As reported here previously, Senator Grassley has been investigating ATF gun programs “Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious.” His investigations led to the discovery of Department of Justice and ATF misrepresentations the number of “missing or walked” firearms. An internal ATF inspection report finds, on average, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) loses track of roughly one million guns per year.
As demand for a special prosecutor rises in this scandal, the prosecutor assigned to litigate “Project Gunrunner” and its investigation companion “Fast and Furious” would find that the internal ATF report provides both statistics and a motive for a cover-up.
The report clearly states that 10,538 inspections were performed in FY2010, or approximately nine percent of dealers received a visit from an ATF Agent. (The ATF report also said the agency assigned less than 600 agents to perform dealer inspections around the country.)
Nevertheless, in FY2010 the ATF report draws attention to the initial-missing and final-missing firearms at those nine percent of dealers to be 87,225 and 21,041 respectively. “This means that roughly 1 million firearms are lost each year in the United States,” said a veteran ATF Agent, extrapolating the numbers.
The sheer volume of missing weapons could certainly cause any agency to stonewall outside investigations as well as members of Congress.
A July 4 meeting between the ATF front man Kenneth Melson and Congressional investigators revealed the Department of Justice has actively engaged in a “cover-up” and “remain silent” campaign concerning the controversial firearm program that allowed U.S. weapons to cross into Mexico in the hands of criminals.
The hush, hush meeting revealed a couple of things, that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder knew a lot more about this operation than he has previously admitted and that Melson will not be the Obama Administration fall guy. This point was driven home when Melson brought his own attorney and didn’t inform AG Holder about the July 4 meeting until it was over.
Furthermore, Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-CA) chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote in a letter last week to AG Eric Holder, “If his (Melson’s) account is accurate, then ATF leadership appears to have been effectively muzzled while the DOJ sent over false denials and buried its head in the sand. That approach distorted the truth and obstructed our investigation.”
The ATF’s Fog of War approach to recordkeeping can be found in a November 2010 a Department of Justice report where the Office of Inspector General highlighted ATF’s incompetence regarding record keeping. “Discrepancies were caused by incomplete data in ATF’s N-Force and N-Spect databases, inconsistent coding of work activities by ATF, errors in ATF’s description of the data, unsupportable data entries by ATF, and variations in the time frame covered by ATF’s data.”
These conflicting reports only lead to more questions. Is the ATF flat out incompetent or is DOJ orchestrating a major cover-up? If it’s the latter, the misinformation campaign waged by the Obama Administration regarding “Project Gunrunner” would post date the Bush Administration.