Here, you are urged and encouraged to run your mouths about something important.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Column on Project Gunrunner Scandal at Big Peace

The disparity between the attention given to the debate about whether photos of Bin Laden should be released and a very real, breathing scandal that involves the potential implication of very high officials in our government in the act of murder is stark. Yet, the scandal becoming known as 'Project Gunwalker' is still getting scant attention. This week, at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Attorney General Eric Holder was charbroiled by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA). This scandal is not going away and it should be getting far more attention than it's getting.

It's the subject of my latest column at Big Peace:
Gunwalker Scandal: Watergate with Murder?

On April 3rd at 10:15am est, the House Judiciary committee was convening a hearing at which Attorney General Eric Holder would answer questions about the burgeoning scandal involving the ATF allowing weapons to ‘walk’ into Mexico. Two of those weapons were found at the murder scene of Border Patrol Agent, Brian Terry last December.

Also at 10:15am, reports that the White House would be releasing a photo of a dead Osama Bin Laden stole the headlines. The day ended without any photos being released. Meanwhile, GOP Rep. Darrell Issa grilled Holder and wanted to know who at the Department authorized the operation known as Fast and Furious, which involved the death of one of America’s finest. Yet, all the media seemed to have an appetite for was proof that the world’s most despicable was dead.

Holder: “…you have to understand the way in which the Department operates although there are operations, this one has gotten a great deal of publicity…”

Issa: “Yeah, there are dead Americans as a result of this failed and reckless program so I would say that it hasn’t gotten enough attention, has it Mr. Attorney General?”

It was the perfect allegory for the amount of attention and coverage given to the non-event that would be the release of a photo compared to that given to a story that involves government officials at an agency Eric Holder is responsible for – the ATF – having blood on their hands.

Here is another exchange at the hearing, this one between Holder and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT):

The phrase, “it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up” was made infamous by Watergate. The same principle appears to be at work here.

In a February 4th letter to Senator Charles Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich assured Grassley that any charge that the ATF allowed guns to be sold to straw purchasers was “false.” Subsequent to that letter, Grassley came into the possession of emails between a gun store owner and ATF supervisor David Voth. In an April 13th letter to Eric Holder, Grassley included these emails as attachments. They clearly show that Voth instructed the store owner to sell weapons to straw purchasers on multiple occasions.

Also on April 13th, the Director of the ATF – Kenneth Melson – ignored the deadline of a subpoena issued to him fourteen days earlier by Issa, who demanded documents related to the operation.

On May 2nd, one day prior to the exchange between Issa and Holder, Assistant Attorney General Weich sent another letter to Grassley, in which he doubled down on his assertion by cleverly avoiding the matter of whether the ATF allowed weapons to be sold to straw purchasers and focused on whether the ATF allowed guns to ‘walk’ into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, saying that is “false.” Interviews by congressional investigators – directed by Grassley and Issa – of agents with first-hand knowledge of Fast and Furious also contradicted the claim made by Weich. This was reflected in a joint letter from Issa and Grassley to Holder on May 3rd.

The reasons given by Holder as to why requested and subpoenaed documents are not being presented to Issa is that the Justice Department is currently working cases related to Project Gunrunner. At the hearing, Issa dismissed those cases as being irrelevant to his investigation and made it clear he was not interested in the same suspects Holder’s Department was:

Issa: “We’re not looking at the straw purchasers, Mr. Attorney General. We’re looking at you.”

Like Watergate, this scandal is wrought with stonewalling and cover-ups. Unlike Watergate, it involves murder. For some reason, the media is more interested in looking at a photo of a dead Bin Laden than it is in pinning to the wall those responsible for the death of Brian Terry.
Original includes hyperlinks.

Videos: White House Says Osama not a Muslim Leader, Explains Muslim Burial

You really can't make this stuff up. Those who demanded to see Obama's Birth Certificates were called 'Carnival Barkers' by Obama himself. Meanwhile, he has a press secretary with the last name 'Carney' who, during the May 4th press briefing explained that Osama Bin Laden is 'not a Muslim leader' but a 'mass murderer.' Carney Barker then went on to explain why Osama's burial carefully adhered to Islamic customs. See for yourself. First up is Carney Barker's bit about Bin Laden not being a Muslim.

