Wolf management, a proposed open carry ban, an Idaho grizzly bear shooting, the on-going Seattle gun ban lawsuit, a Washington State Patrol gun reporting flap; they all paled in comparison to the biggest story covered by this column and other Gun Rights Examiners during 2011: Operation Fast and Furious.
What began as an investigation into the slaying of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in the Arizona desert in December 2010 has turned into a national scandal with plenty of local interest that many have compared to Richard Nixon’s Watergate. The murder was linked to a gun trafficking sting mounted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Attorney’s office in Phoenix and the fallout has been massive. United States Attorney Dennis Burke abruptly resigned in August as the Justice Department announced a shakeup at the ATF. It was so bad that then-acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson was compelled to meet in secret on July 4 with congressional investigators, as this column revealed.
The scandal infuriated major gun rights organizations and gun owners across the nation. Many have theorized this operation was either deliberately mounted, or at least exploited, by the Obama administration to push more firearms into Mexico that could be traced to United States sources in an effort to bolster administration gun control endeavors. Allegations about lax gun laws and gun trafficking exploded in the administration’s collective face as it now appears the government, not rogue gun dealers or the so-called “gun show loophole,” was responsible for putting thousands of guns into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.
Testimony by ATF whistleblowers confirmed that there was even initial concern that the gun used in the attempted murder of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in January may have been linked to Fast and Furious. Guns from the operation will likely be showing up for a long time at Mexican crime scenes, officials acknowledge.
It is the story that elevated on-line blogging to genuine investigative journalism, due to the efforts of my colleague Dan, national gun rights examiner, and Mike Vanderboegh, at Sipsey Street Irregulars. Numerous on-line reports were ahead of the mainstream press, and two networks emerged as leaders in national reporting: CBS and Fox, in the personas of Sharyl Attkisson and William La Jeunesse, respectively.
Since this column first dug into Fast and Furious — then identified by its umbrella operation Project Gunrunner — in late January, more than 100 separate reports and commentaries, a couple of exclusive interviews, and several breaking stories to the Fast and Furious scandal have appeared in this space since Feb. 1. Typical reports can be found here, here and here, and throughout the past 11 months. Even when Attorney General Eric Holder traveled to Seattle to announce additional vigor in the 10-year-old investigation into the slaying of Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Wales, then president of the anti-gun Washington CeaseFire, his visit was overshadowed by the Fast and Furious controversy.
The scandal ignited two Congressional investigations, an Inspector General’s investigation at the Justice Department, demands from scores of congressmen that Attorney General Eric Holder resign, and a promise from the Republican National Committee that Fast and Furious will be a campaign issue in 2012. Codrea was recognized as Journalist of the Year at the Gun Rights Policy Conference.
This column published exclusive interviews with Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary who spearheaded the Capitol Hill investigations and Congressman Trey Gowdy, the South Carolina freshman and former federal prosecutor who has been aggressive in his probe for the truth. We participated in a group press conference with on-line journalists hosted by Congressman Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
And we also had George Gillett — formerly assistant special agent in charge of the ATF field office in Phoenix, and a key figure in the scandal — on the phone long enough for him to hang up before answering a single question. Gillett hired an attorney and started cooperating with the investigation.
The story is not finished, either. Nobody has been fired, nor has anyone been held accountable. No individual has acknowledged giving approval.
While Fast and Furious has been the top story of 2011, there have been many other headline issues that Gun Rights Examiner readers have followed closely.
Wildlife management and wolf predation has been a hot topic, along with the ongoing litigation over Seattle’s illegal gun ban in city park facilities, the sharp rise in concealed carry and passage of Wisconsin’s concealed carry law, the outrageous conduct of an Ohio police officer who confronted a legally-armed citizen in a late night contact, a flap over a Washington State Patrol detective’s attempt to track down a missing rifle, a traveling billboard campaign launched by the Bellevue-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, passage of a suppressor law, and how authorities and the public dealt with a pack of predatory canines in Stevens County have all been detailed here.
We will discuss those issues in Part II
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SECOND AMENDMENT FOUNDATION
‘Winning Firearms Freedom One Lawsuit at a Time’
CITIZENS COMMITTEE FOR THE RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS
America Fights Back: Armed Self-Defense in a Violent Age
These Dogs Don’t Hunt: The Democrats’ War on Guns
Assault on Weapons: The Campaign to Eliminate Your Guns
Shooting Blanks: Facts Don’t Matter to the Gun Ban Crowd
Washington State Gun Rights and Responsibilities