As Issa Closes in on FBI Role in Gunwalker, Dems Feign Outrage
As the Gunwalker conspiracy continues to unravel, initial claims that the multi-agency plot was an isolated and localized Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives operation are falling apart.
Following up on comments made this past Sunday, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Charles Grassley sent a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller seeking detailed information in their Fast and Furious investigation. They are particularly focused on the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry on December 14, 2010.
The letter asserts that as many as five firearms may have been in the hands of the suspects, based upon the claim by the captured suspect that he was traveling with four other individuals -- all of whom he says were armed. Neither the search warrant affidavit nor the unsealed indictment stated the total number of weapons recovered after the firefight, a curious omission.
The letter goes on to ask 16 questions. The first three questions cover the ballistics tests run on the weapons recovered, while the next four inquire about the weapons the smugglers may have used in the firefight and how many shots may have been fired from each kind of weapon. The remaining questions are focused on the investigators themselves (specifically the FBI, ATF, and any other "state local, or federal" agencies that may have been present by the time the FBI arrived to the crime scene), the gun trace data, and the total number of suspects involved.
Getting honest answers to these questions is critical, as the FBI seems to be claiming that only two weapons were recovered at the scene. Candid conversations with other law enforcement agents strongly suggest that a third weapon, an SKS tied to an FBI criminal informant, was at the crime scene before disappearing.
The Department of Justice was quick to denounce the letter and the Oversight Committee's quest to reach the bottom of Operation Fast and Furious:
On Monday, the Justice Department responded to Issa’s accusations about a possible third gun saying, "The FBI has made clear that reports of a third gun recovered from the perpetrators at the scene of Agent Terry's murder are false.” They also maintain that Issa’s staff was previously informed of this.
“Unfortunately, this most recent false accusation not only maligns the dedicated agents investigating the murder of Agent Terry, it mischaracterizes evidence in an ongoing case," the Justice Department said in its statement.
Oversight Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD), an Obama administration loyalist, fiercely responded as well:
Frankly, I am shocked that Chairman Issa would continue to spin this conspiracy theory -- that the FBI is hiding a third weapon -- even after his recent allegations proved false. Rather than acknowledging this embarrassing mistake and apologizing for making false accusations about the FBI, Chairman Issa’s letter is an unprecedented attack on the integrity and credibility of law enforcement that could seriously jeopardize the ongoing prosecution.
To put it mildly, Cummings' criticism is duplicitous. The ATF's William Newell boldly lied to the American people when he answered "Hell no!" to inquires on whether guns were walked in Operation Fast and Furious. Instead of being fired, he and his fellow conspirators were promoted "laterally" to desk jobs in Washington, D.C.
The Department of Justice has repeatedly tried to claim that Operation Fast and Furious was a localized operation, when documents prove that numerous Obama administration-appointed officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder himself and the number two man in Justice, Gary Grindler, were briefed on the operation. One document shows Grindler's personal notes scrawled in the margins.