Thursday, October 13, 2011

Operation Fast and Furious LXXI

Judicial Watch Sues Department of Justice and ATF for Documents Pertaining to ATF’s “Fast and Furious” Gun-Running Operation

Contact Information:
Press Office 202-646-5172, ext 305

Washington, DC -- October 12, 2011
Judicial Watch, the organization that investigates and fights government corruption, announced today that it filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits on October 11, 2011 against the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to obtain records related to an ATF “gun-running” operation known as Fast and Furious (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:11-cv-01796)), (Judicial Watch v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (No. 1:11-cv-01797)).
Pursuant to a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed on July 13, 2011, Judicial Watch seeks the following the following records from the Department of Justice:
  • All records of communication, contracts and correspondence between ATF Director Kenneth E.
    Melson and any official, officer, or employee of the Office of the Deputy Attorney General (DAG) regarding ATF Phoenix Operation Fast and Furious.
  • All records regarding, concerning, or related to, the October 26, 2009 meeting/telephonic conference call between DAG David Ogden, Assistant Attorney General (AAG) Lanny Breuer, ATF Director Melson, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Michelle Leonhart, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert Mueller, and other DOJ officials regarding the Southwest Border Strategy (including, but not limited to, any agendas, minutes, transcripts, notes, or presentations).
  • All records prepared for, or submitted to, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform regarding, concerning, or related to, ATF Operation Fast and Furious.
Judicial Watch filed a similar FOIA request with ATF on the same day. Neither agency has responded by the statutorily mandated deadline, prompting Judicial Watch’s lawsuit.
Judicial Watch is investigating the genesis of the Fast and Furious operation, which was reportedly discussed during the October 26, 2009, telephonic conference call, as well as information being provided to and/or withheld from Congress.
“We’ve asked for basic information and we haven’t received one document from the Department of Justice or ATF regarding Fast and Furious. And, given their dissembling, Justice and ATF are apparently in cover-up mode. We think it is important that an independent investigation of this scandal take place and our lawsuits are a good way to do it,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.


New York Times Responds to Criticisms About Fast & Furious Coverage

by Mary Chastain

If it’s important to agonize over every detail of a Department of Justice scandal involving supposed illegal firing of 7 US attorneys, you’d think the Times woud want to be on top of a scandal involving guns walking into Mexico into drug cartel hands who murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. The Times keeps proving why news sources like The BIGs, The Daily CallerTownhall, and radio shows like Cam & Company are the new Mainstream Media.
I was pleasantly surprised to see so much contact info the Times website.  I called their regular phone line & also left a message for Mr. Arthur Brisbane, a representative for the readers. After that I emailed everyone I could find including the executive editor , managing editor, publisher and president.
This is the email I sent at 10:01AM CDT.
Hello New York Times,
I have left messages for you at your main number & at Mr. Brisbane’s desk and I wish to receive a response ASAP. A lot of fellow readers, including myself, are outraged at the lack of coverage concerning Fast & Furious and we demand to know why. Have you forgotten Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was brutally murdered by at least one of the guns from this operation? There were 3 guns from this operation at his death scene!!
How come the last article you published was from October 7 about Mr. Holder lashing back at the inquiries from Congress? The day before, October 6, Matthew Boyle at The Daily Caller posted this article about more documents released proving Mr. Holder had to know. We received silence from your paper on that. Since then Congressman Issa has talked subpoenas, guns from Fast & Furious have been found in drug cartel boss houses, Arizona sheriffs are demanding an independent investigation, and just today Mr. Boyle published an article about how an ex-Secret Service agent demands Mr. Holder resigned.
Back in 2007 Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez was caught up in a scandal. That was all about supposed illegal firing of 7 US Attorneys. A search of your website resulted in a lot of articles. Anytime a Democrat called for Mr. Gonzalez to resign you published it. Yet we get nothing about Mr. Holder and fast & Furious.
I’ll ask nicely, but it’s a demand since you guys are the go to news source. Please explain to me why you’re not covering Fast & Furious. A border patrol agent was MURDERED and who knows how many American citizens were murdered by these guns in the USA & how many innocent Mexican citizens were murdered in Mexico.
Mary Chastain
Surprisingly, I received a response from Greg Brock, Senior Editor/Standards about an hour later at 11:07AM CDT.
Dear Ms. Chastain:
I am sorry you have found our coverage on “Fast and Furious” lacking.  We have indeed covered this story, as you pointed out.  But we take every subject on a case-by-case basis and write articles when we think the developments warrant it.  We cannot write a daily story on every issue.  We would need to publish a 5,000-page newspaper to do that.  Every reader has some subject she or he feels passionately about.  One woman is furious with us because she thinks the starvation of 500,000 children in Somalia should be on Page One every day, with a picture.  Another reader who is still seething over the United States having gone to war in Afghanistant and Iraq wants an article on Page One every day — with the death toll displayed prominently. Even if the readers do not thing the issue merits page one, they still send in requests for more coverage on every issue. The requests are endless.
I will send your note along to the editors and reporters who have been covering the “Fast and Furious” story.  But I am confident when they have new information, they will indeed write about it.  After all, that’s the business we are in:  to tell the news.  No one in his right mind in a newsroom would intentionally withhold news. Nor is there any grand scheme to withhold information, as you seem to think.  We don’t have time for such shenanigans — and wouldnt do such a thing anyway.  We make the best decisions we know how — as fallible human beings — and we do it as quickly as possible in a 24/7 news operation.  I am sorry we have so disappointed you with our efforts.
                                                            Best regards,
                                                            Greg Brock
                                                           Senior Editor/Standards

