Thursday, September 29, 2011

Operation Fast and Furious LXIV

Obama evades ‘Fast and Furious’ questions from Latino media
by Matthew Boyle

During a White House roundtable with three Spanish-language media outlets on Wednesday, President Barack Obama skated around questions about Operation Fast and Furious.
“We’re working very hard to have a much more effective interdiction effort … we are checking southbound transit … to capture illegal guns, illegal cash transfers to cartels,” he said at the morning event with representatives from Yahoo!, MSN Latino, and AOL Latino/Huffington Post Latino Voices. “It is something we’ve been building … it’s not yet finished, and there’s more work to do,” he said.
Conservative Action Fund treasurer Shaun McCutcheon told The Daily Caller that Obama’s inability to answer basic questions about Operation Fast and Furious suggests the administration is covering up even more about the controversial program.
“The more that comes out about this Fast and Furious scandal, the more we realize that there are very real dangers in a government that is too big to monitor itself,” McCutcheon said in an email. “The Obama administration refuses to take responsibility for the deaths of Americans and Mexicans alike under their watch because of their program.”
Obama blamed budget problems, in part, for what some see as ATF’s incompetence. “Part of the problem is budgetary [and] … we are going to have to figure out ways to operate smarter and more efficiently in investigations without a huge expansion of resources  because those resources are aren’t there.”
No reporters at the roundtable pressed Obama further on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives program. Operation Fast and Furious was an Obama administration program in which ATF agents facilitated the sale of firearms to Mexican drug cartels via “straw purchasers” who could legally purchases guns in the United States, but were doing so with the intention of trafficking them into Mexico.
House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley have pursued a congressional investigation into the ATF operation over the past several months, and that has led to at least a few high-ranking Obama administration resignations. Their investigations have also revealed that White House officials were aware of Fast and Furious and the ATF tactics the program employed.
Conservative groups are unlikely to let this scandal die down without greater accountability.
“This Fast and Furious scandal reminds us that cronyism is murderous and its politics are dangerous,” Ali Akbar, a political consultant for the conservative Vice and Victory told TheDC. “I’m talking with other conservative groups and we’re not letting this go. We applaud Chairman Issa for pursuing this national tragedy that looks like it trickles all the way up to the top.”

"Gunwalker" allegation: ATF target was FBI informant

by Sharyl Attkisson

Confidential sources have told Congressional investigators that a main target ATF was trying to identify in Fast and Furious was actually a DEA confidential in
formant working with the FBI.
That twist is just part of the new information included in a letter from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) addressed directly to Attorney General Eric Holder, who has indicated he neither knew of nor approved of the "gunwalking" operation that allegedly allowed thousands of weapons to be sold to suspected traffickers for Mexican drug cartels.
According to Grassley and Issa, if the DEA and FBI had shared information with ATF, "then Operation Fast and Furious may have ended as many as ten months sooner than it did. This would have prevented hundreds of assault-type weapons from being illegally straw purchased on behalf of Mexican drug cartels."
The letter outlines an amazing alleged failure of DEA and FBI to share crucial investigative information with ATF.
It says while ATF was trying to identify the unnamed financier behind a gun trafficking ring leader named Manuel Celis-Acosta, the DEA and FBI already knew who the financier was - and had in fact turned him into a confidential informant. Yet, the letter states, the financier was allowed to continue to purchase weapons from Acosta over the course of a year, without ATF ever knowing that the man they were seeking to identify... was a government informant. 
The letter also states that prior to becoming a confidential informant, the financier may have used $3,500 in taxpayer money, "official law enforcement funds," to finance weapons trafficking. He allegedly received the money - not knowing it came from the U.S. government -- by selling narcotics to another government confidential informant.
The Justice Department had no immediate comment.
Senate Judiciary Committee staffer corroborates ATF gunwalking purchases
by David Codrea

As a follow up to a special joint exclusive report on a letter implicating the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives committing straw purchases for “Project Gunwalker,” this correspondent on Monday approached media staffers working for Rep. Darrell Issa and the House Oversight Committee on Government Reform and Sen. Chuck Grassley on the Senate Judiciary Committee, with the following email:
Good morning all.
In case you haven't seen the latest reports Mike Vanderboegh and I have filed, or if you have and are digesting them, please note:

