February 23, 2011
CBS NEWS UNCOVERS GUNRUNNING SCANDAL WITHIN THE ATF
Agency Secretly Endorsed Practice of Letting Guns "Walk";
ATF Agent to CBS News: "God Only Knows How Many Guns Were Used to Kill People"
Tonight on the CBS EVENING NEWS WITH KATIE COURIC (6:30 PM, ET), CBS News Investigative Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports on a major scandal building within the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), one of America's top law enforcement agencies. CBS News uncovered evidence which supports the allegation that the agency that is supposed to stop border gunrunning to Mexico's drug cartels actually participated in letting it happen. Attkisson reports that these guns have turned up at the scenes of violent crimes, including the murder of a U.S. border patrol officer in Arizona.
CBS News reveals that "Project Gunrunner," an ATF operation that aims to stop the flow of weapons from the U.S. to Mexican drug cartels, has allegedly facilitated the delivery of thousands of guns into the hands of criminals. Often bought with cash, and sometimes brought in paper bags, sources tell CBS News that several gun shops wanted to stop the questionable sales, but were encouraged to continue selling by the ATF, so that they could continue gathering intelligence and see where the weapons ended up. This dangerous tactic is referred to as letting the guns "walk."
Veteran ATF agents called this strategy "insane" and "appalling," with one, speaking under a condition of anonymity, telling CBS News, "We were fully aware the guns would probably be moved across the border to drug cartels where they could be used to kill." CBS News has been told that at least 11 ATF agents and senior managers voiced fierce opposition to the strategy.
Sharyl Attkisson's full report, including a potential link between "Project Gunrunner" and the murder of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, broadcasts tonight on the CBS EVENING NEWS WITH KATIE COURIC.