Barack Hussein Obama's Department of Injustice
DOJ to scrub Islam references from transcripts of Orlando terrorist's calls to police
Published June 20, 2016
The Department of Justice is scrubbing references of radical Islamic
beliefs from the transcripts of calls Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen
made to police during his massacre, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said
A partial transcript of the conversations between authorities and
Mateen, who killed 49 and wounded 53 in the June 12 attack at a Florida
gay nightclub, is set to be released on Monday. But Lynch, who appeared
on numerous Sunday talk shows, said the transcripts will not include
Mateen's oath of loyalty to ISIS or any other religious justification
for the attack.
“What we’re not going to do is further proclaim this man’s pledges of
allegiance to terrorist groups, and further his propaganda,” Lynch told
NBC. “We are not going to hear him make his assertions of allegiance
[to the Islamic State].”
The calls could confirm Mateen's motives in the wake of Facebook postings from the killer that already reveal Islamist leanings.
“I pledge my alliance to (ISIS leader) abu bakr al Baghdadi..may Allah
accept me,” Mateen wrote in one post during the attack. “The real
muslims will never accept the filthy ways of the west” …“You kill
innocent women and children by doing us airstrikes..now taste the
Islamic state vengeance.”
Other posts include warnings to the U.S. and Russia to stop bombing the
Islamic State and a prediction that more ISIS attacks would follow
But that "radical Islam" angle is likely to be missing from Monday's release.
Critics blasted the move by the administration, which has rejected
branding terrorist acts as motivated by radical Islam and has sought to
paint the Orlando attack as a gun control issue.
"This is not just a simple wording issue," Ric Grenell, a Fox News
contributor and former aide to UN Ambassador John Bolton told Fox and
Friends Monday morning. "The fact that Loretta Lynch is somehow
redacting the specific enemy that is being called out here is a PR
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giluiani, also on Fox and Friends
Monday, said it does not help law enforcement to try to bury the
motivations or allegiences of criminals and terrorists.
"Why didn't they do this with the Mafia, to spare Italian-Americans?"
Giuliani asked. "Why? Because if you did, you would never make the
connection [which ultimately] brought them down."
Mateen died in a hail of gunfire after police blew a hole in the side
of the venue following a three-hour hostage standoff. But before his
final moments came, Mateen declared allegiance to Islamic State leader
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi -- right in the midst of the slaughter.
The move to edit the transcripts of Mateen's calls harkens back to
April, when French President Francois Hollande's reference to "Islamist
terrorism" was left out of an official White House video during an
international summit in Washington D.C. The White House later told
several news outlets the dropped phrase was a "technical issue."
President Obama famously has tried not to use the phrase "radical
Islamic terrorism" in his remarks, a position many Republicans have
lambasted him for. Obama has said he believes that phrase gives a
measure of legitimacy to terror groups.
And as investigators look past Mateen's religious convictions, Lynch
said a top goal is to build a complete profile of the gunman in order
to help prevent another massacre like Orlando.
“We are trying to re-create the days, the weeks, the months of this
killer’s life before this attack,” Lynch said. “And we are also asking
those people who had contact with him to come forward and give us that
information as well.”
Mateen was the focus of two FBI investigations into suspected
terrorism. However, the probes were concluded without further action,
and Mateen was allowed to legally buy firearms.
Lynch said the Justice Department is “going to go back and see what
changes could have been made,” regarding how the investigations were
Lynch said she’s traveling to Orlando Tuesday to meet with federal investigators.
While speaking to CBS’ “Face The Nation,” Lynch said that a key goal of
the probe was to determine why Mateen targeted the gay community. The
victims were predominantly gay and Hispanic since it was "Latin Night"
Lynch, speaking to “Fox News Sunday,” declined to say whether federal
authorities will charge anybody in connection with the mass murder. She
also declined to comment on why the wife of the shooter has not been
arrested, amid purported evidence that she either helped her husband
plot the murders or suspected his intentions and did not alert
Lynch also expressed support for Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn's
amendment, which is scheduled for a vote Monday in the Senate and would
allow the federal government to delay a gun sale to a suspected
terrorist for as long as 72 hours. Afterward, prosecutors would have to
persuade a judge to block the sale permanently.
Lynch said such an amendment would give the federal government the ability to stop a sale to somebody on the terror watch list.
Meanwhile, thousands of people packed Lake Eola Park in Florida Sunday
evening for a vigil to honor the victims of the shooting. The park was
filled with people holding white flowers, American flags and candles.
At the end of the gathering, people held up their candles as the name
of each victim was read, creating a ring of fire around Lake Eola. They
chanted "One Orlando," ''Orlando United" and "Somos Orlando," Spanish
for "We are Orlando."
"That event has gotten the attention of the world," said Evania
Nichols, an Orlando resident. "And, for Orlando — a city that's always
been incredibly inclusive no matter your skin color, no matter your
background — it's brought about a movement that I think is starting
here and I really hope continues."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
JUSTICE DEPT. FAULTED OVER TERRORIST IDENTITIES
By PETE YOST
— May 16, 2013
WASHINGTON (AP) — The government
allowed "a small but significant number" of terrorists into America's
witness protection program and then failed to provide the names of some
of them for a watch list that's used to keep dangerous people off
airline flights, the Justice Department's inspector general says.
As a result of the department's
failure to share information with the Terrorist Screening Center, some
in the witness protection program who were on a government "no-fly"
list were allowed to travel on commercial flights, the department's
The FBI-managed screening center is the clearinghouse for information about known or suspected terrorists.
In a briefing for reporters
Thursday, the Justice Department said it had remedied the problem with
a restrictive travel policy that prohibits program participants with
no-fly status from traveling on commercial flights. The department
declined to say how many people in the program actually flew.
While people involved in terrorism
cases have long been eligible for federal witness protection, the
Justice Department wouldn't say how many have been in the program. The
inspector general's report said it was "a small but significant number."
The Witness Security Program, or
WitSec as it is known, protects witnesses from the people and
organizations against whom they have testified. The U.S. Marshals
Service provides cooperating witnesses with new identities.
Over the past two decades, the
program has been significant in the government's efforts to prosecute
terrorists responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the
1995 bombing in Oklahoma City and the 2009 New York City subway
Since the witness protection program
began in 1971, it has taken in more than 8,400 witnesses and 9,900
family members and other associates of witnesses. The department said
the vast majority of what it referred to as former terrorists in the
program were admitted before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
The department said that to date,
the FBI has not identified a national security threat tied to the
participation of any terrorism-linked witness in the program.
