By: Renee Nal
Below is a painstakingly detailed timeline surrounding the events and the people involved in the gun-walking program which leaves this author with absolutely no doubt that the purpose of the Operation was to justify a so-called “assault weapons ban.”
In the wake of the revelation that Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was in possession of a .50-caliber rifle (that can “take down a helicopter“), a reminder is in order about the TRUE nature of Operation Fast and Furious.
This is re-printed from Broadside News.
I cannot begin to think of how the risk of letting guns fall into the hands of known criminals could possibly advance any legitimate law enforcement interest. – ATF agent John Dodson
“These guns went to ruthless criminals.” – Carlos Canino, ATF Acting Attaché to Mexico
“I’m not going to comment on the current investigation…As soon as the investigation is complete, appropriate action will be taken.” – President Obama
In the wake of a court order demanding that the Department of Justice release documents previously withheld regarding the Operation Fast and Furious scandal to Judicial Watch by Oct. 22, Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation is suspiciously-timed, to say the least.
While ABC news reported that Holder “has been discussing his plans with President Obama for months,” it is somewhat revealing that a potential replacement has not yet been announced, adding to speculation that Holder is high-tailing it out of the Obama Administration before damning information is revealed.
White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said,
The president will make the case that the work of the attorney general is so important that the United States Senate should act promptly and in bipartisan fashion to confirm his nominee…
It will not be difficult to push through a new nominee, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took away the voice of the minority in the Senate in November when he flip-flopped from his 2005 position on the “nuclear option” (Reid previously said that invoking the nuclear option would “ruin our country.”)
Eric Holder, who has been with the Justice Department for 26 years, is the only attorney general in U.S. history to be held in contempt of Congress.
For those who have not paid much attention to Operation Fast and Furious, a tutorial is in order. It should be noted that without the vigilance of the New Media, there is little doubt that Americans would never have been informed of this scandal, like so many others under President Obama. In fact, without the diligent work of National Gun Rights Examiner David Codrea, it is likely that the scandal would never have received Congressional attention.
The ill-conceived Operation Fast and Furious – conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) – resulted in the loss of about 2,000 guns that ended up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels. One of those guns was used to kill border patrol agent Brian Terry, Immigration and Customs agent Jaime Zapata (from yet another gunwalking operation), and gravely wounding his partner Victor Avila. Former Mexican attorney general Victor Humberto Benítez Treviño estimated that 300 Mexicans were killed by these weapons in 2011, and certainly many more since, such as here, here and here.
It is still unknown who authorized Operation Fast and Furious.
Watch President Obama in 2009:
Timeline (not all inclusive)
- October 29 2007: One of the key players in the Operation Fast and Furious scandal, special agent in charge of the ATF’s Phoenix office William Newell, was interviewed at the Washington Post. : “…law enforcement officers on both sides of the border have never seen anything like the flood of guns now surging into Mexico. The increase has been stoked by the cartel war and by the ease of buying high-powered weapons since the U.S. assault weapons ban was not renewed in 2004….”
- October 29 2007: This same article, written by Manuel Roig-Franzia, is the first place this author was able to find a statistic that has been used repeatedly by those who advocate a so-called “assault weapon” ban: “…as many as 2,000 [weapons originating from the United States] enter Mexico each day, according to a Mexican government study.” This statistic has been used here, here, here, here and in many, many other speeches by activists, politicians and the media.
- February 2009: Eric Holder said: “Putting the ban back in place [on assault weapons] would not only be a positive move by the United States, it would help cut down on the flow of guns going across the border into Mexico, which is struggling with heavy violence among drug cartels along the border.”
- February 2009: Mexican President Felipe Calderon: “Let me express to you that we’ve seized in this two years more than 25,000 weapons and guns, and more than 90 percent of them came from United States, and I’m talking from missiles launchers to machine guns* and grenades.” *Fast and Furious victim Ian Garland was thrown in jail for two years after he was charged with selling machine guns to straw purchasers, except it never happened. The bizarre and tragic story can be found here.
- February 2009: A press release declares, “Congressman Eliot Engel, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, wrote a letter signed by 53 Members of Congress urging President Obama to “return to enforcement of the law banning imports of assault weapons…” Engel is quoted as lamenting, “We must do more to support our friends in Mexico whose drug war is fueled by firearms flowing south from the United States, many of which should never have entered the US in the first place.” A list of the signatories can be found at the link.
