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

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

About those Fast and Furious Reports

On July 30th,  Los Angeles Times reported that Operation Fast and Furious was being laid at the feet of "five senior ATF officials," while mentioning that there are still two more reports due out from Congressional Investigators. Still, the news that ATF officials were being identified as the responsible parties for the operation didn't seem to jibe with what is known about DOJ leadership.  The Times piece, published before that report was released to the public, may have left readers (this one included) with the impression that this was basically the final word on the operation.

However, since then, increased focus has been placed on two more reports expected to come out; they will detail things like what the Justice Department knew, covered up, or refused to release. Those reports are likely going to be more explosive.

Before I get to those, let's consider what the consequences should be for those five senior ATF officials. Here are their names, via the Daily Caller:
The five ATF officials Grassley and Issa point to as responsible for Fast and Furious are:

William Newell, the special agent in charge of the phoenix field division
William McMahon, Newell’s boss who was ATF’s deputy assistant director for field operations
Mark Chait, McMahon’s boss who was ATF’s assistant director for field operations
William Hoover, ATF’s former deputy director
Kenneth Melson, former acting ATF director
Our system of Justice will be tested here because as of right now, those five men have been reassigned. When one takes a look at the blood on their hands, based on this 211-page report, the next thing to watch for is accountability. Check out what the Los Angeles Times piece (mentioned above) relayed from the report:
They found that William Newell, the special agent-in-charge in Phoenix, exhibited “repeatedly risky” management and “consistently pushed the envelope of permissible investigative techniques.” The report said “he had been reprimanded ... before for crossing the line, but under a new administration and a new attorney general he reverted back to the use of risky gunwalking tactics.”

His boss, Deputy Assistant Director for Field Operations William McMahon, “rubber stamped critical documents that came across his desk without reading them,” the report alleged. “In McMahon’s view it was not his job to ask any questions about what was going on in the field.”

They added that McMahon gave “false testimony” to Congress about signing applications for wiretap intercepts in Fast and Furious.

His supervisor, Mark Chait, assistant director for field operations, “played a surprisingly passive role during the operation,” the report said. “He failed to provide oversight that his experience should have dictated and his position required.”

Above Chait was Deputy Director William Hoover, who the report said ordered an exit strategy to scuttle Fast and Furious but never followed through: “Hoover was derelict in his duty to ensure that public safety was not jeopardized.”

And they said Melson, a longtime career Justice official, “often stayed above the fray” instead of bringing Fast and Furious to an “end sooner.”

But, the investigators said, ATF agents said that they were hamstrung by federal prosecutors in Arizona from  obtaining criminal charges for illegal gun sales, and that Melson “even offered to travel to Phoenix to write the indictments himself. Still, he never ordered it be shut down.”

In the November 2010 slaying in Mexico of Mario Gonzalez, the brother of Patricia Gonzalez, then attorney general for the state of Chihuahua, two of 16 weapons were traced back to Fast and Furious after they were recovered from a shootout with Mexican police.

But 10 days later, ATF Agent Tonya English urged Agent Hope MacAllister and their supervisor, David J. Voth, to keep it under wraps. “My thought is not to release any information,” she told them in an email.

When Patricia Gonzalez later learned that two of the guns had been illegally obtained under Fast and Furious, she was outraged. "The basic ineptitude of these officials [who ordered the Fast and Furious operation] caused the death of my brother and surely thousands more victims," she said.
Based on the findings in this report, there should be jail time and / or plea bargains for every one of those five individuals. They each have blood on their hands.

Moreover, the first report does, in fact, point to senior DOJ leadership, something that was given scant to no attention by the L.A. Times piece.

Via Daily Caller:
Darrell Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley — both Republicans — concludes senior Obama administration officials appear to have set the stage for, and possibly encouraged, ATF officials to walk guns into Mexico.

The report finds that Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who leads the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, told Holder about the Firearms Trafficking Working Group (FTWG) in an Aug. 19, 2009, memo of recommendation.

“The FTWG’s mission was to formulate a plan to improve the U.S. government’s efforts in stemming the illegal flow of weapons, which was fueling escalating violence along both sides of the Southwestern border,” the report reads. “The working group’s first recommendation was that the ‘attorney general and secretary of Homeland Security should form an interagency Southwest Border (‘SWB’) firearms trafficking strategy group.’ According to the Justice Department, ‘the deputy attorney general responded to the specific proposals in this memorandum by forming the Southwest Border Strategy Group, which he chaired.’”

Shortly thereafter, then-Deputy Attorney General David Ogden, the No. 2 official in the Department of Justice, drafted and disseminated a new planning document titled “Strategy for Combating the Mexican Cartels.”

In that document, Ogden laid the groundwork for the Obama administration’s senior-level political support of gunwalking.

“[M]erely seizing firearms through interdiction will not stop firearms trafficking to Mexico,” Ogden wrote in that memo, obtained by congressional investigators and released along with the report Tuesday.

“We must identify, investigate, and eliminate the sources of illegally trafficked firearms and the networks that transport them.”

Ogden’s directive was an official policy statement directing agents to stop focusing exclusively on arresting straw purchasers. Instead,the Department of Justice would zero in on more complex conspiracy cases.

The Ogden memo and its explicit support from senior administration officials opened the door for agents like Bill Newell, who led ATF’s Phoenix field division, to allow guns to walk in large numbers. Newell, one of five officials to whom Issa and Grassley have pointed as responsible for Operation Fast and Furious, had already tried similar tactics during the George W. Bush administration.
In short, it may have been a bit premature to look at this as Holder and the gang escaping accountability. It's also premature to say that they won't. The next two reports, and what comes from them, will tell a lot.

Also, to be fair to Issa and Grassley, they've really fought hard and against long odds. For example, the fate of those five senior ATF officials is shockingly in the hands of none other than Eric Holder.

No comments:

Accuracy in Media
American Spectator
American Thinker
Big Government
Big Journalism
Doug Ross
Flopping Aces
Fox Nation
Fox News
Free Republic
The Hill
Hope for America
Hot Air
Hot Air Pundit
Jawa Report
Jihad Watch
Michelle Malkin
Naked Emperor News
National Review
New Zeal Blog
News Real
Pajamas Media
Red State
Right Wing News
Say Anything
Stop Islamization of America
Verum Serum
Wall Street Journal
Washington Times
Watts Up With That
Web Today
Weekly Standard
World Net Daily

Blog Archive