Representative Darrel Issa has been the driving force behind the investigation into Operation Fast and Furious; the ATF program that put U.S. gun store guns into the hands of Mexican cartel members, contributing to the murder of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, Immigrations, Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata, and an unspecified number of Mexican civilians. The Department of Justice is the agency ultimately responsible for the ATF. Its head, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, has been stonewalling the Congressional probe. Issa’s Committee was prepared to vote on a contempt of Congress citation to force Holder to release some 70k documents relating to Fast and Furious. CNN reports on the latest development . . .
The chairman of the House Oversight Committee said Friday he would postpone next week’s scheduled vote on a contempt measure if Attorney General Eric Holder fulfills his offer to turn over more documents on the botched “Fast and Furious” gun-running sting operation.
Note: despite the Obama administration’s repeated and successful attempts to “sell” Fast and Furious as a “botched sting” it was nothing of the sort. Nor was it a simple continuation of Bush-era ATF skullduggery (as Judge Napolitano suggests).
In the Bush-era ops, the ATF tried to follow the guns. During Fast and Furious, the ATF never attempted to follow the 2000+ firearms purchased by Mexican cartel members with the Bureau’s blessing. According to ATF Agent John Dodson, agents were ordered not to maintain contact with the weapons or their purchasers.
This is no small point. While Issa wants the Department of Justice documents to answer the critical who knew what when questions about Fast and Furious, it’s entirely possible/probable that the DOJ will withhold any and all papers regarding the nature of the program. After 152 Death Watches, a year-and-a-half after ATF enabled drug thugs gunned down Agent Terry, we still don’t know the real reason why the program existed.
Nor do we know how Fast and Furious fit into the full farrago of Uncle Sam’s pro-cartel black bag jobs. For example, what of Operation Castaway, the other ATF gun smuggling op (from Palm Beach to Honduras)? Why was captured grenade and machine gun maker Jean Baptiste Kingley released from custody on the orders of the U.S. Attorney’s office? But wait! There’s more . . .
We also know that the DEA provided money used by cartel members for the illegal purchases made during Operation Fast and Furious. We know that the DEA laundered tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars for the Sinaloa cartel.
Guns yes. A criminal conspiracy to arm criminals who murdered a U.S. citizen? Obviously. But Watergate taught us a simple lesson: follow the money. Check this from borderlandbeat.com:
A case which is emblematic of the permissive policy that the U.S. government follows in money laundering cases brings us to the Bank of Wachovia, whose executives, without running any great risk, laundered millions of dollars from drug trafficking. According to news stories, between 2004 and 2007, Wachovia handled $378.4 billion dollars that they transferred Mexican currency exchange businesses, without the bank’s owners and executives worrying much about the source of these funds.
When the U.S. authorities detected the irregularities, they merely imposed a fine of $160 million, that is to say, less than 2% of its earnings in 2009. In effect, the punishment became an incentive for bankers and all sorts of businessmen to continue laundering money in violation of the law.
In short, Fast and Furious was but one part of a larger scheme by the Obama Administration to . . . what? One bank, three years, $378.4 billion. Is it completely inconceivable that the Obama Administration was helping prop-up the Mexican economy by allowing drug money to flow unimpeded from American consumers to Mexican financial institutions? Could Fast and Furious been part of some sort of quid pro quo?
If so, releasing documents specifically related to Fast and Furious, redacting any “tangential” information, could be a ploy by Holder et al. to contain the scandal. Gun smuggling is one thing. Doing business with Mexican drug cartels on an epic scale quite another. CNN:
In a two-page letter to Issa on Thursday, Holder promised to provide documents he has so far refused to turn over and also proposed a face-to-face meeting by Monday.
Issa responded Friday with his own letter, saying Holder’s offer would be sufficient to postpone the vote scheduled for Wednesday on a measure citing Holder for contempt.
So Holder meets with Issa, the U.S. AG spins a story about U.S. foreign policy and national security, and the two men hammer out a deal. Holder resigns or, at the least, throws a bunch of minions under the bus (awaiting a presidential pardon), Issa claims victory and it’s business as usual. Case closed. Or not . . .
“While I do have substantial concerns that these documents may not be sufficient to allow the committee to complete its investigation, delivery of these documents before the scheduled consideration of contempt at 10:00 am on Wednesday, June 20, 2012, would be sufficient to justify the postponement of the proceeding to allow for the review of the materials,” Issa wrote.
Issa said he also wants to meet with Holder and Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, another leading critic of the Fast and Furious program, as soon as Tuesday. Both Issa and Grassley have been demanding information from Holder’s department on the program.
What happens next depends entirely on Issa and Grassley’s decision on the scope of their investigation. The one question that has not been answered—why did the ATF run Operation Fast ad Furious—is the thread which could unravel the feds’ profoundly misguided policy towards the Mexican drug cartels. Which includes, as we have learned over the last year or so, the ATF, DEA, FBI, DHS, DOJ, ICE, CPB, CIA, State Department and White House.
Gun rights advocates see Fast and Furious as a ploy by Obama’s Boyz to clamp down on Americans’ gun rights—as they have done (via Executive Order) with the unconstitutional long gun registry imposed on 8500 border-dwelling gun stores. Others (i.e. yours truly) see it as part and parcel of a profoundly corrupt deal to protect the Calderon administration.
It could be both. Or neither. But until that question is answered in full, the investigation into Operation Fast and Furious will not be complete. Americans deserve to know the truth about Uncle Sam’s gun running. As do the families of Agents Terry and Zapata.