Sunday, December 04, 2011

DOJ On Fast And Furious: 'Hey We Lied. So What' ?

President Obama's Department of Justice has formally withdrawn an 'inaccurate' letter on Fast and Furious it admits was sent to Congress earlier this year to answer formal inquiries about the program that saw over 2,000 weapons deliberately placed in the hands of Mexican drug cartels. The program led to at least 200 murders,including a US Border Patrol officer.

In a document dump late last Friday afternoon, Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole sent nearly 1,400 pages of emails and other documents to the investigative committee of Rep. Daryl Issa and Senator Chuck Grassley that, among other tidbits, laid bare the details of how the bogus February 4th letter to Grassley was drafted.

The February 2011 letter in response to Grassley's statements in committee that the Senate Judiciary Committee had received allegations the ATF had sanctioned the sale of hundreds of assault weapons to suspected straw purchasers. The letter said in response that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) makes "every effort" to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally before they cross into Mexico. It added that the allegation that the ATF had "sanctioned or otherwise knowingly allowed the sale of assault weapons" to suspicious people was false.

As we now know, both of those statements were outright lies.

The paper trail shows that Dennis Burke, a former U.S. attorney who has since 'resigned', and William Hoover, then the deputy director of the ATF who has since been reassigned, were the parties that mostly provided the false information to those officials who drafted the letter. What the documents don't show, of course, is the all-important intent. Misleading Congress is a felony - but only if it can be proven that the perpetrator knew the information was false and intended to deceive.

This is also known as the Hillary Clinton get-out-of-jail-free card. It's not enough to prove that someone prepared fraudulent legal documents and profited thereby. You have to prove intent.

And of course, Attorney General Eric Holder has told lawmakers that so far he has no evidence anyone intended to deceive them. But he's going to look into the matter!

The e-mails also show that Lanny Breuer, the assistant attorney general for the department’s criminal division, received versions of the letter on four occasions via email. Breuer forwarded the emails to a personal account but somehow forgot about it - he testified to the investigative committee that he “cannot say for sure” whether he viewed the drafts.

Breuer admitted on Oct. 31 he knew federal officials allowed assault weapons to be trafficked by straw buyers to the Mexican drug cartels as early as April 2010, 10 months before the department denied doing it in the letter to Grassley.

“Any instance of so-called gunwalking was unacceptable. This tactic was unfortunately used as part of Fast and Furious,” Holder admitted to Senators at a Judiciary Committee hearing Nov. 8. “This should never have happened.”

Ah, but it's obvious that someone intended it to happen. Here's a revealing e-mail exchange between US Attorney Dennis Burke and former ATF Deputy Director Hoover:

“What is so offensive about this whole project is that Grassley’s staff, acting as willing stooges for the Gun Lobby, have attempted to distract from the incredible success in dismantling [southwest border] gun trafficking operations ... but, instead, lobbing this reckless despicable accusation that ATF is complicit in the murder of a fellow federal law enforcement officer,” he wrote in a Feb. 4 email.

“Well said Dennis. Thank you!” Hoover replied.

Senator Grassley, who along with Rep. Issa has been leading an investigation into Fast and Furious for most of this year, has been quite outspoken about the operation and the attempted coverup. Th elatest batch of documents raises a lot of new questions about who knew what and when they knew it. Expect a number of them to come up when Attorney General Holder testifies in a House oversight hearing December 8th.

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Anonymous said...

Why are you bringing Hilary Clinton into this? What did she have to do with fast and furious? Or do rightwingers like you just throw mud for the hell of it?

Rob said...

Ah, I see we're not familiar with Mrs. Clinton's earlier history. I chose to use her as an example of what 'intent' looks like and why it's so problematical in criminal investigations.

The only reason Mrs. Clinton is not sitting in a cell right now is because the feds were unable to prove intent on the fraudulent legal documents she prepared as part of the Rose Hill law firm for the Whitewater scam.

The only people who could have helped prove intent and nailed her for that were Wade Hubbel and Susan McDougal, and both of them elected to sit in prison for a few years and take a presidential pardon when Mr. Bill left office.

Given that the Clintons were multimillionaires when they left the White House, I'm sure there was also a little somethin' somethin' waiting for them when they got out as well.


B.Poster said...

This is not good. I've said it before here and elsewhere. I'll say it again. It is VERY important that we conduct a fair and honest investigation into this. This also involves Mexico. Some of their people were killed. At a minimum, they are going to want to know what happened and will want assurances that such a thing will not occurr again. I know, if I were in their situation, I would.

If we don't conduct a fair and honest investigation, I'm sure the ICC would love to get their hands on something like this. I'm sure Mexico would have no trouble with asking a group like this to get involved if they feel it will advance their interests.

So the US does not acknowledge the ICC, doesn't matter. A conviction or a trial by a body such as this could complicate things for US officlals engaged in international operations. Also, it is unlikely the US could expect a fair trial from the ICC or some other international body. As such, it is very much in our interests to conduct a fair and honest inquiry into this in order to avoid something like this.

We need to secure our borders. It would be extremely helpful in this regard if we had Mexico's cooperation in this. Without an honest investigation into fast and furious it is going to be even more problematic than it already is to expect this cooperation.

Clearly Mexico's soverignty appears to have been violated here in a major way. Given the way Mexico has flagrantly violated American soverignty for decades now, it is hardly surprising that American officials may not show the proper respect for Mexico's soverignty. Essentially one reaps what one sews. However, this does NOT excuse US actions here. Again, conduct the fair and honest investigation into this that is necessary. This investigation is vital for our national security and should be treated as such.

Anonymous said...

I have always thought that Holder and Hilary Clinton knew about the investigative effort involved in Fast and Furious. They may not have known the code name or the details of the operation, but, I think, they knew about the effort. My reasons for thinking this are twofold. First, I heard one of the involved ATF agents on television say that he was told that the effort was undertaken to show that guns were being smuggled from the US into Mexico. Second, in 2009, both Eric Holder and Hilary Clinton, in an effort to bolster US gun regulation were complaining that illicit firearms were being sent into Mexico.