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Project Gunrunner update: ATF ignored warnings, DOJ ignores document requests

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By Michelle Malkin  •  April 19, 2011 09:52 AM

Tick, tick, tick. Another Project Gunrunner disclosure deadline approaches for the Obama Department of Justice. And GOP watchdogs are hammering away at yet another stonewall erected by corruptocrat Attorney General Eric Holder.

Late last week, Sen. Charles Grassley roasted the DOJ for failing to produce documents he requested in February — and released his own set of damning e-mails between a gun shop owner who had protested the ATF’s dangerous straw purchase scheme repeatedly. Via CBS News’s Sheryl Atkinson:

Damning, newly-obtained emails show that a key gun shop owner made explicit concerns in writing last year in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms’ “gunwalking” scandal.

Starting in late 2009, ATF allegedly directed an undetermined number of Phoenix-area gun shop owners to go ahead with sales of thousands of assault rifles and other weapons to suspicious buyers. Insiders claim ATF knew the buyers were connected to Mexico’s drug cartels, but let the guns “walk” onto the street anyway in a misguided attempt to obtain intelligence. ATF and the Justice Department have denied that.

Investigators from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) obtained the emails this week.

You can download the .pdf file of Grassley’s letter to the DOJ and the e-mails here.

This will make your blood boil over:

On June 17, 2010, the gun dealer wrote to the ATF to again express concerns after seeing a report
on Fox News about firearms and the border:

The segment, if the information was correct, is disturbing to me. When
you, [the Assistant U.S. Attorney], and I met on May 13th, I shared my
concerns with you guys that I wanted to make sure that none of the
firearms that were sold per our conversation with you and various ATF
agents could or would ever end up south of the border or in the hands of
the bad guys. … I want to help ATF with its investigation but not at the risk
of agents‟ safety because I have some very close friends that are U.S.
Border Patrol agents in southern AZ[.]5

Incredibly, the FFL sent this email six months before guns from the same ATF operation were found at the scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry‟s murder. So, not only were
the ATF agents who later blew the whistle predicting that this operation would end in tragedy, so were the gun dealers—even as ATF urged them to make the sales. Furthermore, according to the FFL, there were “one or two” occasions on which his employees actually witnessed and recorded with surveillance cameras an exchange of money between the straw purchaser and another individual on the premises.6

Despite this actual knowledge of a straw purchase, the dealer said ATF officials wanted him to proceed with the transaction.7 However, his employees refused to process the sale.8

In light of this new evidence, the Justice Department‟s claim that the ATF never knowingly sanctioned or allowed the sale of assault weapons to straw purchasers is simply not credible.

Grassley wants to know:

1.Do you stand by the assertion in the Department‟s reply that the ATF whistleblower allegations are “false” and specifically that ATF did not sanction or otherwise knowingly allow the sale of assault weapons to straw purchasers? If so, please explain why in light of the mounting evidence to the contrary.

2. Will you commit to providing the Senate Judiciary Committee with documents, or access to documents, simultaneously with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform? If not, please explain why not.

Grassley’s deadline for a DOJ response to his continued inquiries is tomorrow.

Tick, tick, tick.

***

More: U.S. urged dealer to continue gun sales despite concerns, inquiry finds, LAT

Mexican homicides tripled while ATF operation sent guns south, Dave Workman

Murdered ICE agent Jaime Zapata’s parents speak, via Sipsey Street Irregulars

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