The inspector general's report said
that as a result of the department not disclosing information on some
known or suspected terrorists, the new, government-provided identities
of the witnesses were not included on the consolidated terrorist watch
list until the IG noted it.
"We found that the department was
not authorizing the disclosure to the Terrorist Screening Center of the
new identities provided to known or suspected terrorists," said the
report. "It was possible for known or suspected terrorists to fly on
commercial airplanes in or over the United States and evade one of the
government's primary means of identifying and tracking terrorists'
movements and actions."
The IG also found that information was not shared promptly with the FBI.
In a June 2009 field report, a
Marshals Service inspector reported his belief that a program
participant was trying to gather intelligence on sensitive program
policies and procedures for militant Muslim groups. The IG found no
evidence that that information was shared with the FBI around the time
of the inspector's concerns. An FBI official later told the IG that the
information was shared in February 2012, which the IG pointed out was
years after the inspector stated his concern.
Obama DOJ Decides Not To Support Religious Liberty in NYC
By Jordan Lorence
October 19, 2012
The Obama Department of Justice has
shown surprising indifference to religious liberty by declining to
follow the DOJ’s earlier repeated support for the right of religious
groups to meet for worship services in New York City public schools
during non-school hours.
The city allows community groups to
meet in the vacant schools for any purpose “pertaining to the welfare
of the community,” but specifically bans worship services.
Alliance Defending Freedom has
represented a small Evangelical church, Bronx Household of Faith, in a
lawsuit challenging this policy since 1995. Currently, churches
and other religious groups are meeting in NYC public schools because of
an injunction issued by District Court judge Loretta Preska earlier
this year. The City of New York has appealed the injunction to the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the fifth time the appellate
court has heard appeals in the case. In the past three appeals, the DOJ
filed amicus briefs strongly supporting the church’s right to equal
access to meet in the school buildings.
But inexplicably, Obama’s DOJ
decided to break with past actions and sit out the opportunity to
support religious liberty in this case. This should have been an easy
decision for the DOJ — simply follow the position the department has
taken three times in the past decade to support religious liberty in
the Bronx Household case. It’s a pretty reasonable position: When a
public school opens its empty buildings for meetings by community
groups, it must allow religious groups to meet on the same terms and
conditions as everyone else.
Many of these churches meet in the
poorest neighborhoods of NYC, providing services, spiritual support,
and hope to many in their communities. The DOJ should explain why it
has reversed course in this important case.
Feds shut down criminal probe of Ariz. Sheriff Arpaio
By The Arizona Republic
August 31, 2012
PHOENIX -- The U.S. Attorney's
Office has closed its long-running abuse-of-power investigation into
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio -- without any charges to be filed.
In a 5 p.m. Friday news release,
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel, acting on behalf of the
U.S. Department of Justice, announced her office "is closing its
investigation into allegations of criminal conduct" by current and
former members of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and the Maricopa
County Attorney's Office.
Federal prosecutors have advised Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery of the decision.
In a four-page letter to Montgomery, Scheel explained the reasoning for the decision.
Federal prosecutors decided to not
prosecute matters tied to alleged misuse of county credit cards by
sheriff's officials, alleged misspending of jail-enhancement funds and
other matters. The U.S. Attorney's Office had already made public it
would not pursue charges on those matters.
Scheel wrote that the agency
declined to initiate any state criminal charges arising from its
broader appointment to pursue state charges that may have come up in
connection with the federal investigation. Several federal attorneys
had been deputized to handle state crimes arising from the
"Law enforcement officials are
rightfully afforded a wide swath of discretion in deciding how to
conduct investigations and prosecutions," she wrote. "Unfortunately,
such discretion can act as a double-edged sword: although it empowers
fair-minded prosecutors and investigators to discharge their duties
effectively, it also affords potential for abuse. Our limited role is
to determine whether criminal charges are supportable. After careful
review, we do not believe the allegations presented to us are
prosecutable as crimes."
Scheel wrote that federal
prosecutors reached the same conclusion on potential federal criminal
violations, specifically related to the allegations involving retired
Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe. Attorneys considered whether former
Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and his former Deputy County
Attorney Lisa Aubuchon committed perjury in causing a complaint to be
filed to avoid a court hearing, and whether their pursuit of criminal
charges amounted to a violation of federal criminal civil rights laws.
Scheel wrote that the agency was
mindful that a disciplinary panel had concluded Thomas, Aubuchon,
Hendershott and Arpaio conspired in a criminal manner to violate
Donahoe's civil rights.
"However, our obligation is
different from the State Bar disciplinary panel, under its rules and
burdens of proof, has reached certain conclusions about the conduct of
Thomas and Aubuchon," she wrote. "We must weigh the evidence and law
under the far heavier burden associated with criminal prosecution.
Based on this review, we have concluded that allegations of criminal
misconduct under federal statutes are not prosecutable."
She wrote it was "not enough to show
that Judge Donahoe was subjected to conduct that was abusive or even
unconstitutional. While Judge Donahoe suffered severe turmoil resulting
from the criminal charges, as evidenced by the record in the Bar
proceedings, we don't believe there is sufficient evidence to meet our
burden that he suffered the sort of complete job depreciation
contemplated by existing precedent."
Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose
Wilcox (she is a felon), one of those who has sued Arpaio alleging she
was improperly investigated, said she was shocked when contacted by The
"I can't imagine why they would do
that when there's so much evidence there, particularly from the Thomas
case and all the (true?) testimony that came out. I just am floored,"
Wilcox said. (leftists will ignore facts)
Sheriff's Deputy Chief Jack MacIntyre commended federal prosecutors for their handling of the investigation that began in 2008.
MacIntyre also said the U.S.
Attorney's Office recognized that many of the allegations related to
the anti-corruption enforcement unit Arpaio started with former County
Attorney Andrew Thomas were handled in the State Bar proceeding that
resulted in Thomas being stripped of his license.
"The U.S. Attorney's Office and its
investigators recognized what Sheriff's Office has said all along: We
did not make any prosecutorial decisions, even through things were
referred to the then-county attorney," MacIntyre said.
Thomas, a one-time Arpaio ally, was
disbarred earlier this year. During the disbarment proceedings, (true?)
testimony was given that Arpaio or his subordinates had abused the
power the office.
The investigation began in December 2008.
Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox Indicted For 36 Felony Crimes
December 11, 2009
Phoenix, AZ—Maricopa County, Arizona
has always been a hotbed for corruption. The legendary land fraud
exploits of Ned Warren and later massive savings and loan fraud of
Charles Keating could have never happened without the total cooperation
of corrupt public officials.
