Once upon a time I made a lot of money doing nothing more than
graphic timelines of events and people all engaged in a single endeavor,
just to see who did what, and in what order, and asking why. It's a
terrific analytical tool.
From the moment Fast and Furious went
public in Dec 2010, after the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry,
the story became so political, with so much dancing and sidestepping by
administration officials inside ATF and the Department of Justice, no
wonder a whole category of crimes involved have been overlooked.
In fact, all the serious ones.
I have often argued, facts don't lie, and the politics often resolves
itself if you simply lay out in simple terms the crimes, who planned
them, who carried them out, and who, for whatever reason, collegial
loyalty or mutual dirty fingerprints, tried to cover them up.
all know something of Fast and Furious. It was an ATF plan to allow guns
purchased from gun stores along Mexican border states to "walk" into
Mexico, where they could lead American and Mexican federal officials to
drug cartels buying the guns. (Only I'm not sure if Mexico was dialed
into this plan.)
These purchases occurred in 2009-2010, approx
2000 guns (semi-automatic assault-looking rifles and pistols), approx
$1M, or average, $500 per weapon. Not a $32 Saturday night special in
the lot. The ATF lost track of 1400 of them, over 70%, costing them
their ISO-9000 certification.
We know that a couple of ATF agents
in Phoenix began to complain about the operation because they were not
allowed to make arrests as per standard ATF procedures, before the guns got into the hands of criminal end-users. (The
actual details as to how guns were to be traced, and arrests made, once
they got into criminal hands, is a mystery to me since, with 70%
untraceable, it must have been pretty shoddy. But I'm getting ahead of
But intentional, accidental, or incompetence, in the end it shouldn't matter.
Dec, 2010, Agent, Brian Terry, was likely shot and killed by one of two
of these 1000 weapons along a smuggling trail in southern Arizona. (I
used to try cases near there, in Bisbee.) Strangely, the killers left
the two F&F guns laying on the ground at the crime scene, then fled.
One man is being held for the shooting, but there is no conclusive
proof either of the F&F guns fired the fatal round (according to the
FBI, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Department of Justice.).
Again, it shouldn't matter.
this killing occurred, news of the Fast and Furious plan quickly went
public. They couldn't keep a lid on it. Within 30 days the Federal
District Attorney for Arizona, Dennis Burke, ended the Fast and Furious
operation by filing a sealed multi-count indictment against the people
who were used as straw buyers in the Phoenix area on behalf of drug
cartel members, way back at the front end of the operation. There were
20 named people, and I link to
that indictment for informational purposes. Read it for all it doesn't
mention, and crimes it doesn't list. All but one were charged with the
principal charges of 1) Conspiracy and 2) Dealing in Firearms without a License, citing 90 separate incidences in 2009 and 2010.
first named buyer, Avila, though not the biggest buyer, was the man who
bought the two rifles found at the scene of Agent Terry's death. This
past April, he and two of the other named defendants pleaded guilty to
the two main charges. and face up to 10 years in prison, I assume based
on a plea deal that will become evident at sentencing, and possibly
later at trial of the remaining defendants in September.
During Avila's allocution, no mention
was allowed to be made of Agent Terry's death, or of Fast &
Furious, or the two guns. Follow the linked Fronteras leads to other
stories, which shows that Agent Terry's family had sought to be listed
as victims in the Avila 20 case, that petition denied by a Tucson
Federal judge in Jan 2012, then accepted an informal deal with the new
federal prosecutor to withdraw in Feb 2012. Their reasoning: "The
request would have opened the possibility of turning the smuggling case
into one against the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms."
If you throw the Department of Justice into the mix, that is precisely the point. They should be.
I'll tell you why.
deaths of hundreds of Mexican citizens and Agent Terry were a direct
result of acts certain people within ATF, and possibly DOJ, caused to
As long as this case is about the smuggling of guns by straw buyers, and not the intentional or irresponsible
placing of guns into the hands of criminals, the real crimes go
unaddressed and unpunished. It is my conclusion that the ultimate
government purpose now, both in this trial against straw buyers, and in
the series of dodges and stalls before Congress, is to hide a series of
crimes in which the government was the principal instigator.
view is that enough crimes were committed, from day one of Fast and
Furious, that had timely indictments been made, the need to spend
millions of tax payer dollars in finding out about a potential cover up
would be unnecessary.
The State of Arizona could still lead in this regard.
The Crimes: First things first.
a man enters a gun store, several laws come into play, not only one.
It's like every young Catholic is taught, there is more than one sin in a
lewd thought. And both state and federal laws apply.
