Again, props to the L.A. Times and CBS News for being about the only main stream outlets to consistently cover this deadly federally-sponsored gun-running scheme.
Two top supervisors at ATF headquarters in Washington -- the deputy director and the assistant director for all field operations -- have been reassigned as the beleaguered agency attempts to remake itself amid the fallout from a failed gun-tracking operation along the Southwest border called Fast and Furious, according to two sources briefed on the changes.
William J. Hoover, the No. 2 man at ATF, will become special agent-in-charge of the agency's Washington field office, while Mark Chait, who ran all of the field investigations around the country, is being reassigned as head of the Baltimore field office.
Thomas Brandon, who was sent to Phoenix to run the field office there and help it recover from the repercussions of Fast and Furious, will be taking Hoover's spot as deputy director.
Hoover had broad supervision over Fast and Furious, was given routine updates on the "gun walking" operation, and grew concerned over the number of firearms getting into Mexico without any U.S. indictments on this side of the border.
He tried to get it shut down six months after it began in the fall of 2009. But he failed, and the program continued until January of this year. During that time, a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed in Arizona and two Fast and Furious weapons were recovered at the scene.
The heavily redacted memos don’t explicitly implicate ATF and other federal agencies in an illegal scheme, as ATF whistleblowers have alleged. But if there’s a coverup going on, why would they?
And coverup there seems to be. On top of stonewalling Rep. Darrell Issa’s House investigation of the mess, Justice has floated a series of contradictory excuses:
* There was no such program.
* Even if there weres, Holder never knew about it.
* Even if he should have known about it, he might not have read Breuer’s memos.
* Even if he read Breuer’s memos, he misunderstood the simple question: “When did you first know about the program, officially, I believe, called Fast and Furious?”
With the recent exposure of another apparent “gunwalking” operation, Wide Receiver, that may date back to the Bush administration, some are already pushing a “Bush-did-it-too” meme. If true, it shows the rot at Justice goes deeper than we thought -- but it has nothing to do with whether Holder may have committed perjury.
If all they've got as a defense is Obama = Bush then they're in a lot more trouble than they're willing to admit.
And potential intimidation intended to chill inquiry and freedom of the press?
While the bulk of the national press corps is off inspecting Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s back forty for residual signs of racism, CBS’ Sharyl Attkisson and Fox’s William La Jeunesse have been doing the heavy lifting on Fast and Furious -- and getting some tough pushback from Obama officials.
On the Laura Ingraham radio show yesterday, Attkisson told of being “yelled at” by Justice flack Tracy Schmaler and being “screamed” at by White House official Eric Schultz for being “unfair.”
Said Attkisson: “They will tell you that I’m the only reporter -- as they told me -- that is not reasonable. They say The Washington Post is reasonable, the LA Times is reasonable, The New York Times is reasonable, I’m the only one who thinks this is a story, and they think I’m unfair and biased by pursuing it.”
CBS has reportedly yanked Attkisson from further media appearances this week. But isn’t independent inquiry the function of a free press? Nobody thought there was a story in Watergate, either, until Woodward and Bernstein proved otherwise.
If true, going after the press is even worse than stonewalling a Congressional investigation. It wreaks of panic. The blood is in the water now.