Cousin of Slain Border Agent Thanks ATF Agents For Speaking Up and Risking Jobs

Robert Heyer (far right) sits on panel with agent Terry’s Mother and ATF agents/ photo

By Allan Lengel

A teary eyed cousin of slain U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry urged ATF to be forthright and provide info to Congressional investigators  about a controversial program — “Operation Fast and Furious” — that encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers– all with hopes of tracing them to Mexican drug cartels.

Some of those weapons have been linked to the death of Terry, who was killed in Arizona last December.

Cousin Robert Heyer, a Secret Service agent, at times choked up and unable to speak, testified Wednesday morning before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform,  and also talked about what an outstanding person his cousin was and how some of this co-workers referred to him as “superman.” He read a statement on behalf of the family.

He also thanked three ATF agents on the panel who  were highly critical of the program.

“We would like also like to acknowledge the courage and intergry of the three special agents of ATF’s Phoenix field division sitting with us on this panel,” he said.

“We recognize the professional risk you face by coming forward and speaking to the public about an invesitigation that you believe was ill conceived and reckless.”

Agents who testified were highly critical and said investigators  were sometimes pulled off of surveillances’ of the straw purchasers without good reason.  Agent Peter Forcelli called the program a “collosal failure of leadership.”

ATF agent John Dodson said when agents questioned some tactics , he said he was told: “They didn’t have to explain anything to me.”

Committee members said they were concerned the guns in the sting might show up in crimes for years to come on both sides of the border.

Rep. Darrell Issa, chair of the committee, said that Ken Melson, head of ATF, was well aware of the program and got regular updates.

He said Melson was “very much in the weeds” on the investigation.

Agent Terry’s mother Josephine Terry said she wasn’t satisfied with the answers she was getting from the federal government in the case.

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