“Coming next will be more info on what the agents refer to as the Phoenix ATF office ‘walking across’ ARs and AKs to pad their statistics,” this column reported on Monday, citing a December reference to allegations made on the CleanUpATF.org forum that approval/direction was given for “more than 500 AR-15 type rifles from Tucson and Phoenix cases to be ‘walked’ to Mexico.”
As we’ve previously discussed, CleanUpATF is run by a group of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives employees who formed “a non-profit organization dedicated to returning integrity, accountability and decency to the management of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE or "ATF").”
Following my Monday column, I was contacted by an investigative reporter wanting to learn more, and inquiring about my willingness to share sources. I put those wheels in motion because I believe it’s important to break this story beyond the reach I’m accustomed to these articles having. The important thing is getting the truth out.
Here’s the relevant excerpt from my communication with a confirmed source within the Bureau and with other colleagues in on the exchange, part of the fact-finding process I want to share with readers here:
Here's what I'm trying to determine:
Are firearms really being "walked across the border" per the CUATF posting?
Might it be disinformation posted to discredit anyone passing it along?
Could it be a trap by management, that is, controlled information disclosed to identify who is passing it along?
Is it scuttlebutt coming from credible sources?
Is it verifiable in any way?
I understand [Source name redacted] does not know me and may be wary about extending himself beyond [Contact name redacted]. I can respect that. By the same token, please note I have not shared any info with [Reporter name redacted] beyond telling him I passed his contact info along to an insider who may be able to give him more information. I would not post a word that has not been vetted and approved, and absolutely will not disclose any sources without being specifically authorized by that person.
[Source name redacted], please advise how you would like to proceed, if at all.
One of the participating recipients, Mike Vanderboegh of Sipsey Street Irregulars, picks up the story from here:
Well, here's what a solid source within ATF says about this story this morning:
"It's true. Pure fact verified. Ongoing inv(estigation) I can't discuss."
Further, Vanderboegh independently corroborates additional information provided to me by another source:
In a related development, the CUATF site was apparently hacked last night.
The information I have says “Unexplained MAYBE viral or induced by outside sources.”
One other point to bring up—while speculation was introduced on CleanUpATF.org that one of the “walked” guns may have been involved in the death of a Border Patrol officer, at this point I have nothing to validate this. I have been informed some journalists are working on following up on what’s been described to me as “discrepancies” in that story, but can’t predict the outcome we should expect.
At this point I can only renew a call for something I’ve been advocating for a long time now: Congressional oversight hearings of ATF.
My other motive is to get this information out there in the light for others with superior experience, skills and resources to follow up on. Whether or not they will is also something I can’t predict.
UPDATE: See follow-up article, "More information on ATF ‘walking’ guns across Mexican border."