- March 24 2009: Then-Deputy Attorney General David Ogden announces, “The president has directed us to take action to fight these cartels and Attorney General Eric Holder and I are taking several new and aggressive steps as part of the administration’s comprehensive plan…DOJ’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is increasing it’s efforts by adding 37 new employees in 3 new offices using $10 million dollars in Recovery Act funds and redeploying 100 personnel to the southwest border in the next 45 days to fortify it’s Project Gunrunner- which is aimed at disrupted arms trafficking between the United States and Mexico.”
- March 2009: Senator Dick Durbin says: “The so-called ‘iron river of guns’ from the United States arms Mexican drug cartels to the teeth. The cartels purchase weapons at gun shows from unlicensed sellers who are not required to conduct background checks. Or the cartels use “straw buyers” with clean criminal records to buy guns they need to maintain the arsenals for their drug cartels in Mexico. According to ATF, more than 90 percent of the guns seized after raids or shootings in Mexico have been traced right here to the United States of America…I recognize the right of American citizens to defend themselves, to use guns legally for sporting and hunting. That is part of America’s Constitution as decided by the Supreme Court. It is part of the American experience. We are different than some other countries. That is the way we see it when it comes to firearms. That does not allow us to aid and abet criminal conspiracies in neighboring countries by shipping thousands of firearms every day with impunity.”
- March 2009: Senator Dianne Feinstein says, “It is unacceptable to have 90 percent of the guns that are picked up in Mexico used to shoot judges, police officers, mayors, kidnap innocent people, and do terrible things come from the United States. And I think we must put a stop to that.”
- March 2009: William Hoover, former deputy director of the ATF says “ATF’s strategy for disrupting the flow of firearms to Mexico–has initiated 1,840 investigations. Those cases include 382 firearms-trafficking cases involving 1,035 defendants and an estimated 12,835 firearms…As indicated previously by both Senator Durbin and Senator Feinstein, 90 percent of the weapons that we traced that the Mexicans recover are source state here in the United States.” (read the entire statement) (The debunked 90% figure was also repeated by ATF official Anthony Placido).
- March 2009: Hillary Clinton said, “Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians.”
- April 2009: President Obama on a visit to Mexico said, “This war is being waged with guns purchased not here but in the United States…more than 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the United States, many from gun shops that lay in our shared border.”
- April 26 2009: Former President Jimmy Carter writes an NRA-bashing OpEd for the New York Times, making the case for an “assault weapons ban” by saying in part: “…none of us wants to own an assault weapon, because we have no desire to kill policemen or go to a school or workplace to see how many victims we can accumulate before we are finally shot or take our own lives… Across our border, Mexican drug cartels are being armed with advanced weaponry imported from the United States — a reality only the N.R.A. seems to dispute.”
- April 2009: Hillary Clinton said, “The guns that are sold in the United States, which are illegal in Mexico, get smuggled over our border and arm these terrible drug-dealing criminals so that they can outgun these poor police officers along the border and elsewhere in Mexico.”
- October 2009: According to a revealing congressional report, “ATF officials stationed in Mexico began to notice a large volume of guns appearing there that were traced to the ATF’s Phoenix Field Division.” Carlos Canino, then Deputy Attaché to Mexico “informed his boss, then ATF Attaché to Mexico, Darren Gil, about an unusual amount of weapons being seized in Mexico.”
- November 2009: Robert C. Bonner, former head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection was part of a report by the Los Angeles-based Pacific Council on International Policy and the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations titled, “Rethinking the U.S.-Mexico Border” which “called…for the U.S. to reinstitute the ban on assault weapons and take other measures to rein in the war between Mexico and its drug cartels…”
- March 5 2010: “ATF intelligence analysts told ATF and DOJ leadership that the number of firearms bought by known straw purchasers had exceeded the 1,000 mark.”
- March 2010: William Hoover, former deputy director of the ATF “became concerned about the number of guns involved in the case and ordered ATF agents in Phoenix to wrap the case up in 90 days.”
- May 2010: Mexican President Felipe Calderon “urged the U.S. Congress…to reinstate a ban on assault weapons to help cut cross-border gun smuggling and reduce drug gang violence for its southern neighbor.”
