Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) told PJMedia last week that it is possible Attorney General Eric Holder wasn’t aware of Operation Fast and Furious, but:
As things started to go south, I think it’s impossible to conceive he wasn’t briefed in on it.
Gowdy, who aggressively questioned ATF Special Agent William Newell at a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform last month, takes issue with whether the investigation was ever going to work in the first place:
I’m not sure I know any more than I did before the hearing; in some ways I know less.
I still have a lot of buddies in law enforcement and they’ve never heard of these investigative techniques, and they ignored all the ones I’m familiar with.
Gowdy contended in the hearing that Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) should have interrogated the first straw purchaser they knew for a fact had sold guns to the cartels. He repeated that sentiment:
When the first gun was recovered in Mexico they should have been pulling people in.
One to question was perhaps Uriel Patino, whom the ATF knew had purchased more than 700 guns illegally. USA Today is reporting that 157 are known to have fallen into the hands of the brutal Sinaloa cartel.
When a gun dealer asked the ATF for guidance when Patino placed a special order for 20 weapons of which the dealer only had four in stock, he was told:
“Our guidance is that we would like you to go through with Mr. Patino’s request and order the additional firearms,” ATF Supervisor David Voth wrote the dealer in an Aug. 25 e-mail.
Even though agents knew then that guns allegedly purchased by Patino had been showing up at crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S.A., Patino was allowed to walk away that day.
He was finally arrested in January. When asked if ATF should have pulled Patino in much sooner, Gowdy said:
You’re asking the same question I asked.
It seems obvious to Gowdy that the traditional technique of offering a deal to Patino to avoid jail time could have been used to infiltrate any trafficking networks which existed.
Gowdy also noted that if the ATF was actually after the cartels, people should have been charged for using a firearm in commission of a federal drug felony. The straw buying charges would have likely netted the buyers only probation time, but drug charges would have meant prison time — and there are laws on the books which would have allowed the buyers to be so charged. Gowdy pointed out that Mexico was unlikely to extradite anyone over a probationary offense, but drug charges are different.
The big problem, said Gowdy, is in getting the information the committee needs to determine what actually happened in this debacle:
We can’t get straight answers on who knew what when. I think [Congressman Darrell] Issa is justifiably frustrated with the lack of document production and what we do get is stuff that’s already in the public domain.
Asked if the officials in charge of the operation — and possibly within the Department of Justice — should be indicted, he refocused the question:
“Oh you can get an indictment. … I dare say I could indict Mr. Issa for stealing my water bottle during the hearing,” he said with a chuckle. “The question is, can you get a conviction?”
I want to know the day when U.S. law enforcement knew, or should have known, that this had gotten out of control. I want to know who knew what when, and what they did about it, and was there a concentrated effort to cover this up.
Gowdy also said Gunwalker is far more serious than people may imagine:
If we didn’t have a debt crisis in this country this would be getting a lot more attention than it is. There’s no way this turns out well for the administration. I just can’t imagine anyone dumb enough to think you could keep this a secret.