House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa was brutally frank in a Tuesday morning conference call with new media representatives dedicated to the ongoing Gunwalker scandal.
The California Republican kicked off the call with a brief statement reporting that Marisela Morales, Mexico’s attorney general, now says that at least 200 Mexican deaths can now be traced to weapons from the gunwalking program.That number has been revised significantly upward from earlier unofficial claims of approximately 150 deaths attributed to Operation Fast and Furious guns.
The revelation of the increased body count comes less than 24 hours after the Los Angeles Times published a story that rightly describes the actions of the Obama administration as an unresolved betrayal.
This betrayal — and Morales pulled no punches in using that exact word — is being ignored by the majority of the U.S. mainstream media, which vacillate from pretending that Gunwalker was just a minor law enforcement snafu to echoing White House-orchestrated attempts to smear the Oversight Committee chairman and obstruct the investigation.
The question-and-answer period that followed Chairman Issa’s statement focused narrowly on Operation Fast and Furious, with only one reporter slipping off-topic to ask a quick question about the breaking Solyndra scandal.
Perhaps the most important clarification to come out of the call was confirmation that the Oversight Committee does indeed intend to call for a special prosecutor once they have completed their own investigation, which they optimistically would like to have wrapped up by the end of the year. Chairman Issa was quick to point out that finishing the House investigation by the end of the year hinged upon a transparent and timely release of information from the executive branch, including the federal law enforcement agencies involved and the Obama White House.
The White House has thus far refused to divulge any of the documentation the congressional investigators have asked for, and the administration’s political appointees are stymieing all attempts to get information out of the Justice Department, Homeland Security, and other involved agencies. Rep. Issa seemed quite aware that his goal of resolving the congressional investigation in 2011 was going to be obstructed by an administration in full cover-up mode.
Issa also revealed that the reason a special prosecutor has not yet been brought in to investigate the plot is that once a special prosecutor begins to investigate, the Oversight Committee has to stop its own inquiry. The committee wants to be certain that they have explored every avenue and leave no source or witness uninvestigated before turning over the case. He also pointed out that a special prosecutor will be a Department of Justice employee investigating his own employer. Thus, Issa wants to be certain that they have enough knowledge to hold the prosecutor accountable.
I had the unique opportunity to ask Chairman Issa a point-blank question that seems to trouble so many people following this scandal.
After reiterating that every law enforcement agent that has been asked about Operation Fast and Furious has said that there is no way that it could have been a viable law enforcement operation, I asked Chairman Issa if there was any evidence of another reason for the implementation of Operation Fast and Furious and the other alleged gun-walking operations.
“This was dumb, it was useless, and it was lethal,” was the soundbite most of us will take away from the call in answer to that question, but his longer answer — which I regret I do not have a transcript of — is far more telling.
Nothing in his response could be construed to mean that Rep. Issa thought Operation Fast and Furious was a legitimate law enforcement operation. And if it does not appear to have been implemented as a legitimate law enforcement operation, then we are left with the possible alternative that the goal of the operation was both illegitimate and unlawful.
Issa put it rather bluntly: “The administration wanted to show that guns found in Mexico came from the United States.”
He elaborated a bit when he noted that while he wouldn’t presume to know the precise goals of Operation Fast and Furious, it certainly did seem to tie in with the narrative the Obama administration was trying to push — that U.S. guns were turning up at Mexican crime scenes. That allowed, the suggestion hanging in the air was that a goal of the Administration was indeed a “Reichstag fire” designed to support a narrative that has been publicly woven by Attorney General Holder, Secretary of State Clinton, Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano, and President Obama himself on multiple occasions.
One reason to assert the prominence of U.S. firearms in Mexico would be an attempt to once again bring forth an “assault weapons” ban like the failed 1994 law that sunset in 2004.
While the Oversight Committee investigation is far from over and a special prosecutor’s investigation hasn’t even begun, it is beginning to appear that the evidence and testimony being compiled so far indicate that the Obama administration was willing to break federal laws and get hundreds of people killed in Mexico and the United States in order to fabricate conditions that would help them implement their domestic gun control policies.
If so, it is entirely unethical and illegal, and it seems like only a matter of time before administration officials face felony indictments for their role in Operation Fast and Furious and perhaps the other alleged gun-walking operations that make up the Gunwalker scandal.
If that is indeed the path this scandal takes, the question may need to be asked whether U.S. justice is enough for the co-conspirators, or if Attorney General Morales should be given the opportunity to prosecute Obama administration officials in Mexico for actions that have left so many of their citizens dead and injured.