- July 2010: Mark R. Chait. Assistant Director. Field Operations writes a damning email to ATF Special Agent in Charge William D. Newell posted in July 2011 by Katie Pavlich which says: “Can you see if these guns were all purchased from the same FfL and at one time. We are looking at anecdotal cases to support a demand letter on long gun multiple sales. Thanks Mark R. Chait Assistant Director Field Operations.”
- July 2010: Senator Carl Levin said “Mexican law enforcement officials increasingly are being out-gunned by drug gangs bearing military- style assault weapons, .50 caliber sniper rifles and other high powered weapons that originate in the United States … Reauthorizing a federal ban on assault weapons would help to reduce violence in Mexico and the United States.”
- September 2010: ABC News report praises success of “a Project Gun Runner Impact Team (GRIT) [which] combat[s] the deadly flow of weapons from the United States to Mexico’s ongoing drug war…” The report quotes U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke (who was later a key player in the scandal) as saying, “We are fighting on a crucial front here today to reduce violence in our own communities, and to disrupt and dismantle the southbound supply of weapons to the cartels.” The article cites a report from the gun control group “Mayors Against Illegal Guns,” which found that “three out of four guns used in crimes in Mexico and submitted for tracing were sold in the four U.S. states that border Mexico.” Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was quoted as saying: “This is information, previously hidden by Congress, that the public needs to see, to show how guns bought in the US are fueling the drug wars in Mexico…”
- September 2010: CNN reports that Mexican President Felipe Calderon “says the end of the U.S. assault weapons ban gave criminals new resources…” and “also urged U.S. officials to tackle comprehensive immigration reform.”
- September 2010: During an interview posted at the Council of Foreign Relations website, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “And those guns — you know, those guns, legal and illegal, keep flooding, along with all of the mayhem — it’s not only guns; it’s weapons, it’s arsenals of all kinds that come south. So I feel a real sense of responsibility to do everything we can.”
- October 2010: Jonathan Lowry from the gun control group, the Brady Center quoted by the Wilson Center as saying “…it is outrageous to see how the ATF has done nothing against these stores that are making huge profits selling weapons to straw purchasers.”
- December 10 2014: The Washington Post reports that “federal firearms regulators are proposing an emergency requirement that certain gun dealers along the southwestern border report bulk sales of so-called assault weapons…Under the plan, the ATF, which enforces federal gun laws and regulates firearm dealers, would send what is called a “demand letter” to dealers along the border asking them to report the multiple sales, ATF officials said.
- December 14 2010: Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was fatally shot.
- December 14 2010: Eric Holder was notified of Terry’s death “just hours after he was murdered.”
- December 14 2010: Holder’s then-deputy chief of staff Monty Wilkinson was “told directly by former Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke that the guns found at the murder scene were part of Operation Fast and Furious.”
- December 14 2010: Monty Wilkinson wrote to a Holder aide in an email, “I’ve alerted the AG, the acting Deputy Attorney General…” about the murder of Brian Terry.
- December 17 2010: The Washington Post reports, “Behind the scenes, White House officials were putting the brakes on a proposal to require gun dealers to report bulk sales of the high-powered semiautomatic rifles favored by drug cartels…Senior law enforcement sources said the proposal from the ATF was held up by the White House in early summer. The sources, who asked to be anonymous because they were discussing internal deliberations, said that the effort was shelved by then-White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel..” NOTE: It is surprising that Emanuel would shelve this, as a notorious gun control advocate.
- January 2011: National Gun Rights Examiner David Codrea first posted a letter that Sen. Charles Grassley sent to the former acting director of the ATF Kenneth E. Melson (who was appointed by Eric Holder) stating that his office had “received numerous allegations that the ATF sanctioned the sale of hundreds of assault weapons to suspected straw purchasers, who then allegedly transported these weapons throughout the Southwest border area and into Mexico.'”
- January 2011: ATF spokesman Scot Thomasson told Mexican newspaper El Diario El Paso, “…we do not permit the exit of arms to Mexico.”
- January 2011: After a memorial service in Tucson, Brian Terry’s family met with Border Patrol, FBI and Justice Department officials in a hotel conference room “but the officials gave them almost no information and wouldn’t answer the family’s questions…two family members walked out.”
- February 2011: The Washington Post reports that the White House “delays for at least two months a proposed requirement that gun dealers along the Mexican border report anyone who buys two or more assault weapons in five days…the decision follows President Obama’s directive to curb excessive regulation…”
- February 2011: In an email on Feb. 3, ATF supervisors were told in an email, “you are in no way obligated to respond to congressional contacts or requests for information…. You are not authorized to disclose non-public information about law enforcement matters outside of ATF or the Department of Justice to anyone, including congressional staff.” Additionally, “bureau officials discussed what steps to take to throw Grassley and congressional investigators off the trail.”
