Gunwalker Anger Goes Bipartisan: Joe Lieberman Joins Chorus
The scandal surrounding Operation Fast and Furious just became far more problematic for the Obama administration, as former Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, is now examining miscommunication between law enforcement agencies as it relates to the gunwalking plot:
A spokesperson told The Daily Caller Wednesday that Lieberman “believe[s] that the lack of interagency coordination along the border merits further examination, and as Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, he has directed his staff to follow up with the relevant federal agencies on that topic.”
Investigative reporter Matthew Boyle of the Daily Caller then cites a previous PJ Media exclusive as a possible trigger for Lieberman's investigation:
For instance, Pajamas Media reported that the night Terry was killed, an FBI informant was in the drug cartel rip crew that used Fast and Furious weapons to murder him. Rip crews are armed groups of bandits who work for specific drug cartels and try to rob rival cartel shipments and illegal immigrants as they’re crossing the border.
Pajamas reports that the DEA also had some knowledge of that drug cartel rip crew’s whereabouts. Assuming the reports are true, the DEA and the FBI failed to “deconflict,” or warn other agencies including the Border Patrol about potentially deadly risks.
Both the DEA and FBI, along with other agencies using the Arizona Fusion Center, are alleged to have been aware of the FBI informant's intentions. The informant planned to use a rip crew to stage a robbery of a competing cartel's drug shipment in Peck Canyon to make up for a drug shipment that he had lost.
According to PJ Media sources, both DEA and FBI surveillance had solid information that the FBI criminal informant was going to be in Peck Canyon that December night. One source indicated that the rip crew may have even had an intercept window of when they expected the drug shipment to come through.
Neither the DEA nor the FBI warned the Border Patrol of the expected criminal activity in the area, avoiding the standard practice of deconfliction to assure the safety of other law enforcement assets in the area. As a result of this failure, a BORTAC team went into Peck Canyon that night. In the resulting, entirely preventable firefight that followed between the BORTAC unit and the FBI-criminal informant-led rip crew, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed.
While it is very early in the preliminary stages of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee's investigation, it does not appear that the "missing third gun" will be in scope. The same PJ Media article that had cited the deconfliction failure had also cited the existence of an SKS rifle at the scene:
The existence of a third recovered gun, an SKS carbine, has been disputed by the FBI despite the fact it had been talked about openly in the beginning of the investigation among federal agents.Multiple sources tell PJM that this third weapon “disappeared” because it was the weapon carried by the FBI CI who ran the rip crew. When it was recovered near the scene of the murder and subsequently traced by the ATF, it traced back to the FBI CI via the gun shop in Texas where it was purchased.
FBI Director Robert Mueller disputed the allegations of a covered-up third gun in Senate testimony earlier this month.
In what is assuredly coincidental news, Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner Alan Bersin announced his departure on the same day Senator Lieberman announced his probe. Bersin had been given a recess appointment to the position by President Obama in March of 2010, an appointment that would have expired on December 31. USA Today notes:
Bersin served as Obama's border czar, a post the administration created to focus on issues related to illegal immigration and relations with Mexico in its war against drug cartels, before being elevated to head of CBP. He also previously helped coordinate law enforcement efforts at the Mexican border during the Clinton administration while he was working at the Justice Department.
Bersin had been questioned by Senator Charles Grassley on March 16 of this year to explain why his agency had let gunwalking straw purchaser Jaime Avila go after intercepting him with two WASR-10 rifles near the border in the spring or summer of 2010. Not only was he let go, they did not seize the weapons.
Two WASR-10s purchased by Avila were recovered near the scene of Border Patrol Agent Terry's death in December.
Bersin's resignation comes as a CNN report claimed Operation Fast and Furious could become Obama's Watergate, and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus promised to make the gunwalking plot and cover-up a major 2012 campaign issue.
As much as the president's defenders would like the scandal of Operation Fast and Furious to disappear, these developments ensure that we will only see more awareness rise of the operation and the hundreds of dead that resulted as the 2012 campaign season heats up.