Sunday, October 16, 2011

AG: Gun control would have stopped Fast and Furious

In an astonishing admission, Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress that a lack of gun control was to blame for the government selling guns to Mexican drug cartels.

Holder sent a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Sen. Charles Grassley, ranking member of the Committee on the Judiciary, regarding recent revelations he was briefed on Operation Fast and Furious much earlier than he told Congress.

Operation Fast and Furious was a plan by government officials to permit illegal aliens to purchase and take weapons across the border. Once the guns crossed the border, agents often lost track of them. The guns have since been found to have been used in several crimes in the U.S., resulting in at least one death, border patrol agent Brian Terry.

In May, Holder appeared before Congress. At that time he was asked specifically when he first heard about Fast and Furious. Holder responded, “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.”

Recently released documents reveal that Holder received memos referring to the program in July, 2010. A July 5 memo said, “Operation Fast and Furious” involved a “firearms trafficking ring.”

Holder downplayed his Congressional testimony and claimed he misunderstood the question.

After being challenged by Issa for his answer, Holder fired off a letter to Congress claiming that he had never read the memos, and it was the responsibility of his staff to brief him on what they considered important.

Holder then went on to say that the reason the ATF was unable to prevent the weapons from being sold to the cartels was a lack of gun control and registration.

“ATF witnesses testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that the agency’s ability to stem the flow of guns from the United States into Mexico is severely impaired by a lack of effective law enforcement tools.” Holder said, “For example, a number of witnesses indicated that current penalties for illegal straw purchases are inadequate to deter such activity or to include cooperation with law enforcement authorities after a violation is detected. Likewise, the lack of reporting requirements for multiple long gun purchases in a short period of time hindered law enforcement efforts to combat gun trafficking.”

During the operation, gun dealers contacted government officials with concerns over the number of purchases some illegals were making. They were told by ATF officials to let the sales go through.

Luke O’Dell, Director of Operations for the National Association for Gun rights, said Holder’s statement reveals the real reason the DOJ approved of Fast and Furious.

“That is the ultimate purpose of the Fast and Furious program. Obama’s Justice Department is pursuing its own political agenda rather than protect the American people.” O’Dell said, “That agenda is to restrict access and ultimately ban civilian access to all types of firearms. Remember, the administration has said ‘never let a crisis go to waste.’”

Responding to Holder’s letter, Issa fired off a terse response. While many times officials will try to be polite, using terms such as "mislead," Issa said the DOJ lied. ‘The Department of Justice has been lying to Congress ever since the inquiry into Fast and Furious began. On Feb 4, 2011, Assistant Attorney General, Ronald Weich, wrote that ‘ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transport into Mexico. This letter, vetted by both the senior ranks of ATF as well as the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, is a flat-out lie.”

Issa also made it plain that he did not believe Holder’s statement about not knowing about the program. “The facts simply do not support any claim that Fast and Furious did not reach the highest levels of the Justice Department. Actually, Fast and Furious did reach the ultimate authority in the Department - you.”

Issa concluded saying, “Whether you realize it or not, you own Fast and Furious. It is your responsibility.”

Issa’s office told the Gazette that during the course of the investigation, many of the documents released by the Justice Department were heavily redacted, some to the point of being useless.

On Oct. 12, the Gazette received a copy of a subpoena sent to Holder by Issa asking for unredacted documents for Fast and Furious or any Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) firearms trafficking case based in Phoenix, Arizona; to or from fifteen members of the Justice department, including Holder. Holder was also told to produce every single memo he received on any topic over a nearly two-year period.

For the first time, Congress is asking for information that reaches into the White House itself. The subpoena sent by Issa also demands “All communications between and among Department of Justice (DOJ) employees and Executive Office of the President employees, including, but not limited to, Associate Communications Director, Eric Schultz, referring or relating to Operation Fast and Furious or any other firearms trafficking cases.”

Roll Call reported a GOP source familiar with the investigation said there was more to the request than a routine inquiry. The source said, “The question is whether the White House has been instructing the Justice Department on what [documents] to release.”

Fast and Furious has become a sore spot for the administration. A CBS reporter claimed Holder had yelled at her for daring to ask a question about the operation.


CA: Shooter in Killing Claims Self Defense: "The man who shot a house guest to death in his Mayflower Avenue home on Friday told investigators that he acted in self defense, a sheriff's official said. The man, who was not identified because he was not arrested, said that his house guest came into his bedroom in the early morning hours Friday and made threatening statements, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Homicide Lt. Michael Rosson said. Rosson declined to elaborate about whether a struggle took place or where the gun was when the deceased man allegedly made the threats. There had been no previous dispute between the men before the allegedly threatening behavior, Rosson said. The man who was killed came out to California from Tennessee in an effort to start a business, Rosson said. He and the shooter were "acquaintances" at some time in that state and are not related, Rosson said."

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