Arizona has long been for sale to
the highest bidder. The AZSCAM indictments only snared some low level
members of the Legislature because the late Director of Public Safety
and former Phoenix police boss, Ralph Milstead tipped of the real
legislative power brokers. Law enforcement bosses sans the elected
Sheriff must cooperate with the crooked politicians or be unemployed.
As always, the lion’s share of
political corruption comes from the Left wing of American politics. The
free-spending Liberals throw around the most tax money and that invites
the deal makers, lobbyists and criminal underbelly to feed like sharks.
Corruption investigations always go
nowhere and local and every level of government wallows in a sea of red
ink. The crooked politicians turn their taxpayers into their own
personal ATM machines. The only solution they can find is to raise
taxes a extort money from working families with photo traffic
enforcement revenue schemes.
Arizona’s media is like most
American media, deeply rooted in Leftist politics. The large
metropolitan areas of Arizona are under a tight Liberal grip. The media
protects the political corruption.
Along came a wild Card, Sheriff Joe
Arpaio. Joe has his own baggage connected to his ego. Arpaio, stays
awake nights dreaming up publicity stunts to endear himself to his
voters. He is a master politician who gives the voters what they want.
Since Maricopa County is a huge territory his voters are working class
Conservatives. Liberals just don’t get elected in countywide races.
Needless to say in Phoenix there is
a clash of political culture and ways to deal with things like Illegal
Immigration. The Liberals run Phoenix, the Superior Court, the County
Board and they control where money is spent. The Left Wing politicians
always throw tax money away on unneeded projects that generate huge
campaign contributions from government vendors. That’s the only way
they can stay in power.
In the thick of this mess is the
Wilcox Crime Family. Mary Rose Wilcox and her family have never missed
a chance at personal profit and now according to a stunning and
breathtaking 36 count indictment Wilcox will have to answer for her
In the meantime the media has come
to the defense of Wilcox and another indicted Supervisor, Don Stapley
in an unprecedented manner. They are screaming that the indictment is
political payback. My question is who cares if it is political payback?
If they have committed these felonies why not simply let them hang!
Congressional Report on Operation Fast and Furious
TUESDAY, 28 AUGUST 2012 12:09
JOHN G. MALCOLM
The Buck Stops...Well...Somewhere
Abstract: Representative Darrell Issa and Senator Charles
Grassley recently released Part I of a three-part report titled Fast
and Furious: The Anatomy of a Failed Operation. The report contains a
compelling narrative regarding this botched law enforcement operation.
In particular, it exposes the lack of supervision of some terrible
on-the-ground decisions—choices that had deadly consequences.
Yet horrendous decision-making is
only part of the story. Following the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent
Brian Terry, the implicated individuals decided to circle the wagons
and, to prevent the disclosure of embarrassing and possibly criminal
information, seemingly began a cover-up that persists to this day. The
American public and the victims of Operation Fast and Furious deserve
Part I of a three-part report titled
Fast and Furious: The Anatomy of a Failed Operation, recently
released by Representative Darrell Issa (R–CA) and Senator Charles
Grassley (R–IA), contains a compelling narrative regarding this botched
law enforcement operation, especially the lack of serious supervision
of some terrible on-the-ground decisions that had deadly consequences.
The report is relevant to:
The ongoing congressional investigation regarding Operation Fast and Furious,
The growing dispute with the Administration over its
refusal to comply with congressional subpoenas,
The subsequent House vote to hold Attorney General
Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, and
The court action to override President Barack
Obama’s invocation of executive privilege to shield key material from
the public and Congress.
In addition, the report contains
critical information that the American public needs in order to
untangle the mess that is Operation Fast and Furious.
Since early 2011, Senator Grassley,
Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Representative
Issa, Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government
Reform, have been leading the investigation into the Fast and Furious
operation and its aftermath. Part I of the report chronicles the
operation from the perspective of the United States Attorney’s Office
in Phoenix and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Were the consequences not so tragic,
the report might have the makings of a good Keystone Cops script.
Despite being hamstrung by a lack of cooperation by the Department of
Justice (DOJ), however, it does an admirable job of laying out the
chronology, supported by copious and detailed documentation, of what
happened, what went wrong, and how it went wrong.
An Agency with an Inferiority Complex
Operation Fast and Furious was a
botched law enforcement initiative in which over 2,000 high-powered
weapons were allowed to “walk” into Mexico in an ill-conceived attempt
to develop criminal firearms cases against higher-ups within the
vicious Sinaloa drug cartel. While many of these guns remain
unrecovered, two of them were linked to the murder of U.S. Border
Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010, and others were used to kill
or wound approximately 300 Mexicans.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
Firearms and Explosives has a checkered history, as evidenced by the
fiascos at Ruby Ridge and Waco. While agents with the Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
command respect within the law enforcement community, ATF agents often
do not. The DEA and the FBI are charged with going after the leaders of
drug cartels and other drug trafficking organizations, while ATF is
supposed to keep guns out of the hands of bad guys.
At its heart, Operation Fast and
Furious appears to have been an attempt by certain individuals within
ATF, supported by senior DOJ officials, to play with the “big boys” by
targeting kingpins within the Sinaloa drug cartel. In doing so,
however, ATF abandoned its most basic mission.
Indeed, far from keeping guns from
the bad guys, and in the interests of developing a case that would
attract tremendous national media attention, ATF allowed a small
group of individuals to buy a massive arsenal of over 2,000
high-powered weapons (despite the reticence of cooperating firearms
dealers to sell them) that ended up in the hands of ruthless Mexican
drug thugs with predictable results: mayhem and death.
Compounding this colossal exercise
of terrible judgment was the fact that supervisors within DOJ and
ATF—all the way up the chain of command to the ATF Director and the
Deputy Attorney General’s Office—seemed not to understand that it was
their job to supervise (and stop) those conducting this out-of-control
As outlined in Part I of the report,
amid a sea of red flags that provided ample notice of what was going
on, high-level DOJ and ATF officials talked about an “exit strategy”
but ultimately did nothing to implement one. In short, they permitted
this reckless and feckless operation to continue for months on end.
Then, when things went horribly wrong and U.S. Border Patrol Agent
Brian Terry was killed—the scores of Mexicans who had already been
killed or wounded with Fast and Furious guns did not seem to arouse
sufficient concern—the implicated individuals decided to circle the
wagons and, to prevent the disclosure of embarrassing and possibly
criminal information, seemingly began a cover-up that persists to this
How the Operation Was Conceived and Executed
In October 2009, Deputy Attorney
General David Ogden, the second-highest-ranking official at the
Department of Justice, issued a “Strategy for Combating the Mexican
Cartels” in which federal law enforcement agents were advised that the
previous strategy of “merely seizing firearms” purchased by “straw
buyers” (individuals who may legally purchase firearms for themselves
but are instead purchasing them illegally for someone else) would be
replaced with a new strategy of gathering information in hopes of
dismantling entire firearms trafficking networks. Pursuant to this
plan, ATF agents in Phoenix persuaded local gun dealers to cooperate by
supplying ATF with real-time information on the straw purchases, even
though the agents knew that the guns were being transported into
Mexico, destined for the Sinaloa drug cartel.
