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Report on Eric Holder & U.S. Weapons Smuggling Program to Mexico Making RoundsTim King Salem-News.com
Obama's attorney general can't have that bad of a memory...
(SALEM, Ore.) - Salem-News.com revelations of Attorney General Eric Holder's knowledge about a federal gun smuggling ring - one that placed deadly weapons in the hands of already deadly Mexican drug cartels, have set off a firestorm in national media. Across the board, Americans are angry that U.S. weapons smuggled to Mexico in a federal program killed at least one U.S. federal agent, or that it took place at all. (see: Holder Lied: DOJ News Release Shows Obama Admin Approved ATF Mexico Weapons Smuggling)
Our writer CoCo McCain in Tennessee alerted me to the national interest in the story Tuesday when she wrote:
"Congrats on breaking the Holder story. It was so fun having Todd (my husband) come get me and tell me that Fox News is reporting Salem-News broke the Holder story. Keep it up!"
Then Wednesday night our phone rang and a friend let us know America's most liberal national radio talk show host, Mike Malloy, was talking about the Salem-News.com story at length and taking a number of calls over it. He said at one point well into the conversation:
"I don't know about this Salem-News, I don't know anything about them, but the same information is in the LA Times and we know who they are"
It is true that the Salem-News.com multi-media article has the goods, including a video clip of Holder denying knowledge in recent weeks of the operation, and a press release from 2009 issued by the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) indicating otherwise.
It might be the only story I know of that made the cut on FOX News and The Mike Malloy Show with essentially the same angle, within a 24-hour window. That isn't easy to do.
The story cuts to the chase thanks to our ground pounding reporters. It all came together a few days ago when bloggers dug up a press release from the Dept. of Justice released in April 2009, that proclaimed Holder was pleased with the results of 'Operation Gunrunner'.
The weapons smuggling program under ATF&E (Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) called 'Fast and Furious' was part of Operation Gunrunner, which was funded under President Obama's Stimulus Plan. Holder's last remaining option, I suppose, would be to suggest that there was a major international weapons smuggling programs in place to supply cartels on his watch, funded by the taxpayers through the ATF&E, and his underlings kept the information from him?
I know the story is making many people in the federal government uncomfortable, and many new sets of eyes are suddenly watching Salem-News.com, trying to figure out who we are, and why we would be the agency to release such shocking information.
I would respond by stating that we are a news agency unlike all others. Almost all who write under this name are people I have personally approached because of particular skill and expertise. There are attorneys, doctors, educators, parents, activists for civil rights, domestic abuse, nuclear awareness, and some very experienced mainstream journalists like myself who left that world behind to embrace new media as we have, since 2004, with Salem-News.com.
Among the variety of writers are a number of military veterans and war photographers and reporters; and in that respect we are set apart from all other news groups. One of our reporters; Ken O'Keefe, shows up on video somewhat regularly with bullets flying by his head, and I am not exaggerating. Another, Vittorio Arrigoni, is no longer with us; he is a victim to the violence he rallied against in Gaza.
Most of the writers who are Veterans served in wars, then went to college and later, after and during professional careers, became activist oriented writers.
They range from Dr. Phil Leveque, who served in WWII and then became a Professor of Pharmacology, a Forensic Toxicologist, and an Physician; to Jeff Gates, Alan Sabrosky, Gordon Duff, Roger Butow, Ralph Stone, Jerry West and Chuck Palazzo, all of whom served in Vietnam, and today are part of our team. Phil Northcutt has completed college since serving in Iraq, and I actually met and became friends with Michael Hjelmstad, a part-time Marine and part-time Cinematographer in Los Angeles, when I was covering the war in Iraq.
I remember all of the years that I worked in TV news generally being one of the only people in the building with a background as a military veteran, particularly in the actual news departments. Engineers are often Air Force veterans, but to be a former Marine in TV news was always unique. I set out to change that with Salem-News and at this time, 13 of our 96 staff writers are former U.S. Marines.
