Border Patrol agent Brian Terry’s family sue over Fast and Furious
Family’s lawsuit target federal prosecutor and ATF managers who were responsible for failed guns operation on Mexico border
guardian.co.uk, Friday 14 December 2012 23.31 GMT
Brian Terry was fatally shot north of the Arizona-Mexico border while trying to catch bandits who target illegal immigrants in 2010.
The family of a murdered Border Patrol agent has sued federal officials over the botched Fast and Furious operation to track smuggled guns to Mexico.
Agent Brian Terry was mortally wounded on December 14, 2010, in a firefight north of the Arizona-Mexico border between US agents and five men who had sneaked into the country to rob marijuana smugglers.
Federal authorities conducting Fast and Furious have faced tough criticism for allowing suspected straw gun buyers for a smuggling ring to walk away from gun shops in Arizona with weapons, rather than arrest them and seize weapons.
The lawsuit filed Thursday and made publicly available on Friday came from Terry’s parents against six managers and investigators for the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The family also sued a federal prosecutor who had previously handled the case but is no longer on it, and the owner of the gun store where two rifles found in the firefight’s aftermath were bought.
The family alleges that the ATF officials and federal prosecutor created a risk to law enforcement officers such as Terry and that the firearms agents should have known their actions would lead to injuries and deaths to civilians and police officers in America and Mexico.
The family also alleged that firearms agents and the prosecutor sought to cover up the link between Terry’s death and the botched gun smuggling investigation.
The "Fast and Furious" operation was launched in 2009 to catch trafficking kingpins, but agents lost track of about 1,400 of the more than 2,000 weapons involved.
Authorities say the ring was believed to have supplied the Sinaloa cartel with guns. Mexico’s drug cartels often seek out guns in the U.S. because gun laws in Mexico are more restrictive than in the U.S.
Some guns purchased by the ring were later found at crime scenes in Mexico and the United States.
The probe’s failures were revealed and later examined in congressional inquiries.
So far, 15 of the 20 people charged in the gun smuggling case have pleaded guilty to charges.
Authorities have a separate case pending in federal court in Tucson against five men charged with murder in Terry’s death.
So far, one man has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. Of the five men accused in Terry’s killing, two are in custody, and three others remain fugitives.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat Dec 15, 2012 1:38 am
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The terrible legacy of Agent Orange
Forty years after war ended, Washington begins decontamination of worst-affected areas in Vietnam
WILL ROBINSON SUNDAY 12 AUGUST 2012
Tran Thi Hoan, 26, studied medicine only to be told that she couldn’t become a doctor because of a war fought 20 years before she was born. The ostensible reason was that she had no legs or left hand, but the main reason, and the cause of so much misery blighting the lives of millions of other Vietnamese, is the 20 million gallons of Agent Orange sprayed in her country by US forces in the Sixties.
She is one of three million Vietnamese affected by the dioxin in Agent Orange – a poison that has caused untold cancers and an estimated 150,000 birth defects – which continue down the generations to this day.
Last week, 40 years after the war ended, the US began a programme to try to decontaminate the worst-affected parts of the country, but even if the belated action grows into something far larger, it can never deal with the dreadful legacy of Agent Orange.
In a museum in the suburbs of Saigon, there is an exhibit where hundreds of photos of deformed adults, children and babies hang next to a copy of a letter which Tran Thi Hoan wrote to Barack Obama in 2009. After describing how doctors discouraged her from starting a family, fearing her children would be born with similar defects, she asked if the President would "spare a little time to resolve this forgotten problem", after decades of quibbling over the issue in Washington.
Between 1962 and 1971, the US air force dropped around 20 million gallons of the herbicide during Operation Ranch Hand. Around 4,000 villages and communes in South Vietnam were sprayed, leaving at least 4.5 million Vietnamese exposed to the substance, according to census reports taken at the time. Five million acres of farmland were destroyed in the process (the size of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Northumberland combined), of which two million remain barren today.
Its claimed purpose was to defoliate the forest canopy that covered the Viet Cong’s troop movements and supply lines. Early on in the campaign, US planes dropped pamphlets written in Vietnamese assuring farmers that the chemicals were harmless to humans and animals. In spite of alleged warnings from chemical companies that the herbicide was potentially harmful, the US reportedly dropped the chemical at a higher concentration than what was recommended for destroying foliage.
As a result, the Vietnam Red Cross estimates that three million Vietnamese were left suffering from spina bifida, Parkinson’s and heart diseases as a result. Since then, at least 150,000 children have been born with birth defects, a number which the Vietnamese government claims could be as high as half a million.
