CBS News has posted what it claims is a secret recording between a senior ATF Agent and an Arizona gun store owner at the heart of the botched operation "Fast and Furious" weapons sting. The tape could be proof that the ATF tried to suppress evidence found at the crime scene of murdered U.S. Border Agent Brian Terry.
Recorded around March 2011, the tape is the work of Andre Howard, owner of Lone Wolf Trading Company in Glendale, Arizona-- which was the primary gun dealer cooperating with ATF in "Operation Fast and Furious." On the tape, Howard is talking with the lead case ATF Case Agent Hope MacAllister, according to CBS.
Listen to their conversation below:
Note the discussion included the admission of three weapons found.
This is significant because it means the ATF might have known months ago that there were three Fast and Furious-linked guns, not two, found near U.S. Border Agent Brian Terry after he was killed in a shootout with cartel criminals.
Originally, court records only showed two "AK-47-style" weapons linked to Fast and Furious were part of the investigation. And a ballistics report turned over to Congress months ago also only indicated two Fast and Furious associated weapons.
If a new ballistics test shows the missing third gun was in fact the one used to gun down the U.S. Border Agent, it would be hard to argue that evidence was not intentionally suppressed to avoid scandal.
Apparently, the Justice Department's Inspector General obtained the audio tape discussing the number of weapons several months ago, and for some yet-to-be-determined reason, handed them over to the U.S. Attorney's office in Arizona -- a primary subject itself of the Fast and Furious investigation.
CBS has asked the pertinent question: "It's unclear why the Inspector General, who is supposed to investigate independently, would turn over evidence to an entity that is itself under investigation."
Increasingly, the answer appears to be a cover-up that stretches widely across the government and reaches up into the highest echelons of power.
In a national election year, a cabinet-level resignation due to scandal would be very politically damaging. For Operation "Fast and Furious," it appears robust Congressional oversight measures will be required to get anywhere near the truth.