Fast and furious subpoenas

A document shredder. New symbol of Operation Fast and Furious?
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Two Members of Congress have just slapped the Attorney General with a subpoena as Operation Fast and Furious has blown up in his face. And a third Member has written to ask about the Honduras connection.

Fast and furious summary

Operation Fast and Furious began probably in October, 2009. David Ogden, then Deputy Attorney General, was not satisfied with the earlier Project Gunrunner. That was a project to find and arrest those who were running guns into Mexico. For months, Barack Obama himself and many of his officials had insisted that most of the guns that Mexico’s drug cartels used came from the United States. Whether they really believed that or not, we might never know. We do know that in October, Ogden wrote the key memo that provoked Operation Fast and Furious. He said that merely stopping the flow of guns wasn’t enough; he wanted to find out who was carrying them.

And so the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) started Fast and Furious. Under it, ATF would let straw buyers buy several guns at once from the same store, contrary to law. If any of those stores had failed to report such multiple buys, ATF probably would have shut them down. As it was, ATF told the stores to go on selling several guns at once to the same buyer.

Then in December of 2010, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry died in a gun battle—on our side of the border. Two of the guns that authorities found at the scene were among those that the straw buyers had bought as part of Fast and Furious.

The cover-up

The cover-up of Operation Fast and Furious began at once. At first, only those semi-pro and amateur journalists with an interest in Americans’ Second Amendment rights took any interest. One of them is David Codrea, the National Gun Rights Examiner. (See his four part series on the project he now called “Project Gunwalker.”) Another was Mike Vanderboegh. Between them they kept the story alive for six months, until at last the Fox News Channel took notice for the first time.

That’s when Holder said that he knew nothing about any Operation Fast and Furious. Obama said, “He said he didn’t know, and I believe him.” But that is getting ever harder to believe.

The Dirty Dozen

Kenneth Melson, acting ATF director. He is blowing the whistle on Operation Fast and Furious.

Kenneth Melson, acting ATF director and intended sacrificial lamb for Operation Fast and Furious, and now a confirmed whistleblower. Photo: BATFE.

Today, Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote to General Holder. Their letter is nothing less than a subpoena. It names Ogden, nine other deputy and assistant attorneys general, a section chief, and an officer in another section. Codrea and Vanderboegh call these men “The Dirty Dozen.”

But more than that is this paragraph saying what specific things that Issa and Grassley demand:

These records should include e-mails, memoranda, briefing papers, and handwritten notes. Additionally, any records related to communications referring to a large firearms trafficking case within the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) or in Phoenix should be included in any production.

Vanderboegh highlights that word or. It means that the Phoenix, AZ office is not the only office that Issa and Grassley suspect of running guns into a foreign country.

The Honduras connection

Now a third Member of Congress wants answers. Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) wrote to Holder and to ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson. In that letter, he demands to know whether and for how long ATF has run guns out of Tampa, FL into Honduras. He especially wants to know whether any of those guns got into the hands of the MS-13 gang. That gang has troubled the peace of Mexico and the United States for years. They are not the kind of venal gang that runs drugs. Their motives are political.

Bilirakis asked six specific questions. Among other things, he demands that ATF stop any such program, if it is still going on.

In addition, Mike Vanderboegh reported that an anonymous protester wrote a long, vituperative letter accusing him of lying about the ATF. But that protester might indeed have “protested too much.” Far too much. Also, Vanderboegh’s source in Tampa gave even more damaging information about Virginia O’Brien, the special-agent-in-charge at Tampa, and how she ran her office. In fact, several agents at the Tampa Office have said that they would like to talk to Issa, Grassley, or someone in one of their offices.

Featured image: a common cross-cut shredder, universal symbol of cover-up. Photo: CNAV.

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