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Gunrunning Scandal Uncovered at the ATF - Attkisson (CBS)

Gunrunning Scandal Uncovered at the ATF - Attkisson (CBS)

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Published by PRMurphy
"Project Gunrunner," an operation run by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, was designed to stop the flow of guns from the U.S. to Mexico's drug cartels, but had the opposite result. Investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports.
"Project Gunrunner," an operation run by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, was designed to stop the flow of guns from the U.S. to Mexico's drug cartels, but had the opposite result. Investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports.

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Published by: PRMurphy on Feb 27, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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02/27/2011

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Gunrunning scandal uncovered at the ATF
Program aimed at stopping the flow of weapons from the US to Mexico may haveallegedly had the opposite effect
By Sharyl Attkisson February 23, 2011http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/02/23/eveningnews/main20035609.shtmlPlay CBS VideoVideo"Project Gunrunner" scandal http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7357550n"Project Gunrunner," an operation run by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco andFirearms, was designed to stop the flow of guns from the U.S. to Mexico's drug cartels,but had the opposite result. Investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports.(CBSNews)WASHINGTON - Keeping American weapons from getting into the hands of Mexican gangs isthe goal of a program called "Project Gunrunner." But critics say it's doing exactly the opposite.CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports on what she found.December 14, 2010. The place: a dangerous smuggling route in Arizona not far from theborder. A special tactical border squad was on patrol when gunfire broke out and agent BrianTerry was killed.Kent, Brian's brother, said "he was my only brother. That was the only brother I had. I'm lost."The assault rifles found at the murder were traced back to a U.S. gun shop. Where they camefrom and how they got there is a scandal so large, some insiders say it surpasses the shoot-outat Ruby Ridge and the deadly siege at Waco.
 
To understand why, it helps to know something about "Project Gunrunner" an operation run bytheATFthe Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
"Project Gunrunner"deployed new teams of agents to the southwest border. The idea: to stopthe flow of weapons from the US to Mexico's drug cartels. But in practice, sources tell CBSNews, ATF's actions had the opposite result: they allegedly facilitated the delivery of thousandsof guns into criminal hands.CBS News wanted to ask ATF officials about the case, but they wouldn't agree to an interview.We were able to speak to six veteran ATF agents and executives involved. They don't want tobe quoted by name for fear of retaliation. These are their allegations.
 
In late 2009, ATF was alerted to suspicious buys at seven gun shops in the Phoenix area.Suspicious because the buyers paid cash, sometimes brought in paper bags. And theypurchased classic "weapons of choice" used by Mexican drug traffickers - semi-automaticversions of military type rifles and pistols.Sources tell CBS News several gun shops wanted to stop the questionable sales, but ATFencouraged them to continue.Jaime Avilawas one of the suspicious buyers. ATF put him in its suspect database in January of 2010. For the next year, ATF watched as Avila and other suspects bought huge quantities of weapons supposedly for "personal use." They included 575 AK-47 type semi-automatic rifles.ATF managers allegedly made a controversial decision: allow most of the weapons on thestreets. The idea, they said, was to gather intelligence and see where the guns ended up.Insiders say it's a dangerous tactic called letting the guns, "walk."One agent called the strategy "insane." Another said: "We were fully aware the guns wouldprobably be moved across the border to drug cartels where they could be used to kill."On the phone, one Project Gunrunner source (who didn't want to be identified) told us just howmany guns flooded the black market under ATF's watchful eye. "The numbers are over 2,500on that case by the way. That's how many guns were sold - including some 50-calibers they letwalk."50-caliber weapons are fearsome. For months, ATF agents followed 50-caliber Barrett rifles andother guns believed headed for the Mexican border, but were ordered to let them go. Onedistraught agent was often overheard on ATF radios begging and pleading to be allowed tointercept transports. The answer: "Negative. Stand down."CBS News has been told at least 11 ATF agents and senior managers voiced fierce oppositionto the strategy. "It got ugly..." said one. There was "screaming and yelling" says another. A third warned: "this is crazy, somebody is gonna to get killed."Sure enough, the weapons soon began surfacing at crime scenes in Mexico - dozens of themsources say - including shootouts with government officials.

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