Friday, August 19, 2011

Operation Fast and Furious XLVI

Cornyn: ‘Inconceivable’ to reward architects of ‘Fast and Furious’

“Until Attorney General Holder and Justice Department officials come clean on all alleged gun-walking operations, including a detailed response to allegations of a Texas-based scheme, it is inconceivable to reward those who spearheaded this disastrous operation with cushy desks in Washington.”

Read About It: U.S. Senate

Gun running sting gone wildly wrong

Operation Fast and Furious was so badly conceived, so incompetently executed and so disastrous in its result that nobody in the federal government wants to take responsibility. So, in the way of all scandals, the trouble is in the continuing coverup.

Holder requests Fast and Furious docs from Issa, Grassley for ‘independent’ investigationby Matthew Boyle

New details about Operation Fast and Furious cast doubt on the ability of the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General to conduct an “independent” and fair investigation, congressional Republican investigators say.
The information comes via a letter Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Darrell Issa sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday. In it, they question a request from Holder for a transcript from a meeting they held in secret on July 4th with Ken Melson, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Holder apparently told Issa and Grassley he was requesting the transcript for the DOJ and for the Office of the Inspector General — the entity that’s supposed to be distinct enough from Holder’s office to conduct a fair Operation Fast and Furious investigation.
Holder and other DOJ officials have repeatedly said the DOJ’s Inspector General is conducting its own internal investigation into what went wrong with Fast and Furious. Even so, Holder’s latest request on behalf of the OIG sparks skepticism from investigators in Congress.
“Since the OIG is supposed to be conducting an independent inquiry, it seems odd that the Department would make a document request on behalf of that office,” Grassley and Issa wrote to Holder on Tuesday. “We presume that if the OIG would like to make such a request, it is capable of doing so on its own initiative. However, we have not received any such request from the OIG.”
In their Tuesday letter, Grassley and Issa also ask Holder to provide complete and full answers to all of the questions they sent him on July 22. Issa and Grassley say Holder failed to do so in his most recent response.
They say “perhaps the most troubling reply” Holder gave them was that the ATF did not have detailed information available on 11 instances ATF admits being aware of that Fast and Furious weapons were recovered inside the United States in “connection with violent crimes.” (RELATED: Issa, Democrats, NLRB fight spar over oversight committee document demands)
“The question specifically asked you to ‘describe the date and circumstances of each recovery [in the United States] in detail,’” the top Republican congressional investigators wrote. “However, the reply failed to do so.”
Issa and Grassley say Holder failed to provide an “enumerated response” when they asked him if the Deputy Attorney General’s office or any other DOJ agency was given a briefing paper outlining Fast and Furious’s mission. “Currently, our strategy is to allow the transfer of firearms to continue to take place,” the briefing paper read.
Issa and Grassley also point out that Holder’s response, that unnamed DOJ officials became aware of that briefing paper once the House Oversight Committee began investigating Operation Fast and Furious, didn’t answer their question.
“That may be true and somewhat related to the question, but it falls far short of being responsive,” they wrote. “Whether some unnamed DOJ officials may have learned of the briefing paper during the Congressional investigation in 2011 tells us nothing about which other officials at Department components outside ATF may have received the briefing paper in 2010.”

