Monday, October 3, 2011

Operation Fast and Furious LXV

Pamela Geller: "This makes Nixon and Watergate look like a prank"
by Anthony Martin

Nationally-known Fox News contributor, columnist, and blogger Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs has picked up the story of the Gunwalker scandal, stating today on her blog, "This makes Nixon and Watergate look like a prank."
Geller's comments came in response to the Obama Administration's release of certain selected records last evening, indicating numerous contacts between the former Agent-in-Charge of the ATF Phoenix Field Division and the White House.
The documents show that contrary to previous White House statements claiming that no one in the Executive Branch knew anything about the illegal scheme, also known as 'Operation Fast and Furious,' the White House was actually in constant contact with the alleged perpetrators of the scandal in the Phoenix Field Office.

In addition, Politico is reporting that although the White House released some of the documents, others are being deliberately withheld:

...the chief counsel to President Barack Obama, Kathryn Ruemmler, indicated that the White House was withholding an unspecified number of internal e-mails exchanged among three National Security Staff aides.

A copy of a letter written by Counsel to the President, Kathryn H. Ruemmler, to Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Congressman Darrell Issa, R-California, denying the request for the other documents due to 'confidentiality,' can be viewed here. The letter also claims that none of the released documents show that the White House had any knowledge that the ATF had 'allowed the guns to walk' into Mexico, although it now admits that it knew of the operation.

That claim is disputed by investigative citizen journalist Mike Vanderboegh, who first broke the Gunwalker story:

The White House now admits, "Yeah, we knew about it. Yeah, we talked about it. Yeah, we briefed our superiors about it. But we didn't KNOW guns were being walked." Of course, we cannot know that until we get all the internal emails, now can we?

I have only one other comment on this ridiculous "defense": 

When Hitler ordered the blitzkrieg on Poland, he didn't ask his generals what tactics they were going to use.

Further, Pamela Geller asserts that based upon the information already disclosed, there is enough to justify a special prosecutor and initiate impeachment hearings in the House. She also delivers this stinging indictment of the Republican Party establishment:

This is not a new story. This is just the latest. Where are the Congressional hearings on this and the ongoing Solyndra solar scandal, both criminal? Why is there no call for a special prosecutor and impeachment? We don't need any more revelations. This makes Nixon and Watergate look like a prank. The Republican party, timid and weak, has failed us.

However, Issa has indicated that there is movement in the Senate among the Democratic leadership to begin hearings on Gunwalker jointly with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Senate Judiciary Committee.

JOSE DE LA ISLA: 'Fast and Furious' needs full investigation

by Jose de la Isla

 — MEXICO CITY — The inquiry into "Fast and Furious," the horrendously terrible U.S.-sponsored, anti-drug operation that spun out of control, could become all about political spin if the inquiry stays on the partisan track.
"Fast and Furious" was the name given to an ill-conceived operation by Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives operatives to make guns available to Mexican organized crime. That way, the feds thought, they could find out who was using stooges to do their gun-running.
But the agency allegedly let questionable buys from legitimate gun dealers slip by and then lost control of the weapons identification and tracking.
The operation is believed to have allowed Sinaloa Cartel members to buy more than 1,900 weapons with about $1.25 million over about 15 months until January. ATF is said to have recovered only 10 percent of the weapons.
Mexican authorities have reacted in furious disbelief. "To date, United States authorities has not informed us about the failed operation, nor apologized for it," Marisela Morales, who heads the Mexican federal prosecutors' agency, told the Los Angeles Times. Mexico is owed an explanation, she said.
"In no way have we permitted it," she added, "because that would be an attack on the security of Mexicans."
The head of ATF operations in Mexico, Carlos Canino, testified at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in July that "at no time ever did I know that ATF agents were following known (or) suspected gun traffickers." So it seems ATF wasn't even telling its own agents.
A further tragedy could be in the making if the ongoing inquiry fails to ask hard questions. One of them is how many people in both the United States and Mexico have been killed, injured and in other ways harmed as a consequence of "Fast and Furious." This is a delicate matter because of consequent criminal and civil liabilities on both sides of the border.
There is no place for glee, making special-interest points or hyperbole in something this serious. It started looking like that when National Rifle Association President Wayne LaPierre, in a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, accused U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder of stonewalling.
"This is the biggest cover-up since Watergate," he said. LaPierre has called for an independent prosecutor.
The inquiry could take a greater partisan cast now that the investigating House committee has requested documents and notes from White House staffers Kevin Reilly, Dan Restrepo and Greg Gatjanis.
On Sept. 23, Lamar Smith of Texas, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, called for a new inquiry into any knowledge Holder might have had of the ill-conceived plan. A resignation at ATF and recent personnel changes, Smith told Holder in a letter, looks like trying to "pin this scandal on a few individuals and expect it to be forgotten."
An in-depth, connect-the-dots inquiry into "Fast and Furious" is needed, asking not only embarrassing bureaucratic questions but the transnational ones about how much mayhem, injury and death has taken place because of the operation. Maybe a U.S.-Mexico inter-parliamentary inquest (televised live, like Watergate) might be the answer.
It would help LaPierre to remember, if he has forgotten, that Watergate started as a simple break-in investigation. The cover-up was what sent a president packing.

