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.
The FBI, DEA and Justice Department have all attempted to stonewall the Oversight Committee investigation, and have refused to answer direct questions from other congressional committees and individual congressmen and senators as well.
With allegations of gun-walking operations in 10 cities in five states, the congressional reaction of a calm investigation is, if anything, subdued. As noted in a previous article, if we use Operation Fast and Furious as a baseline and assume that the other gunwalking operations were roughly as productive, the U.S. may have run between 10,000 and 20,00o guns to criminal organizations, enough weapons to outfit an entire U.S. Army infantry division.
The constant revelations of new documents and new testimony strongly suggest that President Obama, Attorney General Holder, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not been forthright about what they knew of multiple plots carried out jointly by their agencies.
PJM reporter AWR Hawkins notes:
To date, their stories are not believable, and Obama’s pledge to discover who was behind Fast and Furious and hold them “accountable” is simply not trustworthy.
Even the reliably left-leaning Huffington Post tells readers they should be furious over Operation Fast and Furious:
Who in their right mind would think using criminals to smuggle thousands of guns in to Mexico was a good idea?
Our Justice Department refuses to reveal the creator or cost of Operation Fast & Furious. Why?
What the hell is going on in this country? And why don't our federal officials just man-up and admit when mistakes have been made?
The handful of apologists that still openly support the administration's gun-smuggling plot are left with little more than bombast, vitriol, and shallow, transparent attempts to smear the investigations that originated in the White House.
New claims suggest that the federal government had "prior knowledge" that poverty-stricken straw purchasers were about to start spending thousands of dollars at a time at Lone Wolf Trading Company, a gun dealer cooperating with the investigation. Lone Wolf's owner, Andre Howard, was allegedly told by ATF Agent Hope McAllister: "The amount of weapons you sell is about to dramatically increase."
This suggests that either the agents had inside intelligence on cartel buyers, or FBI criminal informants at the heart of the operation were directing the straw purchasers to Lone Wolf to spend money provided by the FBI.
All of the evidence that has come forward in recent months paints an increasingly detailed picture of a government gone mad, with top administration officials contributing willfully to a bloody criminal conspiracy.
It's a little late for faux outrage.