Earlier today House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa grilled Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Capitol Hill about Operation Fast and Furious. Not surprisingly, Napolitano still gave non-answers to specific questions asked by Issa about the lethal program, what she knew, when she knew it, if she was outraged about the program and more.
As Issa points in the first clip, two federal agents under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jamie Zapata and Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, were killed as a result of Operation Fast and Furious, yet Napolitano denies knowing anything about the program or speaking to Attorney General Eric Holder about the operation up to this point. When asked if she would assign an inspector general within DHS to investigate the connection between Operation Fast and Furious and the death of two of her agents, she refused to give a straight answer. Napolitano also says "we should all be outraged by the death of Agent Terry," yet doesn't show any outrage, just as Holder and Obama have not shown any outrage over the program.
Rep. Issa and Sen. Grassley sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder yesterday asking for further information about unanswered questions surrounding the murder of I.C.E. Agent Jamie Zapata. As a refresher, Zapata was gunned down and killed in Mexico on his way back from a meeting in Mexico City in February 2011. It is suspected the guns used by drug cartels who attacked Zapata's SUV, were obtained by the cartels through Operation Fast and Furious courtesy of the U.S. Government. Grassley wrote in a letter to ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson (at the time, he has since been moved to a position within the Justice Department) in March 2011:
As you know, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agent Jaime Zapata was murdered in Mexico on February 15. According to a press report based on an unnamed source, the weapon used to kill Zapata “was shipped through Laredo with the possible knowledge of the ATF,” and “the feds were already investigating the suspects
when the gun was sent to Mexico.”1
Issa and Grassley point out in the letter sent yesterday the connections between straw purchasers who were supposed to be monitored by ATF and Zapata's death, showing if ATF has arrested and prosecuted these straw purchasers rather than allowing them to continually transfer heavy weapons to Mexican Cartel members, Zapata may still be alive.
Dear Attorney General Holder:
On October 11, your Department (DOJ) sent Senator Grassley a letter regarding murdered Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agent Jaime Zapata. Not only was the response more than six months late, it completely failed to answer the key questions.
In a March 1, 2011, press release, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) stated it was unaware of Otilio Osorio’s purchase on October 10, 2010, of the weapon used to murder Agent Zapata. According to ATF documents, however, the agency had reason to believe as early as September 17, 2010, that Otilio’s brother and co-habitant Ranferi Osorio and their next-door neighbor Kelvin Morrison were straw purchasers. Yet the ATF apparently made no effort to contact Ranferi Osorio or Kelvin Morrison and inquire about how their weapons came to be trafficked to Mexico within 2 weeks of their purchase.
Moreover, it appears that the ATF had an opportunity to arrest the Osorio brothers and Kelvin Morrison during a staged operation on November 9, 2010. According to a DOJ press release, “a Dallas ATF confidential informant (CI) arranged a meeting” at which the Osorio brothers, arriving at the meeting with Morrison as a passenger in their vehicle, “unloaded several large bags containing firearms into the CI’s vehicle, which was kept under surveillance…” The DOJ press release says all 40 firearms had obliterated serial numbers, which made simple possession of them a prosecutable offense. Local law enforcement officials stopped the vehicle later in the day—presumably in concert with ATF and for the purpose of identifying the vehicle’s inhabitants. Inexplicably, none of the suspects were arrested.
Finally, documents in our possession indicate that the ATF did not create a Report of Investigation (ROI) on the November 9 transfer of firearms until over three months later, on February 25, 2011—the same day ATF received the report tracing the Zapata murder weapon back to the purchase by Otilio Osorio. Documenting investigative steps three months after the fact and only after a trace returned to the murder of a federal agent raises red flags about the nature of ATF’s investigation.
The letter also follows up on a request made by Texas Senator John Cornyn this week to investigate similar Fast and Furious tactics used in Houston.
You can read the letter here: