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Friday, March 16, 2012

CNN Report on Fast and Furious: Someone is Lying

Last night on AC 360, coverage of the Fast and Furious scandal was very well done. It started with a segment on the murder of ICE Agent Jaime Zapata, which also explored the possibility that a Fast and Furious style operation took place in Texas and ultimately led to Zapata's death. The man convicted of trafficking one of the guns used in Zapata's death - Manuel Barba - was also presented in the CNN report. Barba is key because documents show the ATF had him under surveillance before he purchased the gun used in Zapata's murder.

Notice in the video - at the  3:40 mark - that reporter Drew Griffin makes the claim that the ATF said it "didn't even know of Barba's existence" until after Zapata's murder. That is an astonishing claim in light of the fact that a letter from Rep. Darrell Issa and Senator Charles Grassley to Attorney General Eric Holder showed that the ATF had Barba under surveillance before he even purchased the weapon. I wrote about that here but this is the relevant excerpt from the letter which flies in the face of what Griffin says the ATF told him:
Now, news reports indicate that this may have been an issue with a purchaser of another one of the weapons found at Agent Zapata’s murder scene.[5]  Records indicate that ATF opened a case against Manuel Barba in June 2010,[6] approximately two months before he took possession on August 20, 2010, of the rifle which was later trafficked to Mexico and also used in the murder of Agent Zapata.[7]  Additionally, the documents show that ATF had indications in October 2010 that Barba was obliterating serial numbers on weapons, the possession of which would have been a prosecutable offense.[8]  At least as of December 13, 2010, ATF also was aware that Barba was still under indictment for a 2006 state case, and thus had been unlawfully receiving firearms while under indictment.[9]  However, a warrant was not issued for Barba’s arrest in this case until February 14, 2011.[10]
Issa and Grassley cited an article written by CBS' Sharyl Attkisson as their source for the claim that the ATF had been tracking Barba months before he purchased the weapons in question. Yet, the ATF told CNN they were unaware of Barba's existence?

Here is the relevant excerpt from Attkisson's February 22nd article:
In a related development, CBS News has obtained documents showing that Barba was under ATF surveillance for at least six months before a rifle he trafficked was used in Zapata's murder. Zapata's government vehicle was ambushed by suspected cartel thugs in Mexico Feb. 15, 2011.
Here is Griffin's report on the murder of Zapata which, to this point, has not been given the attention that has been given to Terry's murder. It looks like that reality is changing. That could also mean that Issa's Committee is turning its focus to ATF's role in another murder of a federal agent.

***CORRECTION 3/17*** In the story above, I erroneously stated that Drew Griffin reported the ATF claimed not to have known of Barba's existence until after Zapata's murder. That was incorrect. The ATF told Griffin they hadn't learned of Barba's existence until after he purchased the gun used in Zapata's murder. However, that claim doesn't jibe with Attkisson's report either. According to her February 22nd story, the ATF had Barba under surveillance beginning in June of 2010; Barba took delivery of the murder weapon on August 20th.

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