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Issa Calls Holder to Account

How bad does Project Gunrunner get?

by
Patrick Richardson

Bio

May 7, 2011 - 12:00 am
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Some of those weapons were allegedly used by criminals to murder Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata.

An assertion which Holder said he found “offensive”:

The notion that somehow or another that this Justice Department is responsible for those deaths — that assertion is offensive.

As The Daily Caller reports, a combative Issa fired back:

What if it’s accurate, Mr. Attorney General? What am I going to tell Agent Terry’s mother about how he died at the hand of a gun that was videotaped as it was being sold to a straw purchaser fully expecting it to end up in the hands of drug cartels?

What’s offensive is Holder trying to parse his way out of admitting his department screwed up by the numbers. Fox News is now reporting:

An internal memo from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives shows that U.S. officials allowed criminals to buy 1,318 guns worth nearly $1 million, even after they suspected the buyers were working for Mexican drug cartels, and that the agency’s effort to stop the guns had “yielded little or no results.”

The program would have been worth it had they even caught one of the major traffickers, or managed to trace them back to the cartels. As tragic as the deaths of Agents Terry and Zapata were, they would at least have had some meaning. But as Issa asked, even though there are 20 cases which were part of the program going to trial in June,

Isn’t it true that those 20 cases going to trial in June are basically a bunch of meth addicts who were straw buying? You don’t have the kingpins. What you have are the people you already had.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports the Obama administration was trying to curb the sales of firearms to Mexico by putting new restrictions on gun stores in the four states bordering Mexico at the same time that the ATF was asking gun stores to make sales they knew were illegal.

In a bid to curb the flow of guns into Mexico, where drug cartels have waged deadly wars to protect their business, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has sought to tighten reporting requirements in Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and California.

Of course, in Arizona, at least, the dealers were reporting such purchases — and were mightily concerned about who was buying them and where they might be going.

It is beyond comprehension that a program such as this was not personally signed off on by Eric Holder. It strains credulity to believe that a program such as this, which could have a profound effect on U.S.-Mexican relations, did not have the approval of the State Department, at bare minimum, and likely the White House as well.

Holder will also testify in front of Grassley’s committee — where, presumably, he will also face tough questions. It all comes down to this: how high does this go? Who knew about it, and when did they know it? America needs answers.

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Patrick Richardson has been a journalist for almost 15 years and an inveterate geek all his life. He blogs regularly at www.otherwheregazette.com, which aims to be like another SF magazine, just not so serious.
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