- February 2011: Senator Grassley was forced to send another letter demanding that the ATF halt the intimidation of whistle blowers.
- February 15 2011: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agent Jaime Zapata was murdered in Mexico. Special Agent Victor Avila Jr. was gravely wounded.
- February 2011: Assistant Attorney General Ron Welch, in response to the investigations by Rep. Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley wrote a letter stating that the “allegation that ATF ‘sanctioned’ or otherwise knowingly allowed the sale of assault weapons … is false.”
- February 2011: Six members of the Los Zetas drug cartel were arrested in connection to “the attack that killed Special Agent Jaime Zapata of Brownsville and wounded Special Agent Victor Avila Jr. of El Paso.”
- March 2011: In a little known travesty of justice, scapegoat for Operation Fast and Furious Ian Garland was arrested. He was finally released in December, 2013 over the objections of federal prosecutors. A local news source, ABC affiliate KVIA, interviewed Garland and asked him specifically if he was guilty of a crime. Garland responded in part, “Guilty for what? For believing and trusting the ATF, telling me to sell more?”
- March 2011: U.S. Atty. Dennis K. Burke told Brian Terry’s family that “the two weapons came from a store in Texas and were not part of Fast and Furious.” But “Burke actually knew within hours of Brian’s murder that they were purchased from a Phoenix gun shop under ATF surveillance the previous January — a fact borne out by Burke’s emails.”
- March 2011: According to an FBI Press Release, one of the three guns found at the scene of Zapata’s murder was traced back to Ranferi Osorio, 27, and his brother, Otilio Osorio, 22, who were arrested and “charged with possessing firearms with an obliterated serial number.” A third man Kelvin Leon Morrison, 25, was “charged with knowingly making false statements in connection with the acquisition of firearms and dealing in firearms without a license.”
- May 2011: Darrell Issa asked Eric Holder when he first knew about the Fast and Furious program. Holder replied: “I’m not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.”
- June 3 2011: Issa sends a letter to President Obama (which was also signed by 31 Democrats) urging him to instruct the Department of Justice to release information required by the oversight committee.
- June 2011: President Obama said “appropriate action will be taken” against those who authorized the deadly Operation Fast and Furious, during a press conference in the White House’s East Room.
- June 6 2011: Weapon from Operation Fast and Furious used to shoot down a Mexican military helicopter.
- June 15, 2011: WhistleBlower ATF Agent John Dodson testifies that there was no intention to retrieve the weapons from the criminals before the crime was committed.
- June 15 2011: Assistant Attorney General Ron Welch testifies that he does not know who authorized Operation Fast and Furious.
- July 2011: Katie Pavlich exposes Mark R. Chait email (written to William Newell) and writes “Operation Fast and Furious is looking more and more like a set up from the beginning to push Obama and Holder’s radical anti-Second Amendment agenda…”
- July 2011: ATF Special Agent in Charge William D. Newell testifies before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, lamenting “firearms related violent crime” and saying in part that he “discussed the case with a White House National Security staffer as early as September 2010.” The staffer was White House National Security Director for North America Kevin O’Reilly.
- July 2011: White House National Security Director for North America Kevin O’Reilly was “suddenly transferred out of the White House and into Iraq.” The State Department later told CNS News that his reassignment out of the White House “was a standard foreign service career rotation that had been planned for months in advance of his detail to the NSS.”
- July 2011: Katie Pavlich reports that in 2009, “Former ATF Attaché to Mexico Darren Gil and ATF Acting Attaché to Mexico Carlos Canino expressed their concerns to officials in the Phoenix Field Office and in Washington D.C. but were ignored.”
- August 2011: Kenneth E. Melson is reassigned.
- August 2011: U.S. attorney in Phoenix Dennis Burke steps down. He will not discuss Fast and Furious.
- September 2011: A report posted at the Gateway Pundit revealed that Mexican Attorney General Marisela Morales “is infuriated over the allegations that the U.S. was behind the smuggling of weapons into Mexico that ended up killing her countrymen,” referring to the scheme as “an attack on Mexicans’ security” in a statement.
