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Friday, September 2, 2011

At Least Three In White House Knew of Fast and Furious

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that three White House official received information on operation Fast and Furious.In a previous post this blog posted two videos showing BATF agent Richard Newell confirming at
least one email to a White House national security official, Kevin O'Reilly. Two other White House colleagues were briefed on reports from the supervisor, according to White House emails and a senior administration official. Earlier we noted it was remarkable that a supervising agent for the BATF would just happened to know someone who worked in the White House.
Senior administration official said the emails, obtained Thursday by The Times, did not prove that anyone in the White House was aware of the covert "investigative tactics" of the operation. Did not prove? Who asked about proving anything?
"The emails validate what has been said previously, which is no one at the White House knew about the investigative tactics being used in the operation, let alone any decision to let guns walk," said the official, who was not authorized to speak about it publicly. "To the extent that some [national security staff members] were briefed on the top lines of ongoing federal efforts, so were members of Congress."

He identified the three White House officials who were briefed as Kevin M. O'Reilly, director of North American Affairs for the White House national security staff; Dan Restrepo, the president's senior Latin American advisor; and Greg Gatjanis, a White House national security official.

"The emails were not forwarded beyond them, and we are not aware of any [additional] briefings related to that email chain," the official said.
Those of us old enough to remember Watergate and Iran Contra have a feeling of deja vu. First the unequivocal denials, then the "well perhaps maybe, but limited to lower administration minions", etc, right up until some is hauled into court.

If Eric Holder though reassigning a few agents and sacking the US Attorney in Phoenix he was mistaken Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley has sent a letter to Ann Scheel, the acting attorney general in Phoenix, basically putting the Arizona district office on notice and demanding e-mails, memos, notes and other documents from six top officials, including Scheel and ousted former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke. The letter went on;

Operation Fast and Furious was a prosecutor-led Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Strike Force case. The congressional investigation has revealed that your office, and specifically Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) Emory Hurley, played an integral role in the day-to-day, tactical management of the case. In fact, Mr. Hurley served as a prosecutor on this case until very recently.

Witnesses have reported that AUSA Hurley may have stifled ATF agents’ attempts to interdict weapons on numerous occasions. Many ATF agents working on Operation Fast and Furious were under the impression that even some of the most basic law enforcement techniques typically used to interdict weapons required the explicit approval of your office, specifically from AUSA Hurley. It is our understanding that this approval was withheld on numerous occasions. It is unclear why all available tools, such as civil forfeitures and seizure warrants, were not used in this case to prevent illegally purchased guns from being trafficked to Mexican drug cartels and other criminals. We have further been informed that AUSA Hurley improperly instructed ATF agents that they needed to meet unnecessarily strict evidentiary standards merely in order to temporarily detain or speak with suspects.

It is essential for Congress to fully understand your office’s role in Operation Fast and Furious. … In addition, it is imperative that the Committee have an opportunity to discuss the facts above with individuals in your office who are familiar with the details of this operation. It is not our intention to second guess day-to-day decisions of your staff, but rather to make sense of them. The Attorney General has said that “letting guns walk is not something that is acceptable.  … We cannot have a situation where guns are allowed to walk, and I’ve made that clear to the United States Attorneys as well as the agents in charge of various ATF offices.” Operation Fast and Furious is unique in that guns were allowed to walk with the apparent knowledge of, and authorization by, officials in your office.

In other word this case is far from over but don't expect to see Chuck Grassley on the Ed Show just yet.

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