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Old June 27, 2012, 12:43 PM   #2404
Bartholomew Roberts
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Join Date: June 12, 2000
Location: Texas and Oklahoma area
Posts: 5,719
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It's a long arduous read but very insightful. It is either a smoking gun about political intrigue or one of the best constructed smokescreens in the history of a free press. The timing of this article is "too coincidental to be coincidental", considering the vote on Holder. I have to wonder if somebody was holding this back for just the right moment.
There are some interesting insights into the details buried in there; but overall the report seems biased and poorly structured. The reporter in question interviewed David Voth; but practically noone else - unsurprisingly, David Voth (who oversaw Fast and Furious) turns out to be the hero, with agents Newell and McAlister in supporting roles. The reporter cites that she reviewed 2,000 confidential ATF documents (compared to 7,600 reviewed by the Oversight Committee and 80,000 turned over to the DOJ IG).

From these she basically concludes that the ATF never intentionally walked guns, that the NRA is to blame, that John Dodson did intentionally walk guns (not sure how she squared this with #1 in her mind; but not the only example of contradictory information).

From my perspective, the most interesting part of the story is that she lays the blame for ATF being hamstrung at the feet of Emory Hurley and Dennis Burke. According to her version of the story, basically no amount of evidence was sufficient for them to prosecute and without a prosecutor's approval, ATF agents could not seize weapons. So for example, when the guy on food stamps bought $300,000 worth of guns in a few months, and the prosecutors did not find this suffiicient probable cause, ATF could do nothing. In fact, Burke had dropped Jaime Avila (the man who purchased the guns that were found at Agent Terry's murder) from the indictment for Fast and Furious for lack of evidence. He was only added back to the indictment after Terry's death (and convicted on the same evidence deemed lacking).

One of the many problems I had with this story is that the reporter continually used subjective adjectives (weak, ineffective) to describe gun laws or penalties for violating them; but didn't share the actual laws with the reader. For example, she states there is no federal firearms law for trafficking firearms; but she doesn't tell the reader that it is illegal to knowingly transfer a firearm to a prohibited person (nor does she mention how FBI rigged the NICS system to sell directly to prohibited people). She tells the reader about straw purchasing very loosely but says the penalties are "weak." She doesn't tell the reader that you can get up to 10 years in a federal prison for it. She blames the NRA for not allowing "a centralized database of firearms sales (i.e. registration), which tends to make her bias a bit apparent to me.

Finally, she points out that Dennis Burke (1994 AWB staffer who in a 1997 interview called stricter gun laws his most proud achievement at that point in his life) and Emory Hurley (his assistant) repeatedly refused attempts to prosecute the straw purchasers in theses cases. In fact, they didn't even indict for six months after agents had made an argument to close the case. She accuses them of being too friendly with "gun culture." She also points out that the target of the case was an FBI informant funding the purchases with FBI money. Yet somehow she reaches the conclusion that the claims that Fast and Furious was being used to drum up support for increased gun control is "far-fetched" - even though the Administration did exactly that as a result.

One of the few interesting points she brings up is her article highlights the importance of the wiretap applications. It appears that in an effort to provide enough proof that Burke or Hurley would prosecute, the ATF proposed to wiretap the straw purchasers in order to provide the requisite evidence of intent (one guy directing another guy to buy for him). However, despite the fact that wiretaps in other cities were being processed in 24 hours, these wiretaps were taking weeks or months - and within a week of the first one being approved, the subject switched to a new phone, causing the whole process to restart.

All in all, the reporter who wrote that story strikes me as biased and generally ignorant about guns and Fast and Furious. She heard one side of the case; but other than making a token effort to contact the other 7 agents on the case (all of whom declined to be interviewed), she didn't try to get or even tell the other side of the story.
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