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.
So even if the eliminate the ATF all the evil and anti American activities they carry out will be carried out by the FBI? So what’s the point? Short of tax savings.
The ATF are evil bastards. And one less federal agency is a good thing, not a bad thing.
There is that whole devil you know thing.
True that shit, Robert.
No disagreement here with that but still I don’t trust the FBI either
NEVER trust the FBI
When I first read the post headline I thought it was another story by the Onion. If the ATF (BATFE) gets eliminated, even if their functions and mission get taken up by other federal agencies, I think Aaron Zelman (RIP) would be laughing.
Wiping out the ATF and letting go of so many agents is risky, isn’t it? I mean it is expecting a lot of angry ex-government employees to keep quiet. If some of those people are bitter they could let out a lot of stories about what the ATF has really been doing all these years.
What about Homeland Security? If the ATF ‘gets the boot’ is it possible they could get some of the ATF’s duties and responsibilities?
I am in agreement with Aharon. Releasing that many agents in the wild would be counterproductive. With a few agents we get the scoop on gunrunner, with 400 who knows what stories will turn up. Not to mention what will they do with class 3 weapons and those who manufacture arms? They will have to go to congress to get the regulations for guns changed to another agency and that will be another headache for this administration. Someone high up is not thinking things through and is making a large mistake even bigger.
I could have sat here all night commenting on this whole gunwalker thing. There is just so much to say.
But in a nutshell I find it hilarious that a very anti-2nd administration that was so quiet on the issue for so long, tried to put together and pull off clandestinely, a knockout punch for the 2nd amendment and had it totally blow up in their face.
What has been committed is high treason and conspiracy to commit murder. It is a forgone conclusion that Holder knew about it and gave his approval. If Holder knew, then the White House knew.
This makes Watergate and the stained dress accompanied with perjury, small peanuts in comparison.
Let us only hope that this evil nazi inspired organization disappears into the trash bin of history. But along with their demise, we must demand the elimination of NFA 1934, 1936, GCA 68, bush’s anti machine gun law, the sullivan act, and every other progressive anti second amendment law on the books. Rope, Tree, some assembly required.
So what you’re saying is that it’s ok to trade the evil tyrant (ATF) for the benevolent tyrant (???) right? Let’s say you get rid of the evil tyrant and the replace the evil tyrant with the most probable benevolent tyrant, FBI. The gun rights grass is always greener on the other side of the enforcement fence right? The reason this option seems attractive to some is that they aren’t the day in, day out enforcers of CONGRESS’S will as it comes to guns. So now you have a fully empowered federal goon squad who have just picked up the F enforcement from ATF. The first thing they have to do is figure out what’s what.
– The operations manual for compliance with statutory laws is probably pretty thick. This mentions nothing of the CFR and ATF’s arbitrary and stupid “rulings” like the shoestring machine gun that was allowed to stand for years. But, there are other rulings out there like the open bolt semi auto, sear = machine gun rulings, and what people probably aren’t looking at here is that the motivation behind the seeming stupidity of some of these laws, regulations & rulings is:
Politics; doing favors for some special interest whether it’s a government entity, private industry member – whatever. These rulings are a product of the people who were in charge of writing them. FBI, DEA, DHS, they all come from the same FLETC and to paraphrase a widely known joke about Massachusetts – the DNA’s all the same.
FBI then takes let’s suppose 6 months to “assess” aft operations, and recommend transition activity. This will include fixing some things, keeping some things the same, and of course making some things worse.
-One of the primary concerns is going to be making sure they’re not being left “holding the bag” for anything, so an audit of current investigations, and probably FFL’s is going to happen. License review, post-sample MG possession for … dubious purposes, among other things are going to be looked at really hard. Reports will be made and changes recommended.
-finally enforcement will begin under the new and formerly benevolent tyrant and we now find out that the benevolent tyrant is just as evil as the evil tyrant. AND they have more money, more manpower and the love of Congress because in the eyes of congress the FBI are “terrorist fighters”.
“The ATF is deeply, culturally antithetical to the Second Amendment”
News flash: They’re not the only federal government agency who what firearms. Practically all of them do, but not with the fervor of the National Park Service. Now, it is true that the ATF are murderers, but let’s not forget it was an FBI agent and US Marshall putting lead downrange against the citizens at Ruby Ridge. The grass isn’t so much greener now is it?
