Skip to comments.Eric Holder & Operation Fast & Furious - A national travesty & crime against the Republic
Posted on 10/11/2011 1:19:54 PM PDT by Jeff Head
Operation Fast and Furious was a BATF led operation that sold guns to the drug lords in Mexico through intermediaries in a supposed attempt to track the guns and the channels feeding the drug lords. Trouble is, the program actually put over 2000 high powerewd rifles, including 50 caliber sniper rifles, into the hands of the Drug Lords and was not effectively tracking them. Over 1500 of them are still "missing." Ultimately, the Gun Stores involved and the agents themselves became whistleblowers because of their concerns that our own government was, in effect, arming the Mexican Drug Cartels.
As a result, several Americans have been killed by these weapoons, including US Law Enforcement officers, and over 200 Mexican citizens have been killed. It is patently illegal to do what the BATF did, and the operation was supported and directed by the Department of Justice, over which Eric Holder, President Obama's Attorney General presides. This is the same Eric Holder who dismissed charges against Black Panther activists filmed on election day in 2008 intimidating voters at polls. They were dressed in military style uniforms and holding night sticks. Voter intimidation is a serious matter, but Eric Holder refused to prosecute.
The U.S. House of Representatives began investigating this operation, with the House Oversight Committee leading the way. When requesting information from the Department of Justice, the Committee received volumous pages of documents, where most of them were completely redacted.
Many agents, BATF supervisors, the owners of the gun stroes used by the BATF, the relatives of those killed with the weapons, and department of justice attorneys and managment were called to testify ands the investigation grew.
Ultimately, the Committee called the head of the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder to testify. When called before Congress in May of 2011 on the Fast and Furious Operation, Holder indicated as an answer to a direct question regarding exaclty when he heard of and knew about the Fast and Furious Operaton, that "I'm not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks,"
Since that time, numerous emails have surfaced, directed to him, not only informing him of the operation, but reviewing in detail its status. These emails date back to over a year before his testimony. In addition, a video has also surfaced where Holder went to Mexico two years prior and briefed the Mexican's on the upcoming operation. When confronted with these clear and obvious inconsistancies, Eric Holder replied to Congress with the following letter.
October 7, 2011
The Honorable Darrell E. Issa Chairman Committee on Oversight and Government Reform U.S. House of Representatives Washington, DC
Dear Messrs. Chairmen and Senator Grassley, Congressman Conyers, and Congressman Cummings:
I have watched for some months now as the facts surrounding Operation Fast and Furious have been developed on the public record. I have not spoken at length on this subject out of deference to the review being conducted, at my request, by our Department’s Inspector General. However, in the past few days, the public discourse concerning these issues has become so base and so harmful to interests that I hope we all share that I must now address these issues notwithstanding the Inspector General’s ongoing review.
For example, I simply cannot sit idly by as a Majority Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform suggests, as happened this week, that law enforcement and government employees who devote their lives to protecting our citizens be considered “accessories to murder.” Such irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric must be repudiated in the strongest possible terms. Those who serve in the ranks of law enforcement are our Nation’s heroes and deserve our Nation’s thanks, not the disrespect that is being heaped on them by those who seek political advantage. I trust you feel similarly and I call on you to denounce these statements. I also want to be very clear that protecting American citizens from the devastating effects of gun violence is among the most important responsibilities of the Department of Justice. Likewise, ensuring that weapons sold here do not flow south to Mexico is of paramount importance. We are committed to disrupting and dismantling the organizations that traffic weapons across our borders and I am proud to stand with our brave law enforcement officers who fight every day to protect our citizens and those of Mexico from the effects of gun violence and illegal gun trafficking.
A. Fast and Furious was a Flawed Response to a Serious Problem on the Southwest Border
According to ATF, it took into evidence nationwide approximately 35,000 firearms in FY 201 1. In FY 2010, the number was approximately 37,500. During that same period, ATF reports that it took into evidence nationwide over 5 million rounds of ammunition. Still, the Southwest Border remains the front line in the battle against illegal gun trafficking. ATF and our prosecutors struggle mightily to make cases against gun smugglers and do outstanding work on a daily basis in an effort to stop the flow of guns across our borders.
