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CBS's Sharyl Attkisson Spotlights New Obama Admin. Scandal: Grenade Running

On Thursday's CBS This Morning, Sharyl Attkisson revealed a new debacle involving the smuggling of weapons into Mexico on the Obama administration's watch. Attkisson pointed out how "a grenade used in the murders of three Mexican police officers last week has been linked to an alleged arms trafficker that U.S. officials left on the street to operate long after they had evidence of his crimes."

The correspondent, whose reporting on the Fast and Furious gunrunning scandal won CBS Evening News an Edward R. Murrow Award in 2012, also underlined that this blundered operation was "overseen by the same U.S. attorney and ATF office in Arizona that let suspects traffic thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels in the case 'Fast and Furious'". [MP3 audio available here; video below]

Anchor Norah O'Donnell summarized the case in her introduction for Attkisson's report: "Federal investigators are looking at a deadly drug cartel shootout in Mexico. It's apparently connected to an American whom the Justice Department tracked for years without arresting." The journalist then detailed the circumstances of the firefight, and how the ATF linked one of the grenades used in the incident to the American weapons smuggler, despite an official denial:

SHARYL ATTKISSON: Authorities say five members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel used at least nine firearms and ten hand grenades against Mexican police. Three policemen were killed, along with four cartel members. CBS News has learned that one of the grenades has been linked to Jean Baptiste Kingery, a suspected grenade trafficker that U.S. officials had under surveillance for years, but didn't arrest...Wednesday, ATF told us it has 'no information' about the connection. But we've obtained this ATF significant information report, dated Tuesday, stating evidence shows one grenade was a 'Kingery grenade'.

Attkisson continued with the Justice Department's investigation into the ATF office's mishandling of the Kingery investigation: "ATF case files show the agency learned back in 2009 that Kingery was dealing in grenades. They developed a secret plan to let him smuggle parts to Mexico, and follow him to his factory. Some ATF agents objected – worried that Kingery would disappear once he crossed the border into Mexico, and that's exactly what happened."

Near the end of the segment, the CBS correspondent underscored the impact that this latest scandal has had south of the Rio Grande: "One American official familiar with the investigation into the possible misconduct of U.S. officials for letting Kingery go says the murders of the Mexican police last week is just the latest example of the carnage that continues from U.S. agents allowing guns and grenades to cross the border."

Earlier in 2013, Attkisson reported that weapons from the Fast and Furious scandal are still turning up after suspected drug cartel shootings in Mexico. One wonders how many grenades made it across the border before Kingery was finally arrested by Mexican law enforcement officials in 2011.

The full transcript of Sharyl Attkisson's report from Thursday's CBS This Morning:

NORAH O'DONNELL: This morning, federal investigators are looking at a deadly drug cartel shootout in Mexico. It's apparently connected to an American whom the Justice Department tracked for years without arresting.

Sharyl Attkisson broke the story of a similar case known as 'Fast and Furious'. She's in Washington with a story you'll see only on 'CBS This Morning'. Sharyl, good morning.

SHARYL ATTKISSON: Good morning, Norah. Officials from Mexico and the U.S. aren't talking about this link publicly, but sources say they're very concerned behind the scenes. A grenade used in the murders of three Mexican police officers last week has been linked to an alleged arms trafficker that U.S. officials left on the street to operate long after they had evidence of his crimes.

[CBS News Graphic: "Possible U.S. Link To Shootout: Investigating Ties To Alleged Arms Trafficker"]

ATTKISSON (voice-over): The violent gun battle took place last week near Guadalajara (clip of YouTube.com video of shootout) – and was captured on video by area residents. Authorities say five members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel used at least nine firearms and ten hand grenades against Mexican police. Three policemen were killed, along with four cartel members.

CBS News has learned that one of the grenades has been linked to Jean Baptiste Kingery, a suspected grenade trafficker that U.S. officials had under surveillance for years, but didn't arrest, as he allegedly moved lethal weapons across the border. Wednesday, ATF told us it has 'no information' about the connection. But we've obtained this ATF significant information report, dated Tuesday, stating evidence shows one grenade was a 'Kingery grenade'.

The Justice Department inspector general is already investigating the conduct of federal officials in the Kingery case, which was overseen by the same U.S. attorney and ATF office in Arizona that let suspects traffic thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels in the case 'Fast and Furious'. ATF case files show the agency learned back in 2009 that Kingery was dealing in grenades. They developed a secret plan to let him smuggle parts to Mexico, and follow him to his factory. Some ATF agents objected – worried that Kingery would disappear once he crossed the border into Mexico, and that's exactly what happened.

Kingery resurfaced in 2010, trying to smuggle this frightening stash into Mexico, but was again let go, when prosecutors allegedly said they couldn't build a good case. In 2011, Mexican authorities finally raided Kingery's factory and arrested him. He allegedly confessed to teaching cartel members how to build grenades and convert semi-automatic guns to automatic weapons.

ATTKISSON (on-camera): One American official familiar with the investigation into the possible misconduct of U.S. officials for letting Kingery go says the murders of the Mexican police last week is just the latest example of the carnage that continues from U.S. agents allowing guns and grenades to cross the border. And he says both governments are trying to keep the rising death toll quiet. Charlie and Norah?

CHARLIE ROSE: Sharyl, thanks.

— Matthew Balan is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Matthew Balan on Twitter.