Shortly after Operation Fast and
Furious began, ATF applied to DOJ to have the case designated as an
Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case, and the request was
approved by senior DOJ officials. This designation meant that, in
addition to ATF, other federal agents from the FBI and the DEA, as well
as agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the principal
investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, were assigned
to the investigation.
Early in the investigation, ATF had
identified Manuel Celis-Acosta as the head of the straw purchasing
ring, as well as many of the individuals working for him who were
buying the guns. The DEA and the FBI already had a considerable amount
of incriminating information about Celis-Acosta and other suspects that
the agencies had obtained pursuant to a state wiretap in a separate
drug investigation named Operation Flaco Feo, including conversations
in which Celis-Acosta admitted receiving money to purchase weapons in
Phoenix that were destined for Juarez, Mexico, via El Paso, Texas. This
information was provided to ATF officials, who either chose not to act
on it or failed to understand the significance of the connections among
these individuals until a year later. During that year, the suspects
continued to acquire weapons under ATF supervision and to transport
these guns into Mexico, where they were turning up at an alarming
number of crime scenes.
As part of its strategy of going
after the “big fish,” it was ATF’s goal to identify the individuals to
whom Celis-Acosta was providing weapons. Shockingly, while ATF used
federal wiretap intercepts—a resource-intensive and time-consuming
investigative tool rarely used in firearms investigations—to accomplish
this goal, the DEA and the FBI already knew who some of these
individuals were, having obtained this information through another
investigation they were conducting that was code named Operation Head
Shot. It is clear that ATF was informed that some of the targets of
Operation Head Shot had purchased weapons from Celis-Acosta; however,
it is unclear whether the ATF agents understood that some of the
individuals they were targeting in Fast and Furious were the same
people that were being targeted in Head Shot.
Subsequently, two of the targets of
both Operation Head Shot and Operation Fast and Furious—Jesus Audel
Miramontes-Varela, a noted drug kingpin with a long history of
violence, and his brother—became FBI confidential informants, a
critical piece of information that was not shared with ATF. The
report states that the “Committees have received further information on
Operation Head Shot that cannot be made public due to its sensitive
nature. Many questions still remain.”
Lack of Adult Supervision
An early proponent of the new
strategy was Bill Newell, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Phoenix
Field Division. Newell had a history of using risky and reckless
“gunwalking” tactics during prior investigations.
In the ATF organizational hierarchy,
Newell reported to Deputy Assistant Director William McMahon, who
served as the main link between the Phoenix Field Division and ATF
Headquarters. Although McMahon knew that no safeguards had been put
in place to prevent the guns from being transported into Mexico, he
made no effort to shut down the operation, believing that it was not
his job to interfere with Newell’s investigation. McMahon has
admitted that he rubber-stamped critical documents that came across his
desk without even bothering to read them.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office endorsed
and actively supported Newell’s strategy. For example, on January 5,
2010, ATF agents met with Assistant United States Attorney Emory Hurley
to discuss the “Manuel Celis Acosta [sic] Trafficking
Investigation.” In his memorandum of the meeting, Hurley
acknowledged that ATF had already reviewed a number of “dirty” calls
from Celis-Acosta through “a state wire case being run out of the DEA
However, rather than arresting
Celis-Acosta and his cohorts based on this information, ATF wanted to
obtain its own federal wiretap. Although Hurley noted that, “In the
past, ATF agents have investigated cases similar to this by confronting
the straw purchasers and hoping for an admission that might lead to
charges,” he preferred to pursue a broader and far riskier strategy.
After noting that straw purchasers are replaceable, he wrote:
ATF believes that there may be
pressure from ATF headquarters to immediately contact identifiable
straw purchasers just to see if this develops any indictable cases and
to stem the flow of guns. Local ATF favors pursuing a wire and
surveillance to build a case against the leader of the organization…. I
concur with local ATF’s decision to pursue a longer term investigation
to target the leader of the conspiracy.
After reviewing this memorandum, Hurley’s boss, U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, tersely responded, “Hold out for bigger.”
Even before this meeting, beginning
in late 2009 and continuing into 2010, several of the cooperating gun
dealers began to express discomfort with making repeated sales to
individuals whom they suspected or knew were involved in criminal
activity. Such concerns were met with false assurances from ATF agents
and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office that the weapons were
being tracked and posed no danger to the public.
These gun dealers, however, were not
the only ones who were concerned. Senior ATF officials (whom Newell
dismissed as “hand wringers”) were also concerned about the large
number of weapons being purchased by straw buyers. ATF Deputy Director
William Hoover, who had reprimanded Newell in the past for employing
risky tactics, requested an exit strategy as early as March 2010, but
it was never implemented.
On several occasions, ATF went so
far as to ask ICE agents who wanted to contact and interview some of
the straw buyers to “stand down.” Then, on May 29, 2010,
Celis-Acosta was stopped attempting to cross the border from Lukeville,
Arizona, into Mexico with ammunition in the vehicle. Celis-Acosta
admitted that he was headed to Mexico to start up a drug trafficking
business and also provided detailed information about his relationship
with Claudio Jamie “Chendi” Badilla, a large-scale trafficker alleged
to be the right-hand man for Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman, head of the
Celis-Acosta was allowed to continue
his trip to Mexico after promising to cooperate and pledging to call
the lead Fast and Furious case agent later. He never honored this
pledge but, along with other straw buyers who were working for him, was
nevertheless allowed to continue buying more firepower for the cartel,
even though a plethora of evidence existed to warrant indicting these
individuals. The report also states that Celis-Acosta was detained on
two other occasions: on April 2, 2010, for drug possession and on
October 9, 2010, for discharging a firearm within the limits of a
municipality. Again, he was released without being charged with any
It Takes a U.S. Agent’s Death to Stop the Operation
It was not until after Agent Terry’s
murder that Operation Fast and Furious finally came to an end. Thus
far, the only people charged have been the straw purchasers, most of
whom were known to ATF at the beginning of the case. No charges against
drug kingpins have been filed related to Operation Fast and Furious,
and it is hard to understand how they might have been, given this
operation’s design and the loose controls that surrounded it.