Notwithstanding the seriousness of the problem faced on the Southwest Border, there is no doubt that Operation Fast and Furious was fundamentally flawed. Regrettably, its effects will be felt for years to come as weapons that should have been interdicted but were not continue to show up at crime scenes in this country and in Mexico. This is both tragic and completely unacceptable. I want to be very clear that we must aim to disrupt and dismantle the dangerous cartels that operate south of our border. That said, in our pursuit of that goal we must take all steps possible to prevent guns from crossing our border and the desire to bring cartel leaders to justice does not and cannot justify losing track of dangerous weapons. For that very reason, in 201 1, after the controversy about this matter arose, I took decisive action to ensure that such operations are never again undertaken. First, I referred the matter to the Department’s Inspector General for review so the facts underlying it could come out. Second, I instructed the Deputy Attorney General to reiterate to our prosecutors and law enforcement components that Department policy prohibits the design or conduct of undercover operations which include the uncontrolled crossing of guns across the border. In addition, new leadership is now in place both at ATF and in the United States Attorney’s Office in Arizona. It has become clear that the flawed tactics employed in Fast and Furious were not limited to that operation and were actually employed in an investigation conducted during the prior Administration. Regardless, those tactics should never again be adopted in any investigation.
B. No Knowledge of Fast and Furious’ Misguided Tactics
Much has been made in the past few days about my congressional testimony earlier this year regarding Fast and Furious. My testimony was truthful and accurate and I have been consistent on this point throughout. I have no recollection of knowing about Fast and Furious or of hearing its name prior to the public controversy about it. Prior to early 2011, I certainly never knew about the tactics employed in the operation and it is my understanding that the former United States Attorney for the District of Arizona and the former Acting Director and Deputy Director of ATF have told Congress that they, themselves, were unaware of the tactics employed. I understand that they have also told Congress that they never briefed me or other Department leadership on the misguided tactics that were used in Fast and Furious. Of course, that is not surprising for, as Chairman Issa made clear in an interview on CNN just this week, even the former Acting Director of ATF “has said he didn’t know about” the tactics being used in the field by his agency.
In the past few days, some have pointed to documents that we provided to Congress as evidence that I was familiar with Fast and Furious earlier than I have testified. That simply is not the case and those suggestions mischaracterize the process by which I receive information concerning the activities of the Department’s many components. On a weekly basis, my office typically receives over a hundred pages of so-called “weekly reports” that, while addressed to me, actually are provided to and reviewed by members of my staff and the staff of the Office of the Deputy Attorney General. The weekly reports contain short summaries of matters that the agencies deem of interest that week. Sometimes, the summaries are simply a sentence-long and other times they consist of a paragraph. In some cases, the summaries are of policy-related issues or upcoming events. In other cases, the summaries are brief, highlevel reviews of pending matters or investigations. It is important to look at the documents supposedly at issue here and, for that reason, I have attached them to this letter and am making them public in the form they previously were provided by us to Congress. Please note that none of these summaries say anything about the unacceptable tactics employed by ATF.
Attorneys in my office and in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General review these weekly reports and bring to my attention only those matters deemed to require my consideration or action; given the volume of material to which I must devote my attention, I do not and cannot read them cover-tocover. Here, no issues concerning Fast and Furious were brought to my attention because the information presented in the reports did not suggest a problem. Rather, the entries suggest active law enforcement action being taken to combat a firearms-trafficking organization that was moving weapons to Mexico. For example, the ATF weekly report for July 19-23,20 10 briefly described the seizure in Phoenix of 73 firearms and 250 AK-47 drum magazines from a local business as part of Operation Fast and Furious, again with no mention of any unacceptable tactics.
