Update: ATF director directly lied in coverupSubmitted by MaxK on Thu, 06/16/2011 - 05:10
“With this information, acting Director Melson was able to sit at his desk in Washington and – himself – watch a live feed of the straw buyers entering the gun stores to purchase dozens of AK-47 variants,” said a Republican committee statement.
The emails strike a stark contrast to letters the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) have sent to lawmakers in which they denied selling assault weapons to known and suspected straw purchasers for drug cartels and claimed that they made every effort to prevent weapons from ending up in Mexico.
The Arizona Republic reported in March that Voth is the agent who noticed a growing division in the ranks over the Project Gunrunner investigation. The Republic story also reported that Voth threatened agents who were thinking of blowing the whistle.
Fast and Furious was a new addition to the ATF’s now-defunct “Project Gunrunner” program. It authorized (“pressed” is probably a more accurate word) U.S. gun stores located near the Mexican border to sell thousands of semi-automatic firearms to suspected and known straw-purchasers (those who buy guns for someone who can’t do so legally). The idea, apparently, was that the guns would lead the ATF to the heads of the cartels.
The program came to a crashing halt in January with the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Two guns purchased under ATF surveillance were found near Terry's corpse, but it is unknown whether they were used in his death.
Moreover, police say weapons are likely to be used in multiple crimes and assaults before they are finally confiscated at a crime scene. The Mexican government was not informed of the scheme, and there is no way of knowing how many assaults, murders, and kidnappings took place with the thousands of weapons allowed to go south of the border.