Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Fast and Furious Investigation

Let’s start with what we know about the Fast and Furious investigation.  The Alcohol, Tabaco & Firearms Agency (ATF), a law enforcement branch of the federal government, started a ‘gun-running’ operation out of there Phoenix, Arizona office.  Guns were allowed to go across the United States/Mexico border in the hope that they would be able to track them from the US into the hands of the Mexican drug cartels.  There was poor accountability of these weapons and it was a botched operation from the start.  It has been reported that a number of Mexican nationals were killed in Mexico with guns from this operation.  Brian Terry, a US Border Patrol agent, was killed in a fire fight  on US soil on December 10, 2010 in which one of these weapons was found.
When a law enforcement officer dies, his department carries on an in-depth investigation into the shooting.  They do this prosecute those involved, to find out went wrong operationally and to find out if anything could have been done differently during the gunfight itself to educate and perhaps save other officers lives in future gunfights.  The heads of departments where officers have lost their lives want to know details of what happened and what went wrong, and they want to know it immediately.  One of the guns tracked by the ATF was  found at the crime scene of Agent Terry’s death.  You would think the head of the US Border Patrol, a federal law enforcement agency, would be screaming for accountability regarding this from the ATF, another federal law enforcement agency that specializes in weapon tracking and violations.  You would also think that major players in federal law enforcement would want to get to the truth of this, and let the chips fall where they may.
The Justice department is headed by the Attorney General, the senior law enforcement official in the United States.  That position is currently held by Eric Holder.  The Justice Department initially denied the existence to Congress of the Fast and Furious operation.  Mr. Holder initially stated to Congress in May 2011 that he had only become aware of the operation just a few weeks prior to his testimony.  Note that this is six months after Agent Terry’s death. Six months after that, in November 2011, Holder admitted to Congress that gun walking occurred in Fast and Furious.
Let me see if I have this straight.  The senior law enforcement official in the United States, which just happens to have an agent killed on the border in a highly contentious illegal immigrant smuggling area, claims he had just learned of the failed gun walking operation that allowed weapons to go into another sovereign nation on the US border and of which one was found at the crime scene of a federal law enforcement agent, only after about five or six months after the federal agent’s death. He then admits to Congress six months after that testimony that gun walking did occur in Fast and Furious.
Am I to belief that the senior law enforcement official in the US, with a large staff of trained lawyers and investigators, would knowingly go before Congress and at best not have his facts right about a federal gun walking operation into another sovereign nation and that was also involved in the death of a federal agent?  Wouldn't you think that with the Mexico/US border being such a sensitive issue, coupled with the death of a federal agent, that Mr. Holder would have used all of his department's resources to get to the bottom of things prior to his testimony?  
Here’s another thing.  Are we to believe that a regional field office of a federal law enforcement agency would run an undercover operation allowing guns to go across the border into another sovereign nation, in this case Mexico, without people way, way up in the federal government not knowing about it or signing off on it?
Here’s the last thing on this.  When an individual pins on the badge, whether it is a municipal, state or federal law enforcement department, he or she readily knows the risks they take.  They do this with the knowledge that their fellow officers will to come to their aid, no matter how dangerous or mortal the situation.  They also believe that their agency will leave no stone unturned in order to hunt down the killers, thoroughly review the shooting itself and the operation attached to it, and make tactical and operational improvements in order educate and save their fellow officers in future operations.  If killed in the line of duty, they know that their department and employer (city, state or nation) will do everything for their next of kin and family, including giving them all the details of how and why their loved one perished.
Mr. and Mrs. Terry, the parents of slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, are still waiting for that call.