If a component of the Department has concerns about a particular matter, there are established avenues for raising them with my office or that of the Deputy Attorney General and a weekly report is not one of them. As Attorney General, I am not and cannot be familiar with the operational details of any particular investigation being conducted in an ATF field office unless those details are brought to my attention. That did not happen with Fast and Furious until the public controversy arose in 201 1. Senator Grassley has suggested that I was aware of Operation Fast and Furious from letters he provided to me on or about January 3 1,2011 that were addressed to the former Acting Director of ATF. However, those letters referred only to an ATF umbrella initiative on the Southwest Border that started under the prior Administration — Project Gunrunner — and not to Operation Fast and Furious. To be sure, during 2010 I knew generally that ATF was conducting gun trafficking operations along the Southwest Border and elsewhere in the country since that is a core part of its mission given the large number of firearms flowing to Mexico each year from the United States. I also was aware of the existence of Project Gunrunner. More specifically, however, I now understand some senior officials within the Department were aware at the time that there was an operation called Fast and Furious although they were not advised of the unacceptable operational tactics being used in it. For example, I understand that we have provided to Congress materials from a March 2010 monthly meeting between the then-Acting Deputy Attorney General and senior ATF officials that included discussion of Fast and Furious. That meeting, of course, occurred shortly before Chairman Issa received his own briefing regarding Fast and Furious from some of the same ATF officials. I am aware that Chairman Issa has said that he was not briefed on the unacceptable details of Fast and Furious. Like Chairman Issa, the then- Acting Deputy Attorney General was not told of the unacceptable tactics employed in the operation in his regular monthly meetings with ATF to discuss its activities throughout the United States and abroad.
C. Congress Has Failed to Consider Whether Additional Tools Are Needed to Stem the Flow of Guns into Mexico
ATF witnesses testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that the agency’s ability to stem the flow of guns from the United States into Mexico is severely impaired by a lack of effective law enforcement tools. For example, a number of witnesses indicated that current penalties for illegal straw purchases are inadequate to deter such activity or to induce cooperation with law enforcement authorities after a violation is detected. Likewise, the lack of reporting requirements for multiple long gun purchases in a short period of time hindered law enforcement efforts to combat gun trafficking. Yet, the House of Representatives has voted to block a rule that requires such reporting on the Southwest Border.
As I have said, the fact that even a single gun was not interdicted in this operation and found its way to Mexico is unacceptable. Equally unacceptable, however, is the fact that too many in Congress are opposed to any discussion of fixing loopholes in our laws that facilitate the staggering flow of guns each year across our border to the south. I cannot help but note that at the same time that some members of Congress understandably criticize the Fast and Furious operation, they vehemently refuse to consider whether ATF has the resources and legal tools it needs to do its job — tools that would be entirely consistent with the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.
A telling moment in this regard came during one of the Fast and Furious hearings held by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform when Representative Maloney sought to question an ATF witness about potential reforms to our laws that would help stem the flow of illegal weapons. Representative Maloney was cut-off in mid-sentence by Chairman Issa, who then “cautioned” the witness that it would not be “valid testimony” to respond to such questions because the Committee was not interested in “proposed legislation and the like[.]” While failing to interdict weapons is an unacceptable tactic to stop the flow of illegal weapons, it seems clear that some in Congress are more interested in using this regrettable incident to score political points than in addressing the underlying problem. Even in the face of an unprecedented flow of guns across the border, too many in Congress still oppose every effort to reform our gun laws in ways that would make the United States and our Mexican neighbors safer.
Until we move beyond the current political climate — where real solutions take a back seat to both political posturing and making headlines on cable news programs, and is deemed more important than actually solving our country’s difficult challenges — nothing is going to change. I hope we can engage in a more responsible dialogue on this subject in the future. There is much we all need to do together to stop gun violence on both sides of the border and make our Nation safer.
Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Here is his letter:
October 9, 2011
Dear Attorney General Holder:
From the beginning of the congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious, the Department of Justice has offered a roving set of ever-changing explanations to justify its involvement in this reckless and deadly program. These defenses have been aimed at undermining the investigation. From the start, the Department insisted that no wrongdoing had occurred and asked Senator Grassley and me to defer our oversight responsibilities over its concerns about our purported interference with its ongoing criminal investigations. Additionally, the Department steadfastly insisted that gunwalking did not occur.
Once documentary and testimonial evidence strongly contradicted these claims, the Department attempted to limit the fallout from Fast and Furious to the Phoenix Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). When that effort also proved unsuccessful, the Department next argued that Fast and Furious resided only within ATF itself, before eventually also assigning blame to the U.S. Attorneys Office in Arizona. All of these efforts were designed to circle the wagons around DOJ and its political appointees.
To that end, just last month, you claimed that Fast and Furious did not reach the upper levels of the Justice Department. Documents discovered through the course of the investigation, however, have proved each and every one of these claims advanced by the Department to be untrue. It appears your latest defense has reached a new low. Incredibly, in your letter from Friday you now claim that you were unaware of Fast and Furious because your staff failed to inform you of information contained in memos that were specifically addressed to you. At best, this indicates negligence and incompetence in your duties as Attorney General. At worst, it places your credibility into serious doubt.
Following the Committees issuance of a subpoena over six months ago, I strongly believed that the Department would fully cooperate with Congress and support this investigation with all the means at its disposal. The American people deserve no less. Unfortunately, the Departments cooperation to date has been minimal. Hundreds of pages of documents that have been produced to my Committee are duplicative, and hundreds more contain substantial redactions, rendering them virtually worthless. The Department has actively engaged in retaliation against multiple whistleblowers, and has, on numerous occasions, attempted to disseminate false and misleading information to the press in an attempt to discredit this investigation.
Your letter dated October 7 is deeply disappointing. Instead of pledging all necessary resources to assist the congressional investigation in discovering the truth behind the fundamentally flawed Operation Fast and Furious, your letter instead did little but obfuscate, shift blame, berate, and attempt to change the topic away from the Departments responsibility in the creation, implementation, and authorization of this reckless program. You claim that, after months of silence, you must now address these issues over Fast and Furious because of the harmful discourse of the past few days. Yet, the only major development of these past few days has been the release of multiple documents showing that you and your senior staff had been briefed, on numerous occasions, about Fast and Furious.
The Mexican Cartels
A month after you became Attorney General, you spoke of the danger of the Mexican drug cartels, and the Sinaloa cartel in particular. The cartels, you said, are lucrative, they are violent, and they are operated with stunning planning and precision. You promised that under your leadership these cartels will be destroyed. You vowed that the Department of Justice would continue to work with [its] counterparts in Mexico, through information sharing, training and mutual cooperation to jointly fight these cartels, both in Mexico and the United States.
Under your leadership, however, Operation Fast and Furious has proven these promises hollow. According to one agent, Operation Fast and Furious armed the cartel. It is disgusting. Fast and Furious simply served as a convenient means for dangerous cartels to acquire upwards of 2,000 assault-style weapons. On top of that, the Government of Mexico was not informed about Fast and Furious. In fact, DOJ and ATF officials actively engaged in hiding information about Fast and Furious from not only Mexican officials, but also U.S. law enforcement officials operating in Mexico for fear that they would inform their Mexican counterparts. This strategy is inapposite and contradicts the promises you made to the American people.
Your September 7, 2011 Statement
On September 7, 2011, you said that [t]he notion that [Fast and Furious] reaches into the upper levels of the Justice Department is something that at this point I don’t think is supported by the facts and I think once we examine it and once the facts are revealed we’ll see that’s not the case. Unfortunately, the facts directly contradict this statement.
Lanny Breuer, the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, clearly a member of the Departments senior leadership, knew about Fast and Furious as early as March 2010. In fact, I have learned that the amount of detail shared with Breuers top deputies about Fast and Furious is simply astounding.
For example, Manuel Celis-Acosta was the biggest fish of the straw purchasing ring in Phoenix. From the time the investigation started in September 2009 until March 15, 2010, Manuel Celis-Acosta acquired at least 852 firearms valued at around $500,000 through straw purchasers. Yet in 2009, Celis-Acosta reported an Arizona taxable income of only $15,475. Between September 2009 and late January 2010, 139 of these firearms were recovered, 81 in Mexico alone. Some of these firearms were recovered less than 24 hours after they were bought.
