The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent in charge of the agency’s controversial Fast and Furious investigation on Tuesday defended his unit’s actions, telling lawmakers that “it was not the purpose’’ of ATF to permit firearms trafficking to Mexico.The ATF were trying to get to the organizers of the gun smuggling. Issa is still trying to attack the ATF with anything he thinks will tar them in the press. Issa is doing the job the leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel want done. The only thing not clear is if Issa is actually carrying water for the cartel or if he is simply such a rabidly blind right-wing zealot that he'll do and say anything to make the ATF look bad and he doesn't care that the cartel benefits from his ideological warfare.
William Newell, who oversaw the Phoenix field division when Fast and Furious was conceived in late 2009, told lawmakers that he helped plan the operation and that its intent was to help bring down a criminal organization involved in drug trafficking and gun smuggling.
Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform are probing Operation Fast and Furious, in which ATF Phoenix-based agents, instead of interdicting weapons destined for Mexico, were instructed to follow the gun trail of straw purchasers buying on behalf of Mexican drug traffickers.
A portion of the weapons slipped through to Mexico where they helped fuel Mexico’s escalating drug violence. Two of the weapons were recovered at the site in Southern Arizona where Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered in December 2010.
“Fast and Furious was . . . designed to identify purchasers, financers, transporters, and decision makers in a Mexican cartel-based firearms trafficking organization,” Newell said in his opening statements. “It was not the purpose of the investigation to permit the transportation of firearms into Mexico.”
“Was there an explicit plan by which you’d follow where those guns went after’’ cartel middlemen took them from straw purchasers who bought the weapons at gun stores in the Phoenix area, asked Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt.
“To the best of my knowledge we did everything we could (to follow the weapons trail) with the resources we had in the field,” Newell responded.
In a particularly heated moment, Newell said “We didn’t sell firearms, sir,” when the committee’s chairman, Rep. Darryl Issa, R-Calif., questioned him on how guns got from firearms dealers to purchasers and then on to the cartels.
“Well, you came pretty close,” Issa replied. “You told the firearm dealer to go ahead and sell them. You knew who the buyer was . . .and you knew where they were ending up.”
It would have been impossible to track the firearms through the smuggling channels and not lose some of them. To stop those weapons at the first stage in the process would simply stop a few firearms, all of which could be easily replaced by another straw buyer. But letting them go offers the chance to get real evidence against the organizers of the purchasing and smuggling process in Mexico.
It's totally clear on the face of the entire media effort. The current media effort in America to attack the ATF benefits primarily the Sinaloa Cartel who is organizing the purchase and smuggling of the weapons. Issa is a key person in trying to shut down the ATF investigation before any upper level cartel member is caught.