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.