- September 2011: Katie Pavlich reports that “sources from ATF, DOJ and Congressional offices have said there is a white paper circulating within the Department of Justice, outlining the essential elimination of ATF. According to sources, the paper outlines the firing of at least 450 ATF agents in an effort to conduct damage control as Operation Fast and Furious gets uglier and as election day 2012 gets closer.”
- October 2011: Mark Chait is reassigned, i.e., demoted.
- October 2011: William Hoover, former deputy director at the ATF, was “reassigned to a subordinate position.”
- November 2011: Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice Lanny A. Breuer testified that he although he learned about “gun walking” under Fast and Furious, he did not do anything about it. “That’s what I regret,” he said.
- November 8, 2011: Eric Holder testifies that he was aware that Fast and Furious was different that Operation Wide Receiver under George W. Bush in that the weapons were not tracked to the criminals, and that Mexico was unaware of the program.
- December 2011: The Department of Justice withdraws the Assistant Attorney General Ron Welch’s Feb. 4 letter. Deputy Attorney General James Cole writes (putting it mildly), “Facts have come to light during the course of this investigation that indicate the Feb. 4 letter contains inaccuracies.”
- December 2011: Former CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson writes that the ATF used Operation Fast and Furious to “argue for controversial new rules about gun sales.” The article states that “emails show they [ATF officials] discussed using the sales, including sales encouraged by ATF, to justify a new gun regulation called ‘Demand Letter 3.’”
- January 2012: the New York Times quoted Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, as saying “Contrary to repeated claims by some, the committee has obtained no evidence that Operation Fast and Furious was a politically motivated operation conceived and directed by high-level Obama administration political appointees at the Department of Justice.”
- January 2012: The FBI releases a barely-noticed press statement claiming that the weapon that was used in the murder of special agent Jaime Zapata was traced back to Texas man Manuel Gomez Barba, who was “sentenced by United States District Judge Lynn N. Hughes to 100 months imprisonment” for “exportation of firearms…” to the Los Zetas Drug Cartel.
- February, 2012: Eric Holder lamely tells Congress that the officials responsible for the false claims in the Feb. 4 letter “did not know at the time that the information that they provided was inaccurate.” He said: “We submitted inaccurate information, but it was based on attempts to get that which was accurate, and people simply did not have access to it. People who we relied on and who we thought were in possession of the most accurate information were, in fact, not. There was no intention to deceive, but the information provided was regrettably inaccurate, and that is why we withdrew the letter.”
- February 2012: The family of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry files a wrongful death lawsuit against the federal government.
- February 2012: Texas men Ranferi Osorio, Kelvin Leon Morrison, and Luis Carbajal were sentenced for their role in the gun trafficking scheme, where one of the firearms was traced back to the murder of Agent Zapata, according to a DOJ press release. Co-defendants Otilio Osorio, Angel Pablo Monroy, Rosendo Quinones, Eder Talamantes, and Kevin Bueno were also named in the report.
- March 2012: Chairman Darrell Issa and Senator Chuck Grassley “wrote that in addition to Otilio and Rafael Osorio and Kelvin Morrison, which they have previously asked about and received non-substantive responses, it appears that another straw purchaser with ties to the Zapata murder was well-known to ATF officials.” In their letter, they wrote in part, “Records indicate that ATF opened a case against Manuel Barba in June 2010, approximately two months before he took possession on August 20, 2010, of the rifle which was later trafficked to Mexico and also used in the murder of Agent Zapata. Additionally, the documents show that ATF had indications in October 2010 that Barba was obliterating serial numbers on weapons, the possession of which would have been a prosecutable offense.” Yet, Barba was not arrested until February 14, 2011.”
- April 2012: Assistant Attorney General Ron Welch resigns, becomes Dean of the University of Baltimore’s School of Law, hosts panel during “ethics week” in 2013, does “ice bucket challenge” in 2014.
- April 2012: Rep. Darrell Issa, after a year of being stonewalled by the Justice Department, said if there “is no explanation that makes good sense, there can only be an explanation that makes the sense of ulterior motives of unthinkable proportions.”
- April 2012: White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler states in a letter to oversight committee that White House National Security Staffer Kevin O’Reilly would not be made available to investigators. Citing “Executive Branch confidentiality interests,” as reported by Sharyl Attkisson, Ruemmler said, “There is an insufficient basis to support the request to interview Mr. O’Reilly.”
