August 12, 2011

Houston, We Have a Problem

Can an American news agency that knew that Operation Fast and Furious was "walking" thousands of firearms to Mexican drug cartels face criminal and civil charges for their role in covering up the program?

That is a question the Washington Post, its editors, reporters, and lawyers should be sweating, as evidence emerges that the newspaper may have been aware of the multi-agency "Gunwalker" program that led to the deaths of an estimated 150 Mexican police and soldiers or more, the shooting of three American federal agents, and countless casualties on both sides of the border.

Neil W. McCabe reveals the stunning allegations in Human Events with an article accusingly titled, The Washington Post has a Partner’s Share in Agent Terry's Death.

The story--which must be read in its entirety--reveals that Post reporters James V. Grimaldi and Sari Horwitz, research editor Alice Crites and staff writer William Booth worked extremely closely with the ATF in Houston, TX, over a period of months to write a series of articles called "The Hidden Life of Guns."

Grimaldi and Horwitz shared a byline on a key story in the series, As Mexico drug violence runs rampant, U.S. guns tied to crime south of border, which McCabe claims as evidence of the incestuous relationship that had developed between the journalists and the ATF:

This team worked for months with the ATF so closely that when the article was published the paper, it had prepared maps and charts based on ATF-provided statistics. Its online presentation included a video narrated by ATF Special Agent J. Dewey Webb, and a video of an interrogation of an illegal alien picked up in a weapons case in a private room with an ATF agent, apparently without the detainee knowing he was being recorded.

The statistics cited by the Post in the article, maps, and charts were apparently based upon gun trace data using Operation Fast and Furious statistics. McCabe argues that the relationship between ATF and the Post writers and editors was so close that the reporters must have known that the ATF and other federal law enforcement agencies were allowing straw purchasers to walk the weapons into Mexico and arm the cartels with weapons used to murder hundreds.

If that is indeed the case--and that is a big "if"--then the Post has crossed an major ethical line in what it decided to conceal to protect their assets, similar to what CNN did when it looked the other way as Saddam Hussein's thugs were raping and torturing Iraqi citizens.

* * *

The allegation of collusion between the Post and the ATF isn't the only reason the Houston ATF should be worried this week. Houston area gun shops supply a surprising number of guns showing up in central and southern Mexico, suggesting the possible existence of a Gunwalker program that is equal to or even dwarfs Arizona's Operation Fast and Furious.

Congressional investigators with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are focusing on the ATF's Houston office, one of the three additional areas where an operation like Operation Fast and Furious may have occurred, as reported in a previous Pajamas Media report.

Congressional investigators are researching an initiative that sounds very, very familiar.

...congressional leaders want to know if similar problems happened in Houston during an investigation done under the auspices of an ATF initiative called "Gunrunner." The operation targeted "straw buyers" in border states recruited to legally purchase handguns and high-powered rifles only to hand the weapons over to members of the drug cartels.

"The ATF agents encouraged them to go through with the sales," said Houston attorney Dick DeGuerin, who represents Carter's Country, the largest independent gun retailer in our region.

DeGuerin said starting in 2006, Houston ATF agents asked Carter's Country for help by alerting agents when a suspicious gun buyer tried to purchase multiple weapons. DeGuerin referred to this effort as a "stall and call."

"Stall the purchaser, call the ATF, let an ATF agent come out and watch the sale so they could follow it," DeGuerin said.

"Did the ATF always show up?" asked Local 2 Investigator Robert Arnold.

"No, they didn't," DeGuerin said.

If that sounds familiar, it should... Carter's Country is the exact same gun shop savaged by the Post reporting team in the article that drew McCabe’s attention at Human Events.

Carter's Country is now in a legal battle with the ATF, with the ATF attacking the gun store for supplying weapons to straw purchasers which found their way south to the cartels, and the gun store claiming that it was doing exactly what the ATF asked it to do.

DeGurein claims to have documentation that correlates their version of events, and ATF Houston has declined to talk.

Senator Charles Grassley sent a statement to KRPC in Houston that pulled no punches:

"Knowingly allowing guns to be purchased by straw buyers and then transferred to third parties is wrong no matter how you cut it. Whether it's one or 1,800, the ATF's actions in Houston and Phoenix were reckless and ill-advised. The Justice Department and the ATF need to come clean, accept responsibility, and provide honest, straightforward answers from here on out."

The multi-agency task force that took part in these and other suspected "walking" operations in Texas and Florida have a lot to answer for.

So does the Washington Post, which apparently not only knew about the program, but chose to cover it up with a hit piece by one of the reporters involved in the Houston reporting operation that had just returned to duty following a plagiarism scandal.

Neither the Holder Justice Department nor the Washington Post seem to care the least little bit about acting ethically or legally.

No wonder they work so well together.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at August 12, 2011 10:42 AM

Can an American news agency that knew that Operation Fast and Furious was "walking" thousands of firearms to Mexican drug cartels face criminal and civil charges for their role in covering up the program?

I am compelled to disagree with your premise here. You are implying that if the gunrunner- provided guns were not available that those particular criminals would have been unable to commit their crimes and the law enforcers of Mexico and Agent Terry would still be alive. That is like saying if Banana Republic went out of business, we would all run around naked.

The criminal gangs of Mexico had unrestricted access to firearms before Gunrunner and there is every reason to believe they would have continued to buy as much as they wanted from non-gunrunner sources as they needed.

The only thing Gun Runner did was implicate members of the Obama Administration in violations of US laws.

Since you should not make the claim that the gun sales were responsible for the crimes (murder), without regard to where the guns were bought, you should not then make a further claim that the news media colluded in the crime (murder) by covering up what they knew.

You may make the claim that they colluded in the illegal acts of government agents circumventing US laws.

Note that this is a similar argument that gun control advocates have tried to use against gun dealers and manufacturers claiming people who sell and make guns are responsible for the crimes commtted with those guns.

Posted by: Professor Hale at August 12, 2011 12:14 PM

You may make the claim that they colluded in the illegal acts of government agents circumventing US laws.
I thought that's what he did.

There's a reason I started calling them Minitrue in 2009. They're adjuncts of the gov't, telling the stories that will advance their chosen party.

Posted by: Veeshir at August 12, 2011 02:11 PM