Acting ATF Director: Calm Down About Botched Fast & Furious Scandal

In April 2009 Barack Obama blamed violence in Mexico on US guns.
Five months later the Fast and Furious program was off and running.

We now know that Fast and Furious led to at least one death of a US law officer and over 200 deaths in Mexico. We also know that there was extensive communication between the White House and the ATF regarding Fast and Furious and although Attorney General Holder told Congress under oath that he first learned of the program this year, documents prove that he was aware of the program at least as far back as July of 2010.

Yesterday, the acting ATF director told Washington insiders to calm down about the scandal.

B. Todd Jones unveiled 11 new staff assignments at the executive level. | AP

The new acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives urged Washington insiders to “calm down” about the botched Fast and Furious drug running program.
The Washington Post reported:

The new acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced a major shake-up of his agency Wednesday and urged Washington insiders to “calm down” about the latest revelations surrounding a controversial ATF gun operation.

On Tuesday, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, asked President Obama to appoint a special counsel to investigate whether Holder told the truth to Congress at a hearing on May 3 about Fast and Furious.

Smith made his request a day after Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, released new documents from the Justice Department that he said indicate that Holder was told about Fast and Furious as early as July 2010, although he told Congress in May that he had just learned about it.

A copy of a weekly report, obtained Monday by The Washington Post, was sent to Holder on July 5, 2010, from Michael F. Walther, the director of the National Drug Intelligence Center. A paragraph notes a Phoenix investigation called “Operation Fast and the Furious,” which involved a trafficking ring with straw buyers responsible for the purchase of 1,500 firearms that were then supplied to Mexican drug cartels. The report said the group had ties to the Sinaloa Cartel, suspected of providing $1 million for the purchase of guns.

The document did not explain that the ATF was in effect watching this happen without immediately trying to intervene, the issue at the heart of the controversy.

On Oct. 18, 2010, another weekly report, this one from Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer, was sent to Holder noting “Phoenix-based Operation Fast and Furious.”

Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said Holder became aware of the questionable tactics of allowing the guns to walk — or move without ATF interdiction — only when ATF agents first flagged them publicly in March. Holder then asked the agency’s inspector general to conduct an investigation, which is ongoing.

But Issa said the documents show that Holder was not being truthful during the May 3 congressional hearing.

At the hearing, Issa asked Holder: “When did you first know about the program officially, I believe, called Fast and Furious?”

Holder answered: “I’m not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.”

…Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who is conducting the joint investigation of Fast and Furious along with Issa, released a statement Wednesday night questioning the timing of the ATF shuffle in the same week that lawmakers released the documents pertaining to Holder.

“Rearranging the chairs on the deck won’t make Fast and Furious go away,” Grassley said. “There is a lot of effort at the Justice Department to spin the fact that the Attorney General was less than candid before the House Judiciary Committee, and what better way to make that go away than a bureaucratic shuffle.”

UPDATE: Eric Holder received at least 5 memos on ‘Fast and Furious.’

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