In January of this year, nobody was paying attention when two lone reporters first broke the story of the Gunwalker scandal and began a series of disclosures that would eventually capture the attention of several mainstream news outlets. But ATF officials paid close attention. An internal ATF email from January 20 indicates that the agency feared early reports of the scandal.
National Gun Rights Examiner David Codrea had written an open letter on January 19, 2011 to the Senate Judiciary Committee informing them of the scandal. Codrea's intent was to alert the committee to the whistleblower status of ATF agents who had placed themselves in danger by disclosing the damaging information, and to urge the committee to arrange for their protection and launch a full investigation into their allegations.
The very next day on January 20, ATF Associate Chief Counsel Barry Orlo sent an internal email to the top management of the agency, informing them of Codrea's open letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee. A copy of the email can be found here.