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Gunwalker: The Third Gun

A war within a war appears to have broken out regarding allegations of a third weapon at the scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry's murder.

The Department of Justice claims that only two semi-automatic AK-pattern rifles were recovered at the scene of the shootout between a Border Patrol tactical team and armed Mexican criminals that night in the Arizona desert. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) ruffled feathers within the DOJ and with Democrats on his committee by repeating allegations of a third weapon at the scene, and by announcing plans to question the FBI about the investigation of Agent Terry's death.

Border Patrol agents had mentioned a third weapon to Agent Terry's family. CBS News obtained audiotape of a conversation between an ATF agent who was part of Operation Fast and Furious and the dealer who sold weapons under ATF direction to cartel smugglers. The blunt conversation is very hard to spin:

Agent: Well there was two.

Dealer: There’s three weapons.

Agent: There’s three weapons.

Dealer: I know that.

Agent: And yes, there’s serial numbers for all three.

Dealer: That’s correct.

Agent: Two of them came from this store.

Dealer: I understand that.

Agent: There’s an SKS that I don’t think came from ... Dallas or Texas or something like that.

Dealer: I know. talking about the AK’s --

Agent: The two AK’s came from this store.

Dealer: I know that.

Agent: OK.

Dealer: I did the godd***ed trace --

Agent: Third weapon is the SKS has nothing to do with it.

Dealer: That didn’t come from me.

Agent: No and there is -- that’s my knowledge. And I spoke to someone who would know those are the only ones they have. So this is the agent who’s working the case, all I can go by is what she told me.

Dallas has long been alleged to be the site of another major gunwalking operation running weapons to the cartel, one of 10 claimed gunwalking operations in five states. The FBI's statement on the allegation released Monday seems definitive:

The FBI has made clear that reports of a third gun recovered from the perpetrators at the scene of Agent Terry's murder are false.

The FBI is very careful with their words: they declare there was not a third gun recovered a) "from the perpetrators," b) "at the scene of Agent Terry's murder."

An inference one could make from the careful phrasing:  if there was a third weapon, it was not recovered in direct proximity to one of the Mexican criminals involved in the crime, and it was more than likely dropped as the suspects fled the scene -- which is also what allegedly happened with both of the AK-pattern rifles used in the shootout. They were recovered a short distance away.

If the alleged third weapon was an SKS fired by the criminals at the crime scene as ATF agents have indicated, then its absence can be verified if the FBI didn't carefully sanitize the crime scene. The FBI would have collected and cataloged all evidence at the crime scene, including the shell casings recovered and their precise location. A location map of the recovered casings help tell the story of who fired what and when, and can help track the movements of the shooter.

Shell casings can also be used to "fingerprint" weapons based upon the marks left by the weapon's firing pin, chamber, and extractor. While less precise than matching a bullet to the rifling of a barrel, the casings recovered at the crime scene will tell us what kind of weapons were used not just by their caliber (SKS and AK-pattern rifles are both chambered to fire 7.62x39 ammunition), but by the marks left on the shell casings themselves. If congressional investigators are sharp, they'll subpoena every bit of information about the shell casings at the Terry murder scene. If casings consistent with the extractor markings of an SKS can been identified, then the FBI and DOJ  are in serious trouble.

Other ATF communications make the DOJ's claim that there was no third weapon even more suspect:

In one, an intelligence analyst writes that by 7:45 p.m. -- about 21 hours after the shooting -- she had successfully traced two weapons at the scene, and is now "researching the trace status of firearms recovered earlier today by the FBI."

In another email, ATF-Phoenix Deputy Director George Gillett asks: "Are those two (AK-47s) in addition to the gun already recovered this morning?"

The DOJ seems once again to be blocking reasonable inquires into their own conflicting stories, and attacking the investigators.

Though Operation Fast and Furious is now in it's tenth month, the Obama administration has made no attempt to hold the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, State, or Treasury to account for the government's gun trafficking conspiracy.

We still don't know:

  • who came up with Operation Fast and Furious;
  • the identities of the Justice, Homeland Security, State, and Treasury officials that approved the operation;
  • why the acting DOJ inspector general has not recused herself from the DOJ investigation considering her past legal work with Eric Holder, a seemingly clear conflict of interest;
  • how four cabinet-level agencies could run a high risk, low chance of success operation without the White House approving and monitoring the operation;
  • why officials running the plot felt compelled to "dirty up" an ATF agent by forcing him to use taxpayer dollars to buy six Draco pistols and to deliver them personally to cartel weapons smugglers in hopes his involvement would keep him from testifying;
  • why the agencies involved refuse to answer direct questions from congressmen and senators who have asked whether there were gunwalking programs in other states.

It appears that the primary mission of Eric Holder's Department of Justice is to insulate President Obama's political appointees from the consequences of their actions, and to obstruct the pursuit of justice by Congress as much as possible.