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By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Memories of a long brotherhood tempered in common struggle
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Topic - William Newell
Four senior ATF managers who supervised the botched Fast and Furious gunrunning investigation could face termination if the recommendations of a disciplinary board are upheld.
House and Senate investigators singled out five ATF officials Tuesday for blame in the failure of the Fast and Furious gunrunning operation that led to the transfer of more than 2,000 illegally purchased weapons to drug smugglers in Mexico.
The central characters in the failed "Fast and Furious" firearms investigation were 19 men and one woman, accused of laying down hundreds of thousands of dollars in illicit cash at Phoenix-area gun shops to buy an arsenal of high-powered weapons for Mexican drug smugglers.
The "Fast and Furious" gunrunning probe is creeping closer to the Obama White House. It appears administration officials were willing to sign off on just about anything to accomplish their ends, and the result of this botched operation has has been over a hundred dead. Someone needs to be held accountable.
Why did the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) let criminals buy firearms, smuggle them across the Mexican border and deliver them into the hands of vicious drug cartels? The ATF claims it launched its now-disgraced Operation Fast and Furious in 2009 to catch the "big fish." Fast and Furious was designed to stem the "Iron River" flowing from American gun stores into the cartels' arsenals. The bureau says it allowed gun smuggling so it could track the firearms and arrest the cartel members downstream. Not true.
ATF field agents working in Mexico broke ranks with their supervisors Tuesday during a rancorous five-hour House committee hearing, saying they were kept in the dark about a controversial undercover operation in which hundreds of guns ended up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels.
The Obama administration sought to intimidate witnesses into not testifying to Congress on Tuesday about whether ATF knowingly allowed weapons, including assault rifles, to be "walked" into Mexico, the chairman of a House committee investigating the program said in an interview Monday.
Several top ATF officials will testify Tuesday before a House committee investigating the controversial "Fast and Furious" weapons program and likely will be asked whether they were ordered not to tell Mexican authorities that guns recovered at crime scenes in that country had been illegally purchased in the U.S.
Agent Newell, who headed the Phoenix, Ariz., office from which the scheme's operations were directed, contradicted that claim when he testified on Capitol Hill in July.
"It was not the purpose of the investigation to permit the transportation of firearms into Mexico," Mr. Newell added. "To the best of my knowledge, none of the suspects in this case was ever witnessed by our agents crossing the border with firearms."