Operation Fast & Furious was concieved in October 2009, in a meeting between the Justice Department, DEA, ATF, FBI and Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden among other Government officials. It was implemented in November 2009, under special agent Bill Newell, of ATF’s Phoenix field division. The purpose was to identify and eliminate entire arms trafficking networks. These are facts that are known and without dispute.
What is in dispute is who knew about and authorized the gunwalking program that lead to Government agents watching daily illegal purchases and stashing of guns, without any arrests of the perpretrators. In March 2010, ATF supervisor David Voth wrote an email in regard to this stating in part:
“I will be damned if this case is going to suffer due to petty arguing, rumors, or other adolescent behavior. I don’t know what all the issues are but we are all adults, we are all professionals, and we have an exciting opportunity to use the biggest tool in our law enforcement tool box. If you don’t think this is fun you are in the wrong line of work – period!” as reported by the Washington Post, October 23, 2011
As of June 2010, the ATF was aware of over 1,608 firearms being illegally bought and moved, of which 179 had been used in crimes in Mexico and 130 in the United States. The cost of the firearms totaled over $1 million dollars. No arrests were made.
Ultimately, in December 2010, after more than a year in operation and without a single arrest having been made, U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed in an incident on the border that involved a firefight with at least 2 weapons directly linked to the Fast & Furious operation.
In January 2011 Fast & Furious was ended, with 20 people arrested on 53 counts. The initial public account was that no gunwalking had occured. Of the final tally of 2,020 firearms that were known to have been illegally bought and transfered, 276 have been recovered in Mexico and 389 in the United States as of October 2011.
On March 23, 2011 President Obama stated neither he, nor Attorney General Eric Holder, were responsible for Fast & Furious.
On May 3, 2011 Attorney General Holder stated to Congress that he knew nothing about Fast & Furious, and was launching an investigation. This was Immediately refuted by a CBS News report that Attorney General Holder was aware of the operation at least from July 2010 if not earlier.
On November 9, 2011 Holder stated to Congress
“…he and other top officials knew nothing of the specific Fast and Furious tactic — a practice known as gun walking — until ATF whistle-blowers went public this year.”
January 31, 2012 Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released a report stating Fast & Furious
“…was just one of four such operations that were part of a misguided five-year-long effort, during both the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, in the Phoenix division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives against firearms trafficking along the Southwest border.”
Today, June 20, 2012, President Obama extended Executive Privilege to Attorney General Holder on releasing documents related to Operation Fast & Furious to Congress that had been requesting the information since 2011. The executive privilege comes as Holder is on the verge of a contempt vote in Congress.
The actions by President Obama now brings into question, again, who knew of Operation Fast & Furious, who approved the gunwalking, and when. Based on the statements of Holder the White House was not involved, especially the President. But exective privilege applies directly to the White House and certain staff. As Chris Wallace explained in his discussion about executive privilege with Karl Rove – who was given executive privilege in 2007.
“…So, this question of executive privilege does not necessarily mean that the president is involved. It can be White House aides who were involved … other people like that. He [Rove] said what surprised him was the fact that this was over Justice Department documents, not White House documents. The Cabinet officials, because they are subject to Senate confirmation, are not covered by executive privilege. They are in fact, as I say, subject to the advice and consent of the Senate. The fact that they would assert executive privilege there raises the question certainly as to whether there were communications if not directly between Holder and the president, between the Justice Department and White House officials, and that some of these documents they’re seeking may have involved White House officials.”
The use of executive privilege seems to refute statements made repeatedly by Holder and the President during this investigation. It imples, especially at this late stage, that 1) the President was far more aware and actively involved than has been stated, and 2) that Democrats are circling Holder in an attempt to protect him – if not the White House as well – in addition to their political well-being in the upcoming Novemer elections.
At every step of the investigation into Operation Fast & Furious there have been revealed disappointments in the judgement of Government officials, confusion in the chain of command, an obvious lack of proper supervision, and a falire to provide clear objectives with defined methods of action. At least the appearance of stonewalling and misdirection has occured since the start of the investigation – for reasons that point in the direction of political CYA.
If nothing else, and there is far more, the situation with Attorney General Eric Holder highlights the failure of the Obama Administration to live up to the promise to be the most transparent Administration – stated on Jan 22, 2010 as well as other times, and flies in the face of President Obama’s stance on the use of executive privilege he made in 2007.
Thus again we must ask, how deep does this particular political rabbit hole go?
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