By KenInMontana


UPDATE: Video added.

There has been what could best be described as a fog bank obscuring the truth on these two different operations. When we first started following the twists and turns of Operation Fast & Furious there was a great deal of confusion about this operation and what is known as Project Gunrunner. This confusion ultimately got a lot of help from trolls spreading false information to try to merge the two ops into one, the endgame being to link the debacle of Fast & Furious to the Bush administration under whom Gunrunner began, and provide cover for the Holder DOJ and ultimately the Obama administration.

We start with Project Gunrunner.

It began life as a Pilot Program out of the Laredo, TX office in 2005 and then expanded nationwide in 2006. Officially, its primary purpose was to assist the Mexican Government in the implementation of the agency’s E-Trace system. E-Trace is a web-based program that allows various Law Enforcement Agencies (foreign and domestic) to access BATFE’s firearm serial number database for the purpose of tracing firearms recovered at crime scenes or seized in raids. It falls under the auspices of the Southwest Border Initiative. It is outlined in an agency paper found here. A similar fact sheet was released in 2010 on the E-Trace program which is available here.

The DOJ Office of the Inspector General released a damning report (the working draft was completed in Sept. 2010 and sent to DOJ for input) from the conclusions drawn by the OIG (link: OIG REPORT PDF):

In addition, ATF needs to improve its sharing of firearms-trafficking
related information and techniques within its intelligence structure. ATF
Southwest border intelligence personnel need to more routinely exchange
information, analytical techniques, and best practices within and across
field divisions.

ATF also needs to revisit its implementation of a key component of
Project Gunrunner – the Border Liaison Program. We found that the
liaisons need to coordinate their cross-border activities between their own
field divisions and ATF’s Mexico Country Office and need their roles more
clearly defined.

Project Gunrunner’s investigative focus has largely remained on gun
dealer inspections and straw purchaser investigations, rather than targeting higher-level traffickers and smugglers. As a result, ATF has not made full use of the intelligence, technological, and prosecutorial resources that can
help ATF’s investigations reach into the higher levels of trafficking rings.
ATF also needs to make better use of the OCDETF Program, to extend its
investigative reach into higher levels of firearms trafficking rings.

The next paragraph is particularly ominous considering the events of less than three months later of December 14, 2010, the tragic death of USBP Agent Brian Terry.

ATF did not effectively implement Project Gunrunner as a multiagency
program. Despite the existence of an MOU between ATF and ICE,
collaboration between the agencies, which share jurisdiction over firearms
trafficking, must be improved. ATF needs to provide supplemental guidance
to field supervisors on the coordination of pertinent and necessary
information in areas of concurrent jurisdiction between ATF and ICE.

What this means is that Agent Terry and his fellow agents never had any idea of what they ultimately ran into that fateful December day in 2010. You can read the OIG’s report, the working draft, as I or apparently anyone else cannot track down a copy of the finished report. However, the draft is pretty damning all on its own.

As to Operation Fast & Furious, it began in 2009, ostensibly as a sting operation. It should have been simple enough: attract straw-purchasers intent on running firearms south, track them to the US/Mexico border arrest them and seize the firearms. However as we now know one or more persons at the agency apparently figured if they tracked them to the end buyer and caught them it might be just the ticket up the ladder. It might have continued under the “radar” had it not been for four agents who came forward upon learning that the weapon that killed USBP Agent Terry was a “walked” weapon, one of these was Agent Vince Cefalu who was subsequently terminated by the BATFE in 2011, after he came forward about the operation.
As we are all aware this operation has come under a Joint Congressional investigation led by Representative Darrell Issa and Senator Charles Grassley. So far what the investigation has turned up that:

BATFE knowingly allowed as many as 2,500 firearms to be sold illegally to known or suspected straw purchasers. One of those purchasers accounted for over 700 illegal guns.

BATFE ordered its agents working the program not to arrest illegal gun buyers or to interdict thousands of guns that were allowed to “walk” into criminal hands.

Senior BATFE officials in Washington were regularly briefed on the operation and approved of the tactics employed.

BATFE agents who opposed the operation and who raised objections were told to “get with the program” and threatened with job retaliation if they continued their opposition.

In closing, I am providing some links to pertinent information for your inspection, too large to include in this post. They are as follows:

Sen.Grassley’s testimony.

The accompanying slide show – PDF.

The Initial Findings from the House Oversight investigation – PDF.

UPDATE: A BIG tip of the chapeau to TheRightScoop for finding this.

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  • Persephone

    Thanks for slogging through the minutia of this for us, KenInMontana.

    If I understand this correctly:
    Project ‘Gunrunner’ was a program to track & catch the gunrunners at the border.
    But in 2009, under the Obama administration…
    Project ‘Fast & Furious’ morphed out of the Gunrunner program, and became a project to track & watch the guns go across the border into the hands of the end buyers.

