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Uncovered email shows cover-up, intimidation by ATF officials

By Anthony Martin | Examiner | Sept. 22, 2011

In an exclusive report filed this morning by reporters David Codrea and Mike Vanderboegh, an uncovered email from January of this year shows that ATF officials engaged in a cover-up of the 'Project Gunwalker' scandal (Operation Fast and Furious) and that the officials intended to engage in intimidation of whistleblowers within the agency. 

ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson had sent a request for information to the bureau's chief counsel, Stephen R. Rubenstein, regarding allegations made against the agency by whistleblowers writing on a website called 'CleanUpATF.'

It was this website that led to Vanderboegh's first expose on December 28, 2010, which broke the Gunwalker story.

Rubenstein's response to Melson's request has only now been uncovered and is provided here:

This is in response to your request regarding information posted on "Clean Up ATF." Specifically, on December 22, 2010, "1desrtrat" [screen name used by CUATF comment poster--DC] stated that "word is" that Phoenix FD ASAC George Gillet "[a]llegedly approved more than 500 AR-15 type rifles from Phoenix and Tucson cases to be 'walked' into Mexico." The post further states that "[o]ne of those rifles is rumored to have been linked to the recent killing of a Border Patrol Officer in Nogales, AZ."

“The disclosure of this information has a potential deleterious effect on ATF's undercover operations,” Rubenstien continued. “In that regard, suspects may alter their behavior if they know that law enforcement is allowing certain firearms to 'walk' into Mexico. In addition, public knowledge of this type of operation potentially places informants and undercover agents in jeopardy. Finally, public disclosure of such information could ATF's working relationship with Mexico.”

According to Codrea,

Examined objectively, Rubenstein admitted guns were purposely allowed to walk, that walking guns to a foreign country must be hidden from the public, and that if the Mexicans found out about it, cooperative law enforcement efforts would be jeopardized.

“If ‘1desertrat’ is an ATF employee,” Rubenstein advised, “then he/she is subject to our Orders and Standards of Conduct.”

Examined objectively, Rubenstein admitted "1desertrat's" allegations were true, otherwise, there could be no disclosure of official information, nor jeopardizing of operations, personnel or relationships.

The content of the email suggests that the modus operandi of the ATF would be to hide information concerning Gunwalker and to prevent ATF agents from disclosing certain facts that would implicate the bureau in a scandal. Such a directive would have far-reaching implications in light of the impending investigation into the scandal which would be conducted by Congressman Darrell Issa in the U.S. House of Representatives.

At least two key questions are critical at this juncture. First, if Gunwalker involved no illegal activity whatsoever, as most of the mainstream media and the Obama Administration contends, then why would the ATF undertake such herculean efforts to hide it? And second, if ATF agents on the ground had no information that would blow the case wide open, implicating the agency and the DOJ in illegal activity, then why would the higher-ups deem it necessary to muzzle the agents when they provided testimony?

And they did exactly that.

In this report in July, ATF Associate Chief Counsel Barry Orlo is shown to provide the specific instructions to agents who would be called to testify:

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, said at least two scheduled witnesses expected to be asked about a controversial weapons investigation known as “Fast and Furious”received warning letters from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to limit their testimony…after receiving subpoenas, at least two of the agents got letters from ATF Associate Chief Counsel Barry S. Orlow warning them to keep certain areas off-limits, including those still under investigation. Neither of the targeted agents was identified.

Mr. Issa said at least one witness wanted to back out of testifying to his committee after receiving the letter, but the chairman declined that request. Instead he fired a letter back to William J. Hoover, deputy director of ATF, saying the “timing and content of this letter strongly suggest that ATF is obstructing and interfering with the congressional investigation.”

Thus, obstruction and intimidation of witnesses became the ATF and DOJ's manner of handling the scandal.

Seattle Gun Rights Examiner Dave Workman reports that Issa and Senator Charles Grassley fired off a blistering letter to the Acting Inspector General for the DOJ, asserting that her actions with regard to secret tapes of conversations is tantamount to obstruction.

As noted previously, the extend and scope of this scandal is far beyond anything seen thus far in American politics, including Watergate. While it was the cover-up and not the burglary itself that brought down the Nixon Administraton in the Watergate scandal, Gunwalker by contrast involves not only a massive cover-up but illegal activity that led to murder and an international incident that holds broad negative implications for U.S. relations with Mexico.

Be sure to catch my blog at The Liberty Sphere.

Visit my ministry site at Martin Christian Ministries.

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Tags

Obama, ATF, Cover up, Fast and Furious, Holder

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