I know I may be overkilling the point, but this is a team of people who have been in the thick of all sorts of things, and among the war veterans are war photographers like myself and Dexter Phonenix and Belen Fernandez and Ken O'Keefe, who also served as a Marine in the first Gulf War. Eileen Fleming has traveled extensively to the Middle east to interview the Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu several times, and she is the only westerner who has. People here have no idea how significant that is. Our writer Lauren Booth is the sister-in-law of Tony Blair, Alan Hart was one of the UK's most well-known reporters in the 60's, 70's and 80's; Gilad Atzmon is a famous jazz musician and writer/activist. We even have a writer, Lesli Moore Dahlke, who became sick from Agent Orange while working on a USO tour in Vietnam. These are people who have experienced the situations they write about.
And with respect to that, there is not a single person among these 96 writers who has done more, or survived more, or been more closely connected to pivotal events in American history, than Robert Plumlee.
The Mexican Connection
In our research of one particular story that had ties to the Iran/Contra drug and weapons smuggling of the 1980's, Salem-News.com writers Bob O'Dowd, John Uldrich and I, became acquainted with this gentleman who was a longtime CIA asset, a retired contract pilot by the name of Robert Plumlee. He provided information we were seeking about the death of a Marine fighter pilot, Col. James Sabow, who had blown the whistle on drug shipments still being flown up from Central and South America, to the now-closed Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in California, in 1990.
Mr. Plumlee provided information that allowed our team to write a number of thought provoking stories about the alleged 'suicide' of Jim Sabow. Even the most basic research of his autopsy records shows he could not have died from a self-inflicted shotgun blast; and that he had in fact been beaten severely before dying. When Robert Plumlee, who sometimes uses the nickname 'Tosh' shared critical information with us, I knew his intentions as a human being were of the highest order. Before long Robert Plumlee joined our team and has been an incredible resource in countless ways.
Three years ago, Robert Plumlee was contacted by a U.S. Special Forces soldier who was attached to a U.S./Mexican inter-military task force operating against cartels in Mexico. This is a program that had not been disclosed to the public. The soldier, who is a ranking member of the military, explained that their intelligence was being undermined by somebody in the U.S. federal government, and that the team wanted this information to be released to the public.
We did this, and so did The Narcosphere, another group of reporters who follow the cartel wars. However Salem-News.com was reprimanded by the Mexican Embassy in Washington D.C. which vehemently stated that we were wrong; that no U.S. forces had "boots on the ground" in Mexico.
Then came Wikileaks. One of their cables revealed that our story was 100% accurate. The Mexican Embassy in Washington D.C. that went out of their way to correct our story initially, refuses to offer comment in light of the new developments.
The Holder DOJ press release that was unearthed last week amounts to the same thing as the Wikileaks cable; it's a real bombshell in Holder's lap.
Everything mentioned; the letter of reprimand from the Mexican Embassy, the Wikileaks cable, the Stimulus funding for 'Operation Gunrunner', Holder's claims of knowing of 'Fast and Furious" only a few weeks, and the April 2009 DOJ press release, are shown in previous reports; the links are listed below.
We know two of the weapons were found at the murder scene of a U.S. Border Patrol Agent named Brian Terry, and that Special Agent Jaime Zapata died in a gunfight with cartel members in Mexico; the weapon recovered in that incident may be connected, and also the LA Times reported one of the weapons being used in the death of prominent Mexican attorney, Mario Gonzalez Rodriguez, a brother of the former attorney general in violence-plagued Chihuahua state. This is just what we know about, whereas the feds admitted to almost 1800 weapons being allowed to 'walk' across the border. There could be and almost certainly are, many more deaths that have occurred as a result of this federal decision, and there is no reason to believe we may necessarily ever see the end of it.
Knowing that forty thousand human beings have died since Mexican President Felipe Calderón's drug war began in 2006, it seems fair to ask why, under any possible conditions, the U.S. would smuggle almost 2,000 weapons to the narco criminals? The U.S. weapons didn't have devices that would allow them to be tracked. They were simply handed across to the bad guys.
What Robert Plumlee has discovered while accompanying the U.S. / Mexican military task force on raids south of the border in the Columbus, New Mexico area as an observer and photojournalist for Salem-News.com and The Narcosphere, is that the motivation of this bizarre 'Fast and Furious' program may be tied to much larger weapons shipments; the contents of which are stored in various locations throughout Mexico.