    In which case…there was no “botch” of the project.
    The project played out as it was intended.
    Which was to get guns across the border.

    How convenient.
    Since it backed up the rhetoric of Hillary and Obama who were pointing to the ‘flow of guns across the border’ as a reason for stomping on our 2nd Amendment rights.

  • Persephone

    Thanks for slogging through the minutia of this for us, KenInMontana.

    If I understand this correctly:
    Project ‘Gunrunner’ was a program to track & catch the gunrunners at the border.
    But in 2009, under the Obama administration…
    Project ‘Fast & Furious’ morphed out of the Gunrunner program, and became a project to track & watch the guns go across the border into the hands of the end buyers.

    In which case…there was no “botch” of the project.
    The project played out as it was intended.
    Which was to get guns across the border.

    How convenient.
    Since it backed up the rhetoric of Hillary and Obama who were pointing to the ‘flow of guns across the border’ as a reason for stomping on our 2nd Amendment rights.

    • KenInMontana

      Well the primary focus of Gunrunner was to implement the E-Trace system to enable guns to be traced back to their sources and catch offenders that way. Fast & Furious was “intended” to catch the straw-purchasers, unfortunately it was just the sort of operation that lends itself to abuse by “loose cannons” that agencies like the BATFE and DEA are rife with.

      • Persephone

        And correct me if I am wrong here…
        E-Trace can only be used if the guns are recovered.
        It’s a serial number tracking system.

        So allowing the firearms to progress beyond the point where recovery is imminent seems to imply that recovery became less of a concern under Fast & Furious, than it was under Gunrunner.

        • KenInMontana

          Yep, you got it. :)

    • Anonymous

      I think you are right, it was also to give the NRA and American gun owners a bad rap by suggesting that they were, somehow, involved.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1174880200 Lana Domino

    This program was reckless homicide by the ATF and Department of Justice. Our own federal agents have been killed with these guns. That is simply unforgivable for what Brian Terry gave his entire life serving his country and his sacrifice to his country. And what did our government give to him? A Cover up of his murder. And no one is being fired or prosecuted that let the fast and furios program happen. I am a friend of Brian Terry’s and I will keep fighting until justice is served for him and all people responsible are prosecuted and held accountable. In my eyes the ATF and Department of Justice have the blood of Brian Terry on their hands. I have a website on facebook Justice for Brian Terry! A True American Hero! Here is the linke to join

    https://www.facebook.com/#!/home.php?sk=group_147283205332518&ap=1

    I will post until Brian gets the justice he deserves and his family gets the answers they deserve. They have been fighting for answers and justice since he died, it is not fair that they have not had time to truly grieve their loss because the ATF and Department of Justice took that from them. No one should ever have to lose a family member or friend at the hands of our own governments reckless decisions!Anyone who reads my post please join the group Justice for Brian Terry! A True American Hero! I hope as him being a Marine that other fellow Marines would want to fight for their fellow brother to get Justice! We need to keep his case alive to get Justice.

    • Anonymous

      I am sorry for your loss.

    • Anonymous

      I am sorry for your loss.

  • Anonymous

    KenInMontana, in addition to your links (the house oversight investigation locked up my computer- not your fault), there is a 152 page PDF Review of ATF’s Project Gunrunner. In the review dated Nov. 10th. 2010 it details the short commings, failures and Mexican objections to the E-trace program. I didn’t read the entire review but the ATF consistently failed to provide data to Mexico in a timely or accurate manner. Project Gunrunner and the E-trace component was supposed to have been shared among many of our agencies plus those of Mexico but was not. Fast and Furious wasn’t necessary because, as one of your links pointed out 70% of the purchases was through 5 purchasers. Those five could have been and should have been prosecuted. It was the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General report I refered to. Anyhow keep up the good work sir.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting for holder to claim he had only learned of this project in recent weeks and couldn’t remember exactly when. The video states differently and it was paid for in the stimulus package where is stated plain as day. He kinda lied under oath don’t you think?

  • Anonymous

    “As to Operation Fast & Furious, it began in 2009, ostensibly as a sting operation.”

    No it wasn’t. This is what they say.

    • KenInMontana

      If you have any evidence to support your claim, I would be more than happy to look at it and if it is verifiable, more than happy to correct the post to reflect it. However, at this point all sources I have looked at state 2009 as the beginning of “Fast & Furious”.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_53YAPDXSTIGEDINDXF46CAB7ZY voted against carter

    I have a suspicion that “Operation Fast & Furious” IS/WAS an attempt to inflate firearms numbers from the U.S.A. going in to Mexico to justify MORE gun restriction laws being passed by the Odumba Administration.

    But that just me being cynical, or could I be wrong.

    • Anonymous

      I doubt if you are wrong.