And violation of some of those laws can be "more criminal" than others.
a buyer must prove he is qualified to buy a gun. He must be of age, a
legal resident or citizen, be free of a felony past, and finally, he
must, in writing (there's a federal form for it) that the purchase of
the gun is for his personal use, and not for resale, or the use of
As a buyer, it's a crime to lie about those things, and
it's a crime to transfer the weapons purchased. These are the principal
charges against the Avila 20. There is no mention that it was the ATF
who so easily placed those guns into the straw buyers' hands in the
first place, or that, but for the ATF, the buys would never have taken
There are other crimes, NOT MENTIONED in the indictment, placing certain duties on the selling end of the transaction.
for the store owner, it is a crime to ignore the falsehoods of buyers
or the likelihood they will transfer them for still other criminal
With this many guns being purchased, especially
considering the damage they could do (these weren't hunting rifles),
ordinarily the gun store owners would be indicted as well. Of course,
they weren't here because they were working with/for the ATF. That was
the plan. They had been immunized of the crimes they committed.
But these were crimes, nonetheless, a point everyone seems to forget.
Up to a point, the government can forgive the trespasser, but never the
But as Eichmann found out, at some point the crime
becomes so inherently dangerous, or manifestly heinous, a simple "I was
only obeying orders," or "the DOJ said it was "OK" won't do.
the ATF from this buy-sell scenario and simply replay events. The guns
would never have been sold in the quantities that they were sold in the
Without the ATF covering their backs, if a buyer
makes multiple purchases of guns, such as these, the gun dealer has (at a
minimum) the duty to report it to ATF who would then follow it up to
ascertain if the guns were for personal use, and locked away in a safe
somewhere. That's routine, for many law-abiding citizens make multiple
gun purchases. (State law usually controls this, as only this week Virginia
repealed a one-handgun-a month-law that had been in place for nearly
two decades. There is no federal law limiting the number of weapons one
can buy in any given period.)
Most of the Fast and Furious
purchases were in the range of 5-to-10 at a time, enough to raise
suspicion to any seller of ordinary sense.
What's at stake for the seller:
The dealer's duty to report, or deny, the sale is for his own
protection. This duty is based in common law as well as general state
criminal laws ranging from accessory before a crime to negligent
homicide, for he knows that if he places dangerous instrumentalities
into hands he believes are likely to use them for a criminal purpose, he
could face criminal charges as well.
Example: If my brother
rushes up to me asking for my pistol, because he has just caught his
wife in bed with his best friend, and I give it to him, then he does the
dirty deed to one or both of the dirty-riders, am I also culpable
Yes. At the very least, wanton endangerment. But don't
forget civil penalties, especially if I live in a mansion and my
brother in trailer park. The gun dealer can be sued for damages, just as
OJ Simpson was, his store turned into a flower shop bought by two
Greenpeace volunteers at public auction.
So, why weren't the gun
store owners sued, by not only the Terry family but the myriad of
Mexican families who had loved ones murdered, each of those guns
traceable back to a single transaction with an individual gun dealer?
Where are the ambulance chasing Jose Edwards of the southwest? Where are
the radio and TV ads in Sonora, asking victims' families to call
1-800-GUN-SHOT (Si usted o algún ser querido...)
bottom line is that while ATF and their magic immunizing needle can
immunize the store owners, but they cannot erase the crime.
while we have charges, even guilty pleas for a series of nickle and dime
conspiracy and illegal transfer violations, suddenly no one is
responsible for up to 300 deaths, including one American, Arizona
citizen named Brian Terry.
Suddenly these deaths were just one big Oooooppps. A paperwork malfunction.
providing weapons to people one knows were intended for use in crimes
is a crime, and, at some point, cannot be immunized. That point
is found among individuals within the ATF, standing alone, or
individuals inside the ATF, standing shoulder to shoulder with
individuals in the Department of Justice who told them all this was OK.
the very least, wanton endangerment works, which I prefer, since it has
already been proven, requiring no intent, not injuries or dead people.
Just putting them in harm's way is enough.
At the DOJ's end, at
the minimum their failure to act as officers of the Court and indict and
prosecute crimes that are squarely in front of their face. Like wanton
endangerment, evidence, as it unfolds can increase this to full-blown
cover-up and collusion.
Either way, these are giant steps past "ooopps."
Figuring this out is really simple.
It began with a Plan.
Fast and Furious began with a Plan, and it would be written down.
Agents on the front line would not be read into the overall Plan, but
only their compartmentalized role in it. I assume Issa has seen this
Plan, and the many operational addenda that various action offices
added, as well as the legal findings and rules of engagement provided by
the District Attorney or one of his minions, (Cunningham or Hurley).
Together, on paper, they would have approved a Plan which, BY
LAW, was supposed to prevent the guns falling into the hands of
criminals who would likely use them in the commission of
crimes....operations that were designed to achieve certain goals with
legal parameters drawn.
If not, the Plan was fatally
flawed from the beginning, sort of like when the committee designing
Chevrolet's back in the 70s required the engine block to be lifted out
in order to change the plugs on their new and advanced Monza.
