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Gunrunner: Fast and Furious timeline

October 1, 2011

  Frank Miniter wrote a fantastic article for Forbes entitled “Fast and Furious just might be President Obama’s Watergate” in which he lays out the timeline of the deadly operation and everything that we know up to the present. It is a very good and detailed article and I recommend that everyone read it in its entirety.

  I have decided to post the timeline below,there is nothing new here put it provides us with a detailed timeline of this scandal to date. Please take note that everything that follows is from the Forbes article and is the work of Frank Miniter and not myself:

April 16, 2009:

Four or five months before we think Fast and Furious began. On this day President Barack Obama was visiting Mexico. While there he said, “This war is being waged with guns purchased not here but in the United States … more than 90% of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the United States, many from gun shops that lay in our shared border.”

This 90% statistic was, to be kind, math so shoddy a third grader should know better.

The figure was based only on guns the Mexican government sent to the ATF for tracing. On April 2, 2009, Fox News reported that, according to statistics from the Mexican government, only about a third of the guns recovered at crime scenes in Mexico are submitted to the ATF. The Mexicans, as it turns out, only send guns to the ATF they think came from the U.S. Also, many guns submitted to the ATF by the Mexicans cannot be traced. As a result, the reporters determined that only 17% of guns found at Mexican crime scenes have been traced by the ATF to the U.S

September 2009:

ATF agents began pressuring gun storeowners in Arizona to sell firearms to people the ATF thought would sell the guns to Mexican cartels and gangs. As gun-storeowners can’t do business without federal licenses, and because the ATF has the authority to shut down a gun store if the establishment’s paperwork isn’t in order, these requests were likely taken as orders.

October 2009 :

 the ATF’s Phoenix Field Division established a gun-trafficking group called “Group VII.” Group VII began using the strategy of allowing suspects to walk away with illegally purchased guns, according to a report from the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee

Oct. 26, 2009:

a month or so after Fast and Furious seems to have been initiated, a document shows that a teleconference was held between 13 officials. One of the issues discussed was the possible “adoption of the Department’s strategy for Combating Mexican Drug Cartels.” The officials listed to have been in on the call included Kenneth Melson, who was then the director of the ATF, Robert Mueller, the director of the FBI and a number of attorneys with the U.S. Department of Justice. B. Todd Jones, the current director of the ATF, was not listed in the document, but the title he held in September 2009 is listed as being in on the conference call

March 10, 2010:

an internal e-mail from George T. Gillett Jr., assistant special agent in charge to David Voth, the ATF’s Phoenix Group VII supervisor, and others, said that ATF Acting Director Melson and ATF Deputy Director Billy Hoover “are being briefed weekly on this investigation and the recent success with [redacted] so they are both keenly interested in case updates.”

March 12, 2010:

Evidently to quell internal dissension, on March 12, 2010 David Voth, the ATF’s Phoenix Group VII supervisor, sent an e-mail to field agents that said, “Whether you care or not people of rank and authority at HQ are paying close attention to this case and they also believe we (Phoenix Group VII) are doing what they envisioned the Southwest Border Groups doing.” Voth’s e-mail went on to say, “It may sound cheesy, but we are ‘The Tip of the ATF spear’ when it comes to Southwest Border Firearms Trafficking. We need to resolve our issues at this meeting. I will be damned if this case is going to suffer due to petty arguing, rumors or other adolescent behavior. If you don’t think this is fun you’re in the wrong line of work — period.”

ATF field agents were sending protests up their chain of command, because, as ATF Special Agent John Dodson told the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee on June 15, 2011, he and fellow agents were regularly ordered to abandon surveillance of suspicious gun purchases “knowing all the while that just days after these purchases, the guns that we saw these individuals buy would begin turning up at crime scenes in the United States and Mexico.”

Dec. 14, 2010:

 in the dark of night in a remote canyon in Rio Rico, Ariz., some of the firearms sent over the border to arm Mexican drug runners were used in a gun battle with the U.S. Border Patrol. During the gunfight, U.S. Border Patrol AgentBrian Terry, 40, was killed by suspected operatives of a Mexican drug-smuggling organization. After a battle that U.S. Border Patrol officers started by shooting bean bags at smugglers armed with AK-47s, police arrested four suspects and recovered three firearms from the scene that have since been traced to Fast and Furious.

Dodson’s greatest fear had become reality

Jan.19, 2011:

the ATF finally arrested the straw purchasers

Jan. 25, 2011:

Phoenix Special Agent in Charge William Newell held a press conference announcing the indictment of 20 people the ATF had been watching purchase firearms. However, when asked if agents purposefully allowed weapons to enter Mexico, Newell said, “Hell, no.” (In a “supplemental statement,” provided to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on July 26, 2011, Newell clarified his statements by saying agents did not knowingly allow thousands of weapons to reach criminal hands.)

Jan. 27, 2011:

Sen. Grassley wrote a letter to ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson that said: “Members of the Judiciary Committee have received numerous allegations that the ATF sanctioned the sale of hundreds of assault weapons to suspected straw purchasers, who then allegedly transported these weapons throughout the southwestern border area and into Mexico….”

