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Senator Grassley Presses BATFE On Project Gunrunner

Friday, February 11, 2011

Pointing to documentation that guns used by Mexican nationals in a shootout with Border Patrol agents were allowed to be sold under suspicious circumstances with the knowledge of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) is calling on the agency to fully respond to his inquiries into the case. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in that encounter on Dec. 14 of last year.

Grassley has called the response of BATFE to his original letter on inquiry "little more than delay and denial."

Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich responded to Grassley on Feb. 4 denying the allegations.

Senator Grassley on Feb. 9 wrote Attorney General Eric Holder to again request that BATFE cooperate with his investigation, writing "the Terry family deserves answers."

Grassley stated in the letter that he has documentation for his allegations. "The whistleblowers have expressed a desire to honor agent Terry's memory by disclosing this information. The Justice Department should work to do the same. The best way to honor his memory is to come clean."

Senator Grassley has demonstrated that he is determined to uncover the truth regarding BATFE's investigative tactics, even as BATFE seems intent on shutting down his investigation. BATFE has accused Grassley of conducting a "partisan" investigation and has even gone so far as to ask that Senate Judiciary Committee staff stop talking to law enforcement personnel.

Since Agent Terry's killing, BATFE has denied the allegations regarding its investigations while at the same time claiming that a shortage of manpower and resources prevents the agency from accounting for all the firearms it is tracking.

The obvious question is: Did BATFE have no involvement with the firearms involved in the shootout, or did it lack the manpower to do its job effectively?

Either way, the BATFE's desire to mandate reporting of multiple long gun sales by border area firearms dealers is questionable since BATFE seems incapable of managing the criminal leads it already has and unwilling to submit to constitutionally mandated Congressional oversight.

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