This information, and hundreds of pages worth of additional information, was included in highly detailed wiretap applications sent for authorization to Breuers top deputies. It is my understanding, the Department applied to the United States District Court for the District of Arizona for numerous wire taps from March 2010 to July 2010. These wire tap applications were reviewed and approved by several Deputy Assistant Attorney Generals, including Kenneth A. Blanco, John C. Keeney, and Jason M. Weinstein. Breuers top deputies approved these wiretap applications to be used against individuals associated with the known drug cartels. As I understand it, the wire tap applications contain rich detail of the reckless operational tactics being employed by your agents in Phoenix. Although Breuer and his top deputies were informed of the operational details and tactics of Fast and Furious, they did nothing to stop the program. In fact, on a trip to Mexico Breuer trumpeted Fast and Furious as a promising investigation.
Gary Grindler, the then-Deputy Attorney General and currently your Chief of Staff, received an extremely detailed briefing on Operation Fast and Furious on March 12, 2010. In this briefing, Grindler learned such minutiae as the number of times that Uriel Patino, a straw purchaser on food stamps who ultimately acquired 720 firearms, went in to a cooperating gun store and the amount of guns that he had bought. When former Acting ATF Director Ken Melson, a career federal prosecutor, learned similar information, he became sick to his stomach:
"I had pulled out all Patino’s — and ROIs is, I’m sorry, report of investigation — and you know, my stomach being in knots reading the number of times he went in and the amount of guns that he bought. Transcribed interview of Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson at 42".
At the time of his briefing in March of last year, Grindler knew that Patino had purchased 313 weapons and paid for all of them in cash. Unlike Melson, Grindler clearly saw nothing wrong with this. If Grindler had had the sense to shut this investigation down right then, he could have prevented the purchase of an additional 407 weapons by Patino alone. Instead, Grindler did nothing to stop the program.
Following this briefing, it is clear that Grindler did one of two things. Either, he alerted you to the name and operational details of Fast and Furious, in which case your May 3, 2011 testimony in front of Congress was false; or, he failed to inform you of the name and the operational details of Fast and Furious, in which case Grindler engaged in gross dereliction of his duties as Acting Deputy Attorney General. It is fair to infer from the fact that Grindler remains as your Chief of Staff that he did not engage in gross dereliction of his duties and told you about the program as far back as March of 2010.
In the summer of 2010, at the latest, you were undoubtedly informed about Fast and Furious. On at least five occasions you were told of the connection between Fast and Furious and a specific Mexican cartel the very cartel that you had vowed to destroy. You were informed that Manuel Celis-Acosta and his straw purchasers were responsible for the purchase of 1,500 firearms that were then supplied to Mexican drug trafficking cartels. Yet, you did nothing to stop this program.
You failed to own up to your responsibility to safeguard the American public by hiding behind [a]ttorneys in [your] office and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, who you now claim did not bring this information to your attention. Holder Letter, supra note 1. As a result of your failure to act on these memos sent to you, nearly 500 additional firearms were purchased under Fast and Furious.
The facts simply do not support any claim that Fast and Furious did not reach the highest levels of the Justice Department. Actually, Fast and Furious did reach the ultimate authority in the Department you.
Your May 3, 2011 Statement
On May 3, 2011, I asked you directly when you first knew about the operation known as Fast and Furious. You responded directly, and to the point, that you werent sure of the exact date, but [you] probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks. This statement, made before Congress, has proven to be patently untrue. Documents released by the Department just last week showed that you received at least seven memos about Fast and Furious starting as early as July 2010.
In your letter Friday, you blamed your staff for failing to inform you about Operation Fast and Furious when they reviewed the memos sent to you last summer. Your staff, therefore, was certainly aware of Fast and Furious over a year ago. Lanny Breuer was aware of Fast and Furious as early as March 2010, and Gary Grindler was also aware of Fast and Furious as early as March 2010. Given this frequency of high level involvement with Fast and Furious as much as a year prior to your May 3, 2011 testimony, it simply is not believable that you were not briefed on Fast and Furious until a few weeks before your testimony. At the very least, you should have known about Fast and Furious well before then. The current paper trail, which will only grow more robust as additional documents are discovered, creates the strong perception that your statement in front of Congress was less than truthful.
The February 4, 2011 Letter
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this intransigence is that the Department of Justice has been lying to Congress ever since the inquiry into Fast and Furious began. On February 4, 2011, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote that ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transport into Mexico. This letter, vetted by both the senior ranks of ATF as well as the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, is a flat-out lie.
