To date, Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley have led the investigation of Operation Fast and Furious: a multi-agency scheme that allowed known straw purchasers to buy an estimated 2,000 firearms and to smuggle them into Mexico, into the hands of the narco-terrorists of Mexican cartels. An estimated 150 Mexican police officers and soldiers have been killed by the weapons.
Issa and Grassley have been operating in a near vacuum, with very little coverage from the media. This is stunning considering the scope of the plot, which seems to have originated at the highest levels of government. But on Tuesday, two of the largest and most influential news organizations finally saw fit to address the matter head-on.
By targeting the messenger.
The Washington Post has printed a character assassination piece targeting Issa which PJM sources confirm had been shopped around to other news outlets and blogs by the Obama administration since the House Oversight Committee hearings last week.
The administration-authored Post story attempts to claim that Rep. Issa, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform which issued the damning report last week about Gunwalker, had been briefed about the program a year ago and had no objections to it at that time.
The evidence for this claim? There isn’t any.
According to a well-placed source, the hit piece the Post ran had been shopped by the administration to several other news organizations. All passed on it, since there was no credible attribution for the story.
Only the Washington Post would run it. Additionally, an article written last week in the Wall Street Journal had already challenged this narrative:
An April 2010 email from an ATF agent in Mexico City to a bureau official, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, discussed plans to provide a classified briefing to Mr. Issa’s own committee about several cases, including Fast and Furious. A spokesman for Mr. Issa said that the congressman wasn’t briefed on specifics of the operation and that staffers who attended the briefing don’t recall the operation being mentioned.
High-level “Cliff’s Notes” briefings of overall programs are often the content of routine briefings, but project-level details — such as the walking of guns to Mexican cartels — would not have been in a typical briefing, if specific projects were mentioned at all.
Contacted for their reaction to this Post hit piece op-ed by PJM, Issa’s staff released the following statement:
For six months, Justice Department officials including Attorney General Holder have denied knowledge that gunwalking in Operation Fast and Furious took place. With the truth now beginning to come out, opponents of this investigation are incredulously trying to assert that Obama administration political appointees at the Justice Department were ignorant — yet Congress was in the know on the details of Operation Fast and Furious.
The April 2010 ATF briefing on weapons smuggling by criminal cartels included a staff member of the Democratic staff of the Oversight Committee who has been working for Ranking Member Cummings on the Fast and Furious investigation. This Democratic staff member has never indicated to Republican staff that he had any prior awareness of the gunwalking that took place in Operation Fast and Furious and the recollections of Republican staff who attended this briefing have already been reported in the Wall Street Journal. This irresponsible and false accusation is indicative of a Justice Department bereft of leadership and rattled by the revelations of its own misconduct.