Via the Los Angeles Times:
Two days after U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry was killed in December, the top ATF supervisors in Phoenix said in internal emails that weapons found at the scene in Arizona came from a failed agency sting operation.The piece then explains to what lengths the ATF leadership went in order to avoid Grassley's inquiries.
But nearly two months later, when U.S. Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) inquired about the origin of the guns, senior officials in Washington with the Justice Department and its Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were evasive.
Grassley asked whether the guns were "used" in the killing. According to agency emails obtained by the Tribune/Times Washington bureau, the Justice Department response to Grassley said that "these allegations are not true." The response made no acknowledgement that the guns were even there.
The goal of the sting operation, dubbed Fast and Furious, was to observe but not prevent a series of illegal gun purchases in the hopes that agents could follow the guns and learn about smuggling routes into Mexico. The program, which began in November 2009, largely failed. ATF lost track of many of the weapons. Along with the two guns found at the Terry shooting, nearly 200 more were found at crime scenes in Mexico.Instructing whistleblowers not to talk with congress is not just a clear signal that something is amiss; it's also not legal.
After the death of Terry and Grassley's inquiries, the agency sought to close ranks. In an email on Feb. 3, ATF supervisors were told "you are in no way obligated to respond to congressional contacts or requests for information.... You are not authorized to disclose non-public information about law enforcement matters outside of ATF or the Department of Justice to anyone, including congressional staff."
In addition, in a series of emails to William J. Hoover, the ATF's acting deputy director, bureau officials discussed what steps to take to throw Grassley and congressional investigators off the trail.
The next Oversight Committee hearing is set for Tuesday, July 26th and these e-mails should contribute greatly to some heat that Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Phoenix Division, William Newell is likely to feel when taking questions from Issa and others. E-mails between him and Chait demonstrate how ATF attempted to use the crisis created by Fast and Furious to push a gun control narrative.
HERE are the e-mails posted at LA Times