The Department of Justice released hundreds of documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious late Friday afternoon, including a series of emails that strongly suggests that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder perjured himself in congressional testimony.
The crucial email exchange began at 2:31 a.m. on December 15, 2010, with a message from an unidentified DOJ source to “OIOC SIT” and “SITROOM”:
On December 14, 2010, BORTAC agent working in the Nogales, AZ AOR was shot. The agent was conducting Border Patrol Operations 18 miles north of the International boundary when he encountered [redacted] unidentified subjects. Shots were exchanged resulting in the agent being shot. At this time, the agent is being transported to an area where he can be airlifted to an emergency medical center. [Redacted].
Updates to follow.
At 3:31 a.m., an email was issued from someone in “HQ” to U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke:
Our agent has passed away.
At 9:09 a.m., Burke gave a one word reply: “Horrible.” At 9:41 a.m., Burke issued an email to Holder’s Deputy Chief of Staff Monty Wilkinson: “Not good.” The shooting had occurred “18 miles w/in” the U.S. border. At 10:04 a.m., Wilkinson responded to Burke:
I’ve alerted the AG, the acting DAG, Lisa, etc.
Late that afternoon, Burke received an email saying two guns recovered at the scene were tied to an “on-going Phoenix ATF inv[estigation]” and informing him he would be getting a call from ATF’s Bill Newell. Burke forwarded the information that the guns recovered at the scene of Agent Terry’s death were AK-47s purchased at a Phoenix gun store as part of “the investigation we were going to talk about.”
Wilkinson, Holder’s deputy chief of staff, informs Burke that he would “call tomorrow,”December 16, to discuss the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent apparently murdered with the very guns the Department of Justice “walked” to Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel.
The email exchange strongly suggests that Wilkinson was briefed on Operation Fast and Furious, and how the weapons supplied by our government ended up in the hands of the FBI informant-led rip crew that engaged the BORTAC team in Peck Canyon, killing Brian Terry.
It is reasonable to assume that December 16 or 17, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was briefed by his deputy chief of staff that Terry was killed with a walked gun from Operation Fast and Furious. Considering the potential damage the brewing scandal could cause, Wilkinson would have been grossly negligent if he did not make informing the attorney general a priority.
Holder testifies in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee later this week.
In testimony in front of Congress on May 3, 2011, Holder insisted he’d only heard of Operation Fast and Furious “a few weeks” before he testified; a story he later change to “a few months.” These emails strongly suggest that Holder was aware of Operation Fast and Furious within 48 hours of Brian Terry’s death, if he did not know already about the operation well before then from the memos he began receiving in July of 2010, six months before the firefight that ended Agent Terry’s life.
Holder’s expected appearance before the House Oversight Committee on Thursday, February 2, is further complicated by the actions of Patrick Cunningham, the chief of the Phoenix office’s criminal division within the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona. Cunningham invoked his Fifth Amendment rights in an effort to avoid testifying in front of the Oversight Committee — you can only invoke the Fifth to avoid self-incrimination. The invocation makes it even less plausible for Holder to claim that DOJ was acting lawfully with the Operation. Cunningham resigned from the U.S. Attorney’s Office on Friday, January 27.
Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa reserved the right to call Cunningham before the committee, and also indicated that he has informed Holder that he will seek a new witness to testify, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Morrissey. Morrissey directly reported to Cunningham.
Previously, the Department of Justice had refused to allow Morrissey or Assistant U.S. Attorney Emory Hurley (who reported to Morrissey) to testify.
Oversight’s renewed focus on the staff of the U.S. Attorney for Arizona’s office indicates that these officials may be the “weak links” in the cover-up. Oversight will apparently continue to focus on Cunningham, Morrissey, and Hurley, even as they grill Holder later this week.
Their former boss, Dennis Burke, is also undergoing renewed scrutiny. Burke’s 23-year career as the architect of anti-gun legislation lends credence to theories that Operation Fast and Furious and other alleged gun-walking operations were imposed by the Obama administration to help support the 90 percent lie. The 90 percent lie was a manipulation of gun trace data restated on numerous occasions by President Obama, Attorney General Holder, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and other administration officials as they argued for more restrictions on gun sales. The claims seem particularly vicious and deceptive at this time, as we now know that the ATF was forcing gun dealers to supply cartel straw purchases with weapons.
Attorney General Holder’s stated intent to reimpose the “assault weapon ban” Burke authored during the Clinton presidency makes the connection between Burke’s past, the gun-walking plot, and Holder’s hopes of reinstating the ban even more suspect.