It should be noted that the
congressional report is based on incomplete information because the
Department of Justice has withheld tens of thousands of pages of
documents (some of which are being withheld pursuant to an invocation
of executive privilege by President Obama) and has denied access to
several key individuals in Operation Fast and Furious, including Hope
MacAllister and Tonya English, two of the case agents, and Assistant
United States Attorney Emory Hurley, the lead prosecutor. Another
key player, Patrick Cunningham, Criminal Division Chief in the Phoenix
U.S. Attorney’s Office, invoked his Fifth Amendment right against
self-incrimination in refusing to answer any questions.
Nonetheless, the evidence recounted in the report is damning enough.
The report further notes that “[t]he
full extent of the responsibility of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the
District of Arizona in directing Operation Fast and Furious has yet to
be discovered because the Department of Justice has stonewalled the
congressional investigation” and makes it clear that the culpability of
DOJ officials will be addressed in Part II.
Although there was plenty of blame
to go around, Part I singles out five individuals within ATF. In
addition to Newell, McMahon, and Hoover, the report blames the fiasco
on Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson, who, despite cooperating with
Congress under difficult circumstances, failed to ensure that ATF
headquarters personnel adequately supervised the Phoenix Field
Division, and Assistant Director Mark Chait, who reported to
Hoover, for failing to put a stop to the operation despite having had
many opportunities to do so.
Senator Grassley and Chairman Issa
state that Part II of this report, which will be released shortly,
“will look at the devastating failure of supervision and leadership by
officials at Justice Department headquarters, principally within the
Office of the Deputy Attorney General, and within the Criminal
Division,” although some of the evidence likely to be cited in Part
II is referenced in Part I.
Part III supposedly “will address
the unprecedented obstruction of the investigation by the highest
levels of the Justice Department, including the Attorney General
himself,” but will be prepared only “after the Justice Department
fulfills its obligations to cooperate with the Congress and produce
documents.” In that regard, the House Oversight Committee has
commenced legal proceedings to challenge the President’s claim of
executive privilege and to enforce the subpoenas that it issued.
Plenty of Explanations but Not Much Candor
On December 17, 2010, two days after
Agent Terry’s death, a Texas ATF supervisor wrote to another ATF agent:
“Maybe Phoenix should start preparing their explanation for the way
that they conducted their straw purchases there. They should probably
hire a media expert anyway to assist them in explaining the 2000
firearms and the possible connection in the murder of a Border Patrol
Agent.” Since then, there have been plenty of explanations, but
there has not been much candor. The American public and the victims of
Operation Fast and Furious deserve better.
John G. Malcolm is a Senior Legal Fellow in the Center for Legal & Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation.
Joint Staff Report for Rep.
Darrell Issa and Senator Charles Grassley, 112th Cong., Part I of III:
Fast and Furious: The Anatomy of a Failed Operation (July 31, 2012),
 See John G. Malcolm, Operation
Fast and Furious: How a Botched Justice Department Operation Led to a
Standoff over Executive Privilege, Heritage Foundation Legal Memorandum
No. 83, July 25, 2012.
Report at 56.
 Id. at 19.
 Id. at 34–40.
 Id. at 53–54, 76–78.
Richard Serrano, From a Mexican Kingpin to an FBI Informant, L.A. Times, April 21, 2012, available at
Report at 79.
 Id. at 140–146.
 Id. at 161–162.
 Id. at 8–9, 166–167.
 Id. at 170–176.
 Id. at 46–49.
Report, Appendix III, Attachment 5, p. 2240, available at
 Id. at Attachment 10, p. 2259.
Report at 43–45.
 Id. at 191–194, 198–200.
 Id. at 26–28, 50–51.
Richard Serrano, Gun-tracking Operation Caught Top Suspect, Then Let Him Go, L.A. Times, March 19, 2012, available at
Report at 100–102.
 Id. at 13, 73–74, 125. Celis-Acosta was not indicted until January 19, 2011. Id. at 40.
 Id. at 9.
 Id. at 56.
 Id. at 5, 55.
 Id. at 9.
 Id. at 9, 182–188.
 Id. at 5.
 Id. at 133–134.
ATF gunwalking scandal
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
2009–2011: Operation Fast and Furious
On October 26, 2009, a
teleconference was held at the Department of Justice in Washington,
D.C. to discuss U.S. strategy for combating Mexican drug cartels.
Participating in the meeting were Deputy Attorney General David W.
Ogden, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer, ATF Director Kenneth
E. Melson, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Michele
Leonhart, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Robert
Mueller and the top federal prosecutors in the Southwestern border
states. They decided on a strategy to identify and eliminate entire
arms trafficking networks rather than low-level buyers.
Those at the meeting did not suggest using the "gunwalking" tactic, but
ATF supervisors would soon use it in an attempt to achieve the desired
goals. The effort, beginning in November, would come to be called
Operation Fast and Furious for the successful film franchise, because
some of the suspects under investigation operated out of an auto repair
store and street raced.
The strategy of targeting high-level
individuals, which was already ATF policy, would be implemented by Bill
Newell, special agent in charge of ATF's Phoenix field division. In
order to accomplish it, the office decided to monitor suspicious
firearms purchases which federal prosecutors had determined lacked
sufficient evidence for prosecution, as laid out in a January 2010
briefing paper. This was said to be allowed under ATF regulations and
given legal backing by U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona Dennis
K. Burke. It was additionally approved and funded by a Justice
Department task force. However, long-standing DOJ and ATF policy has
required arms shipments to be intercepted.
In November 2009, the Phoenix
office's Group VII, which would be the lead investigative group in Fast
and Furious, began to follow a prolific gun trafficker. He had bought
34 firearms in 24 days, and he and his associates bought 212 more in
the next month. The case soon grew to over two dozen straw purchasers,
the most prolific of which would ultimately buy more than 600
The tactic of letting guns walk,
rather than interdicting them and arresting the buyers, led to
controversy within the ATF. As the case continued, several
members of Group VII, including John Dodson and Olindo Casa, became
increasingly upset at the tactic of allowing guns to walk. Their
standard Project Gunrunner training was to follow the straw purchasers
to the hand-off to the cartel buyers, then arrest both parties and
seize the guns. But according to Dodson, they watched guns being bought
illegally and stashed on a daily basis, while their supervisors,
including David Voth and Hope MacAllister, prevented the agents from
However, other accounts of the
operation insist that ATF agents were prevented from intervening not by
ATF officials, but rather by federal prosecutors with the Attorney
General's office, who were unsure of whether the agents had sufficient
evidence to arrest suspected straw-buyers. According to some
reports, many agents insisted they were prevented from making arrests
because prosecutors were unwilling to engage in what could become a
potentially contentious political battle over Second Amendment rights
during an election year, particularly given the difficult nature of
prosecuting straw buyers, and the weak penalties associated with it,
even if successful. Instead, prosecutors instructed ATF agents not
to make arrests, but rather continue collecting evidence in order to
build a stronger case. One tactic proposed for doing so was a wiretap
of suspected straw-buyers, in an attempt to link the suspects to
criminal activities taking place on the Mexican side of the border.
