Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are officially trying to cover for Attorney General Eric Holder just before he testifies on Thursday about Operation Fast and Furious, with anti-Second Amendment Ranking Member Elijah Cummings leading the way. Last night, Cummings released a 95 page
waste of paper and taxpayer money report, alleging that top Justice Department officials did not authorize the program, despite evidence showing otherwise. The report tries to pin the blame back on a few "rogue" managers in the ATF Phoenix Field Division. This is the same argument we've heard since the beginning of the scandal: it was a local operation, nobody important knew anything.
A few important points:
First, Deputy Attorney General of the Criminal Division Lanny Breuer (the number two man in DOJ), approved wiretaps for Operation Fast and Furious. Wiretap applications require excruciating detail about a case to be presented before approval. Wiretaps are considered the most intrusive tool law enforcement can use. Breuer, who read through the wiretap applications, knew details of the strategy used in Fast and Furious, letting guns walk into Mexico without alerting Mexican authorities, yet he approved it anyway. New emails released last Friday in a late night document dump, show Attorney General Eric Holder was briefed about Brian Terry's death just hours after he was murdered in the early morning hours on December 15, 2010. Later in the day, Holder's deputy chief of staff at the time Monty Wilkinson, was told directly by former Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke that the guns found at the murder scene were part of Operation Fast and Furious. According to the report, Wilkinson doesn't "recall" that email, despite replying to it with, "Call you tomorrow." Burke, who resigned from his position as U.S. Attorney in August, was in "complete agreement" with former ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Division Bill Newell about Fast and Furious tactics according to a January 8, 2010 briefing memo.
If Wilkinson's "I don't recall," argument sounds familiar, there's a reason why. On May 3, 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder testifed before the House Judicary Committee that he had only known about Fast and Furious, "for a couple of weeks." Five months later, memos addressed directly to Holder surfaced, with details and discussion about the program. In defense, Holder said he didn't read the memos and that his staff didn't inform him of their content.
Second, the report claims Fast and Furious was not used as a way for the Obama administration to push through back door gun control measures.
"The report debunks many unsubstantiated conspiracy theories. Contrary to repeated claims by some, the Committee has obtained no evidence that Operation Fast and Furious was a politically-motivated operation conceived and directed by high-level Obama Administration political appointees at the Department of Justice," Cummings wrote in the report.
FLASHBACK: Designed to Promote Gun Control
"Internal ATF emails seem to suggest that ATF agents were counseled to highlight a link between criminals and certain semi-automatic weapons in order to bolster a case for a rule like the one the DOJ announced yesterday [Monday]."
Townhall has obtained the email which states "Can you see if these guns were all purchased from the same FfL and at one time. We are looking at anecdotal cases to support a demand letter on long gun multiple sales. Thanks Mark R. Chait Assistant Director Field Operations."
Remember this email from Assistant Director in Charge of Field Operations Mark Chait?
Wondering what a demand letter is? This:
“The international expansion and increased violence of transnational criminal networks pose a significant threat to the United States. Federal, state and foreign law enforcement agencies have determined that certain types of semi-automatic rifles – greater than .22 caliber and with the ability to accept a detachable magazine – are highly sought after by dangerous drug trafficking organizations and frequently recovered at violent crime scenes near the Southwest Border. This new reporting measure -- tailored to focus only on multiple sales of these types of rifles to the same person within a five-day period -- will improve the ability of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to detect and disrupt the illegal weapons trafficking networks responsible for diverting firearms from lawful commerce to criminals and criminal organizations. These targeted information requests will occur in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas to help confront the problem of illegal gun trafficking into Mexico and along the Southwest Border.”
Although Cummings claims he wants to bring justice to the Terry family for his murder, which was a direct result of this recklass program, he has done the opposite by using the scandal to promote new gun control measures, implying ATF should be given more power and as a chance to blame President Bush for using the "same tactics" that were used during Fast and Furious for other programs during his time in the White House. During Bush-era "gunwalking" programs, the Mexican government was informed and cooperating with ATF to interdict and follow guns into Mexico. During Fast and Furious under President Obama, Mexican officials were left in the dark as 2500 guns were delivered to the hands of ruthless cartel members thanks to DOJ and ATF officials.
Note to Cummings: Your cover-up is showing.
Katie Pavlich is the Editor at Townhall.com. Follow her on Twitter @katiepavlich. She is a New York Times Best Selling author. Her latest book Assault and Flattery: The Truth About the Left and Their War on Women, was published on July 8, 2014.