Department of Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano doesn’t remember exactly when she became aware of Operation Fast and Furious, the ATF black bag job that armed members of the Sinaloa cartel with some two thousand weapons, three of which drug thugs used to murder U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. “Senator, I would have to go back and check,” Napolitano told Senator John McCain at yesterday’s hearing of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. FYI: Terry was killed on December 14, 2010; you’d think Ms. Napolitano would have scanned her calendar app by now. That particular perjury aside, Napolitano has now testified under oath that she didn’t know about F&F “while the operation was underway.” What does that tell you?

Assume it’s true: Janet Napolitano’s Sgt. Schultz defense (“I knew nothing!”) reflects reality. So the head of the agency that runs both Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) and a bunch of other stuff besides didn’t know that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was allowing gun smugglers to purchase and “walk” thousands of U.S. gun store guns across the border.

Of course, if ICE or CPB had intercepted a Gunwalker gun, one suspects the U.S. Attorney’s office would have called Janet or one of her minions and said “let my firearms go!” As they did when low-level ATF agents intercepted grenade smuggler Jean Baptiste Kingery.

And if that happened, if ICE or CPB somehow caught wind of the ATF’s shenanigans, Janet would have known about Operation Fast and Furious before Terry’s death, right? Which would, again, make the above statement perjury. Let’s reality check in with the LA Times . . .

Sometime in spring or early summer 2010 — the exact date is unknown — U.S. immigration officers reportedly stopped [ATF-enabled straw purchaser] Avila at the Arizona border with the two semiautomatics and 30 other weapons. According to two sources close to a congressional investigation into Fast and Furious, the authorities checked with the ATF and were told to release him with the weapons because the ATF was still hoping to track the guns to cartel members.

Oh dear. So no one told Janet? Lying, incompetence or top secret inter-agency compartmentalization? Take your pick—not forgetting that you can choose all of the above.

Regarding the intelligence incompetence theory, let’s not forget that the Office of Inspector General ripped the ATF a new you-know-what on this very subject in November 2010, a month before drug thugs shot Agent Terry, three months before Agent Zapata met his maker in mysterious, ATF-enabled circumstances.

The success of Project Gunrunner depends, in part, on ATFGs sharing intelligence with its Mexican and U.S. partner agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Although ATF has shared some strategic intelligence products with each of its partner agencies, it is not doing so systematically and consistently. ATF does share tactical intelligence regularly with the DEA and DHS’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Click here for the full OIG report. Which doesn’t mention Fast and Furious by name. I guess that the ATF didn’t share that “tactical intelligence” with the OIG, either, then.

Meanwhile, note Napolitano’s angry tone when addressing her old friend Senator John McCain (/sarcasm). Vicious criminals slayed two members of her team with ATF-enabled weapons. If Janet’s blameless in their deaths, where’s the DHS jefe’s sense of outrage?

If Janet Napolitano knew nothing about the ATF’s black bad job, she should be pissed. Kicking ass and taking names, never mind the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) forthcoming report.

As if. And about that report . . .

It couldn’t be more clear that the Obama Administration is stonewalling Congress about the nature, scope and scale of Operation Fast and Furious and its parallel programs (Castaway, Grenadewalker and stingless stings to be named later). Their constant refrain—Can’t talk! Can’t talk! The OIG report is coming! The OIG report is coming!—may well come to bite them in their collective ass.

The OIG report could be a suprise blockbuster that brings down the whole house of cards. Although the Office of Inspector General lies within the Department of Justice (DOJ)—the same department whose head is suspected of lying to Congress about his role in the various ATF-run black bag jobs—the OIG has a history of telling it like it is. As above. As below:

We found that 68 percent of Project Gunrunner cases are single-defendant cases, and some ATF managers discourage field personnel from conducting the types of complex conspiracy investigations that target higher-level members of trafficking rings.

Huh. So the ATF’s entire rationale for letting the guns walk—to catch the big fish—is a fraud? ATF managers were preventing field personnel from pursuing higher-level gun smugglers? Who knew?

The OIG knew. And they told the truth. Now, with Gunwalker threatening to expose a vast government conspiracy to arm America’s most favored drug cartel against President Calderon’s nemesis, one wonders about the pressure that Eric Holder’s DOJ is placing on the OIG to produce a whitewash.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if the OIG told the truth about the ATF, DOJ, DEA, CIA, DHS, CPB, NSC, FBI, IRS (yes them too), State Department and White House’s involvement in these illegal black bag jobs? Or can we expect the veil of national security to drop on this whole scandal like a curtain? If so, why hasn’t it happened yet?

So many questions, so little time before the next presidential election. But there are now so many people asking—Congress, the OIG, defendants’ lawyers, journalists—this scandal threatens to overwhelm the Obama administration. Watergate took down Nixon after a landslide re-election. Politics will not save Obama from facing the music. Unless it does. Watch this space.

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37 Responses to ATF Death Watch 82: Stonewall

  1. “Or can we expect the veil of national security to drop on this whole scandal like a curtain? If so, why hasn’t it happened yet?” Good question! I’d bet that they’re going to try like hell to make that veil an iron curtain. But I don’t think that it’s going to work. There will likely come a point, within the next few months, where there will simply be too much blood in the water to keep the sharks away. It will only take a few of the lower to mid level players to flip their higher ups before the real feeding frenzy begins. I’d guess that by the end of the year, or very early 2012, the investigation will spin up very rapidly. Time will tell.

    In the mean time, we’re all writing our legis-critters to encourage them to get to the bottom of this, right?

        • Well, Ace, at the moment we have 2.5 wars, a collapsed housing market, a disturbing structural unemployment rate, a European fiscal crisis, and Susan Lucci’s show was just cancelled. So why do I give a rat’s ass about this?

          RF can bang on his tambourine all he wants, but I just can’t get excited about this deal. Obviously, even his interest is in large part affected. Feigned outrage is pretty easy to spot.

        • FYI, the difference between a troll and someone with a opposing viewpoint is intent. If either me or Magoo were trolls, we would have gotten bored a long time ago with this site, or changed to concern trolling.

        • Magoo, if this operation went down during George Bush’s term you would screaming for impeachment. Your feigned “this isn’t important” schtick is just partisan hot air.

        • At no time while he was in office did I ever call for Bush’s impeachment, and he openly admitted to dumber stuff than this.

          You know, Martin Albright wrote a thoughtful note on this topic right here at TTAG. Not every mistake is a conspiracy. Sometimes they’re just mistakes.

        • A mistake may not be a conspiracy, but it doesnt mean the person who committed the mistake isnt a criminal.

        • And sometimes they’re conspiracies. The fact that the Obama administration has failed to provide the documents requested by Congress re: Fast and Furious and the OIG report pointing out that ATF agents were actively discouraged from going after gun running “kingpins” indicates that this was not a “botched sting.”

        • In a previous post I laid out how the approval chain an operation like F&F is supposed to work. The local US Attorney’s office approve local operations. Operations that cross boundry lines have to go to the AAG who run the criminal division. If you cross an international border it has to gain DoS approval and the US embassy must get permission of the other government involved. If an agency head goes to the White House he has to pre-brief his boss, in this case the AG. According the DOJ senior leadership none of this happened and F&F was a local initiative gone wrong. Anybody who has worked at the senior levels of government knows that this is not a credibile story. I will grant that this may have been a screw up but it was a screw up at the highest levels of government in an area covered by criminal law. Just remember it’s not alway the crime that get you, it’s the cover up. I guarenntee you that Holder is covering up.

        • Slow day Quincy? I can just picture you storming about, with steam coming out of your ears, as you set your keyboard and your hair on fire. Give us hell, old chap. Feigned righteous indignation is pretty easy to spot too.

          Just like it doesn’t seem too many folks got too cranked up over Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen (is that the 0.5 you’re talking about?), Libya or Somalia, it also doesn’t seem like too many people are too cranked up by the war going on below and at our southern border. Isn’t it curious how we pick and choose? Besides, they’re just a bunch of beaners anyway, right? It’s not like they’re really important, like the French or the Swedes or those other nice European folks that we can all look up to .

  2. Re: Of course, if they had intercepted a Gunwalker gun, one suspects the U.S. Attorney’s office would have called Janet or one of her minions and said “let my firearms go!”

