An email cited in Senator Charles Grassley’s testimony in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Operation Fast and Furious indicates that knowledge of the program was spread across the highest levels of the Justice Department. This lends even greater suspicion to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s claim that he knew nothing about the program until well after Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed.
The October 27, 2009 email from ATF Phoenix Field Division Special Agent in Charge (SAC) William Newell regarded a Southwest Border Strategy Group meeting that focused on Fast and Furious. It contained a laundry list of high ranking Justice Department officials that attended the meeting, including:
- Assistant Attorney General (Criminal Division) Lanny Breuer,
- Kenneth Melson, Acting Director, ATF
- William Hoover, Acting Deputy Director, ATF
- Michele Leonhart, Administrator, DEA
- Robert Mueller, Director FBI
Four other Justice Department directors or their representatives came from the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), Bureau of Prisons (BOP), U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), and the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA). The chair of the Attorney Generals Advisory Committee (AGAC) also attended the session. Their names were redacted in the released document. U.S. attorneys for all four southwest border states also attended.
Operation Fast and Furious, now known to many by the more accurate name of “Gunwalker,” was a multi-agency operation that allowed and — in some instances — approved the purchase of firearms destined for Mexican drug cartels by so-called “straw buyers.” The purchasers, who had clean criminal records, would buy firearms from U.S. gun stores for drug gangs. While most gun smuggling involves small quantities of weapons, a small number of high-volume straw purchasers each bought hundreds of firearms for the cartels.
ATF agents were told by their supervisors to ignore their agency’s charter and training and allow the guns to be smuggled into Mexico without interdiction. Roughly 2,000 firearms — ranging from pistols and AK-pattern semi-automatic rifles to .50 BMG sniper rifles — were smuggled into Mexico under Gunwalker and without the knowledge of Mexican authorities. Hundreds of smuggled weapons have turned up at crime scenes across Mexico and the U.S. border states and at least 152 law enforcement officers and soldiers have been killed with Gunwalker weapons.
While it has been known since the beginning of the investigation that the ATF, DOJ, DHS, and the IRS were heavily involved in Gunwalker, the Newell email confirms that every major agency within the Department of Justice was briefed on Gunwalker, including the AGAC, which has the formally ordered functions of giving U.S attorneys a voice in department policies and advising the attorney general.
It strains credibility to claim that the assistant attorney general, the AGAC, the directors of the five major DOJ agencies in charge of law enforcement, and all the U.S. attorneys in the Southwest region were privy to Gunwalker, but that the attorney general himself was unaware of the operation. It suggests that either Holder is being untruthful about what he knew about the operation, and when he knew about it, or that he is so out of touch with a major operation conducted by his key law enforcement agencies that he is too incompetent to fulfill his official duties.
Senator Grassley made an observation in his presentation to the House Oversight Committee that indicates that DOJ-wide incompetence or politics may be in play as well:
According to an internal briefing paper, Operation Fast and Furious was intentionally designed to “allow the transfer of firearms to continue to take place.”
Why would the ATF do such a thing?
Well, the next line in the brief paper tells us. It was, “to further the investigation and allow for the identification of additional co-conspirators[.]” So, that was the goal. The purpose of allowing straw buyers to keep buying was to find out who else might be working with them — who else might be in their network of gun traffickers. Of course, that assumes that they are part of a big, sophisticated network. That kind of assumption can cause you to start with a conclusion and work backwards, looking for facts that fit. Until you figure out that you’ve got the cart before the horse, you’re probably not going to get anywhere.
Professor of Criminology Gary Kleck recently published an article in the Wall Street Journal called “The Myth of Big-Time Gun Trafficking.” Professor Kleck said that according to his study of national crime data, ATF handles only about 15 operations each year that involve more than 250 guns. According to his study, a typical trafficking operation involves fewer than 12 guns.
The operation was a snipe hunt. Operation Fast and Furious was chasing a phantom network that DOJ either imagined or was desperate to create in order to perpetuate the Obama-administration lie that 90-percent of crime guns in Mexico originated from the United States.
Newsmax interviewed Senator Grassley in an article published Monday, and asked him whether or not the operation was an attempt by the administration to change public opinion on “assault weapons” in order to lead to the introduction of gun control measures by Democrats. Grassley was not ready to discount that hypothesis, a wise move considering the forum Rep. Elijah Cummings conducted last week to demonize gun owners. The report Cummings issued called for no less than three gun control measures.
Predictably, most mainstream media organizations covering Gunwalker aren’t willing to acknowledge the depth, breadth, or severity of the scandal or its illegality. Judged by the numbers of crimes committed, lives lost, and executive branch officials involved, Gunwalker has the potential to surpass both Watergate and Iran-Contra as one of the worst scandals in American political history just based upon what little we publicly know of the operation and its equally abortive and incompetent cover-up.
Let us lay this out as clearly and unambiguously as possible, so there can be no mistake.
Senior law enforcement officers within the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security, including government appointees, potentially committed felonies that led to the deaths of dozens, if not hundreds of Mexican police, soldiers, and civilians, and the murders of least two American federal agents. This program was put in place in order to pursue a phantom gun-smuggling network that only seemed to exist in the the minds of those pushing a political agenda of gun control championed exclusively by the left wing of the Democratic Party, Attorney General Eric Holder himself, and the president of the United States, Barack Obama.
Mexican government officials are infuriated by the scandal, and unlike the New York Times and Washington Post that seek to minimize it, they want justice.
Senator Rene Arce is chairman of Mexico’s Commission for National Security, a congressional panel similar to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. He told Fox News that the American officials that authorized Gunwalker should face felony charges in the United States, and then be extradited to Mexico to stand trial there.
It is highly unlikely that we will see Janet Napolitano, Eric Holder, Lanny Breuer, Kenneth Melson, or any other government officials in Mexico to face the possibility of life in a Mexican prison, but the fact that senior government officials in Mexico think that Gunwalker is that serious should turn heads here in the United States.
When Justice is administered by the lawless, there is no justice. We must have criminal investigations into Gunwalker. There simply is no other option in a lawful society.