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Documents Suggest Holder Knew About ‘Fast and Furious’ Earlier Than He Claimed October 3, 2011

Posted by seeineye in : Politics , add a comment

Source: Fox News

For the first time, documents appear to show Attorney General Eric Holder was made aware of the Operation Fast and Furious earlier than he claimed — up to 9 nine months earlier.

The documents seem to contradict what Holder told a House Judiciary Committee on May 3, when he said he could not recall the exact date, but he’d “probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.”
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However, in a July 2010 memo, Michael Walther, director of the National Drug Intelligence Center, told Holder straw buyers in the Operation Fast and Furious case “are responsible for the purchase of 1,500 firearms that were then supplied to the Mexican drug trafficking cartels.”

Also, on October 18, 2010, one of Holder’s chief deputies, Lanny Breuer, chief of the department’s Criminal Division, told Holder in a memo that prosecutors were ready to issue indictments in Operation Fast and Furious.

Documents also show, contrary to earlier reports, the Justice Department was aware that ATF agents under the department’s direction were involved in the controversial practice known as “gun walking” — allowing illicit gun sales to proceed to track the traffickers to higher-ups. The department has said it did not allow guns to “walk.”

When agents “let guns walk,” they stop surveillance and allow criminals to transfer weapons to others. In this case, that meant allowing the guns to cross the border into Mexico. It is a highly controversial practice agents typically are taught not to do.

However, in an October 17, 2010 memo, Deputy Attorney General Jason Weinstein asks another attorney in the Criminal Division if Breuer should do a press conference when Fast and Furious is announced, but says, “It’s a tricky case, given the number of guns that have walked.”

His associate, James Trusty writes back, “It’s not going to be any big surprise that a bunch of US guns are being used in MX (Mexico), so I’m not sure how much grief we’ll get for ‘gun walking.'”

Until now, there’s been an attempt to portray Operation Fast and Furious as a rogue operation by ATF agents in Phoenix and the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office. But insiders claim these documents show the Department of Justice in Washington was intimately aware of the case almost from the beginning.

In response to the documents released today, the Justice Department said Holder’s response referred to when he first learned of the “troubling tactics” of the program. A Justice spokesperson also says that the “gun walking” referred to in the October 2010 email exchange is about another case initiated before Operation Fast and Furious.

Allen West: We need a special prosecutor to investigate Holder’s role in Operation Fast and Furious July 13, 2011

Posted by seeineye in : Politics , add a comment

It’s time…

Via TownHall Katie Pavlich, who makes an important distinction that’s occasionally been overlooked in all the Gunrunner/Fast and Furious coverage. Namely, they’re not the same program. Gunrunner is the ATF’s umbrella operation for selling guns to straw purchasers and then immediately busting them; F&F is the op that let those purchasers walk them across the border, where they ended up in the possession of cartels. It is true that Holder acknowledged the existence of Gunrunner in a 2009 speech in Mexico, but as Mike Riggs of Reason points out, there’s no evidence — yet — that Holder authorized or even knew about Fast and Furious. To the contrary:

DOJ Spokesperson Tracy Schmaler said in an email today that it was inaccurate to conflate the two programs.

“Holder said he became aware of the ATF agents concerns about certain tactics used in Fast and Furious earlier this year. That’s when he asked the IG to investigate those concerns,” she emailed today. “That’s different than knowing there are enforcement efforts along the SW border to stop illegal gun trafficking. The department has several agencies working on those efforts including ATF, FBI, DEA, Marshals.”…

There’s also the word of Acting ATF Director Ken Melson, who told [the House Oversight Committee] last week that Holder had no knowledge of Fast and Furious. The entire transcript from that hearing has not been released, but according to the Washington Post, “people familiar with [the hearing] said that [Melson] indicated that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. did not know about [Fast and Furious], that it would be unusual for other Justice Department officials in Washington to know the details and that the U.S. attorney’s office in Phoenix was overseeing the program.”

Verrry curious that the DOJ would be so reluctant to let Melson testify before Congress, in that case, but then that’s part of the reason for a special prosecutor. Why the curious reluctance? Katie makes an interesting point too: In his April 2009 Mexico speech mentioning Gunrunner, Holder referred to a “major new effort” the ATF had launched the week before to “break the backs of the cartels.” Was that an obscure reference to Fast and Furious? From what I can tell, the program didn’t launch until the fall of 2009, but Katie claims it started in April, which means it could be the program Holder was referring to.

Sure would be nice to have someone get to the bottom of this without the stonewalling that Issa has encountered. Meanwhile, here’s the feds’ attempt to do damage control: Gun shops in four border states will now be required to report multiple purchases of certain types of rifles in a five-day span. The ATF screwed up in Fast and Furious, and so now lawful gun buyers have to be tracked more closely. Okay then.