The family of slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry has threatened to file a $25 million wrongful death suit against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives, citing the government’s role in Terry’s death. Brian Terry was killed with an AK47 that was knowingly sold to drug cartels under the “Fast and Furious” gun-running probe that has been in place for several years now.
The 65 page suit was served on the government agency on Wednesday according to attorneys for the family. The complaint contends that not only was the ATF negligent in Terry’s death, but at the time, the program is in direct violation of the ATF’s own policies and procedures.
The case is a headache for Attorney General Eric Holder, who is already in hot water over the program. Lawmakers called a hearing about the program and whether Holder has been telling the truth about the program in responding to requests from the House Oversight and Government Relations Committee. Attorney General Eric Holder testified before the House today about his role in the program. The Republicans on the committee pointed out that the Department of Justice was still withholding 93,000 documents that they now intend to subpoena if the DOJ doesn’t hand them over voluntarily for review.
“Fast and Furious” is the name that was given to the gun tracing operation where agents knowingly allowed gun purchases to Mexican drug operatives so they might be traced to the higher echelons of the Mexican Drug Cartels. They then could pin the guns to the drug cartels to build stronger cases against them if and when they got caught.
Even the ATF that ran the program admits that they lost track of hundreds of weapons and many have been linked to dozens of crimes, including the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Many of the guns have been found in crime scenes.
During the hearing on Capitol Hill this morning, political lines were drawn very quickly, with the House Republicans doing most of the grilling on Attorney General Holder, and the House Democrats using their time on the mic to point out that the Department of Justice did not begin gun tracing programs under the Obama Administration, but under George W. Bush’s term. President Bush had a similar program called “Operation Wide Receiver”, but the big difference is that the previous program was coordinated with the Mexican authorities, “Fast and Furious” is purely American.
Holder did say that Mexican authorities were aware of the program, and they he had warned them there was no effort to track the weapons once them moved across the border into Mexico. In 2006-2007, “Operation Wide Receiver”, operating out of the same Phoenix office of the ATF, allowed approximately 200 guns to “walk” into Mexico in an effort to identify higher-ups in the Mexican drug cartels. From 2009-2011, under the DOJ “Fast and Furious” program, nearly 2,000 guns were allowed to get into the hands of the Mexican drug cartels, some 1,400 of which yet remain unaccounted for.
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