Christine M. Flowers: Iran-Contra, the Sequel

It was a blockbuster, complete with blonde ingenues (pretty Fawn Hall, the Siren of Shredding), handsome Oliver North (Mel Gibson with medals) and despicable villains (terrorists, Communists and, for his critics, a clueless commander in chief). I'm still fascinated at the way we turned serious foreign-policy decisions into fodder for the afternoon soaps crowd. It was supposed to be a public airing of an important national-security controversy that instead devolved into a platform for partisan theatrics.
It was the warm-up for the Clinton impeachment trial that - perjury notwithstanding - should never have become the sideshow of stained dresses and linguistic acrobatics.
But that's the way things work in D.C. Which, I suppose, is better than a complete and total coverup when something goes wrong. Like what's happening with Operation Fast and Furious.
Haven't heard about it? I'm not surprised, since the media (with the exception of Fox News and some conservative websites) have taken a virtual vow of silence about this meltdown in our increasingly embarrassing Justice Department.
For those not in the know, here's a quick summary:
In October 2009, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' Phoenix field division established a gun-trafficking group that implemented "gunwalking," a euphemism for letting criminal suspects or "straw purchasers" walk away with illegally purchased guns. According to a report by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, gunwalking was ostensibly designed to identify "members of a trafficking network and build a large, complex conspiracy case."
The feds were trying to stop the flow of illegal weapons by essentially using a combination of "tracking" and "entrapment." (Coming from an administration that blames the National Rifle Association for making it easier for criminals to obtain weapons, that's a bit ironic.)
Without evidence of Fast and Furious being effective (and despite questions about its legality), the program continued until Dec. 14, 2010, when Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered near the Arizona-Mexico border by members of a Mexican drug cartel. Four suspects were arrested and, a day later, ATF agents confirmed that weapons purchased as a result of Fast and Furious were found at the murder scene.
As a result of Terry's murder, people began to talk. Some of them apparently contacted Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, who initiated an investigation.
In response to questions from Grassley, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote a letter in which he denied that the Justice Department had any knowledge that weapons were being "gunwalked" into Mexico for use by the drug cartels: "the allegation . . . that ATF 'sanctioned' or otherwise 'knowingly' allowed the sale of assault weapons to straw purchasers and who then transported them to Mexico is false."
Ten days later, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, Jaime Zapata, was murdered in Mexico. There was strong evidence that the gun used to kill Zapata also had fallen into the hands of drug dealers through "gunwalking."
A month later, at a hearing of a Senate appropriations subcommittee, Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison asked Attorney General Eric Holder about the program. Holder replied: "I've . . . made clear to people in the department that letting guns walk - I guess that's the term that the people use - that letting guns walk is not something that is acceptable."
Shortly thereafter, the Mexican attorney general's office issued a statement confirming that it was aware that Justice had a program essentially letting smugglers purchase guns while under U.S. surveillance.
Feeling the heat, President Obama went on Spanish-language TV and said, "Well, first of all, I did not authorize it . . . Eric Holder did not authorize it."
Nice of him to try to help a friend. But this is unacceptable from our commander in chief, and his attorney general. How could there be such a sensitive operation going on (guns to drug cartels, just like guns to Iran) without these two men knowing about it - especially the attorney general?
I guess we'll just have to wait for the next installment of "As the Guns Walk" to find out if any laws
were broken, or lies told.

Unscrambling ATF supervisor’s omelet shows troubling timeline

by David Codrea

“In an April 13, 2010 email, [an] unnamed gun shop owner told ATF he was worried how he'd be viewed if the guns he sold ended up in the wrong hands,” Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News reported months back.
The response?
ATF Supervisor [David] Voth tried to reassure the cooperating gun shop owner. "I understand that the frequency with which some individuals under investigation by our office have been purchasing firearms from your business has caused concerns for you... However, if helps put you at east we (ATF) are continually monitoring these suspects using a variety of investigative techniques which I cannot go into [in] detail."
Voth, of course, is the supervisor who infamously advised those under his command:
"If you are going to make an omelet, you need to scramble some eggs."

The CBS report was based on a letter Sen. Chuck Grassley had written Attorney General Eric Holder.  Concerning Voth’s reply to the nervous gun dealer, Grassley flat-out stated:
As we now know, those assurances proved to be untrue.
Further corroboration for the untruth of Voth’s assurances can be gleaned from another key piece of information. From The Los Angeles Times:
In March 2010, the No. 2 man at the ATF was deeply worried. His agents had lost track of hundreds of firearms. Some of the guns, supposed to have been tracked to Mexican drug cartels, were lost right after they cleared the gun stores.
In March they knew things were out of control. And Voth was giving official assurances everything was hunky-dory in April.
No wonder DOJ brass wants to keep this character and his accomplices far from scrutiny and close to the Chief Counsel’s office.

No comments:

Post a Comment