Mr. Plumlee has seen these massive stores and he is not alone. We're talking about case after case of brand new hand grenades, rocket launchers, mortars and anti-aircraft weapons. Most of these collections of weapons include 'knock off' military uniforms. It is hard to fathom for most Americans, but the most dangerous cartel in Mexico is Los Zetas, and three years ago they were part of an elite band of officers in the Mexican Army. Highly trained, they split away from the military after initially 'moonlighting' for the Gulf Cartel.
The word in the border area, Tosh says, is that the Zeta Cartel is prepared to launch a full-scale revolution in Mexico, pending the outcome of the 2012 Presidential Election. This begs the question: why would any U.S. individual, group or agency, seek to promote dangerous Cartels and destabilize the U.S. border with more weapons? This type of violence badly affects an already ailing U.S. economy and consequently, the safety of many U.S. border cities and towns.
The only industry that fits the profile is big pharma. These drug manufacturers that clog American televisions all day with millions and millions of dollars in revenue in the form of TV commercials, do not want the war on drugs to end. If marijuana were to be decriminalized, just that alone; profits from the drug industry would fall dramatically. They maintain massive profit margins, and natural health cures would not stimulate morphine-based drug sales.
It is in fact the illegal nature of drugs in the first place, that creates the market and then perpetuates the violence, and the demand for product is in the U.S. That is the gas on the fire. The cartels have drugs and the United States has weapons. The laws against drugs ensure that the illegal marketplace continues. It is a cycle of madness and I don't think this has really missed the attention of Eric Holder. He isn't stupid, but it sure looks like he's dirty.
Based on court records, the most dishonest of the big drug manufacturers is Purdue Pharmaceuticals, which is the manufacturer of Oxycontin, a killer drug similar to Oxycodone, that is constantly over-prescribed and abused in both the U.S. and Canada. Its nickname is 'hillbilly heroin' and it is an unforgiving plague.
Our writer, Marianne Skolek, lost her daughter to an Oxycontin-related respiratory failure. Marianne later helped U.S. attorneys convict several of the top level Purdue officials for having marketed the drug at first as both non-lethal and non-addictive.
With officials potentially facing prison sentences, Purdue was concerned with having to admit their criminal liability with regard to Oxycontin deaths, so then-attorney Eric Holder stepped in and arranged an out of court settlement for Purdue that among other things, did not require the drug giant to publicly admit to having made serious mistakes.
I don't claim to have all of the answers in this clandestine affair, but I believe that with the help of our amazing reporters in the field like Plumlee and Skolek, we have established the framework of a very devious anti-American ploy taking place in the federal government.
Going to Pot
The final piece of this in my view; the part that further demonstrates Holder's real allegiance, is the recent statement from the Attorney General about medical marijuana and federal law.
Even though he specifically stated less than a year ago that the federal government was not interested in busting medical marijuana operations that were operating legally by state law, he turned around in recent weeks and said they are moving forward with enforcement efforts against medical patients and suppliers, regardless of the voter-passed state laws. It is clear that Holder was told by somebody to change his tune and he complied.
I know some blogs and message boards have criticized the title of my report that is making the rounds, Holder Lied: DOJ News Release Shows Obama Admin Approved ATF Mexico Weapons Smuggling, but these are people who want traditional treatment of radical stories and we are the ones telling you because we are the only unfiltered news agency in the U.S. There are plenty of specialized blogs, but this is the news.
The statement 'Holder Lied' becomes opinion only when you dismiss the fact that we prove in the article through outside sources, that Holder was well aware of the program he has tried to distance himself from and claimed only very recent knowledge of.
Robert Plumlee believes the CIA thumbprint is on this, and that would match the traditional modus operandi of U.S. secret ops. It is also important to note that all of the dealings Tosh had had with Border Patrol agents and other federal agencies on the ground has been positive and mutually beneficial. He compliments the members of the military task force comprised of American soldiers and Mexican soldiers and Marines. It seems there is definitely going to be a lot more to come of this. Holder is being pressured from several directions, as the FOX News/The Mike Malloy Show overlap demonstrates.
My goal was to break this story down to the simplest basic terms, I hope I accomplished this, I'm sure I'll find out. Below are links that provide a great deal of background.
This story could sink the Obama presidency - Beautfort Observer
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