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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Grassley's Renewed interest in ATF Memo

A February 3, 2011 memo penned by ATF Special Agent Gary Styers out of the Lubbock, TX Field Office is getting renewed interest from Senator Charles Grassley. The memo, initially made available on Grassley's website in December of 2011, details Styers' conversation with two members of Grassley's staff on February 2, 2011.

The now infamous date of February 4, 2011 is when then DOJ Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich signed a letter addressed to Grassley; that letter denied any gun-walking within ATF took place. The letter was withdrawn - coincidentally or not - around the time that the Styers memo was made public, in December of that year.

There are now apparently two primary reasons why Grassley is bringing up this memo again, which he has sent to Attorney General Eric Holder along with a letter demanding answers to certain questions.

Though Styers was working out of the Lubbock office of the Dallas Field Division at the time he was interviewed by Grassley's staff, he had previously worked out of the Phoenix Group VII Office on Fast and Furious. Some now familiar names were brought up by Styers, who wrote the memo while referring to himself in the third person. Here is an interesting excerpt:
Special Agent Styers was asked if he was familiar with the large firearms trafficking case in Phoenix Group VII and Special AGent Styers said he was. Downey and Donovan (Grassley staffers) asked if Special Agent Styers knew the name of the case and he responded that it was "Fast and Furious". Downey and Donovan then asked if Special Agent Styers knew who the case agent was and Special Agent Styers said it was Special Agent Hope McAllister. Special Agent Styers was also asked who the supervisor of the group was and Special Agent Styers said it was Group Supervisor David Voth. Downey and Donovan also asked who helped Special Agent McAllister, Special Agent Styers said that Special Agent McAllister had a Co-Case Agent from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as well as an agent from Group VII. Downey and Donovan asked who was the Agent from ICE and Special Agent Styers told them it was Lane France.
NOTE: At the end of this post, I'll address the name Lane France but since Grassley's letter deals with another aspect of the memo, I'll deal with that first.

Since the documents subpoenaed by the House Oversight Committee seek documents that explain how the false February 4, 2011 was created and since Holder has gone to the mat not to release any of them, Grassley appears to be using what documents he DOES have to get some of those answers. This memo is one of them. Grassley makes the charge that this Styers memo traveled pretty quickly up the chain of command within ATF and seems to have reason to believe it went to the DOJ as well.

From Grassley's July 3, 2012 letter to Holder:
According to ATF personnel, the memorandum was discussed by high level ATF personnel and possibly forwarded to DOJ headquarters on February 3, 2011. Specifically, it has been alleged that individuals within the Deputy Attorney Generals (DAG's) office and the Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA) at the Department were aware of or actually read the memorandum before the Department's February 4, 2011, letter was sent. Some individuals who spoke with my office claim they were "alarmed" by the substance of the memorandum and it caused such a stir that ATF planned to put a panel together to address the allegations but someone within DOJ suppressed the idea.
Moreover, in his memo, Styers relayed a surveillance operation led by McAllister that involved some sort of weapons transaction:
While positioning to observe suspects, Special Agent Styers and other detailed agents were told by Special Agent McAllister that agents were too close and would burn the operation. Special Agent McAllister told all the agents to leave the immediate area. While the agents were repositioning, the transaction between the suspects took place and the vehicle that took possession of the firearms eventually left the area without agents following it.
Based on what we already know about McAllister being personally implicated in allowing criminals to walk who were known to walk guns, we're left to conclude that Styers' account may have been one such instance. If that is the case and if Grassley can determine that this memo went to the highest levels of DOJ and was considered during the crafting of that February 4th letter, we'll be a whole lot closer to proving Holder lied again when he said the letter was not intentionally misleading.

On to Lane France... In the Styers memo, Lane France is identified as the Co-Case Agent from ICE, which rolls up under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). An Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) involves an operation that includes multiple agencies. Administration officials have done their best to play this down by insisting that Fast and Furious originated at the field level in Phoenix. OCDETF all but torpedoes that argument.

Here is an exchange from February 15, 2011 between Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), who also sits on the Oversight Committee and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, who is thoroughly grilled here by Meehan, who asks her if she knows who Lane France is. She says, "no" and twists herself into knots attempting to play semantic word games about OCDETF not really being OCDETF and that Fast and Furious was all ATF.

I covered this particular angle during my June 17th program.

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