Late Friday, the White House released new documents in the ongoing Congressional investigation of that operation that has become a growing scandal. Those documents, emails, show extensive communication between a White House National Security staffer, Kevin O’Reilly and ATF Special Agent William Newell who helped lead that operation. The emails clearly demonstrate that the White House and the ATF Phoenix had direct communications.
However, since the beginning of this investigation, the Obama administration has maintained that high-level officials in the White House and Justice Department were not involved with the program, and Attorney General Eric Holder has claimed not to know about the operation until a few weeks ago.
“The notion that somehow or other that this thing reaches into the upper level of the Justice Department is something that at this point I don’t think is supported by the facts,” Holder said in a July press conference. “And I think as we examine and as all the facts are in fact revealed, we’ll see that that is not the case.”
The operation allowed suspected drug traffickers to purchase U.S. guns ostensibly so that the ATF could track the weapons to the leaders of cartels and make arrests. Investigators believe that thousands of weapons found their way into the hands of suspected traffickers under this program. At least two weapons traced to the program were found on the murder scene of a border patrol agent in December 2010. Additional crimes have also been connected with weapons linked to ATF.
Newell testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Regulation in July and said that the “Fast and Furious” operation was initiated with the intention of curtailing gun trafficking but was not executed properly.
“I recognize that in retrospect there were mistakes in how we handled the investigation,” Newell said. In a written statement further clarifying his July testimony, Newell wrote, “Those searching for the secret or hidden ‘high level’ authorization to ‘permit guns to flow south’…will ultimately remain unsatisfied.”
However, Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) both investigating the operation, have posited that the administration actually initiated the program as an advance attempt at furthering gun control in the U.S. In fact, Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent, John Dodson told Issa’s House Oversight Committee that David Voth, supervisor of the operation was “jovial, if not, not giddy but just delighted about" marked guns showing up at crime scenes in Mexico.
"Allowing loads of weapons that we knew to be destined for criminals — this was the plan," Dodson testified to the panel. "It was so mandated."
ATF agent Olindo James Casa said that, "On several occasions I personally requested to interdict or seize firearms, but I was always ordered to stand down and not to seize the firearms."
Yet, the ATF never tracked guns past the border, an odd thing if the purpose of the operation was to catch gun traffickers and their drug-lord bosses. Yet, it makes sense given the administration’s gun-control agenda.
Both presidents of Mexico and the U.S. have claimed that 90 percent of the weapons recovered by Mexican authorities in a variety of crimes originated in the U.S.; all this in support of the gun-control agenda. However, Bill McMahon, ATF deputy assistant director, testified that of 100,000 weapons recovered by Mexican authorities, only 18,000 were made, sold or imported from the U.S. Of those, 18,000, just 7,900 came from sales by licensed gun dealers—8 percent, not 90 percent.
On an interview with Greta Van Sustern on Fox News, Issa has said, “We’re being gamed by the Obama administration.”
Today, as the investigation continued, Issa concluded that Holder knew of the operation long before he said he did. Over the next months, the investigation will undoubtedly uncover the truth, and hopefully, justice will be served.
In the meantime, the gun control advocates of the Obama administration will have to look for another way to further chip away at our Second Amendment Rights.