“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.”
Those people have to go somewhere. Where do you think they will end up? If you answered “working for the benevolent tyrant” you’re correct. That’s exactly what the mythical Fed agency taking over for the hypothetically defunct ATF would do. Obtain subject matter experts. Who knows more about oppressing citizens & suppressing the right to keep and bear arms than ATF JBT’s? So now henchmen for the evil tyrant are now working for the formerly benevolent and newly minted evil tyrant.
Here’s another flash, but it’s not news.
ATF is an executive branch agency which takes marching orders from the President but can only act within what CONGRESS allows it to act.
Pull the authority to (abusively) regulate and you eliminate the problem, rather than the symptom.
Burning the ATF would be a start. Eliminating this particular tinder would be progress but surviving agencies will consolidate power/budget. There will be little change in the underlying problem which is abuse with almost no accountability. Taxpayers will continue to underwrite incompetence and fraud until every institution is made transparent and accountable. Otherwise, the security/secrecy cult we allow will produce nearly infinite wicker man sacrifices for our burning pleasure. Let the burning begin. It can illuminate our next dark secret.
Do they know where Loughner got the gun to shoot Giffords? Just askin.’
I also wonder what will be the fate of O’Reilly in Iraq.
It’s a very dangerous place, still, after all.
Longer term, a big government police-nanny state needs incoming big revenue to continue it’s policies of stealing from Paul and giving to Mary, and to keeping the federal boot on the necks of freedom and independent minded citizens. The ongoing self-destructive economic and financial policies and behavior of America will also hasten a decline of government power over the people. Government activities will have to be prioritized because of limited available funds. In the shorter-run anything can happen while a government still has the resources to harm select groups of its own citizens as world and American history has demonstrated.
I am willing to compromise – I will agree that we don’t need a special prosecutor and an impeachment trial, if they agree to eliminate the ATF –
AND all of the other agencies involved in this ongoing criminal enterprise:
The State Department, the DHS, DOJ, CPB, IRS, ICE, NSA, CIA, U.S. Attorney’s Office and, of course, the White House. Every damn one of them.
So it took 91 deathwatches for me to acknowledge that it’s now more than just wishful thinking. What will the number be when it finally happens?
Anyone for starting a pool?
The ATF has only one job, which is to break our balls. The FBI, who I trust like a scorpion in my sleeping bag, has a lot of jobs. So if the ATF goes away and the FBI takes over without adding new agents, I’m fine with that.
But Aharon is right: a bunch of disaffected, terminated ATF agents could be a problem for POTUS. Let’s face it, with new F&F embarrassments leaking every day, POTUS has his thing caught in his fly. If he shuts ATF down, it will look bad and cost him the extreme left wing of his party. If he doesn’t, he’ll have to deal with F&F during the campaign.
Sounds like fun, right?
does to me 🙂
Did the Mexican Government ever make a statement about Fast & Furious?
F&F, if it doesn’t get silenced, is going to be more entertaining than Watergate, Contragate, Irangate, Travelgate, and Monicagate.
Forbes seems to have an interesting and informative article on F&F:
More fun than Monicagate? The mind boggles.
Some passages from the Forbes article:
“Evidently to quell internal dissension, on March 12, 2010 David Voth, the ATF’s Phoenix Group VII supervisor, sent an e-mail to field agents that said,…If you don’t think this is fun you’re in the wrong line of work — period.”
“On April 2, 2010, Voth sent an email to a government-redacted recipient that said, “Our subjects purchased 359 firearms during the month of March alone, to include numerous Barrett .50 caliber rifles.”
“To stress this point, Rep. Issa held a conference call with journalists on September 21 in which he said Marisela Morales, Mexico’s attorney general, is reporting that at least 200 Mexican deaths can now be traced to weapons from the Fast and Furious program”.
You gotta know Ralph, I don’t, but think still this lacks the titillation to rouse the masses, or even the gilded Forbes sheep. Close, but they’re still waffling and at least 6 months late. But I do smell the hint of a storm driven stampede. Thanks for the link, I’ll buy the popcorn.
I’m guessing I was close,“with this. “
Question: Will DOJ cut off the BATFE arm to save itself?
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