Monday, December 5, 2011

Project Gunrunner/Operation Fast and Furious update: the Friday evening dump edition


It doesn't get much dumpier than this.

Remember how the Justice Department was adamant that they did not sanction the sale of weapons to straw purchasers to Mexican drug cartels and how they claimed to have made every effort to intercept those weapons before they got to those same cartels? Allow them to revise those stances just a tad and to set up a fall guy while they're at it.

The Justice Department on Friday provided Congress with documents detailing how department officials gave inaccurate information to a U.S. senator in the controversy surrounding Operation Fast and Furious, the flawed law enforcement initiative aimed at dismantling major arms trafficking networks on the Southwest border.

In a letter last February to Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Justice Department said that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms had not sanctioned the sale of assault weapons to a straw purchaser and that the agency makes every effort to intercept weapons that have been purchased illegally. In Operation Fast and Furious, both statements turned out to be incorrect.

The Justice Department letter was responding to Grassley's statements that the Senate Judiciary Committee had received allegations the ATF had sanctioned the sale of hundreds of assault weapons to suspected straw purchasers. Grassley also said there were allegations that two of the assault weapons had been used in a shootout that killed customs agent Brian Terry.

In an email four days later to Justice Department colleagues, then-U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke in Phoenix said that "Grassley's assertions regarding the Arizona investigation and the weapons recovered" at the "murder scene are based on categorical falsehoods. I worry that ATF will take 8 months to answer this when they should be refuting its underlying accusations right now." That email marked the start of an internal debate in the Justice Department over what and how much to say in response to Grassley's allegations. The fact that there was an ongoing criminal investigation into Terry's murder prompted some at the Justice Department to argue for less disclosure.

Some of what turned out to be incorrect information was emailed to Lanny Breuer, the assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department's criminal division. Breuer sent an email saying "let's help as much as we can" in responding to Grassley.

The emails sent to Capitol Hill on Friday showed that Burke supplied additional incorrect information to the Justice Department's criminal division that ended up being forwarded to Breuer. For example, Burke said that the guns found at the Terry murder scene were purchased at a Phoenix gun shop before Operation Fast and Furious began. In fact, the operation was under way at the time and the guns found at the Terry murder scene were part of the probe. Breuer was one of the recipients of that information. In written comments this week to Grassley, Breuer said that he was on a three-day official trip to Mexico at the time of the Justice Department response and that he was aware of, but not involved in, drafting the Justice Department statements to Grassley. Breuer says he cannot say for sure whether he saw a draft of the letter before it was sent to Grassley.
(emphasis, ours)

The rest of the article can be found at the link and which details the internal debate at Justice regarding just how much information to give to Grassley and Issa.

Burke, who has since been re-assigned, certainly looks like he is being set up to the take the fall for this for providing, ahem, "inaccurate" information. Even with this, we are not any closer to identifying how high up the food chain the decision was made to a) let the guns walk and b) not bother to track them back across the border once the purchase was made.

Though this seems big and it is, Grassley and Issa's committees should not let this distract them from finding out who actually signed off on a politically cynical plot to advance a gun-control narrative that wound up putting 2,000 guns in the hands of violent Mexican drug cartels and which resulted in one dead Border Patrol Agent, Brian Terry and countless additional Mexican officers and innocent civilians.

1 comment:

B-Daddy said...

Great update, this is a gift. We can't let Holder resign before the election. By the way, you need a link so that we can tweet some of your articles.