Furiously unraveling

Gun Scandal Still Growing
by Michael A. Walsh

The joke goes that anything named “Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms” ought to be a convenience store instead of an arm of the federal government, but what’s going on in Washington these days with the embattled agency is no laughing matter.
Hardly a week passes now without some revelation about the Obama administration’s complicity in what may yet turn out to be one of the worst and most lethal scandals in American history: Operation Fast and Furious.
In a classic Friday document dump -- a sure sign of an administration with something to hide -- the feds released to congressional investigators a month’s worth of e-mail correspondence in the summer of 2010 between Bill Newell, then head ATF agent in Phoenix, and his friend Kevin O’Reilly, a former White House national-security staffer for North American affairs.
What do you know? Among the e-mails was a photograph of a powerful Barrett .50-caliber rifle that had been illegally purchased in Tucson and recovered in Sonora, Mexico, raising the possibility of a second “gunwalking” program, this one called “Wide Receiver.”
Like Fast and Furious, the ATF-supervised scheme that saw thousands of weapons “walk” across the Mexican border for reasons no one in the Justice Department has yet satisfactorily explained, Wide Receiver was apparently a joint operation that also included the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the IRS and the US Attorney’s office.
It’s likely there have been others, in such states as Florida and Indiana.
While the back-channel e-mails don’t explicitly discuss Fast and Furious, they do show the White House’s intense interest in the ATF’s and other federal agencies’ activities in Arizona. In one message, O’Reilly asks Newell whether he can share some information with other officials. “Sure, just don’t want ATF HQ to find out, especially since this is what they should be doing (briefing you)!” comes the reply.
Despite whistle-blower testimony, Newell denies that his agents deliberately facilitated weapons transfers to Mexican drug lords, although he recently admitted in a supplemental statement to Rep. Darrell Issa’s House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight that his July testimony “lacked clarity.”
We’ve also just learned from documents that guns linked to Fast and Furious turned up in El Paso last year -- the first time such weapons have surfaced outside Arizona, where the guns were “released.” A convicted drug felon was allowed to buy 40 AK-47-type rifles, which eventually wound up in Texas.
It’s time for politicians on both sides of the aisle to demand answers from Justice and the White House. Issa and his colleague in the Senate, Chuck Grassley, have been doing yeoman’s work, but there’s only so much they can do without the wind at their backs.
A White House under investigation can delay, slow-walk documents, redact them in the name of national or operational security, and simply refuse to make witnesses available to investigators -- all of which the administration has done. Issa and Grassley had asked to interview O’Reilly before the end September, but the White House says he’s on assignment in the Mideast and thus unavailable.
Short of a special prosecutor -- a move floated by Issa but one that the Justice Department, which is leading its own probe, would likely block -- the only hope we have that the truth will come out is public pressure.
So where are the GOP candidates? Where is a critical mass of journalists and commentators, who should be asking sharp, tough, pertinent questions in the national interest?
By now, it’s clear that the US government is in Fast and Furious up to its ears -- with two, possibly three dead agents and more than 200 dead Mexicans to show for an operation that never had the slightest chance of success.
The only real question is: Why?

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