Needless to say, I’m still not satisfied. I responded back about how the Times, specifically, was so eager to report every single development of Mr. Gonzales’s scandal, including this editorial titled “Why This Scandal Matters.” Again, why is the Times NOT giving Fast & Furious the same detailed attention? Congressman Issa said has issued new subpoenas to Mr. Holder & others in the DOJ. The New York Times has yet to report this but had no problem reporting hearings conducted by House Democrats on Mr. Gonzales. For example, check out the New York Times Topic page for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. If you look at the posting dates it appears there is a post almost every single day! If the Gonzalez scandal matters, why doesn’t the Holder scandal matter?

Documents subpoenaed from Atty. Gen. Holder in 'Fast and Furious' probe

The Republican chairman of the House oversight committee contends Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. knew more about the failed ATF gun-tracking operation than he has admitted.

by Lisa Mascaro

A leading House Republican investigating the ATF operation dubbed Fast and Furious subpoenaed documents from Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. on Wednesday, escalating the confrontation over the botched gun-tracing program.Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, issued a far-ranging subpoena seeking all communications between Holder, his deputies and the White House in connection with the now-defunct operation run by the Phoenix field office of theBureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.Issa contends the attorney general knew more about the operation than he has told congressional investigators. Holder strongly denies that.Full coverage: ATF's Fast and Furious scandalFast and Furious, started in 2009, ended in January. ATF agents allowed illegal "straw" buyers to purchase more than 2,000 firearms, expecting to track them to drug cartel leaders in Mexico. But many of the guns vanished, only for some to turn up at crime scenes on both sides of the border. The Mexican government says the weapons have been found at about 170 crime scenes there. And two were found in Arizona where a Border Patrol agent was shot to death."It's time we know the whole truth," Issa said in a statement. "The documents this subpoena demands will provide answers to questions that Justice officials have tried to avoid since this investigation began eight months ago."The top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Elijah E. Cummingsof Maryland, called the 22-point subpoena a "fishing expedition" that seeks tens of thousands of pages of sensitive national security materials beyond the scope of Fast and Furious."Rather than legitimate fact-gathering, this looks more like a political stunt," Cummings said.The Justice Department said it had been providing Issa's committee with documents and information about the operation and would continue to do so."We've made clear from the beginning that the department intends to work with the committee to answer legitimate questions," Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said. "However, this subpoena shows that Chairman Issa is more interested in generating headlines than in real oversight important to the American people."Issa and Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, have been investigating Fast and Furious as GOP lawmakers have intensified criticism of Holder's role. Holder has said he did not know the scope or details of the operation until it became public this year.President Obama defended Holder last week, saying neither he nor his attorney general knew federal authorities were allowing illegal gun sales.Also last week, Holder issued a sternly worded rebuke to allegations that he was misleading Congress. After Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona suggested the administration was an accessory to the crimes that have been committed with the lost guns, Holder said such "irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric" could not go unchecked.

Eric Holder
U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. has been asked to provide documents on the failed "Fast and Furious" operation. (Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images / October 13, 2011)

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