“Fast and Furious,” the now-defunct operation launched in 2009 by the Phoenix office of BATFE (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives) has become a major scandal of the Obama administration. The intent supposedly, was to track illegal firearms purchases hoping buyers would lead investigators to heads of Mexican drug cartels. It failed miserably with the result of many innocents being gunned down, one of particular note is Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry who was murdered with one of these weapons.
I had the pleasure this day of being part of a conference call with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. His committee has been actively investigating F & F. One of the key points he made clarification on is that F & F was NOT a program, it was an OPERATION.
Issa’s committee has issued subpoena after subpoena and heard testimony after testimony in this sorry saga. The result has been stonewalling by the Department of Justice, in particular Eric Holder; the Obama administration, the FBI and DHS. He has even been accused by the Obama administration of holding these hearings as a “campaign tactic.”
In a hearing last week DHS chief Janet Napolitano testified she was “unaware” of this operation before Agent Terry was murdered. So the question for this writer is and should be: “‘Big Sis,” were you asleep at the switch or were you really not told?”
The question was asked whether or not there was any evidence Dennis Burke, the U.S district attorney in Phoenix, had briefed Napolitano on F & F. Issa responded “no,” however he stated his experience with Napolitano has been “she only jumps in when things go wrong.”
Rep. Issa stated that all those testifying have been “picking their words very carefully” and he has garnered much more information when testifiers have been represented by their own attorneys after they have been fired, reassigned or let go, than when they receive representation from the government. Best case in point is ATF chief Kenneth Melson who was reassigned in the wake of this scandal who was represented by his own counsel.
A valid question by one caller was regarding the disappearance of the 3rd gun from the Brian Terry murder scene. Issa is confident the FBI is covering this up and eventually FBI chief Mueller should also be testifying. Issa stated there was mass panic around the Terry scene and the same panic was seen after Rep. Gabi Giffords was shot in Tucson earlier this year: i.e. could the weapon that was used to shoot her and killed a judge have belonged to F & F? Also why didn’t people at this point come forward and stop the operation? All questions yet unanswered.
Issa stressed that all this is about “indifference” on how to do operations with deadly weapons. Every agent says “don’t let guns walk” but here the administration deliberately let “guns walk.” He feels that Melson is complicit but not totally to blame. Questions to Melson were: “did you know enough to stop it, and if so, why DIDN’T you stop it?” and he is encouraging more whistle-blowers to come forward.
Issa raised the possibility that Operation F & F was really the Obama administration’s attempt to get an assault weapon ban into place by showing guns in Mexico were coming from the United States. So far the White House hasn’t cooperated in the investigation although he has sent a letter to President Obama and hopes to get more answers this week about whether or not the White House was involved in the operation.
Issa also stressed he can issue subpoenas, pass legislation in an attempt to thwart this type of operation in the future but “I can’t put people in prison.”
I personally questioned Rep. Issa about the LA Times story that the ATF wire-taped a gun dealer in Arizona and the dealer was “ordered” to sell weapons to illegals. Rep. Issa responded that the “wiring can’t be confirmed.” He did state there is a huge amount of violence in his own district of San Diego with drop-off points just north of the border.
Issa expressed his frustration with DOJ, remarking “the DOJ isn’t going to investigate the DOJ. The best way to keep this from happening again is to apprise the American people and also to place ATF as a special unit under the FBI where common practices are shared, such as hiring and predictability.”
Issa won’t negate the possibility of a special prosecutor coming on board, however at this point he hopes one doesn’t because that would automatically suspend his investigation which has produced a voluminous amount of documents and information.
Issa hopes to have his investigation completed by the end of the year but that depends on how much cooperation he receives from the various parties involved.
You can read Rep. Issa’s formal press releases regarding Fast & Furious on his Oversight and Government Reform website. Rep. Issa, stay safe: the American people need you and your committee’s expertise!
Crossposted at Conservative Outlooks