    I heard about this LA times story on Cam and Company:
    http://articles.latimes.com/2011/sep/11/nation/la-na-atf-guns-20110912

    Sometime in spring or early summer 2010 — the exact date is unknown — U.S. immigration officers reportedly stopped Avila at the Arizona border with the two semiautomatics and 30 other weapons. According to two sources close to a congressional investigation into Fast and Furious, the authorities checked with the ATF and were told to release him with the weapons because the ATF was still hoping to track the guns to cartel members.

  3. Two things:

    1. Re: “If Janet Napolitano knew nothing about the ATF’s black bad job, she should be pissed. ” should be “black bag job”, I think.

    2. Dennis Burke is the key. He was Napolitano’s Chief of Staff when she was our esteemed Governess, worked with her in the Arizona Attorney General’s office prior to that, and according to Wikipedia was “most recently a Senior Advisor to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.” He’s been with Napolitano a long time, and now he’s out on his keister. He’s the latest entry into Napolitano’s Stooge of the Month Club, and the question is, can he be made to flip and rat on his boss?

  4. Napolitano has now testified under oath that she didn’t know about F&F “while the operation was underway.” What does that tell you?

    It tells me that she’s a lying sack of sh!t.

  5. “So why do I give a rat’s ass about this?”

    The death of U.S. citizens using guns supplied by the goverment agency that’s tasked to stop the illegal gun trade doesn’t bother you at all?

  6. ATF Death Watch 6,279: Director Timberlake to Testify.

    April 1, 2034: Senator Darrell E. Issa today announced that Director Justin Timberlake of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, Explosives and Mexican Trade will be questioned by the Senate Select Committee on Government Oversight and Underwear. “We want to know about Operation Slow and Stupid, and I don’t expect him just to talk,” Issa said. “I expect him to sing.”

    • LOL. How’s that camera working out for ya? I need it for a post on the safety of a safety vs. a safety action trigger.

  7. If, in fact, she didn’t know what was going on, and in light of all the other times we find one hand not knowing what the other’s doing, is it any wonder so many of us want a smaller government? One that’s small enough that it’s physically possible for a competent administrator to know about and stop all the stupid things their minions are doing?

  8. “If so, not one but two agencies responsible for protecting America’s borders are so inept that they didn’t catch one smuggler once in the ten months F&F was up and running…Regarding the intelligence incompetence theory, let’s not forget that the Office of Inspector General ripped the ATF a new you-know-what…”
    Didnt something similar happen 10 years + a few days ago?

    “Now, with Gunwalker threatening to expose a vast government conspiracy to arm America’s most favored drug cartel against President Calderon’s nemesis…”
    Didnt the same thing happen during Iran Contra? Everything old is new again. Obama will hand out pardons just like Bush 1 did.

    “Politics will not save Obama from facing the music. Unless it does.”
    Queue a terrorist attack, and this story will never show up in the mainstream media. Most of the few people who do know about it will forget while they beat their chest and call for yet another war.

    • So tell me matt, which building is the government wiring up for the next terroist attack. I want to make sure to avoid it.

        • That’s more to the point.

          I find it interesting two of our We’re-totally-not-trolls are totally okay with moral relativism. “Because of you totally are wrong to focus on this issue.” What F&F did was illegal and led to a death of an American and the deaths of many Mexican folks.

          The truth should be dug out because the people in charge are burying the truth. The people who are guilty should be found and they should be tried for their crime and convicted. I don’t care if they are dems, reps, inds, pro-2A, gun grabbing or anything else. The truth should be made known.

          The series here and the talk in other places in print and on the web are part of the pressure that is unfortunately necessary for people in charge to realize that “We the people” want justice, expect justice and demand justice without regard to race, color, ethnicity, etc.

          What is so freaking hard about that? Why do the trolls get so riled about this? Why?

  9. This is the first time I have read this blog, but you must be stepping on some guilty toes, and touching some sore spots. I see that a couple of Open Society umbrella group trolls have been assigned to interject nonsense into the posted comments. That is normally a sign that a blog or an article is conveying important information.

    Keep up the good work!

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