Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is turning up the heat on investigations into the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF)’s Project Gunrunner. The Senate Judiciary Committee member is probing into the alleged ‘gun walking,’ of over 1,000 weapons, from U.S. soil into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.
ATF officials instructed wary U.S. gun dealers to sell to suspicious buyers, who often used brown bags of cash to make large purchases of high-powered guns. The ATF wanted to track the guns to drug cartels in Mexico. But the guns were subsequently used in many murders, including that of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010, according to reports.
CBS news spoke with federal agent and ATF whistleblower John Dodson. He and lower-level agents had confronted their superiors with concerns, but they were told, “If you’re going to make an omelette, you’ve got to break some eggs.”
The Department of Justice (DOJ) and ATF continue to stonewall investigations into the ‘gun walking’ allegations, Grassley tells The Examiner. Both agencies have publicly denied the claims, but he said that whistleblowers keep coming forward to confirm them.
“Maybe a new development would be the fact that Congressman Issa (chairman of the House Oversight Committee)…is getting involved in this now," Grassley said. "And I welcome his doing that."
On the Roger Hedgecock Show, Issa voiced his full support. “I have four investigators working full-time on this, and we're not going to quit until we see, not just an answer, but an absolute guarantee that this can not happen again,” Issa said.
ATF’s chief of public affairs in Washington issued the following statement on February 28th, to the media staff within the agency:
"ATF needs to proactively push positive stories this week in an effort to preempt some negative reporting, or at a minimum lessen the coverage of (Project Gunrunner) in the news cycle by replacing them with good stories about the ATF."
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has called for a Department of Justice inspector general to look into the gun trafficking efforts by U.S. agents along the Mexican border, but Grassley wants an independent investigation. “There may as well be a fox guarding the chicken house," he says. Grassley said he believes the scandal may touch top echelons of the Justice Department. “It tells me, when they are stonewalling, that people too high up knew about it and they don’t want to take responsibility for their actions.”
“Nothing changes in bureaucracies if heads don’t roll," Grassley added. "Secondly, these whistleblowers ought to be honored as patriotic people. They prophesied that somebody would get killed and somebody did get killed,” says Grassley, vowing that he won’t stop until all of his questions are answered.
“People know that I don’t give up.”