By June 2010, suspects had purchased
1,608 firearms at a cost of over US$1 million at Phoenix-area gun
shops. At that time, the ATF was also aware of 179 of those weapons
being found at crime scenes in Mexico, and 130 in the United States.
As guns traced to Fast and Furious began turning up at violent crime
scenes in Mexico, ATF agents stationed there also voiced opposition.
On the evening of December 14, 2010,
U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry and others were patrolling Peck
Canyon, Santa Cruz County, Arizona, 11 miles from the Mexican border.
The group came across five suspected illegal immigrants. When they
fired non-lethal beanbag guns, the suspects responded with their own
weapons, leading to a firefight. Terry was shot and killed; four of the
suspects were arrested and two AK-pattern rifles were found nearby. The
rifles were traced to Fast and Furious within hours of the shooting,
but the bullet that killed Terry was too badly damaged to be
conclusively linked to either gun.
After hearing of the incident,
Dodson reached out to ATF headquarters, ATF's chief counsel, the ATF
ethics section and the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector
General, none of whom immediately responded. He and other agents then
contacted Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa (R–IA), ranking member of the
Senate Judiciary Committee, who would become a major figure in the
investigation of "gunwalking." At the same time, information began
leaking to various bloggers and Web sites.
On January 25, 2011, Burke announced
the first details of the case to become officially public, marking the
end of Operation Fast and Furious. At a news conference in Phoenix, he
reported a 53-count indictment of 20 suspects for buying hundreds of
guns intended for illegal export between September 2009 and December
2010. Newell, who was at the conference, called Fast and Furious a
"phenomenal case," while denying that guns had been deliberately
allowed to walk into Mexico.
Altogether, 2,020 firearms were
bought by straw purchasers during Fast and Furious. These included
AK-47 variants, Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifles, .38 caliber
revolvers, and FN Five-sevens. As of October 20, 2011, 389 had been
recovered in the US and 276 had been recovered in Mexico. The rest
remained on the streets, unaccounted for. Most of the guns went to
the Sinaloa Cartel, while others made their way to El Teo and La
Although most weapons were purchased
by suspects under investigation by the program, there have been reports
of at least one instance of ATF agents being directly involved in the
transfer of weapons. On April 13th, 2010, ATF Agent John Dodson, with
assistance from Agents Casa and Alt, directed a cooperating straw
purchaser to give three guns to Isaiah Fernandez, a suspected gun
trafficker, and had taped the conversations without prosecutor
approval. After being instructed by his superiors to obtain
approval from prosecutors (albeit retroactively), Dodson's proposal was
later rejected by his immediate superior David Voth, although he later
received permission from Voth's supervisor after submitting a written
proposal for the program. On June 1st, 2010, Dodson used $2,500 of ATF
funds to purchase six AK Draco pistols from local gun dealers, which he
then gave to Mr. Fernandez, who reimbursed him for the expense of the
guns, plus $700 for his assistance. Two days later, Agent Dodson
went on a scheduled vacation without interdicting the weapons. As a
result, the weapons were never recovered, no arrests were ever made,
and the case was closed without charges being filed.
Aftermath and reaction
Fate of walked guns
Since the end of Operation Fast and
Furious, related firearms have continued to be discovered in criminal
hands. As reported in September 2011, the Mexican government stated
that an undisclosed number of guns found at about 170 crime scenes were
linked to Fast and Furious. U.S. Representative Darrell Issa
(R–CA–49) estimated that more than 200 Mexicans were killed by guns
linked to the operation. Reflecting on the operation, Attorney
General Eric Holder said that the United States government is
"...losing the battle to stop the flow of illegal guns to Mexico,"
and that the effects of Operation Fast and Furious will most likely
continue to be felt for years, as more walked guns appear at Mexican
In April 2011, a large cache of
weapons, 40 traced to Fast and Furious but also including
military-grade weapons difficult to obtain legally in the US such as an
anti-aircraft machine gun and grenade launcher, was found in the home
of Jose Antonio Torres Marrufo, a prominent Sinaloa Cartel member, in
Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Torres Marrufo was indicted, but evaded law
enforcement for a brief time. Finally, on February 4, 2012
Marrufo was arrested by the Mexican Police.
On May 29, 2011 four Mexican Federal
Police helicopters attacked a cartel compound, where they were met with
heavy fire, including from a .50 caliber rifle. According to a report
from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, this rifle
is likely linked to Fast and Furious.
There have been questions raised
over a possible connection between Fast and Furious and the death of
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata on February
15, 2011. The gun used to kill Zapata was purchased by Otilio
Osorio in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, Texas (outside the area
of responsibility for the ATF Phoenix field division which
conducted Fast and Furious), and then smuggled into Mexico.
Congressional investigators have stated that Osorio was known by the
ATF to be a straw purchaser months before he purchased the gun used to
kill Zapata, leading them to question ATF surveillance tactics and
to suspect a Texas-based operation similar to Fast and Furious. In
addition to Otilio Osorio, a Texas-based drug and gun trafficker,
Manuel Barba, was involved trafficking another of the guns recovered in
the Zapata shooting. The timeline of this case, called "Baytown Crew",
shows guns were allowed to walk during surveillance that began June 7,
2010. On August 20, 2010 Barba received a rifle later recovered in the
Zapata ambush and sent it with nine others to Mexico. The warrant for
Barba's arrest was issued February 14, 2011, the day before Zapata was
shot. On January 30, 2012, Barba, who claimed to be working with
Los Zetas in illegally exporting at least 44 weapons purchased through
straw buyers, was sentenced to 100 months in prison.
Investigations and fallout
In the U.S. Congress, Representative
Darrell Issa (R–CA–49), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight
and Government Reform, and Senator Chuck Grassley (R–IA), ranking
member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, have been investigating
"gunwalking" operations. On January 27, 2011, Grassley wrote a
letter to ATF Acting Director Kenneth E. Melson requesting information
about the ATF-sanctioned sale of hundreds of firearms to straw
purchasers. The letter mentioned a number of allegations that walked
guns were used in the fight that killed Border Patrol Agent Brian
Terry. A second letter from Grassley on January 31 accused the ATF
of targeting whistleblowers.
