Attorney General Eric Holder, under political fire for the alleged Justice Department cover-up of Operation Fast and Furious, is trying to breathe new life into the 10-year-old investigation of the murder of Thomas Wales, a federal prosecutor killed Oct. 11, 2001 in the basement of his Seattle home.
Wales, at the time head of the anti-gun Washington CeaseFire, was gunned down at his Queen Anne residence by someone federal authorities believe was using a Makarov pistol loaded with the wrong ammunition. The gun has never been found, despite a nationwide search for the pistol, which may have been fitted with a replacement barrel made by a now-defunct Minnesota firm.
Ten years after federal prosecutor Thomas Wales was fatally shot in his Seattle home, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI officials on Wednesday will announce a broad campaign to elicit tips in one of the nation’s most perplexing unsolved killings.
Holder is expected to reiterate that the investigation remains a top priority of the Justice Department at a Seattle news conference.
“This is a really important case to us,” said Gregory Fowler, the FBI official who will outline a campaign of broadcast, print, online and billboard advertising.
“Primarily, what we’re hoping to do is spark a memory that someone may have around the time of the murder,” Fowler said.—Seattle Times
This columnist broke that story in July 2003 in the pages of Gun Week. But for the past several years, the investigation, though still active, has languished as other events unfolded. The Justice Department is offering up to $1 million for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Wales’ killer.
While Wales is remembered by Seattle’s liberal elite and legal community as a skilled federal prosecutor, longtime Evergreen State gun rights activists recall him for his failed campaign to pass the most restrictive gun law in the nation in 1997. Initiative 676 – portrayed by supporters as a “gun safety” measure – would have brought licensing and registration, and other tough gun restrictions. But it failed miserably by a lopsided 71-29 percent vote that saw most newspapers and law enforcement groups opposing the measure.
Holder… the guy who “knew nothing” about guns being run straight into Mexico.
We should all have so much faith in him deducing anything in this case.
Did we ever even manage to hold anyone accountable for the killing of our Border Patrol agent down at the US/Mexican border… with our own American weapons… like… only six months ago, or so?—reader feedback, Seattle Times
It was during the campaign that Wales, speaking to a group at the University of Washington (on a panel that included Joe Waldron, former executive director of the Bellevue-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms) declared that the National Rifle Association was “against the Constitution.”
Today, critics are wondering of Holder is not trying to jump-start the Wales investigation to draw attention away from another case ignited by the slaying of a federal officer: Operation Fast and Furious. The investigation began with the slaying of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, and may have allowed 2,000 to 2,500 guns to be trafficked to Mexican drug cartels.
CBS News’ Sharyl Attkisson, who has been one of a handful of journalists to doggedly pursue the Fast and Furious investigation, is reporting today that a “main target’ the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was trying to bag apparently turned out to be a confidential DEA informant working with the FBI. There are allegations that the FBI has been helping in the cover-up.
Confidential sources have told Congressional investigators that a main target ATF was trying to identify in Fast and Furious was actually a DEA confidential informant working with the FBI.
That twist is just part of the new information included in a letter from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) addressed directly to Attorney General Eric Holder, who has indicated he neither knew of nor approved of the “gunwalking” operation that allegedly allowed thousands of weapons to be sold to suspected traffickers for Mexican drug cartels.—CBS News
Several readers of the Seattle Times and on-line KOMO stories are being less than polite about Holder’s announcement, and his motivation.
The Wales case revival comes as Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) have sent another letter to Holder, raising questions about the apparent informant, and about taxpayer money that may have been used to buy guns that found their way into criminal hands. Grassley told this column he will take this investigation as far as required to identify those responsible for the gun trafficking operation and hold them accountable.
(The letter) says while ATF was trying to identify the unnamed financier behind a gun trafficking ring leader named Manuel Celis-Acosta, the DEA and FBI already knew who the financier was – and had in fact turned him into a confidential informant. Yet, the letter states, the financier was allowed to continue to purchase weapons from Acosta over the course of a year, without ATF ever knowing that the man they were seeking to identify… was a government informant.—CBS News
As this column noted earlier, the senator reiterated the same thing to Fox News Monday evening.
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