Fast and Furious: Post-Election, Golden Parachutes Deployed
You wouldn't know it by perusing mainstream media coverage, but now that the 2012 election is out of the way, the Department of Justice is discarding some of the troublesome ATF and DOJ employees responsible for Operation Fast and Furious, the gunrunning operation that put more than 2,000 firearms into the hands of the Sinaloa narco-terrorist cartel.
Eric Holder's chief of staff, Gary Grindler, was the highest-ranking figure to go:
A ranking Justice Department official named by Republicans in their probes into the botched gunrunning scheme "Fast and Furious" will resign on Friday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced in a statement late Monday. Gary Grindler is Holder's chief of staff and has held a number of other positions, including as acting deputy attorney general. His office oversaw the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which led the program that allowed hundreds of illegally purchased weapons into the hands of Mexican cartels as a way of tracking their movements.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa seemed satisfied with Grindler's departure:
“Gary Grindler was appropriately faulted by his Department’s own Inspector General for keeping information about a connection between the murder of a Border Patrol Agent and a mishandled department operation away from the Attorney General and the Department of Homeland Security. His departure from the Justice Department is warranted and long overdue,” said Chairman Darrell Issa. “Other figures in Operation Fast and Furious are currently being evaluated for their conduct in the reckless effort that needlessly placed lives in danger. I expect more departures and discipline to come.”
David Codrea, who broke the scandal along with blogger Mike Vanderboegh, wasn't letting Holder and Grindler off the hook:
How the IG has been able to determine that with certainty, and why Issa accepts it with full faith, are unknown. At most, all anyone can say with assurance is they haven’t been able to prove if Grindler communicated with Holder about a program under the attorney general's authority, where enforcers and prosecutors were up to their necks in a sanctioned operation that has produced lethal collateral consequences.
Grindler, as Gun Rights Examiner and Sipsey Street Irregulars reported in November of last year, had generated notes “including about quantities of guns bought by straw purchasers and dollars spent.” He had detailed knowledge of a program that could present grave repercussions for his boss and the administration, and everyone is supposed to conclude he just kept all that to himself based on what?
Issa’s own release, in quoting the Joint Staff Report, prepared for himself and Sen. Chuck Grassley, gives good cause to not leap to such circumstantially unsupported conclusions.
There is no reason to believe that Grindler deceived Attorney General Holder about this or any other matter, and it is frankly curious that Chairman Issa and Senator Grassley are accepting this farfetched explanation. Unfortunately, unless a criminal case is eventually filed to compel Grindler to provide more information, it is likely that his termination is the last we'll hear of his role in the cover-up.
Grindler is not the only DOJ official who has apparently been forced out. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has reportedly fired three officials and demoted two, while another has been transferred:
According to credible ATF sources, officials heavily involved in Operation Fast and Furious and named as partially responsible for the program's failure by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz and the House Oversight Committee have been stripped of their government security clearances while some have been fired, demoted, and transferred. Criminal charges are also reportedly pending. Former ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Field Division Bill Newell, former ATF Special Agent in Charge of Operations in the West Bill McMahon and former Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Field Division George Gillett have been fired while former Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jim Needles and Field Supervisor David Voth have been demoted. Hope McAllister, the lead case agent for Fast and Furious, has been put on leave and transferred out of Phoenix according to reports.
Stunningly, all are expected to keep their retirement benefits, despite the fact that their actions played a role in at least 300 murders in Mexico, the murders of Border Patrol BORTAC officer Brian Terry and ICE Special Agent Jaime Zapata, and the critical wounding of ICE Special Agent Victor Avila.
Townhall's Katie Pavlich suggests that some of those involved face the possibility of criminal charges, though there is little reason to suspect that such charges will ever come to pass.
Individuals will quietly accept a transfer, demotion, or termination if those represent a lesser punishment than they might face in a criminal court. Terminations with full retirement benefits -- and the very real possibility of quick and lucrative reemployment with Obama administration donors, as at least one of those fired has already found -- are nothing less than golden parachutes, and those resigning, being fired, being demoted, or being reassigned are not going to come forward with the truth unless compelled by force of law.
Only the credible possibility of felony criminal charges and significant prison sentences might compel those responsible for Fast and Furious to break their silence.
Attorney General Eric Holder was found in civil and criminal contempt of Congress for his continued deception and refusal to turn over thousands of documents, and Obama-appointed District of Columbia U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen has failed to press charges in the six months since the contempt vote.
The rich and powerful have decided to protect their own. Consequences for weapons smuggling, and the hundreds of murders they facilitated, are for little people.