On February 4, Assistant Attorney
General Ronald Weich wrote a letter to Grassley in response to
statements by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, Dennis K.
Burke and others. Weich said claims "...that (the) ATF ‘sanctioned’ or
otherwise knowingly allowed the sale of assault weapons to a straw
purchaser who then transported them to Mexico [are] false. ATF makes
every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally
and prevent their transportation to Mexico.” Also in February,
Attorney General Eric Holder requested that the Department of Justice's
Inspector General begin an investigation of Fast and Furious.
On March 23, President Barack Obama
appeared on Univision and spoke about the "gunwalking" controversy. He
said that neither he nor Attorney General Holder authorized Fast and
Furious. He also stated, "There may be a situation here in which a
serious mistake was made, and if that's the case then we'll find out
and we'll hold somebody accountable."
On May 3, Attorney General Holder
testified to the House Judiciary Committee that he did not know who
approved Fast and Furious, but that it was being investigated. He also
stated that he "probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first
time over the last few weeks," a claim which would later be
questioned as explained below.
In June, ATF Agent Vince Cefalu, who
helped to publicize Fast and Furious, was served with termination
papers, in a move by the agency he described as politically motivated
retaliation. He had been at odds with ATF management since he filed a
complaint over tactics in an unrelated case in 2005. The ATF denied
that the firing was retaliation, and Cefalu's termination letter noted
that he leaked documents to the Internet and showed a "lack of candor"
in other operations.
On June 14, 2011, a preliminary
joint staff report was released by Representative Issa and Senator
Grassley. Among the findings: agents were told to stand down rather
than interdict weapons, they complained about the strategy and were
ignored, and Fast and Furious led to increased violence and death in
Mexico. Agents were panicked, certain that "someone was going to
Representative Issa continued to
hold hearings in June and July where ATF officials based in Phoenix and
Mexico, and at headquarters in Washington, testified before the
committee. ATF agent John Dodson stated that he and other agents
were ordered to observe the activities of gun smugglers but not to
intervene. He testified:
Over the course of the next 10
months that I was involved in this operation, we monitored as they
purchased hand guns, AK-47 variants, and .50 caliber rifles almost
daily. Rather than conduct any enforcement actions, we took notes, we
recorded observations, we tracked movements of these individuals for a
short time after their purchases, but nothing more. Knowing all the
while, just days after these purchases, the guns that we saw these
individuals buy would begin turning up at crime scenes in the United
States and Mexico, we still did nothing. ...I cannot begin to think of
how the risk of letting guns fall into the hands of known criminals
could possibly advance any legitimate law enforcement interest.
A second joint staff report was released by the Republicans on July 26.
In August, three important Fast and
Furious supervisors were transferred to new management positions at ATF
headquarters in Washington: William Newell and David Voth, field
supervisors who oversaw the program from Phoenix, and William McMahon,
an ATF deputy director of operations. The transfers were initially
reported as promotions by the Los Angeles Times, but the ATF stated
that they did not receive raises or take on greater
responsibilities. In late August, it was announced that ATF
Director Melson had been reassigned to the Justice Department, and U.S.
Attorney Burke announced his resignation after being questioned by
Congressional investigators earlier that month.
In October, documents showing that
Attorney General Holder's office had been sent briefings on Fast and
Furious as early as July 2010, prompted questions about his May
statement that he wasn't sure of the exact date, but had known about it
for only a few weeks. The briefings were from the National Drug
Intelligence Center and Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer. The
Justice Department said that those briefings were about a different
case started before Holder became Attorney General, and that while he
had known about Fast and Furious, he didn't know the details of the
tactics being used.
On November 8, Holder stated for the
first time in Congressional testimony that "gunwalking" was used in
Fast and Furious. He remarked that the tactic is unacceptable, and that
the operation was "flawed in its concept and flawed in its execution."
He further stated that his office had inaccurately described the
program in previous letters sent to Congress, but that this was
unintentional. Reiterating previous testimony, he said that he and
other top officials had been unaware that the "gunwalking" tactic was
being used. Holder stated that his staff had not showed him memos about
the program, noting, "There is nothing in any of those memos that
indicates any of those inappropriate tactics that are of concern. Those
things were not brought to my attention, and my staff, I think, made
the correct decision in that regard."
In December, documents showed that
some ATF agents discussed using Fast and Furious to provide anecdotal
cases to support controversial new rules about gun sales. The
regulation, called Demand Letter 3, would require 8,500 firearms
dealers in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas that "have a
significant number of crime guns traced back to them from Mexico" to
report multiple rifle sales.
Investigations by Congress and the
DOJ Inspector General continued into 2012. In January, Patrick
Cunningham, who was the criminal division chief at the Phoenix office
of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Arizona and has since
resigned, asserted his innocence and his constitutional right against
self-incrimination to avoid testifying. Cunningham worked directly
under Burke during Fast and Furious. He was subpoenaed because of the
role he might have played in the operation, and in the letter sent from
the DOJ to Senator Grassley in February 2011 that claimed the ATF did
not allow weapons to be trafficked to Mexico.
On January 31, Democrats on the
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released a report
titled, "Fatally Flawed: Five Years of Gunwalking in Arizona". The
report concluded that there was no evidence of involvement by
high-ranking appointees at the Justice Department in "gunwalking."
Rather, Operation Fast and Furious was just one of four such operations
conducted over five years during the Bush and Obama administrations,
and was only "the latest in a series of fatally flawed operations run
by ATF agents in Phoenix and the Arizona U.S. Attorney's Office."
In May, it was reported that the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General had
begun to investigate Fast and Furious, with a report expected in
October. The DHS had Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents
assigned to the operation after becoming involved in late 2009.
On June 7, 2012, under the threat of
being held in contempt of Congress for not turning over additional
requested documents, Attorney General Holder appeared at his seventh
Congressional hearing, where he continued to deny knowledge of
"gunwalking" by high-level officials. By then, the Justice Department
had turned over more than 7,000 pages of documents. During the June
12, 2012 Senate hearing, Eric Holder stated, "If you want to talk about
Fast and Furious, I'm the Attorney General that put an end to the
misguided tactics that were used in Fast and Furious. An Attorney
General who I suppose you would hold in higher regard was briefed on
these kinds of tactics in an operation called Wide Receiver and did
nothing to stop them -- nothing. Three hundred guns, at least, walked
in that instance." Holder cited a briefing paper on "Wide Receiver",
later clarified to be about the Fidel Hernandez case, prepared for
Holder's predecessor, U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey in 2007.