- May 2012: Otilio Osorio “received a seven-year federal prison sentence” for gun trafficking.
- June 20 2012: President Obama asserts executive privilege, as written in a letter from Deputy Attorney General James Cole to Rep. Darrell Issa. As an aside, President Obama stated in 2007, “The use of executive power or executive privilege is subject to abuse.”
- June 2012: Eric Holder held in contempt of Congress. Seventeen Democrats voted with Republicans. Here is a compilation of some of their statements.
- June 2012: Fortune Magazine contributor and former Clinton staffer Katherine Eban publishes an article which attempts to smear Whistleblower John Dodson, even goes as far to contact his ex-wife. It is alleged that DOJ Public Affairs Chief Tracy Schmaler “leaked Dodson’s confidential personnel file for her Fortune story,” as reported by Katie Pavlich.
- July 2012: Senator Chuck Grassley posts a video message from ATF Acting Director Todd Jones on July 9, 2012, to ATF staff which “presents a disturbing message to potential whistleblowers in the agency. The acting director says, ‘… if you don’t find the appropriate way to raise your concerns to your leadership, there will be consequences…'” The video is a clear attempt to keep problems in the ATF from leaving the ATF.
Watch Todd Jones’ statement here:
- August 2012: William Hoover, former deputy director “left the agency in the wake of the fallout from the Fast and Furious gun walking scandal. William Hoover was no longer employed at the agency as of Aug, 1, 2012, according to an ATF spokesman. Officials declined to comment further, citing the Privacy Act.”
- September 2012: House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley sent a letter to Kevin O’Reilly’s attorney threatening to subpoena him if he does not willingly testify before the committee. “We have been trying to arrange to speak with your client, Kevin O’Reilly, for nearly a year now,” Issa and Grassley wrote.
- September 2012: Inspector General’s report released. A resulting hearing can be viewed here. Hearing document here. Of note, Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz implicates Criminal Division Deputy Jason Weinstein as trying to downplay the devastating impact of the guns being “walked” and found at Brian Terry’s crime scene. Horowitz also testified that he was also unable to access Kevin O’Reilly. “As we noted in the report — and, as you know, Congressman, we did not get internal communications from the White House — and Mr. [Kevin] O’Reilly’s unwillingness to speak to us made it impossible for us to pursue that angle of the case and the question that had been raised,” Horowitz said. The report found that numerous red flags should have informed leadership of the failed operation.
Watch the hearing:
- September 2012: Criminal Division Deputy Jason Weinstein resigns, disagrees with findings of IG report.
- September 2012: Congressman Darrell Issa and Senator Charles Grassley requests an investigation into Avila’s and Zapata’s case.
- September 2012: ABC News reported that according to court documents, another gun-running operation was responsible for the weapons that ended up in the hands of the drug cartel that murdered Jaime Zapata and gravely wounded Victor Avila.
- October 2012: Breitbart reports that ICE special Agent Victor Avila speaks out about the night his partner Jaime Zapata was murdered. “The last time Agent Avila was seen in public was at Agent Zapata’s funeral. He does not sleep, has nightmares, lost all his hair. His family said he is a different person.”
- October 2012: Katie Pavlich reports about the “undeniable collaboration between the Soros funded left-wing smear machine Media Matters” and DOJ Spokeswoman/Director of Public Affairs Tracy Schmaler in “attacking journalists.”
- January 11 2o13: Forbes reports that the Obama administration “filed a motion on January 11th to indefinitely stop a lawsuit by the legal watchdog group Judicial Watch demanding enforcement of a June 22, 2012 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.”
- February 2013: Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News reported that “the Texas family of fallen Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent Jaime Zapata sued the Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the former head of the ATF and others they blame in Zapata’s death.”
- February 2013: Eric Holder was interviewed by ABC News about being held in contempt. “But I have to tell you that for me to really be affected by what happened, I’d have to have respect for the people who voted in that way,” Holder said. “And I didn’t, so it didn’t have that huge an impact on me.” Issa responds here.
- May 2013: Office of Inspector General’s report shows the Justice Department “sought to undermine a key Fast and Furious whistleblower’s credibility, Sen. Chuck Grassley,” as reported by David Codrea.
