Pinal County, Ariz., Sheriff Paul Babeu says that there are more than 300 casualties from Operation Fast and Furious, and he thinks charges are appropriate against officials who bear some responsibility.
The officials, he says, would include President Obama’s buddy, Attorney General Eric Holder.
Babeu has released a video in which he says that with 300 casualties and more than 2,000 weapons on the loose, the operation must have been authorized from officials above the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Sheriff’s spokesman Elias Johnson says the number 300 looks high, but its based on evidence.
“Those figures are directly from not only the Department of Justice but from various federal agencies such as the ATF, folks that have been involved directly with crime scenes,” Johnson said.
“Those were crime scenes where the serial numbers on the weapons match back to the numbers that were tracked by ATF. You can trace that ballistic back to the weapon that it was fired from,” Johnson said.
Johnson said that the deeper the investigation goes, “you find out that this involved members of our government that went well beyond the ATF.”
“Given the type of operation that was going on, this is not something that the ATF under good conscience could authorize on their own,” his said. “This had to have gone up to Eric Holder.’
Johnson said he and his colleaugues believe Holder was aware, “based on people we’ve talked to within the ATF that have been whistleblowers and acknowledged that this was totally wrong.”
“Not only was it reckless but dangerous — the proof in the crime scenes where we’ve found these weapons at,” he said.
The biggest example, he pointed out, was the murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry with one of the weapons released in the operation.
Republican Rep. Darrell Issa’s House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform spokeswoman Becca Watkins says the committee cannot verify the 300 figure.
She said members of Congress also are not prepared to talk about charging the attorney general.
“We are currently not speculating on this,” Watkins said.
CBS News reporter Cherly Atkisson reported that Issa and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Charles Grassley requested emails from the White House relating to any White House discussions about Fast and Furious.
The reason is that Issa wants to discover who in the White House knew about the operation.
Johnson says that Pinal County officials wouldn’t be surprised to learn that more people in the White House knew about it.
“We want to see a full-blown congressional investigation as far as hearings go. We want to have Eric Holder forced to testify in front of the American people to indicate what he knew,” Johnson said.
Johnson emphasized the reason that Babeu and others believe Holder and other White House staff had to have been involved: The magnitude and possible consequences of the operation.
“We want to know why he decided to act and authorize the things that were authorized,” Johnson said. “When you’re talking about thousands of weapons that were allowed to head to Mexico, this isn’t something that just the ATF could have done.”
Johnson believes that the Pinal County sheriff has taken a personal interest in the case for two reasons.
“He’s surprised that more law enforcement agencies, primarily in the border states, aren’t as up-in-arms as he is about this,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be their deputies and their officers who are now going to be looking down the barrel of these weapons that came from the U. S. and were allowed to do so by the federal government.”
He said law enforcement, consequently, will face “a very unknown and dangerous set of circumstances for years to come.”
“It weighs on the conscience of law enforcement. This is something that’s not going to go away,” Johnson said.
Mexican Attorney General Marisela Morales stated recently that she believes Obama is involved in Fast and Furious and demanded U. S. officials come clean on the operation.
Watkins said the committee can’t comment directly on the Mexican attorney general’s claim, but the committee will continue to gather evidence.
Morales took over as Mexican attorney general in April after former Attorney General Arturo Chavez resigned.
The Los Angeles Times reported March 31 that Chavez departed as details began to surface about Fast and Furious and the Mexican drug cartels’ involvement in the murder of Terry.
Johnson said that although he’s unaware if Babeu has contacted Mexican authorities, the sheriff is willing to fully cooperate with Mexican officials in an investigation.