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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

  • ATF Whistleblower: U.S. Gun Sting "Fast & Furious" Has Left Trail of "Crime Scenes and Dead Bodies"

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    A botched operation to track the flow of guns from the United States into Mexico has prompted the removal of the acting director of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the resignation of the U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona. Under the once-secret program known as "Operation Fast and Furious," federal agents encouraged U.S. gun shops to sell thousands of weapons to middlemen for Mexican drug cartels. The program was meant to gain access to senior-level figures within Mexico’s criminal organizations, but agents lost track of as many as 2,500 guns. Last week, the Department of Justice acknowledged to Congress that firearms connected with the ATF’s controversial sting operation were used in at least 11 violent crimes in the United States, including the slaying of a U.S. Border Patrol agent. Meanwhile, the program has never led to any arrests, and three key ATF supervisors were promoted earlier this month. We’re joined by Vincent Cefalu, an ATF special agent who helped blow the whistle on Operation Fast and Furious and has since faced retaliation. "We allowed these guns to go, continue on, in the hopes of establishing some sort of chain, or this iron pipeline, which was so far from the truth," Cefalu says. "The only way to track those guns were to find them at the crime scenes or dead bodies." [includes rush transcript]

  • As Grim Details Emerge, Guatemalan Victims Seek Justice for U.S. Medical Experiments in 1940s

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    A White House bioethics commission has revealed gruesome new details about venereal disease experiments from 1946 to 1948 in which U.S. medical officials intentionally infected Guatemalan sex workers, prisoners, soldiers and mental patients with syphilis in order to study the effects of penicillin. The commission concluded that nearly 5,500 Guatemalans were subjected to diagnostic testing — without their consent — and more than 1,300 were exposed to venereal diseases by contact or inoculations. At least 83 died over the course of the experiments, which were approved by the Guatemalan government. President Obama has apologized for the program, and Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom has described it as a "crime against humanity" and ordered his own investigation. We discuss the commission’s findings with one of its members, Dr. Anita Allen, a professor of law and philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. We are also joined by Piper Hendricks, an attorney collaborating with Guatemalan lawyers on a class action lawsuit against the U.S. government on behalf of 700 Guatemalans who were unknowingly infected with syphilis. Since the case was filed in March, one victim has passed away. "This is something that happened many, many years ago, and people have been waiting for decades to see justice," notes Hendricks. "Time is of the essence to address the horrifying things that people went through back in the late 1940s." [includes rush transcript]