Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Your Gunwalker Links

ATF official: I told the White House about Fast & Furious
...What’s less clear is why Newell informed him with the caveat “you didn’t get this from me”. Why wouldn’t the ATF report on Fast and Furious results to the White House when asked? Was Newell told to avoid linking the operation directly to the White House, or was the ATF worried about the implications of the operation even before it blew up in their faces? Given the hostility towards Congressional oversight already demonstrated at the ATF and Department of Justice during this investigation, this looks like even more evidence that the Obama administration let the ATF run wild, perhaps on purpose.

The more important question will be who O’Reilly told at the White House about the operation. Clearly, O’Reilly wanted the information to prepare for key meetings on a very sensitive subject. It’s hard to believe that O’Reilly would have kept that information to himself. Issa’s committee needs to get O’Reilly into the hearing and on the record, and it may be time to subpoena some White House records, too.

VIDEO: ATF agent who implemented 'Fast and Furious' says 4 federal agencies were 'full partners'
Four federal agencies were "full partners" in the Obama administration's bungled Operation Fast and Furious, which allowed guns to wind up in the hands of Mexican drug lords, the man who implemented the program revealed today at a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

William Newell, the former head of the Phoenix field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, was pressed by Rep. Pat Meehan, R-Penn. to identify all the federal agencies involved in the operation.

In response, Newell identified the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Internal Revenue Service as "full partners" with the ATF. ...

Senior ATF, Justice Dept officials ignored Mexico-based agents’ complaints, bragged about Fast and Furious successes
...He called Dan Kumor, ATF’s chief of international affairs, only to get a similar answer. Gil told Congressional investigators that Kumor said it was “an on-going investigation.” (Issa, Grassley blast Holder in letter after secret meeting with ATF’s Ken Melson)

“They’re looking at straw purchasers, they have cooperative Federal Firearms Licensees and it sounds like a significant investigation,” Gil said Kumor told him, adding that “he didn’t have access to the trace information either.” But, Gil said Kumor told him every official “on the chain” up to Kumor from Phoenix was “aware of the investigation.”

Gil said he wasn’t satisfied with the lack of answers from Washington-based officials, and got into “screaming matches” with Kumor. “Hey, when are they going to shut this, to put it bluntly, damn investigation down, we’re getting hurt down here,” Gil told Congressional investigators he’d scream at Kumor.

Gil also told Congressional investigators that Obama administration officials worried he’d tell the Mexican ambassador or brief the Mexican government on the operation. He said that’s why he wasn’t given specifics or details about Operation Fast and Furious. “I can tell you what I was told and they were afraid I was going to either brief the ambassador on it or brief the Government of Mexico officials on it,” Gil said, adding that, “They were just worried about somebody leaking whatever was unique about this investigation.”...

Report: More than 1,000 weapons unaccounted for in Fast and Furious
...Suspected smugglers bought 1,418 firearms after coming to the attention of ATF agents running the probe, according to the congressional report, detailing the most complete accounting to date of weapons in the operation. Of those, 1,048 haven’t been recovered or traced, the report said.

The Justice Department’s inspector general’s office is conducting its own probe of the operation. Attorney General Eric Holder and other top officials have said they didn’t know of, nor approve of, the ATF tactics.

The congressional report was released by Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa), who have led the criticism of the ATF, and its parent agency, the Justice Department, over the Fast and Furious operation. Mr. Grassley is the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee....

...In a congressional report being released in conjunction with the hearing the findings note, “ATF and DOJ leadership kept their own personnel in Mexico and Mexican government officials totally in the dark about all aspects of Fast and Furious. Meanwhile, ATF officials in Mexico grew increasingly worried about the number of weapons recovered in Mexico that traced back to an ongoing investigation out of ATF’s Phoenix Field Division.”

The congressional report notes that ATF intelligence analysts notified the ATF’s attaché in Mexico, Darren Gil, and Carlos Canino, Deputy Attaché, about a large number of guns showing up in Mexico from the Phoenix field office investigation.

