When you’ve got bad news, release it on Friday. The White House followed that dictum yesterday by surrendering carefully selected documents to Congressional investigators exploring the link between Operation Fast and Furious and the Obama Administration. CBS has obtained records that prove that then-ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix office (and Fast and Furious coordinator) Bill Newell and then-White House National Security Staffer Kevin O’Reilly were schmoozing about F&F by phone and email. [Click here for the pdf.] The White House said the two men never discussed the fact that ATF guns were walking. Riiiiight. That’s why O’Reilly’s now in Iraq, “on assignment,” where he can’t be contacted . . .
The White House continues to withhold other documents requested by Senator Grassley and Representative Issa’s investigation into the ATF’s Fast and Furious op. Specifically, the investigators want the Newell emails that O’Reilly forwarded to Dan Restrepo (Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs) and Greg Gatjkanis (Director for Terrorist Finance and Counternarcotics, Counterterrorism Policy, National Security Staff, Executive Office of the President).
The White House claims they can’t release the forwarded emails—and a different document related to the case against the drug thug who murdered U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry—because the EOP (Executive Office of the President) has “significant confidentiality interests in its internal communications.”
We’ve reached another milestone in this scandal: the White House is claiming executive privilege; although they’re not actually using the term. Yet. [Click here for the letter to Congress from Kathryn Ruemmler, Counsel to the President.]
No doubt O’Reilly’s emails contain remarks about Newell’s reports. I suspect those comments reveal that Agent Newell was kept out of the loop on the Obama Administration’s real strategy towards Mexico. Put another way, Newell was a patsy.
This conclusion is based on Agent Newell’s gung-ho gormlessness. In one of the released documents, Newell chronicles a case against straw purchasers where he sent three ATF Agents to inspect firearms confiscated by the Mexican government. Didn’t happen. [Scroll about halfway down the aforementioned pdf to “Guns Not Viewed in Mexico.”]
We are more than willing to address [Mexico’s] repeated requests to hold all those involved with the trafficking in firearms accountable to the fullest extent of the law but they need to be part of the solution and not the problem. My agents desperately want to make this work because we see the damage caused by these illegal acts by “straw” purchasers and others involved in trafficking of firearms to Mexico. We want to hold them accountable under US law but it won’t take any more times of having doors slammed in their faces by the Mexicans before they give up and when that happens Mexico can stop complaining because we tried and they failed.
It has to be said: Newell could well be the most naive human on planet earth. Did the ATF Agent really think the Mexican government really cares about a relative dribble of American guns south via low-rent straw purchasers? Or that the General who frustrated his agents’ planned inspection didn’t have his own, non-procedural reasons for telling the ATF to f-off? Or was Newell trying to play O’Reilly?
I’m going with door number one. A CIA/NSA/ATF/DOJ or DHS employee that couldn’t manipulate Blind Bill Newell to do their bidding wouldn’t have held the job in the first place. If you know what I mean. Anyway, the CBS report casually mentions the existence of another ATF gunwalking operation based in Tuscon.
Also included [in the email from Newell to O’Reilly are] photographs including images of a .50 caliber rifle that Newell tells O’Reilly “was purchased in Tucson, Arizona (part of another OCDTF case).” OCDTF is a joint task force that operates under the Department of Justice and includes the US Attorneys, ATF, DEA, FBI, ICE and IRS. Fast and Furious was an OCDTF case. An administration source would not describe the Tucson OCDTF case.
However, CBS News has learned that ATF’s Phoenix office led an operation out of Tucson called “Wide Receiver.” Sources claim ATF allowed guns to “walk” in that operation, much like Fast and Furious.
So six federal agencies are in the frame, but good. We have Operation Fast and Furious (Phoenix), Operation Castaway (Tampa), Operation Wide Receiver (Tuscon) and Grenadewalker (letting a bomb-maker scoot into Mexico). If I were a suspicious man, I’d say that this forms some kind of pattern. And the number of guns “lost”to the Sinaloas (not to mention grenades) could be well above the official count of 2000. Ish.
It’s no wonder that the Department of Justice (the ATF’s boss) is contemplating the nuclear option. Yup, the DOJ’s thinking about blowing-up the ATF. Not demoting the ATF and sending it back to the IRS from whence it sprang. Deep-sixing the entire Bureau.
Multiple sources, including sources from ATF, DOJ and Congressional offices have said there is a white paper circulating within the Department of Justice, outlining the essential elimination of ATF. According to sources, the paper outlines the firing of at least 450 ATF agents in an effort to conduct damage control as Operation Fast and Furious gets uglier and as election day 2012 gets closer.