As we understand it, in March 2010, top deputies to Lanny Breuer were informed that law enforcement officers intercepted calls that demonstrated that Manuel Celis-Acosta was conspiring to purchase and transport firearms for the purpose of trafficking the firearms from the United States into Mexico. Not only was ATF aware of this information, but so was the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This information was shared with the Criminal Division. All of these organizations are components of the Department of Justice, and they were all aware of the illegal purchase of firearms and their eventual transportation into Mexico.
These firearms were not interdicted. They were not stopped. Your agents allowed these firearms purchases to continue, sometimes even monitoring them in person, and within days some of these weapons were being recovered in Mexico. Despite widespread knowledge within its senior ranks that this practice was occurring, when asked on numerous occasions about the veracity of this letter, the Department has shockingly continued to stand by its false statement of February 4, 2011.
Mr. Attorney General, you have made numerous statements about Fast and Furious that have eventually been proven to be untrue. Your lack of trustworthiness while speaking about Fast and Furious has called into question your overall credibility as Attorney General. The time for deflecting blame and obstructing our investigation is over. The time has come for you to come clean to the American public about what you knew about Fast and Furious, when you knew it, and who is going to be held accountable for failing to shut down a program that has already had deadly consequences, and will likely cause more casualties for years to come.
Operation Fast and Furious was the Departments most significant gun trafficking case. It related to two of your major initiatives destroying the Mexican cartels and reducing gun violence on both sides of the border. On your watch, it went spectacularly wrong. Whether you realize yet or not, you own Fast and Furious. It is your responsibility.
Sincerely, Darrell Issa Chairman House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Some of the agents involved and others have indicated that the root goal of this program was actually to create gun violence in the hopes of enacting more stringent gun laws, particularly against gun stores. That has yet to be proven.
In any case, this program which reaches to the top of the Department of Justice, also has tentacles that reach directly into the White House. One of the people directing the operation apparently communicated with and reported the progress of the program to one of Obama's National Security team directly within the whitehouse.
Some links regarding Fast and Furious:
Fast and Furious a Catostrophic Disaster
Congressional Report Slams ATF's Operation Fast and Furious
Eric Holder must explain Fast and Furious
BATF Officials implicated in Operation Fast and Furipous
How Mexican killers got guns from Fast and Furious
BATF Chief Replaced after inquiry into Fast and Furious
Gunrunning Timeline: DOJ's Operation Fast and Furious
Guns from Fast and Furious found at MExican crime scene
Guns from Fast and Furious found in El Paso
New Document Show Attorney General Eric Holder knew of Fast and Furious
Calls mount for Attorney Generral Holder's Resignation>
That our own government could so wrecklessly arm abject criminals and enemies of thois nation, and then not adequately track those weapons or retrieve them before they were used, and that these issues led directly to American deaths is wreckless endagerment at best, conspiracy to commit crimes, and/or manslaughter and murder at worst. There must be acocuntability for this travesty.
Thanks for this post Jeff. Time for me to do yet another bookmark for careful reading and analysis.
Thank you, Jeff!
Certainly deserves a Florida Freeper ping here!
Brilliant, brilliant summary, JH.
I admit that I have been completely skeptical that this would ever gain traction. I hope to God that I can see just how wrong I was.
Thanks for compiling and posting it for us.
Thanks for the ping, bitt. We need to find a way to get Jeff Head’s page to go viral.
God bless that vet...would to God that we had the money to put up 10,000 such signs all over this country.
Thank you. These people are treacherous, traitorous enemies to all our nation stands for.
Their fundamental change has been shown for what it is, and what many of us knew it would be from the day we began looking into them...the dismantling of our free market and constitutional republic and the attempt to build a marxist command economy on its ruins.
Not on our watch!
Its located on the hi-way between Clovis, NM and Texaco, TX(?)
You just gotta love it !!
Thanks for the ping!
Thank you Jeff for putting this all together for us to digest and pass along.
Had we not captured the House this would all still be buried and possibly still running.
Very interesting comments, Jeff Head. I have to read this whole thread carefully tomorrow.