Various court cases and pleas to the US government by Vietnamese victims have proved fruitless, whereas American veterans exposed to Agent Orange have had their appeals answered. Families of former US soldiers suffering because of dioxin poisoning get up to $1,500 (£956) a month in compensation, while Vietnamese families who have been affected receive around 80,000 dong a month (just over $5) in government support for their disabled children.
In 1984, chemical companies that manufactured the herbicide settled a class-action suit by US veterans for $180m. Then, in 2010, 200,000 veterans filed claims based on a policy change by the Department of Veterans Affairs which gave them easier access to compensation for health problems caused by exposure to the defoliant.
Vietnamese victims filed a similar lawsuit in 2004. The case brought by the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange against the chemical companies failed, with the court ruling that the herbicide was used to protect US troops against ambush and was not intended to be used against human populations. The manufacturers were also protected by a contract with the US government which employed them to manufacture and supply them with the herbicide during the war.
For years, Washington has avoided discussing the Agent Orange-related health problems among the Vietnamese and the need for more scientific research into the problem. Since 2007 it has given about $60m for environmental restoration and social services in Vietnam, but last week’s project is its first direct involvement in decontaminating areas affected by dioxin.
The $43m project, which began last Thursday, is expected to be completed in four years. It covers a 47-acre site in the coastal city of Da Nang, one of many "hot spots" that have been identified on the perimeter of former US bases where Agent Orange was handled; 50 years on, dioxins still into the surrounding soil, posing a risk to the population.
Even though this is a step forward by the US in a relationship with Vietnam that has been hampered by the issue, the lasting legacy of Agent Orange will need a far more substantial input to repair the damage. In 2007, the non-partisan Aspen Institute determined that it would cost the US government $300m over 10 years to eliminate the remaining health threat and improve the lives of disabled people in Vietnam.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sun Aug 12, 2012 2:14 am
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By Sara Burrows
Feb. 14th, 2012
RAEFORD — A preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because a state employee told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious.
The girl’s turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the agent who was inspecting all lunch boxes in her More at Four classroom that day.
The Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs — including in-home day care centers — to meet USDA guidelines. That means lunches must consist of one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables, even if the lunches are brought from home.
When home-packed lunches do not include all of the required items, child care providers must supplement them with the missing ones.
The girl’s mother — who said she wishes to remain anonymous to protect her daughter from retaliation — said she received a note from the school stating that students who did not bring a “healthy lunch” would be offered the missing portions, which could result in a fee from the cafeteria, in her case $1.25.
“I don’t feel that I should pay for a cafeteria lunch when I provide lunch for her from home,” the mother wrote in a complaint to her state representative, Republican G.L. Pridgen of Robeson County.
The girl’s grandmother, who sometimes helps pack her lunch, told Carolina Journal that she is a petite, picky 4-year-old who eats white whole wheat bread and is not big on vegetables.
“What got me so mad is, number one, don’t tell my kid I’m not packing her lunch box properly,” the girl’s mother told CJ. “I pack her lunchbox according to what she eats. It always consists of a fruit. It never consists of a vegetable. She eats vegetables at home because I have to watch her because she doesn’t really care for vegetables.”
When the girl came home with her lunch untouched, her mother wanted to know what she ate instead. Three chicken nuggets, the girl answered. Everything else on her cafeteria tray went to waste.
“She came home with her whole sandwich I had packed, because she chose to eat the nuggets on the lunch tray, because they put it in front of her,” her mother said. “You’re telling a 4-year-old. ‘oh. you’re lunch isn’t right,’ and she’s thinking there’s something wrong with her food.”
While the mother and grandmother thought the potato chips and lack of vegetable were what disqualified the lunch, a spokeswoman for the Division of Child Development said that should not have been a problem.
“With a turkey sandwich, that covers your protein, your grain, and if it had cheese on it, that’s the dairy,” said Jani Kozlowski, the fiscal and statutory policy manager for the division. “It sounds like the lunch itself would’ve met all of the standard.” The lunch has to include a fruit or vegetable, but not both, she said.
There are no clear restrictions about what additional items — like potato chips — can be included in preschoolers’ lunch boxes.
“If a parent sends their child with a Coke and a Twinkie, the child care provider is going to need to provide a balanced lunch for the child,” Kozlowski said.
Ultimately, the child care provider can’t take the Coke and Twinkie away from the child, but Kozlowski said she “would think the Pre-K provider would talk with the parent about that not being a healthy choice for their child.”
It is unclear whether the school was allowed to charge for the cafeteria lunches they gave to every preschooler in the class that day.
