Saturday, October 06, 2012

Friendly Fire

After relegating the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal to a secondary story until an IG report seemed to exonerate president Obama the mainstream press is now locking arms to report today about the death of Border Patrol agent Nicholas Ivie as being caused by 'friendly fire'.

Tragically, it may turn out that way.   But the stories are attributing this finding to a 'preliminary report' from an FBI investigation.  Preliminary means not final.  NBC's Pete Williams included this blurb at the end of his report:
State and federal officials said immediately after the incident that the shootings were committed by armed criminals. And since then, Mexican authorities have said they arrested two men in Agua Prieta, northern Sonora state, a few miles from where the shooting occurred.
Those were preliminary reports as well, but they certainly suggest more than just friendly fire.

If one were a cynic one might say that the press is falling all over itself to report this possible finding because it removes the notion that a F&F gun might have killed another agent (one they hardly reported about when it occurred) so close to the election and right after an IG report cleared the held-in-contempt Attorney General.

MORE  10/7/12

The BP Union is now saying that agent Ivie was the one who opened fire on his two fellow agents, which caused them to return fire, killing him.   

According to the explanation it was "dark" and scrub brush was in the way--no doubt both true.  But was it any darker than normal?  According to the moon phases it was between a full moon and half moon.   So assuming it wasn't cloudy there was some natural light available.  During the wee hours of October 2 the weather near Bisbee, AZ appears to have been clear.  Perhaps the brush was a bigger factor than light.   

Early reports suggested the officers, stationed at the Brian Terry BP station, were responding to motion sensors tripped along a known smuggling trail used by Sinaloa Cartel members. Suspects were rounded up. The LA Times reported on Oct 5 that two weapons had been found in the general vicinity, a Bushmaster 223 on Wednesday the 3rd and a Titan handgun on the 2nd, but had not been traced directly to the shootings.  The SFGate paper had reported on Oct 3 that no guns had been found:
A federal law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity told The Associated Press that no weapons have been found. The official requested anonymity because information on the search hasn't been publicly released.
That was the day after the Times claimed they had found a weapon.  Very few recent stories mention the weapons, which admittedly may not have been associated with the event. The Mexican suspects?  They may still be in custody, hard to say.   Meanwhile there has been little explanation of why the motion sensors were tripped; whether the agents were in radio contact with each other; whether they were wearing night vision goggles; whether the ballistic reports conclusively prove the bullets that killed Agent Ivie came from a BP weapon.  And most of all, what caused agent Ivie--who can no longer speak for himself--to open fire.  As with Libya the FBI is still investigating.

Predictably this story has had political implications from day one.  Republicans were quick to jump to conclusions while reporters in the same news media that largely downplayed Fast and Furious were busy pointing out the rank politics.  Like terrorism, it shouldn't be that way.  But here we are.

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