The Attorney General's office further explained, "As Attorney General
Holder also noted in his testimony, and as we have set forth in prior
correspondence and testimony, he took measures and instituted a series
of important reforms designed to ensure that the inappropriate tactics
used in Fast and Furious, Wide Receiver, Hernandez, and other matters
about which the Department has informed Congress are not repeated."
On June 20, the House Oversight and
Government Reform Committee voted along party lines to recommend that
Holder be held in contempt. At issue were 1,300 pages of documents that
had not been turned over to Congress by the DOJ. Earlier that day,
President Obama had invoked executive privilege over those documents,
marking the first time the privilege has been asserted during his
presidency. Mr. Issa contends that the Obama executive
privilege claim is a cover-up or an obstruction to the congressional
probe. Mr. Issa said the department has identified "140,000 pages of
documents and communications responsive to the committee's
On Thursday, June 28, 2012, Holder
became the first sitting member of the Cabinet of the United States to
be held in criminal contempt of Congress by the House of
Representatives for refusing to disclose internal Justice Department
documents in response to a subpoena. The vote was 255-67 in favor, with
17 Democrats voting yes and a large number of Democrats walking off the
floor in protest and refusing to vote. A civil contempt measure was
also voted on and passed, 258-95. The civil contempt vote allows the
House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to go to court with
a civil lawsuit to look into the US Justice Department's refusal to
turn over some of the subpoenaed documents and to test Obama's
assertion of executive privilege. Holder dismissed the votes as "the
regrettable culmination of what became a misguided — and politically
motivated — investigation during an election year," and the White House
called it "political theater rather than legitimate congressional
On July 9, 2012, an indictment
charging five men, including four fugitives, in the death of U.S.
Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was unsealed. The FBI offered a reward
of $250,000 per fugitive for information leading to their arrests. The
indictment, originally handed up on November 7, 2011, charges Manuel
Osorio-Arellanes, Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga, Ivan Soto-Barraza,
Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes and Lionel Portillo-Meza with first-degree
murder, second-degree murder, and other crimes.
On July 31, the first part of a new
three-part report, Fast and Furious: The Anatomy of a Failed
Operation, was released by Republican lawmakers. The report singled
out five ATF supervisors for responsibility in Fast and Furious, all of
whom had been previously reassigned. The report also said that Fast and
Furious resulted from a change in strategy by the Obama Administration.
The Justice Department was dismissive of the report, saying that it
contained "distortions" and "debunked conspiracy theories," and that
"gunwalking" tactics dated back to 2006. DOJ spokeswoman Tracy
Schmaler, while critical of the report, did credit it for acknowledging
that the idea for "gun walking" -- allowing illegal sales of weapons on
the border -- originated under the Republican administration before
Eric Holder took office in 2009. Schmaler noted that Holder moved
swiftly to replace the ATF's management and instill reforms. On the
same day, ATF Deputy Director William Hoover, who was one of the five
blamed in the Congressional report, officially retired.
In October 2011, Mexican officials
and politicians reacted with anger at the revelation that U.S. agents
in charge of an earlier secret gun-tracking program known as Operation
Wide Receiver allowed guns to be smuggled into Mexico just as they had
under Operation Fast and Furious. In discussions in Mexico's Senate
about how to respond to the revelations about Operation Wide Receiver,
one senator said, "We can no longer tolerate what is occurring. There
must be condemnation from the state."
The Office of the General Prosecutor
in Mexico is seeking the extradition of six citizens of the United
States implicated with smuggling weapons. Three of the requested
citizens for extradition are from Madera, California, while the other
three are from the state of Texas. The current Attorney General of
Mexico, Marisela Morales, said the PGR will search "to the end" in
order to clarify what happened in Fast and Furious.
Operation Wide Receiver involved
several failed attempts at coordinating with Mexican law enforcement in
the apprehension of suspected arms traffickers, with Mexican
authorities in one instance saying they didn't see the vehicle cross
the border. Details of Operation Fast and Furious were not shared
with Mexican government officials and they were deliberately kept out
of the loop after related firearms began to be found at crime scenes
and in criminal arsenals in 2010. The U.S. Embassy in Mexico and ATF
office in Mexico were also kept in the dark. According to Attorney
General Morales, the Mexican government was told about the undercover
program in January 2011, but they were not provided details at the
time. Darren Gil, the acting ATF attache in Mexico City, and others
noted that the reason Mexican authorities were not informed was the
widespread corruption among officials in Mexico. Mexican
politicians expressed widespread anger at the operations as information
developed in 2011. Mexican officials stated in September that the
US government still had not briefed them on what went wrong nor had
Mexican Senator Arturo Escobar
stated, "We can no longer tolerate what is occurring. There must be
condemnation from the state," and that the Mexican Senate condemned the
actions of the ATF.
Jorge Carlos Ramírez Marín,
president of the Chamber of Deputies of Mexico from the Institutional
Revolutionary Party, said "This is a serious violation of international
law. What happens if next time they need to introduce trained assassins
or nuclear weapons?"
Attorney General of Mexico Marisela
Morales, well-liked by US law enforcement, said, in reference to Fast
and Furious, "At no time did we know or were we made aware that there
might have been arms trafficking permitted. In no way would we have
allowed it, because it is an attack on the safety of Mexicans." In
addition, she expressed that allowing weapons to "walk" would represent
a "betrayal" of Mexico.
Chihuahua state prosecutor Patricia
Gonzalez, who had worked closely with the US for years, said, "The
basic ineptitude of these officials [who ordered the Fast and Furious
operation] caused the death of my brother and surely thousands more
victims." Her brother, Mario, had been kidnapped, tortured and killed
by cartel hit men in fall 2010. Later, two AK-47 rifles found among the
several weapons recovered after a gunfight between police and cartel
members were traced to the Fast and Furious program.
Some Mexican officials were more
circumspect. For example, Mexican Congressman Humberto Benítez Treviño,
a former attorney general, called Fast and Furious "a bad business that
got out of hand." He had also characterized it as "an undercover
program that wasn't properly controlled."
Like many politicians, Mexican
pundits across the political spectrum expressed anger at news of the
operations. La Jornada, a left-leaning newspaper, asked "US: ally or
enemy?" The paper also argued that the Mérida Initiative should be
immediately suspended. A right-leaning paper accused the US of
violating Mexican sovereignty.
Manuel J. Jauregui of the Reforma
newspaper wrote, "In sum, the gringo (American) government has been
sending weapons to Mexico in a premeditated and systematic manner,
knowing that their destinations were Mexican criminal
WORD FAITH INDEX
CATHOLIC CHURCH INDEX