The state regulation reads:
“Sites must provide breakfast and/or snacks and lunch meeting USDA requirements during the regular school day. The partial/full cost of meals may be charged when families do not qualify for free/reduced price meals.
“When children bring their own food for meals and snacks to the center, if the food does not meet the specified nutritional requirements, the center must provide additional food necessary to meet those requirements.”
Still, Kozlowski said, the parents shouldn’t have been charged.
“The school may have interpreted [the rule] to mean they felt like the lunch wasn’t meeting the nutritional requirements and so they wanted the child to have the school lunch and then charged the parent,” she said. “It sounds like maybe a technical assistance need for that school.”
The school principal, Jackie Samuels, said he didn’t “know anything about” parents being charged for the meals that day. “I know they eat in the cafeteria. Whether they pay or not, they eat in the cafeteria.”
Pridgen’s office is looking into the issue.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:56 am
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The family of murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry has filed a $25-million lawsuit against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, claiming "negligence" and "a violation of ATF’s own policies and procedures" resulting in the death of their son.
A separate lawsuit against The Lone Wolf Trading Company stated that "but for defendants’ negligent and illegal sales … Brian Terry would not have been murdered."
Terry was killed when his unit was ambushed near the Arizona-Mexico border on the night of December 14, 2010. Two AK-47s found at the scene were part of an ATF gun-walking operation allowing the illegal purchase of weapons by straw buyers, who then sold them to a Mexican drug cartel.
Interviewed by Fox News in November, Terry’s mother expressed the general feeling of anyone now familiar with Fast and Furious.
If they never let the guns walk, maybe Brian would not have been out that day[.] … I just can’t believe our own government came up with a program like this that [let] innocent people get killed."
Attorney General Eric "My People" Holder, whose Department of Justice oversees the ATF, has claimed for over a year that he knew nothing about the logic-defying, deadly, and secretive program known as Fast and Furious. President Obama has shielded Holder from charges of perjury, obstruction, and conspiracy.
In October Obama stated that he has "complete confidence" in his Attorney General.
He has been very aggressive in going after gunrunning and cash transactions that are going to these transnational drug cartels in Mexico. He’s indicated he was not aware of what was happening in Fast and Furious. Certainly I was not.
And I think both he and I would have been very unhappy if somebody had suggested that guns were allowed to pass through that could have been prevented by the United States of America.
Agent Terry’s family, Agent Zapata’s loved ones, the Mexican government, and the American people deserve the truth. Justice must be served. The family’s legal action gives us hope that the guilty will finally be held responsible. After all, no one is above the law.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Thu Feb 02, 2012 6:00 am
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The First Lady – better known for shopping at more modestly-priced High Street stores – along with the Queen of Qatar, Sheikha Mozah, closed off part of Madison Avenue to spend time in the luxury lingerie shop. Their purchases contributed to a market-spanking 12.5pc lift in sales.
Agent Provocateur, which is styled on vintage Hollywood glamour, sells handmade Calais lace corsets that sell for up to £900, which could ruffle the feathers of more than just President Barack Obama in an election year.
Gary Hogarth, Agent Provocateur’s chief executive, refused to be drawn on the store’s closely kept "secret client list". But he admitted the brand had attracted a high number of "unexpected famous names" – especially in the US, where sales have overtaken the UK.
On the back of this growth, Agent Provocateur, which is owned by listed private equity firm 3i, is launching an aggressive expansion strategy with more than 20 new shops opening globally in 2012.
Last-minute purchases of lace corsetry and satin bras pushed Christmas trading across the eight weeks from November 27 up 8.1pc on a like-for-like basis and 15.2pc overall. In the last 43 weeks, trading has been up 12.5pc on a like-for-like basis and 21.6pc overall, outstripping most of its retail rivals. The company’s lack of competition, celebrity status and up-market clientele have insulated it from problems endured by most rival retailers. In October the company said half-year sales were up a third to £26.6m with earnings of £3.3m.
“This is a real luxury brand,” says Mr Hogarth. “But now it is also being run with a strong business discipline. That has meant a lot of changes to the finance team, merchandising and production and planning. It also means negotiating on every rental contract – which is more than possible in this market.”
3i’s £69m purchase of the company at the height of the 2007 buy-out bubble left the private equity firm holding all the debt. Insiders say this costly misstep has ironically allowed the business to survive across two very difficult years of trading. Now, the company’s recovery is outpacing even 3i’s projections.
“The glamour of the AP brand is really powerful – it has a luxurious quality, that means people have a sense of walking away with a special purchase even when they are buying a pair of knickers,” says Mr Hogarth.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sun Jan 29, 2012 8:55 pm
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