Jan. 31, 2011:

Grassley wrote a second letter to Melson that claimed whistleblowers were being targeted. Grassley wrote, “This is exactly the wrong sort of reaction for the ATF. Rather than focusing on retaliating against whistleblowers, the ATF’s sole focus should be on finding and disclosing the truth as soon as possible.”

Feb. 4, 2011:

Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote Sen. Grassley and denied that the U.S. Justice Department “sanctioned” the sale of guns to people they believed were going to deliver them to Mexican drug cartels.

Feb. 15, 2011:

 Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata was murdered in Mexico. The Associated Press reported (on Feb. 28), based on an unnamed source, that the weapon used to kill Zapata “was shipped through Laredo with the possible knowledge of the ATF.”

Feb. 23, 2011:

CBS Evening News ran a story on Operation Fast and Furious that included interviews with ATF whistleblowers who said they’d objected to the program.

March 8, 2011:

the U.S. Justice Department told Sen. Grassley that the matter would be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General; however, this internal investigation seems to have become the official excuse for not giving congressional investigators everything they’re demanding.

March 22, 2011:

President Obama was finally asked about Operation Fast and Furious. The question came from Univision, a Spanish-language network. “Well, first of all,” answered President Obama, “I did not authorize [Fast and Furious]. Eric Holder, the attorney general, did not authorize it. There may be a situation here in which a serious mistake was made. If that’s the case, then we’ll find — find out and we’ll hold somebody accountable.”

 May 3, 2011:

Attorney General Holder testified to the House Judiciary Committee. Rep. Darrell Issa and Holder had an exchange about Operation Fast and Furious. After a series of questions, Holder answered, “I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.”

Rep. Issa hasn’t been satisfied with this answer. He later said, “Are we confident that Eric Holder knew it much earlier? No. Did he know it earlier than he testified? Absolutely.”

June 29, 2011:

 a reporter asked President Obama about the matter at a White House news conference. Obama said in part: “I’m not going to comment on the current investigation…. As soon as the investigation is complete, appropriate action will be taken”

July 4, 2011:

Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson surprised some by speaking to congressional investigators from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee. Melson met with investigators with his personal attorney present — not Justice Department attorneys.

July 5, 2011:

Rep. Issa and Sen. Grassley wrote a letterto Attorney General Holder about Melson’s testimony. The letter says Melson “claimed that ATF’s senior leadership would have preferred to be more cooperative with our inquiry much earlier in the process. However, he said that Justice Department officials directed them not to respond and took full control of replying to briefing and document requests from Congress.”

Melson was pointing to a cover up at the U.S. Justice Department while refusing to be a scapegoat. However, Tracy Schmaler, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Justice, said to us on Sept. 27, 2011 that no cover up is occurring. He said, “We have turned over thousands of documents, just what documents do you want?”

Obviously perplexed with what to do with Melson, the U.S. Justice Department moved Melson to a new post inside the ATF, a position that protects his retirement package. Perhaps this is some of the “appropriate action” President Obama said would be taken, if so, more appropriate action soon followed.

The Obama administration next promoted some of the officials who ran the program. William G. McMahon, who was the ATF’s deputy director of operations in the West, William D. Newell, and David Voth, who were both field supervisors who oversaw the Fast and Furious program out of the agency’s Phoenix office, were promoted to positions in Washington, D.C. Voth is the one who said in an email, “If you don’t think [Fast and Furious] is fun you’re in the wrong line of work — period.” And, when asked if guns were being allowed to cross the southern border, Newell is the one who said, “Hell, no.” Yet both got cushy desk jobs in D.C.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Lou222 permalink
    October 2, 2011 11:33 am

    Kind of puts it all in perspective, doesn’t it? Also makes you see how twisted this administration is. Thanks for posting it, Steve.


  2. Lou222 permalink
    October 3, 2011 7:45 am

    As for the last comment you made about the cushy jobs, well there are just so many places they can be moved. I think that in the end they will surface and all this moving in and of itself will be damning to the administration. To me it admits “guilt” right there with that movement. Also, with the suggestion that they might just do away with the ATF, is that supposed to shut everyone up. So, they don’t “move” them but “fire” them, I think that would really be worse. Do they think when someone loses their job that they are going to keep their mouth shut? Would you? Especially the ones that had no involvement, but were just let go? It amazes me how in their minds they can justify what they are doing as being the right way of handling it. I think they are running scared and you know the more you cover up, the more starts showing that HAS to be covered up and on and on and on. I am wondering of this latest “hit” was just cover?


    • October 3, 2011 9:55 pm

      The “cushy jobs” comment was part of the article I was quoting, but I totally agree with it. The regime may do away with the ATF in an attempt to satify us but all that will do is make us more suspicious about what was going on. It will backfire on them.


  3. December 2, 2011 7:31 pm

    Good work! I have also set up and am maintaining a timeline at:



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