“Hundreds of weapons were suddenly appearing in Mexico – traced to Phoenix – without explanation. Gil and his agents struggled to get answers from their own agency. Although ATF officials in Phoenix and Washington, D.C. acknowledged that an investigation was underway, they refused to share the details of the strategy and operation with the agents in Mexico … ATF officials in Mexico finally realized the truth: ATF was allowing guns to walk. By withholding this critical information from its own personnel in Mexico, ATF jeopardized relations between the U.S. and Mexico.” The report noted....

Gunwalker scandal called "perfect storm of idiocy"
In advance of a hearing later today, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released a report containing new testimony and allegations in the ATF gunwalker case. According to the report, Carlos Canino, Acting ATF Attache in Mexico, calls the strategy his agency employed: "The perfect storm of idiocy."

"We armed the [Sinaloa] cartel," Canino told investigators. "It is disgusting." Canino will be a key witness at the hearing.

Joint Committee report: Operation Fast and Furious: Fueling Cartel Violence (pdf)

But it's not just the Sinaloa cartel. Documents obtained by Congressional investigators show weapons - sold under ATF's watch in Operation Fast and Furious out of the Phoenix office - have been used by at least three Mexican drug cartels: Sinaloa, El Teo and La Familia.

In other words, Congressional investigators say the very agency charged with preventing weapons from falling into the hands of violent cartels south of the border ... instead facilitated it....

Feds Silent on How Convicted Felons Bought Guns in 'Operation Fast and Furious'
In the latest chapter of the gunrunning scandal known as Operation Fast and Furious, federal officials won't say how two suspects obtained more than 360 weapons despite criminal records that should have prevented them from buying even one gun.

Under current federal law, people with felony convictions are not permitted to buy weapons, and those with felony arrests are typically flagged while the FBI conducts a thorough background check.

However, according to court records reviewed by Fox News, two of the 20 defendants indicted in the Fast and Furious investigation have felony convictions and criminal backgrounds that experts say, at the very least, should have delayed them buying a single firearm. Instead, the duo bought dozens of guns on multiple occasions while federal officials watched on closed-circuit cameras. ...

How Mexican killers got US guns from 'Fast and Furious' operation
On May 29, Mexican federal police in four helicopters attacked a drug cartel in a mountain redoubt. They were rebuffed by heavy fire, including from a massive .50 caliber rifle.

A bullet hole left in one helicopter's plate glass window is one exhibit in an exhaustive House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform report released Tuesday showing the breadth of a high-stakes, unprecedented, and, ultimately, ill-advised US scheme called "Operation Fast and Furious."

The .50 caliber bullet hole, the report says, likely came from a gun trafficked via Fast and Furious, an operation to allow nearly 2,000 arms to leave US gunshops via certain traffickers who the US government had identified and thought it could track. The idea was to trace these "straw buyers" to key cartel figures in an attempt to score major gun busts to prove the US was serious about stopping arms trafficking across the border.

Instead, the report alleges that the operation – which one US official has called "a perfect storm of idiocy" – likely allowed hundreds of powerful guns to cross into Mexico, possibly changing the outcome of cartel battles with Mexican police, leading to the deaths of many Mexicans and one federal agent, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, and damaging diplomatic relations between the US and Mexico....

USA Today: ATF chief: Response to gun-tracking inquiry a 'disaster'
The acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said the Justice Department has been withholding key information from congressional officials and that the department sought to protect its political appointees from criticism over a failed anti-gun trafficking operation that allowed hundreds of weapons to be smuggled to Mexico.

Kenneth Melson told investigators earlier this month that among the materials in Justice's possession was "a smoking gun" document related to the inquiry into Operation Fast and Furious that is being headed by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the Judiciary Committee's ranking member, and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

"My view is that the whole matter of the department's response in this case was a disaster," Melson told congressional investigators in a July 4 interview....