Mike and I would appreciate whatever for-the-record comments on this development you could obtain for us--we'd prefer sourced but we can forgo individual attribution if the statement is conditional on that.
Here is the reply from the Judiciary Committee media spokesperson:
In a March 3 letter to Attorney General Holder and Acting ATF Director Melson, Senator Grassley released Reports of Investigation (Attachment 1 to the letter linked below) in relation to the same case to which Mr. Voth’s letter pertains.  There is more detailed information about this non-Fast and Furious case in those previously released ROIs than in Mr. Voth’s letter.  The Voth letter was not obtained until later and merely corroborates the information already in the ROIs.
The relevant report from Attachment 1 of the Grassley letter is presented in this column’s sidebar slideshow.  It demonstrates an undercover agent (per the letter referenced in the Gun Rights Examiner/Sipsey Street Irregulars joint report, whistleblower John Dodson) utilizing Agent Cashier Funds to conduct the purchases.
This clarification is important, as some outlets are calling these reports false based on a statement made by Rep. Paul Gosar at a Tucson, AZ townhall meeting and repeated on NRA's Cam and Company (see at around 19:15 in  sidebar media player).  Evidently the particular case for which Agent Dodson conducted these purchases was a different operation than “Fast and Furious,” albeit occurring in the same time period, the same field division and with the same personnel, and presumably, the confusion arose by characterizing it as part of "Fast and Furious.".
Also see:
  • A Journalist’s Guide to ‘Project Gunwalker' Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart FourPart Five and Part Six for a complete list with links of independent investigative reporting and commentary done to date by Sipsey Street Irregulars and Gun Rights Examiner.
Note to newcomers to this story: “Project Gunrunner” is the name ATF assigned to its Southwest Border Initiative to interdict gun smuggling to Mexico. “Project Gunwalker” is the name I assigned to the scandal after allegations by agents that monitored guns were allowed to fall into criminal hands on both sides of the border through a surveillance process termed “walking” surfaced.

A 'Furious' revelation

Feds sold guns to drug gangs

by Michael A. Walsh

This just might be the smoking gun we’ve been waiting for to break the festering “Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal wide open: the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives apparently ordered one of its own agents to purchase firearms with taxpayer money, and sell them directly to a Mexican drug cartel.
Let that sink in: After months of pretending that “Fast and Furious” was a botched surveillance operation of illegal gun-running spearheaded by the ATF and the US attorney’s office in Phoenix, it turns out that the government itself was selling guns to the bad guys.
Agent John Dodson was ordered to buy four Draco pistols for cash and even got a letter from his supervisor, David Voth, authorizing a federally licensed gun dealer to sell him the guns without bothering about the necessary paperwork.
“Please accept this letter in lieu of completing an ATF Form 4473 for the purchase of four (4) CAI, Model Draco, 7.62x39 mm pistols, by Special Agent John Dodson,” read the June 1, 2010, letter. “These aforementioned pistols will be used by Special Agent Dodson in furtherance of performance of his official duties.”
On orders, Dodson then sold the guns to known criminals, who first stashed them away and then -- deliberately unhindered by the ATF or any other agency -- whisked them off to Mexico.
People were killed with Fast and Furious weapons, including at least two American agents and hundreds of Mexicans. And the taxpayers picked up the bill.
So where’s the outrage?
There’snonefrom the feds. Attorney General Eric Holder has consistently stonewalled Rep. Darrell Issa, Sen. Chuck Grassley and other congressional investigators.
In a constantly evolving set of lies, Holder has denied knowing anything about Fast and Furious while at the same time withholding documents from the House and Senate committees looking into the mess while muzzling some witnesses and transferring others.
Justice calls the allegations about Dodson’s operation “false.” But Grassley says that’s “a lie,” as he told Greta van Susteren the other day. “The ATF ordered this ATF agent to purchase these guns and in turn sell them, and supposedly track them,” he said. “But he was a lone wolf in the operation -- they wouldn’t give him any help for 24-hour surveillance.”
So now the wheels have come off the official explanation for Fast and Furious. Of course, that explanation never made much sense in the first place.
For one thing, the ATF had no authority to track the guns once they were in Mexico; for another, nobody bothered to inform the Mexicans of this intrusion on their national sovereignty.
Further, we now know that a host of federal agencies (including the ATF, the FBI and IRS, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration and, very probably, top officials at the Department of Homeland Security) were all in the loop at various levels, as was the White House.
So calling “Fast and Furious” a cockamamie operation gone wrong just isn’t going to cut it anymore.
There are two possible explanations. The first is that the anti-gun Obama administration deliberately wanted American guns planted in Mexico in order to demonize American firearms dealers and gun owners. The operation was manufacturing “evidence” for the president’s false claim that we’re to blame for the appalling levels of Mexican drug-war violence.
If this is true, then Holder & Co. have got to go -- and the trail needs to be followed no matter where it leads. For the federal government to seek to frame its own citizens is unconscionable.
A second notion is that the CIA was behind the whole thing, which accounts for all the desperate wagon-circling. Under this theory, the Agency feared the los Zetas drug cartel was becoming too powerful and might even mount a coup against the Mexican government. So some 2,000 weapons costing more than $1.25 million were deliberately channeled to the rival Sinaloa cartel, which operates along the American border, to keep the Zetas in check.
Of course, there’s a third explanation -- that both scenarios are true, and that those in charge of Fast and Furious saw an opportunity to shoot two birds with one Romanian-made AK Draco pistol.
Time for a special prosecutor, who’s both fast and furious.

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