During a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing today on Capitol Hill, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who is facing pressure surrounding his role in the Obama Justice Department’s Operation Fast and Furious, asked for more gun control and blamed law abiding gun shop owners for violence in Mexico.
Breuer declared that nearly 70 percent of guns found in Mexico come from the United States, a figure that has been disproven by the National Rifle Association, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact and by Senator Charles Grassley’s office multiple times. Also during testimony, Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein pushed for more gun control and Breuer expressed his agreement with her statements that American gun laws are too “lax” and therefore result it more violent crime.
Feinstein asked Breuer if he thought a reporting measure for long gun rifles would be helpful to ATF. Breuer answered yes. Remember, the Department of Justice has already circumvented Congress by requiring the sale of multiple long gun rifles in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas be reported to the ATF. These new regulations were implemented in early July 2011:
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.
“The problem is, anybody can walk in [to a gun shop] and buy anything,” Feinstein said.
This comment by Feinstein was particularly disappointing considering during Operation Fast and Furious law abiding gun shop owners expressed deep discomfort with selling massive amounts of high powered weapons to known drug cartel straw purchasers, yet ATF officials told them to do so anyway, saying they would be “serving their country” by helping ATF in the operation.
Breuer said the number one tool he needs is to know when guns are purchased, essentially what can be interpreted as a national reporting measure. What Breuer and Feinstein are missing is this: The Obama Justice Department in partnership with ATF is the largest American supplier of weapons to Mexican drug cartels through Operation Fast and Furious; not law abiding gun shops. See Obama DOJ Gave Cartel Enough Guns to Arm a Marine Regiment.
Also, Breuer tried to claim that when Operation Fast and Furious came to light publically in Spring 2011 through media reports, ATF officials “made it clear” they don’t condone walking guns. Not true, in fact William Newell, ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Field Division at the time Operation Fast and Furious was implemented (he has since been promoted to a cushy position in Washington D.C.) and carried out, wouldn’t rule out the idea of conducting another program like Fast and Furious in the future when asked during Congressional testimony in July 2011.
As I wrote in July after a House Oversight Hearing about Fast and Furious:
Former ATF Special Agent in Charge William Newell would not condemn Operation Fast and Furious and allowing guns to walk into Mexico during testimony and questioning. In fact, Newell went so far as to say he was unaware of guns walking into Mexico, despite internal emails showing he did know. Newell admitted the agency made mistakes but would not admit the program was a bad idea and exposed that he was in communication with a member of the White House national security team. His testimony also conflicted with previous testimony given by Special Agent John Dodson of the Phoenix Field Division who said on June 15, “Allowing loads of weapons that we knew to be destined for criminals, this was the plan. It was so mandated.”
“At no time in our strategy was it to allow guns to be taken to Mexico,” Newell said, adding that at no time did his agency allow guns to walk.
“You’re entitled to your opinion, not your own facts,” Issa responded.
Yesterday Breuer came out publically to admit he had made a “mistake” by not telling Attorney General Eric Holder about gun walking that occurred under the Bush Administration through Operation Wide Receiver, saying essentially he should have sounded a warning about gun walking when it started to occur during Fast and Furious, but he remained silent. It is important to point out that under Wide Receiver, there was an effort to track 300 weapons in collaboration with the Mexican Government. Under Operation Fast and Furious, there was no effort to track 2,000 guns that were purposely walked in to Mexico and the Mexican Government was left in the dark about the operation. Today during testimony, Breuer said he, “Didn’t draw the connection,” between the tactics used in the two separate programs, which is hard to believe.
Breuer’s testimony and statements about “not making connections” between two separate but similar gunwalking programs and his claim he never told Attorney General Holder about his concerns or Fast and Furious at all, raise new questions.
Why is Breuer coming out with these revelations now? The House Oversight Committee Investigation into Fast and Furious has been going on for months, yet Breuer all the sudden regrets not sounding the alarm about the dangers of gunwalking when Operation Fast and Furious started in the Fall of 2009? While claiming he never told Attorney General Eric Holder about the program? Although Breuer claims he personally never told Holder about the tactics being used in Fast and Furious, five detailed memos about the lethal program dated July and August 2010 were addressed directly to Holder. Despite Breuer’s testimony, the question of “who authorized Fast and Furious,” remains unanswered.
"The American people—and especially the family of murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry—deserve answers from the Justice Department about why they claim they didn’t know gunwalking was occurring in Operation Fast and Furious when the department’s fingerprints are all over it," Senator Grassley said during the hearing.
It looks like someone, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, is falling on a sword, and that sword happens to be Eric Holder’s.