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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Did MSNBC Produce Project Gunrunner's Smoking Gun?

A blogger over at Sipsey Street Irregulars is really the guy responsible for my latest column over at Big Peace. Mike Vanderboegh discovered something that had been cleverly hidden in plain sight since September - over at MSNBC's website, no less. Indications are that an ATF document leaked to MSNBC's Michael Isikoff, which he posted a link to in his article, may actually be the 'smoking gun' in the Project Gunrunner scandal responsible for the death of one Border Patrol agent, one ICE agent, and scores of innocent Mexicans.

Via Big Peace:

Did MSNBC Produce Project Gunrunner’s Smoking Gun?
Ben Barrack


Imagine a scenario in which the media outlet most afflicted with Barack Obama Sycophancy Syndrome (BOSS) – the place Chris ‘thrill up my leg’ Matthews calls home – presented a ’smoking gun’ that could implicate the Obama White House in a cover-up akin to that of Watergate but with the added scarlet letter of murder. The notion of such a thing would be like Woodward and Bernstein ignoring Deep Throat. Impossible, right? Yes, unless it did so unintentionally.

It looks like that honor may just go to none other than Michael Isikoff who, in September of 2010, wrote about an ATF strategy that involved targeting gun dealers in the United States as a means to prevent weapons from ending up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels. Included in Isikoff’s article is a link to what Mike Vandergoegh of Sipsey Street Irregulars – who unearthed this amazing find – refers to as the “field manual” of the Project Gurunner scandal that led to the murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry last December.

The “manual” was leaked to Isikoff as the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) was wrapping up a report that was critical of the ATF’s efforts to stem the flow of weapons to cartels. Ironically, that same OIG is what Obama and Holder point to as the entity that is to conduct a thorough investigation into the origins of the scandal it appears to be involved in at some level.

The “field manual” likely seemed innocuous at the time but that was before two of the weapons ATF placed in the hands of straw purchasers – who then placed them in the hands of Mexican drug cartels – showed up at the murder scene of Terry. It was also before ATF agent John Dodson blew the whistle in March on the ATF operation known as Fast and Furious; that operation was run under the larger Project Gunrunner umbrella and is allegedly what allowed guns to ‘walk’ into Mexico.



When this “field manual” is viewed through the prism of the Gunwalker scandal, the verbiage in it could implicate not just the ATF or Eric Holder’s Justice Department but the White House itself. The “field manual” was ostensibly written by ATF Assistant Director for Field Operations, Mark Chait. It is a document so potentially damaging that Chait may be faced with only two options: take the fall or start singing.

Vandergoegh has found a gold mine in plain sight thanks to MSNBC’s Isikoff posting it. The 29 page document says in part:
"It is essential that our efforts support the strategies and policies of the President and the Attorney General and where possible, complement the strategies of other agencies."
The strategy chosen by the ATF, which is under the purview of Holder, was to direct gun store owners to sell weapons to straw purchasers who would then place those weapons into the hands of cartels. Vandergoegh points out that whoever authored the “field manual” viewed what they were doing as being in synch with Obama and Holder:
"Whatever happened in the Gunwalker scandal, the ATF thought it was dancing to its political master’s tune."
Without the revelations brought forth by Dodson and other whistleblowers, this next excerpt from Chait’s report – assuming that’s who really authored it – is vague enough not to raise eyebrows. In light of the information now available, it looks like the guns at the center of this scandal are smoking and Isikoff inadvertently stumbled across them. Here’s another nugget from the ATF “field manual”:
"…we have deemed it necessary to revise both our Gunrunner strategy and the manner in which ATF headquarters monitors and supports certain field investigations.

While our strategy will remain multi-faceted and continue to include the inspection of licensed gun dealers and the targeting and arresting of straw purchasers, our revised approach will place greater emphasis on investigations that target specific cartels and the persons responsible for organizing and directing firearms trafficking operations in the United States."
We now know that after continued urging from the ATF to sell weapons to straw purchasers, one licensed gun dealer communicated to ATF supervisor David Voth that he didn’t want to sell weapons to bad guys because he has “very close friends who are U.S. Border Agents.” He was directed to continue. Brian Terry was killed six months later.

Back to the “field manual.”
"It is essential that ATF efforts support strategies promoted by the White House and Department of Justice. An examination of these and other strategies reveals similarities among the strategies, but also suggests that some revisions to ATF’s current strategy are necessary."
The “field manual” then refers to a Department of Justice strategy for how to deal with the trafficking of firearms to the cartels:
"The strategy states that 'given the national scope of this issue, merely seizing firearms through interdiction will not stop firearms trafficking to Mexico. We must identify, investigate, and eliminate the sources of illegally trafficked firearms and the networks that transport them.'”
It was already mildly surprising to consider that a reporter from CBS – Sharyl Attkisson – was way out in front of this scandal long before any other prominent mainstream outlet. Now, thanks to blogger Mike Vandergoegh, it’s being learned that MSNBC’s Michael Isikoff may be responsible for leading us to the smoking gun in the Gunwalker scandal.

Irony that could choke a donkey.

Hyperlinks over at BP.

Big H/T to Sipsey Street

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