If not, the crimes began that day, and every fingerprint on it bears some responsibility. Let a jury sort it out.
as so many ATF officials testified (contradictory I might add) there
was never any intention to allow the guns to actually walk into the
hands of criminals. The fact that 70% did proves that 1) they lied or 2)
the Plan was as incompetently put together as the loan package for
Both have criminal consequences, for in determining
whether intended or unintended, accident, bad luck, blithering
indifference (after all the only persons likely killed would be
Mexicans) or incompetence, these things matter only to degree: whether
the perpetrators get 1-to- 5, or 10-20 years.
then, why did the federal prosecutors chase after a bunch of 5 year
penalties for making false statements, leaving the wrongful death of a
federal agent (and hundreds inside Mexico) unindicted, when they had the
guns that did it, and knew the store owners and buyers who began the
chain that put those guns into criminal hands? Why did the feds go after
the 5-to-10 and ignore the 25-to-life charges of knowing accessories
before the fact of murder.
In all likelihood, why federal
prosecutors did not bring charges relating to the crimes committed with
these weapons, including wrongful, death, would have been to admit a
theory of crime in which they themselves participated, and perhaps even
Follow me here. The bone of contention that
arose early between field agents (such as whistle-blower John Dodson, in
Phoenix) and supervisor (David Voth) is that they were allowing the
guns to walk into the hands of criminals, even as this, according to
reports, was contrary to stated ATF policy as enunciated by higher-ups
in congressional testimony. Somebody was lying.
In the ordinary
world of dog-eat-dog career bureaucrats, front line decision-makers
would have been dumped on and indicted quickly, and that would have been
the end of it, in early 2011. This is not what happened. In fact, a
couple of key actors were moved and maybe even promoted.
convinced that these guns did not walk due to a couple of rogue
operators. At certain levels ATF managers believed that, just like the
store owners, they were immune from all of the most serious consequences
of their actions. Now this belief could have been based in the divine
right of bureaucrats (not likely) or due to the notion, obtained from
the local DA's office, or higher up, that their conduct was protected.
the approximate time the Avila 20 indictments were handed down, (Jan
2011) and the more serious crimes (which still cannot be mentioned in
court, and presumably before any jury) were buried instead of being
pursued, the ATF and DOJ have been moving in concert. At 18 USC 371,
this is known as "Conspiracy", yet another offense.
Now, none of these federal agents are killers, I'm sure. But many are cynical careerists. Bureaucrats, who
will quickly reorganized their priorities when something goes wrong, so
as to protect their careers (and pensions) first. Especially if
forfeiture or jail time may be involved.
cannot afford to allow to persist is the belief among many federal
officials that they can be immunized simply by an OK from a federal
lawyer once a crime becomes manifest, and I submit this was long before
the death of Agent Terry. (A time line would likely prove this.)
is the real lesson from Fast & Furious; that federal law
enforcement agents and Department of Justice officials believe they can
forgive themselves of any crime. After all, it was Barack
Obama, on the advice of Eric Holder, who ordered the assassination of an
American citizen, then told the world it was legal, a righteous shoot.
It wasn't. Yes, he may have pardoned himself, but we've been watching
this sort of imperial sense of legal immunity since Waco, and the people
simply cannot permit its government to continue to write their own get
out of jail free cards, as if they were 16th Century nobility.
in the end, the current federal case against 20 defendant straw buyers
(US v Avila et al) in Phoenix is being prosecuted by co-conspirators to
the crime, with the express purpose of keeping their roles out of it.
So what do we do about it?
I'd love to see Darrell Issa move to ask for a special prosecutor
against the ATF and DOJ on these criminal charges, as the criminal case
has already proved itself. My suggestion is that Issas and Grassley do a
full-blown Timeline, with documents, publish them privately, like the
Warren Report, stating the case from the angle of wanton endangerment.
Go to the floor of the House and do a 30-minute power point, then let it
be known that the next administration will chase these crimes and
unindicted co-conspirators once the Obama regime, and shield, are
dissolved. Let them know now, Rep Issa, Sen Grassley.
state of Arizona is not without it own power to shake the 'simmon tree
either, although it has waited a long time. Virtually every major crime
I've mentioned here is an Arizona crime, too. Agent Terry was an
Arizonan. And I'd bet prosecutors in Sonora would like to see a little
justice brought on behalf of all the families in Mexico and would be
happy to work with Arizona prosecutors.
You'll notice I haven't said much about Eric Holder.
drop the Nixon analogy where all the criminals in the Watergate
break-in were offered lighter sentences, even a week at Disneyland, if
they'd just help nail Nixon's behind to the White House garage. After all
Nixon's crimes were much more serious than the deaths of 300 people.
They were so serious you might have thought he'd have sold secret rocket
technology to the Chicoms...no wait, that was Bill Clinton. Yes, now I
remember, it was his enemies list, which, at last report, was one-one
hundredth the size of Barack Obama's.
In any case, such political escapades are unseemly.
Just do it right, go after the crimes, and everything else will fix itself.