Billboards advertise volume discounts for multiple purchases.
5 replies, 1774 views
The truth about the Fast and Furious scandal (Original post)
Response to Swede (Original post)
Wed Jun 27, 2012, 02:30 PM
russ1943 (579 posts)
1. Some excerpts.
A Fortune investigation reveals that the ATF never intentionally allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. How the world came to believe just the opposite is a tale of rivalry, murder, and political bloodlust…..By Katherine Eban June 27, 2012: 5:00 AM ET
…No federal statute outlaws firearms trafficking, so agents must build cases using a patchwork of often toothless laws. For six years, due to Beltway politics, the bureau has gone without permanent leadership, neutered in its fight for funding and authority. The National Rifle Association has so successfully opposed a comprehensive electronic database of gun sales that the ATF's congressional appropriation explicitly prohibits establishing one…Their greatest difficulty by far, however, was convincing prosecutors that they had sufficient grounds to seize guns and arrest straw purchasers. By June 2010 the agents had sent the U.S. Attorney's office a list of 31 suspects they wanted to arrest, with 46 pages outlining their illegal acts. But for the next seven months prosecutors did not indict a single suspect….Quite simply, there's a fundamental misconception at the heart of the Fast and Furious scandal. Nobody disputes that suspected straw purchasers under surveillance by the ATF repeatedly bought guns that eventually fell into criminal hands. Issa and others charge that the ATF intentionally allowed guns to walk as an operational tactic. But five law-enforcement agents directly involved in Fast and Furious tell Fortune that the ATF had no such tactic. They insist they never purposefully allowed guns to be illegally trafficked. Just the opposite: They say they seized weapons whenever they could but were hamstrung by prosecutors and weak laws, which stymied them at every turn…It was nearly impossible in Arizona to bring a case against a straw purchaser. The federal prosecutors there did not consider the purchase of a huge volume of guns, or their handoff to a third party, sufficient evidence to seize them. A buyer who certified that the guns were for himself, then handed them off minutes later, hadn't necessarily lied and was free to change his mind. Even if a suspect bought 10 guns that were recovered days later at a Mexican crime scene, this didn't mean the initial purchase had been illegal. To these prosecutors, the pattern proved little. Instead, agents needed to link specific evidence of intent to commit a crime to each gun they wanted to seize. None of the ATF agents doubted that the Fast and Furious guns were being purchased to commit crimes in Mexico. But that was nearly impossible to prove to prosecutors' satisfaction. And agents could not seize guns or arrest suspects after being directed not to do so by a prosecutor. (Agents can be sued if they seize a weapon against prosecutors' advice. In this case, the agents had a particularly strong obligation to follow the prosecutors' direction given that Fast and Furious had received a special designation under the Justice Department's Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. That designation meant more resources for the case, but it also provided that prosecutors take the lead role.)…. Prosecutors repeatedly rebuffed Voth's requests. After examining one suspect's garbage, agents learned he was on food stamps yet had plunked down more than $300,000 for 476 firearms in six months. Voth asked if the ATF could arrest him for fraudulently accepting public assistance when he was spending such huge sums. Prosecutor Hurley said no….New facts are still coming to light—and will likely continue to do so with the Justice Department inspector general's report expected in coming months. Among the discoveries: Fast and Furious' top suspects—Sinaloa Cartel operatives and Mexican nationals who were providing the money, ordering the guns, and directing the recruitment of the straw purchasers—turned out to be FBI informants who were receiving money from the bureau. That came as news to the ATF agents in Group VII.
Response to Swede (Original post)
Wed Jun 27, 2012, 02:38 PM
denverbill (11,082 posts)
So the only 'gun walking' that occurred was because Dodson authorized it when Voth was on leave?
I'm sure this story will never make it into the mainstream news media.
Frankly, I don't know how in the hell Holder isn't holding a press conference about this right now.
Response to denverbill (Reply #2)
Wed Jun 27, 2012, 02:57 PM
notadmblnd (20,936 posts)
3. Really? And Dodson just happens to be the whistle blower too?
sounds like someone was setting up the US Atty General to me
on edit: No it wasn't to set up Holder, it was Dodson's way of getting his boss Voth in hot water.
more from the article:
Meanwhile, a crucial part of the Fast and Furious scandal—an unusual alliance that would prod politicians and spread word of the failure to stop guns from making their way to Mexican drug cartels—was waiting in the wings. Little more than a week after Terry's murder, a small item about the possible connection between his death and the Fast and Furious case appeared on a website, CleanUpATF.org. The site was the work of a disgruntled ATF agent-turned-whistleblower, Vince Cefalu, who is suing the bureau for alleged mistreatment in an unrelated case. His website has served as a clearinghouse for grievances and a magnet for other ATF whistleblowers.
It had also attracted gun-rights activists loosely organized around a blog called the Sipsey Street Irregulars, run by a former militia member, Mike Vanderboegh, who has advocated armed insurrection against the U.S. government. It was an incendiary combination: the disgruntled ATF agents wanted to punish and reform the bureau; the gun-rights activists wanted to disable it. After the item about Terry appeared, the bloggers funneled the allegations through a "desert telegraph" of sorts to Republican lawmakers, who began asking questions.
A week after the initial Fast and Furious press conference in January 2011, Dodson dropped a small bombshell. He told a supervisor that he had been contacted by congressional staff. Dodson met that day with two ATF supervisors. According to their written contemporaneous accounts, Dodson was vague but claimed that Voth had always "treated him like shit" and that it "felt good" to speak with someone outside ATF.
Dodson appeared on the CBS Evening News a week later. As Voth watched the program from his living room, he says, he wanted to vomit. He saw sentences from his "schism" e-mail reproduced on the TV screen. But CBS didn't quote the portions of Voth's e-mail that described how the group was divided by "petty arguing" and "adolescent behavior." Instead, CBS claimed the schism had been caused by opposition to gun walking (such alleged opposition is not discussed anywhere in the e-mail, which is below). CBS asserted that Dodson and others had protested the tactic "over and over," and then quoted portions of Voth's e-mail in a way that left the impression that gun walking was endorsed at headquarters. CBS contacted the ATF (but not Voth directly). The result was a report that incorrectly painted Voth as zealously promoting gun walking. (A CBS spokeswoman, Sonya McNair, says CBS does not publicly discuss its editorial process but notes, "The White House has already acknowledged the truth of our report.")
Response to Swede (Original post)
Wed Jun 27, 2012, 05:45 PM
russ1943 (579 posts)
5. About those U.S. Attorneys
A comment on those people referred to as U. S. Attorneys,........prosecuters.
The blog linked below commented on;
The record is replete with reliable evidence that this administration (Bush’s) has broken federal civil service law by packing career positions at Justice and other federal agencies with lawyers who are religious and ideological zealots, often from tier four (i.e. the lowest tier) law schools such as evangelist Pat Robertson’s Christian based, Regent University Law School.
In fact, before the Bush Administration took over in 2001, most career attorney hires came from a law school with a ranking in the top 15 schools nationwide. By 2006, this average ranking had dropped to top 65 schools nationwide. Reason for the drop, over 150 hires from Regent Law School alone. Reason for concern? You bet.
Congressional oversight hearings, which only got underway after the Democrats retook bare majorities in both houses, are uncovering the sordid truth including pressure on U.S. Attorneys to bring questionable voter fraud prosecutions lawsuits in election year 2004.