The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released a video today asking who should held accountable for “Fast and Furious,” a scandalous Department of Justice operation that purposefully put assault weapons into the hands of Mexican drug lords and is now blamed for killing hundreds of people, including U.S. border agents.
The video takes hard aim at U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who on May 3, 2011, swore testimony before the committee’s chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., that he had only heard of the operation “weeks” before.
Yet Issa and fellow watchdog Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, say they have a series of at least five weekly briefing memos from Michael Walther, director of the National Drug Intelligence Center, detailing the program to Holder and dating back to July 2010, long before the “weeks” in Holder’s testimony.
In the video Issa alleges Holder either “misrepresented the facts, or he’s sufficiently incompetent that he didn’t know what was in his weekly briefings.”
The video itself can be seen below:
In a statement released with the video, Issa and Grassley declare they are pushing Holder and the Obama Justice Department for “a full accounting of the deadly program” and argue thus far their investigation has been meet instead with “silence, stonewalling and spin.”
“Attorney General Holder and the Justice Department have failed to honestly answer clear and legitimate questions about Operation Fast and Furious,” said Issa in the statement. “Americans deserve to know the truth.”
As WND reported, Holder’s testimony is suspect not only because of the weekly briefing memos, but also because of a video from a full two years earlier, showing one of Holder’s associates on camera talking about the project and what the department was doing to intercept weapons trafficking along the Mexican border through Fast and Furious.
In the video, dated March 24, 2009, some 26 months before Holder’s testimony, David Ogden, deputy attorney general, was talking about Barack Obama’s orders to “fight” the Mexican drug cartels, using “Project Gunrunner.”
“Attorney General Holder and I are taking several new and aggressive steps as part of the administration’s comprehensive plan. Those steps include the following: DOJ’s Drug Enforcement Administration, which already has the largest U.S. drug enforcement presence in Mexico with 11 offices in that country, is placing 16 new DEA positions in southwest border field positions .., uh, field operations, specifically to target Mexican trafficking and associated violence,” he said.
“The DEA is also deploying four new mobile enforcement teams to specifically target Mexican methamphetamine trafficking both along the border and in U.S. cities impacted by the cartels,” he continued.
“DOJ’s bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is increasing its efforts by adding 37 new employees and three new offices, using $10 million in Recovery Act funds and redeploying 100 personnel to the southwest border in the next 45 days to fortify its Project Gunrunner, which is aimed at disrupting arms trafficking between the United States and Mexico,” he said.
Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona’s First Congressional District says there’s no two ways about it: “We’re talking about consequences of criminal activity, where we actually allowed guns to walk into the hands of criminals, where our livelihoods are at risk. When you facilitate that and a murder or a felony occurs, you’re called an accessory. That means that there’s criminal activity.”
It was Rep. Darrell Issa who earlier, in the congressional hearing exchange with Holder, stated bluntly, “There are dead Americans as a result of this failed and reckless program. So I would say this hasn’t gotten enough attention, has it Mr. Attorney General?”
The outrage was over the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, killed in an attack near the border with Mexico at a site where some of the guns that were allowed by the federal government to be taken to the Mexican drug cartel civil war were found.
In an interview with WND/Radio America, Gosar said Holder and the Obama administration need to be “fully compliant” with congressional subpoenas and produce the information to determine “who authorized this.”
He said Americans have become “collateral damage” for the program of the Obama administration.
“We have no idea where these guns are going to show up,” he said. “They show up at crime scenes.”
Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, is asking Obama to tell the DOJ to appoint a special counsel to get to the bottom of the problem.
The weekly briefing memos, redacted significantly, still reveal notes to Holder from Walther through July and into August in 2010 where he talks about “Fast and Furious”: “This investigation, initiated in September 2009 in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Phoenix police department, involves a Phoenix-based firearms trafficking ring headed by Manueal Celis-Acosta. Celis-Acosta and straw purchasers are responsible for the purchase of 1,500 firearms that were then supplied to Mexican drug trafficking cartels. They also have direct ties to the Sinaloa cartel which is suspected of providing $1 million for the purchase of firearms in the greater Phoenix area.”
Similar memos to Holder are dated July 12, July 19, July 26 and other dates.
Insiders already have estimated that hundreds of deaths might be attributable to the guns that the U.S. government let “walk” into the Mexican drug war.
Smith’s demand for a special counsel suggested further misbehavior on the part of Holder.
He told Obama, “Allegations that senior Justice Department officials may have intentionally misled members of Congress are extremely troubling and must be addressed by an independent and objective special counsel. I urge you to appoint a special counsel who will investigate these allegations as soon as possible.”
Pinal County, Ariz., Sheriff Paul Babeu recently told reporters he figures there were 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 Holder.
Babeu 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 it’s 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 Terry with one of the weapons released in the operation.