WASHINGTON - One year ago today, Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry was gunned down in Arizona near the Mexican border by illegal immigrants armed with weapons from the now-infamous ATF "Fast and Furious" gunwalking operation.
In Fast and Furious, ATF secretly encouraged gun dealers to sell to suspected traffickers for Mexican drug cartels to go after the "big fish." But ATF whistleblowers told CBS News and Congress it was a dangerous practice called "gunwalking," and it put thousands of weapons on the street. Many were used in violent crimes in Mexico.
Terry's killing has touched off a firestorm that crossed international borders and trigger investigations, Congressional hearings, denials and admissions to the upper levels of the Justice Department.
A statement issued today by Terry's family raises the notion that responsible government officials should be prosecuted. "We now believe that if it can be shown that laws were broken, then all those responsible for Fast and Furious should be held criminally liable," reads the statement.
365 days after Terry was shot dead, his family still has few answers. The U.S. government continues to keep many details secret and - several weeks ago - moved to seal the case against Terry's alleged attackers, shielding all details from the public and Terry's bereaved family.
Because Terry's murder continues to be wrapped up in the controversy over Fast and Furious, it makes answers doubly difficult to come by. The U.S. Attorney's office in Arizona would normally prosecute the alleged killers there, in the state where the murder occurred. But Arizona's U.S. Attorney at the time Dennis Burke, is linked to the gunwalking operation that allowed the weapons into the hands of Terry's attackers. So the prosecution has been moved from Arizona to a less controversial venue: California.
Several illegal immigrants who were arrested right after Terry's attack near the murder scene, were summarily released and sent back to Mexico. U.S. officials refused to release their names, normally considered part of the public record. CBS News' Freedom of Information requests about the most basic facts in the case have been processed slowly and, ultimately, produced no meaningful information or were denied in total.
More Fast and Furious coverage:
Agent: I was ordered to let guns "walk" into Mexico
Gunwalking scandal uncovered at ATF
Brian Terry's family members say it's hard for them to understand how a year after their loved one's murder, there's still such a cloak of secrecy. They say Brian was part of an elite unit patrolling the border, on the lookout for illegal bandits preying on other illegal immigrants in a known dangerous crossing area.
Terry Family: Condolences and Gratefulness
Today's statement from Terry's family focuses largely on the missing links in the ATF operation that allowed thousands of guns to be trafficked to Mexican drug cartels: who thought it up, and who thought it was a good idea. "Much to our dismay, no one in ATF or DOJ has come forward to accept responsibility for Fast and Furious," says the statement.
Terry's family members also extend condolences to the families of those in Mexico "affected by the violence... caused by the guns of Operation Fast and Furious." And they thank whistleblowers such as ATF Special Agent John Dodson who stepped forward to tell what they knew after Terry was shot.