- May 2013: Julian Zapata Espinoza, 32, pleads guilty in the murder of ICE Special Agent Jaime J. Zapata and the attempted murder of fellow agent Victor Avila. In addition, “Ruben Dario Venegas Rivera, 25, also known as ‘Catracho,’ and Jose Ismael Nava Villagran, 30, also known as ‘Cacho,’ pleaded guilty on Aug. 1, 2011, and Jan. 4, 2012, respectively, to one count each to federal charges concerning the murder and attempted murder of agents Zapata and Avila. In addition, Francisco Carbajal Flores, 38, also known as ‘Dalmata,’ entered a guilty plea to a charge of ‘conspiracy to conduct the affairs of an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity and to being an accessory after the fact to the murder and attempted murder of the agents.'”
- July 2013: Senator Chuck Grassley sends a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder “reminding him that the Department of Justice has an obligation to inform Congress when Operation Fast and Furious weapons are found at crime scenes.” Despite numerous cases of weapons found at crime scenes, the oversight committee found out about these instances from news reports – not the DOJ. “The inquiry came after news broke that a Mexican police chief was killed with Fast and Furious weapons,” according to Katie Pavlich.
- September 30 2013: U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman turned down Holder’s Justice Department request to dismiss a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee lawsuit seeking “Operation Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal documents.
- November 2013: The Terry family lawsuit dismissed over a “technicality.”
- January 2014: The Federal government seeks to dismiss the Zapata family lawsuit.
- February 2014: The Terry family appeals the “a ruling that dismissed federal employees from the family’s lawsuit over the botched Fast and Furious gun-smuggling investigation.”
- February 2014: Manuel Osorio-Arellanes sentenced to thirty years in prison for the murder of Brian Terry. “We are not celebrating,” Terry’s family said in a statement. “Today we recognized justice has been served and we believe the 30 year sentence imposed on this particular defendant is an appropriate sentence… We remain hopeful that all suspects in this murder will be brought to justice.”
- March 28 2014: Monty Wilkinson appointed by Eric Holder as the new Director for Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys.
- April 2014: The Zapata lawsuit, which also represents wounded ICE Special Agent Victor Avila was sent back to the district court in Brownsville. “The families say they have been denied all information about the case for three years.” The Terry family echoes the sentiment, as revealed in this letter by Brian Terry’s mother – also in April of this year.
- June 2014: Judicial Watch files FOIA lawsuit on behalf of ATF Special Agent John Dodson, who was “subjected to a Obama appointee-orchestrated smear campaign designed to destroy his reputation,” as reported at Breitbart.
- September 25 2014: Judicial Watch wins “key battle in federal court against the administration on the Fast and Furious documents President Barack Obama asserted executive privilege over to hide them from the American people and Congress.” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton says timing of Holder resignation is “no coincidence.”
Aside from the New Media, little coverage was given to the operation – as illustrated in a report from the Media Research Center. The only time the Fast and Furious scandal was grudgingly reported was when President Obama invoked “executive privilege.” As an aside, Obama criticized George Bush for “hiding” behind executive privilege.
In an interview on CNN in 2007, he said,
You know, there’s been a tendency on the part of this [Bush] administration to — to try to hide behind executive privilege every time there’s something a little shaky that’s taking place.
After countless hours of research, this author can see no way that the Obama administration can get around the undeniable truth about this operation: It had nothing to do with stemming violence (in fact, violence seems to have been expected), and everything to do with ultimately justifying an “assault weapons” ban. Please excuse the commentary, but there is one very easy way to all but halt gun smuggling, as well as the stem the flow of drugs into the United States: Seal the border. It should also be noted that Mexico has extreme gun control and a very high murder rate. Few of those murders are solved.
If Mexican citizens were given the tools to protect themselves, this author has a feeling that the drug cartels would lose much of their impact. But for activist groups, such as Amnesty International and many others, the effort is back in swing to convince Mexicans that the solution is an “assault weapons” ban in the United States, as illustrated by an initiative described here (in Spanish) that was advertised by the hashtag #AdiosALasArmas. As translated from Spanish, this sentence from the petition manages to vilify the United States and call for gun control in America at the same time:
More than 60,000 people have been killed since 2006 in Mexico, most of them died from wounds caused by weapons obtained in the United States. The lack of control of weapons sold in the United States in Mexico deaths and cause pain.
An excellent timeline with additional information, as well as comprehensive information about media coverage on Operation Fast and Furious, can be found here. Big takeaway? If not for the New Media, this scandal would have likely faded into the background.