Since March 2011, we have been told by ATF, FBI and Obama Justice Department officials that two guns linked to Operation Fast and Furious, not three, were used to kill Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Up until this point, there has been speculation that law enforcement officials investigating the case may have purposely given false information about how many guns were at the murder scene in an effort to cover up the circumstances under which Terry was killed. Up to this point, the FBI, the Arizona U.S. Attorney's Office, Homeland Security and the DOJ have failed to produce a written account, or a crime report, about what exactly happened to Terry on December 14, 2010.
Now, CBSNews has obtained a "secret" recording that shows an ATF agent and a gun dealer discussing three, not two, guns found at the murder scene:
The tapes were recorded approximately mid-March 2011 by the primary gun dealer cooperating with ATF in its "Fast and Furious" operation: Andre Howard, owner of Lone Wolf Trading Company in Glendale, Arizona. He's talking with the lead case ATF case agent Hope MacAllister.
The tapes have been turned over to Congressional investigators and the Inspector General.
Court records have previously only mentioned two weapons: Romanian WASR "AK-47 type" assault rifles. Both were allegedly sold to suspects who were under ATF's watch as part of Fast and Furious.
Also, a ballistics report turned over to Congressional investigators only mentions the two WASR rifles. The ballistics report says it's inconclusive as to whether either of the WASR rifles fired the bullet that killed Terry.
Law enforcement sources and others close to the Congressional investigation say the Justice Department's Inspector General obtained the audio tapes several months ago as part of its investigation into Fast and Furious.
Then, the sources say for some reason the Inspector General passed the tapes along to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona: a subject in the investigation. 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. The Inspector General's office had no immediate comment.
It is strange the government would try and cover up one weapon, but claim the two others. What is so significant about the third weapon that the feds felt needed to be hidden?
When I spoke to Mr. Howard on the phone, he did not confirm whether or not the tapes were his.
Although CBS News says the tapes came from and were recorded Howard, in the instance Mr. Howard didn't know he was being "secretly" recorded, this could have been recorded through a government wiretap, which can only be approved by officials with ranks much higher than ATF field agents. If this was in fact a wiretap case, it would prove high level officials, either within the Arizona U.S. Attorney's Office or DOJ, knew about Fast and Furious as they have previously denied multiple times. Wiretaps are applied for and approved through a very formal process when it comes to criminal cases, especially when applied for through the Patriot Act and low level agents, who have been accused of carrying out Operation Fast and Furious on their own without approval from Washington D.C. cannot approve a wiretap simply because they want to. On the other hand, if this was a conversation recorded on a smart phone or voice recorder, the agent in the video, or Mr. Howard could have acted alone.
Last week I sat down with Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar to discuss Operation Fast and Furious, and he mentioned wiretapping had been used throughout Operation Fast and Furious.
"The whole hierarchical aspect of wiretaps is very, very different hierarchical aspect," Gosar said. "Earlier this year we talked about three provisions of the Patriot Act. Wiretapping was one of them and the patriot provision those have to go through a grand jury process, and the patriot provisions are secretive so they have to go to a FISA judge, which are under the jurisdiction of the chief justice of the Supreme Court. So that's what we have to find out - what gave those authorizations? Where did the follow-ups root? Because there has to be a paper trail."
And in this case, there has to be an audio trail...
I also spoke with Andre Howard's lawyer this afternoon, and at the time of our phone conversation, the attorney was unaware of the audio posted above.