Wait for it. Here, Carney Barker says the efforts that were made to ensure that Bin Laden received a burial consistent with Islamic traditions were 'considerable.'

h/t Weasel Zippers

Video: Why Holder's IG Investigation of ATF over Gunrunner Scandal Not OK

In response to charges that the ATF allowed guns to 'walk' into Mexico and that a congressional investigation needs to take place, both Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama have said the case is being investigated by the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General. The case of Jay Dobyns should provide the perfect example for why such a course should be 100% unacceptable. Dobyns worked undercover for the ATF and became a star witness against Hell's Angels. He needed ATF's protection from the gang but never got it. His house was burned to the ground.

An 'internal investigation' took place courtesy of the Inspector General. Those found to have dropped the ball are still there.

h/t Sipsey Street

Video: Senator Grassley Goes After Holder at Hearing

Though there weren't as many fireworks between Grassley and Holder as there were between House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa and Holder, there were some revealing moments. First off, the congressional investigators that Grassley and Issa have on the ground at the Phoenix ATF are producing documents that are very damaging to the ATF and the Justice Department. Both Grassley and Issa have documents in their possession - and continue to get more - that are catching Holder flat-footed. The Attorney General knows this but he doesn't know what he's going to be hit with. Each time, he looks more and more incompetent and complicit.

Here is the exchange between Grassley and Holder at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing one day after Issa grilled the Attorney General. If short on time, fast forward to the 3:47 mark; Grassley presents Holder with a chart that leaves the latter dumbfounded. I can't find the actual chart but Grassley said it showed an ATF document that identified 15 suspects who were being tracked. They had purchased more than 1300 weapons. Two of those weapons were found at the murder scene of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. The indictments against those 15 men did not come until AFTER Terry's death.

Holder's response? He hasn't seen the chart and says, 'I don't know.'

Asst Attorney General Tied To Project Gunrunner Scandal

As the world focuses on why the White House won't release the Bin Laden photos, bombshell after bombshell appears to be going off in the Project Gunrunner scandal. It's now been learned that Asst Attorney General Lanny Breuer authorized a wiretap in March of 2010 that was tied to Operation 'Fast and Furious,' which was part of the larger Project Gunrunner. 'Fast and Furious' was run out of Phoenix and ordered agents to let guns be bought by straw purchasers who would then sell them illegally to people who would 'walk' them into Mexico.

HERE is the memo signed by Breuer.

Via CBS News:
Congressional investigators have just released documents in the so-called gunwalking scandal at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). This in advance of a Senate hearing in which Attorney General Eric Holder will testify.

One document indicates a Holder Asst. Attorney General, Lanny Breuer, authorized a wiretap in the controversial gun trafficking case headquartered in Phoenix. In that case, called "Fast and Furious," multiple sources say ATF allowed thousands of guns to hit the streets, destined for Mexican drug cartels.

Yesterday, at a House hearing, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) asked Holder who authorized Fast and Furious. President Obama has previously said neither he nor Holder authorized the operation.

"What about the Asst. Attorney General of the Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer? Did he authorize it?" Issa asked Holder.

"I'm not sure," answered Holder.
It looks like the decision by Rep. Darrell Issa and Senator Charles Grassley to send investigators to Phoenix is bearing fruit. There is likely plenty more. This is an extremely significant development because it potentially shows that whoever authorized the operation that saw an American Border Agent get killed came from someone not only above ATF Director Kenneth Melson but from someone very close to Holder, if not Holder himself.

Another memo presented by Congressional investigators is from January of 2010. It shows that the ATF was indeed aware of what was going on with straw purchasers transferring guns to third parties who were then ending up in Mexico.

Remember, in response to Grassley, Asst Attorney General Robert Weich said claims that the ATF was allowing guns to be sold to straw purchasers were 'false.' When whistleblowers came forward with evidence to dispute that in the form of emails, Weich said that claims the ATF was allowing guns to 'walk' into Mexico were 'false.' Weich has been caught twice now.

Watergate with Murder?

h/t Sipsey Street Irregulars
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