ATF agents wouldn’t be reassigned to other positions, just simply let go. Current duties of ATF, including the enforcement of explosives and gun laws, would be transferred to other agencies, possibly the FBI and the DEA. According to a congressional source, there have been rumblings about the elimination of ATF for quite sometime, but the move would require major political capital to actually happen.
In this case “major political capital” would mean the entire Obama administration going down in ATF-related flames. For that to happen, a Congressional investigator or Special Prosecutor would have to find a smoking gun: a document and/or witness directly tying Operation Fast and Furious (and/or worse) to the White House, perhaps even the President.
Given Friday’s revelations, it seems pretty clear that Issa and Grassley either have that document/person or they’re about to have it. Newell’s mea culpa letter to investigators indicates that he’s scared s4itless of going to jail. If Newell flips, or O’Reilly (who can’t like Iraq all that much), the pyre will be lit.
In the face of all this Mexican misegos, all the president’s men would gladly cut a deal to sacrifice the ATF to preserve the Commander-in-Chief. That said, it takes two sides to make a deal. If Republicans smell, see and taste White House blood, they are not going to trade the elimination of a piddling little completely redundant anti-Second Amendment federal agency for the President’s proverbial scalp.
If it comes down to it, it’ll be Watergate all over again.
Dozens of political appointees will resign and/or face criminal charges until, eventually, President Obama gets the word “besieged” attached to his name. He’ll claim executive privilege (like Nixon), the Supreme Court will shoot that down (like Nixon), and the Prez will resign gracefully.
Despite ranks thinned by indictments, the ATF will continue disgracefully. The incoming administration will appoint a “new broom” head to “clean up” the ATF. And so the Bureau will lick its wounds and sulk—and live to skulk again.
There is, however, a genuine possibility that the Obama administration will shutter the ATF proactively, to dodge the Fast and Furious bullet.
Last week, ATF offered 400 agents buy outs to avoid budget cuts and is expecting 250-275 agents to take the offer through Voluntary Early Retirement. These buyouts come at a convenient time for the Justice Department, which can eliminate ATF, then say it’s because of budget cuts, when really, it’s to cover their tracks.
If Obama Boyz pull the plug on the ATF (from my keyboard to God’s ears), the administration will arrange generous severance payments for existing ATF agents—with iron-clad non-disclosure agreements.
The WH will put it to their pursuers: if we close the ATF now, before this excrement hits the rotating air circulation device, will you quit bugging us? And BTW, it’s a matter of national security. And yay us for saving $1.6 billion per year! Are we fiscally responsible or what?
I have a sneaking suspicion that the “the ATF must die white paper” (a.k.a., trial balloon) is the start of Brad Kozak’s prediction of a forthcoming “night of the long knives.” The other federal agencies implicated—or soon to be implicated—in Gunwalker et al. want to sacrifice the ATF to save their own skins.
The FBI is deep into this gun running thing; they protect their rep with religious fervor. The CIA doesn’t want another foreign policy f-up laid at their doorstep. Hillary’s State Department had more than a little operational familiarity with Fast and Furious. As did the DHS, DOJ, CPB, IRS, ICE, NSA, CIA, U.S. Attorney’s Office and, of course, the White House.
Now that the knives are out, the truth may out as well, as ALL of these agencies are bound to compete with each other in the finger-pointing department. All it takes is one loudmouth punk to bring down the whole house of cards.
Would the ATF’s elimination end the investigation into Gunwalker? Not at all. But the fact that the idea has even seen the light of day, indicates that the real blood-letting is about to begin.
Many members of our Armed Intelligentsia don’t believe that spiking the ATF would be a victory for gun rights. Their anti-gun goonery would simply shift to the FBI, DHS, or some other bureaucratic arm of the federal government. Better the devil you know. That sort of thing.
Not true. The ATF is deeply, culturally antithetical to the Second Amendment. They have learned nothing whatsoever from the murderous rampages at Ruby Ridge and Waco. The ATF has a long, sordid history of bureaucratic and personal corruption (i.e. making a big bust so a large number of agents can travel to a retirement party on Uncle Sam’s dime). They are jack-booted thugs.
Killing the ATF would remove the biggest thorn in the side of the American firearms industry and American gun owners. The regulations that govern lawful gun manufacture and ownership would not go away. But the ATF zealots who use those laws as a bludgeon, who seek new draconian regulations to enhance their personal and communal power, would scatter.
If you detest the idea of an endless federal jihad against individual gun rights, then ditching the ATF would be the best news since the Supreme Court’s Heller and McDonald decisions.
Don’t forget it’s our government. We have the right—I would say obligation—to lop off those bits that don’t uphold their oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America.