In the tapes, Howard seems arrogant. Howard’s lawyer claims this was a strategy to cover his own backside:
“He became very suspicious and in his own defense would tape key conversations with Ms. MacAllister and try to get her to make admissions about the truth of the matter,” said Dallas attorney Larry Gaydos. “Andre was trying to get her to admit that indeed they let guns go to Mexico.”
This exchange is particularly damning, because one would expect MacAllister to go ballistic upon hearing someone suggest the death of a fellow federal law enforcement agent — the result of an operation in which she was intimately involved — was “collateral damage.” That she did not speaks to a problem within ATF.
It would appear, however, that things are finally beginning to break loose with this case.
The tapes were apparently released to the U.S. Attorney’s office by Justice Department Inspector General Cynthia Schnedar, a move which sent the two main investigators in the case — Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Chuck Grassley, (R-IA), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee — around the metaphorical bend:
“Each of these disclosures undermines our ability to assess the candor of witnesses in our investigation and thus obstructs it,” they wrote in a letter dated Tuesday. “Moreover, your decision to immediately disclose the recordings to those you are investigating creates at least the appearance, if not more, that your inquiry is not sufficiently objective and independent.
“It appears that you did not consider the significant harm that providing these recordings to the very individuals under investigation could cause to either our inquiry or your own. You did not consult with us about the recordings even though the congressional inquiry and reactions to it are discussed at length.”
Issa complained in a conference call that “there is ongoing cover-up of a pattern of wrongdoing that can’t be explained by any ordinary people [who tried] to do the right thing but made a mistake.”
The Obama administration has been slow to hand over documents to Issa’s committee, and when they have, they’ve been heavily redacted.
“Even though I have subpoena ability, I don’t have the ability to lock people up for contempt until they fess up and give us what we want,” Issa said.
A special prosecutor would have such powers, and would be independent of the government agencies that were responsible for creating and attempting to cover up details of the program.
Indeed, as more details of this case come to light, the deeper and darker it seems to get. An independent prosecutor at this point would seem to be the only way to find out just how deep of a hole DOJ and ATF have dug, and who is in it.