(Editor’s note: WND first published this report on Oct. 7, 2011.)
One member of Congress has started using the word “accessory” in talking about members of the Obama administration who had their fingers on the pulse of the Operation Gunrunner Fast and Furious stunt under which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ordered gun dealers to sell weapons to unqualified buyers, who then dumped them into the Mexican drug cartel civil war.
And that may include Attorney General Eric Holder.
After all, despite his sworn assurance to Congress in a May appearance on the Hill that it was only within the “last few weeks” that he even heard of the project, a stack of memos reveals that if he paid attention to his office work, he knew about the situation a year earlier.
And now a video has been uncovered showing that a full two years earlier, one of Holder’s associates is on camera talking about the project and what the department was doing to intercept weapons trafficking along the Mexican border through Fast and Furious.
Could Holder possibly have not been listening to what his own aide was explaining to the American public?
Here’s the clip:
In May 2011, Holder told Congress, “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.”
But on the video, dated March 24, 2009, some 26 months earlier, 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.
The question remains then, whether Holder was completely ignorant of programs that already were operating and with which his aide was fully familiar.
That’s part and parcel of what members of Congress now are demanding to know, with calls for a special investigator or prosecutor and a level of outrage that suggests nothing is going to “calm down,” as Acting ATF Director B. Todd Jones suggested for now.
In fact,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.”
Also today, it was revealed that Holder got at least five weekly memos a year ago about the Fast and Furious that he claimed to have been informed about only this year.
The memos were released by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who have been investigating the alleged criminal behavior.
“With the fairly detailed information that the attorney general read, it seems the logical question for the attorney general after reading in the memo would be ‘why haven’t we stopped them?'” said Grassley in a statement from his office.
Issa suggested that Holder failed to provide “an honest account” of what has happened.
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 memos, redacted significantly, still reveal notes to Holder from Michael F. 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 President Obama’s buddy, 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 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 Terry with one of the weapons released in the operation.
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