Fast and Furious: DoJ Inspector General looking into missing third gun

Brian Terry

Brian Terry

When Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered by Mexican drug smugglers near Arizona’s border with Mexico in late 2010, two firearms were recovered that, while traceable to weapons bought through the felony-stupid Operation Fast and Furious, were unable to be identified as the murder weapon. (Neither were they wholly ruled out.) Months after that, strong suspicions arose regarding a possible third weapon, which vanished mysteriously. Audio recordings and emails from that time attest to its existence. Since then, though, the question of “the third gun” has lain fallow.

Until now, that is. CBS’ Sharyl Attkisson breaks the news of a preliminary investigation by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General:

In a new development in the Fast and Furious gunwalking case, the Justice Department’s Inspector General (IG) is making inquiries into the possible existence of a missing third weapon in the 2010 murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, CBS News has learned. According to sources close to the investigation, the IG is questioning the Border Patrol’s evidence collection team this week in Tucson, Ariz.

(…)

But references to a missing third weapon, a Soviet-made SKS rifle of the same caliber as the WASR’s, have persisted since the crime. CBS News previously obtained and reported on secretly recorded conversations referencing such a gun. The tapes were recorded approximately mid-March 2011 by the primary gun dealer cooperating with ATF in Fast and Furious: Andre Howard, owner of Lone Wolf Trading Company in Glendale, Ariz.

In the audiotapes, ATF’s lead agent on Fast and Furious, Hope MacAllister, tells Howard that a third weapon recovered at the Terry murder scene is an SKS rifle. It’s unclear why a weapon would be absent from the evidence disclosed at the crime scene under FBI jurisdiction. If it’s proven to exist, sources familiar with the investigation say it would imply possible evidence-tampering for unknown reasons.

Based on investigations since then, for example the report of the House Oversight Committee and Katie Pavlich’s book, Fast and Furious, and assuming the firearm exists (1), one can speculate on several possible reasons why someone would make this weapon disappear, most of them centering around the Arizona ATF and US Attorney’s offices covering up a massive screw up that now had the potential for serious criminal liabilities. (2)

It will be interesting, to say the least, to see what the Inspector General’s investigation turns up, and I’m sure the House Oversight and Judiciary committees will be watching closely, too.

Footnote:
(1) I think the winning bet is that it does.
(2) From what I’ve read so far, I don’t think it likely that the DoJ in D.C. was involved in hiding the weapon, if it exists. That smells more like a local CYA effort. Main Justice’s interests in Fast and Furious looks more like piggybacking on an already-running ATF operation, seeing in it the opportunity to gain public support for further restrictions on long guns. Hence the strong support they gave it. Whatever the whole truth is, though, I don’t think we’re going to know it for a long time.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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