- Tennessee Gov. Haslam slams White House for secret dump of illegals in his state
- Freak lightning storm kills 1, injures 7 on California beach
- ISIL creates all-female brigade to terrorize women into following Sharia law
- ISTOOK: Obama wants to be impeached
- Obama to Latin leaders: Help with border
- Military bans troops from Baptist church event honoring ‘God’s Rescue Squad’
- ‘Pocket drones’: U.S. Army developing tiny surveillance tools for the next big war
- Belgian cafe posts sign: Dogs allowed, but Jews stay out
- Gen. Dempsey: Pentagon studying Russian readiness plans not viewed ‘for 20 years’
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is ‘torture’
Objecting ATF agents ‘told to fall in line’
Tell Congress that program to catch gunrunners futile
Question of the Day
Federal agents testified to Congress on Wednesday that their superiors told them to stand down and watch as weapons flowed from gun dealers in Arizona to criminals and violent drug cartels in Mexico part of a now-discredited operation designed to catch gunrunners.
Named Fast and Furious, the operation, led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has been disavowed by President Obama and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who said it was running without their approval.
The program was halted after U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in a December firefight, and authorities say two guns found at the scene were traced back to Fast and Furious straw purchases.
“We weren’t giving guns to people who were hunting bear, we were giving guns to people who were killing humans,” said ATF Group Supervisor Peter Forcelli, who said he objected to the program as soon as he learned about it after being transferred to Phoenix from New York.
He and two fellow agents testified that the operation had little chance of achieving its objective of ensnaring Mexican drug cartels, since those buyers were so many steps removed from the U.S. purchases. That made OK’ing risky gun purchases all the more dangerous, they said.
Special Agent John Dodson said the operation facilitated the sale of about 2,500 firearms, and while hundreds have been recovered there could be as many as 1,800 of them still out. Agent Dodson said of those, two-thirds are likely in Mexico and the rest still in the U.S.
When agents objected to the operation, “We were told to just fall in line and do what we were told,” said Special Agent Olindo “Lee” Casa.
House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, California Republican, released emails that he said show that senior ATF leaders were regularly following the operation, including one email that showed acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson wanted to be able to watch the cameras hidden in gun shops himself over the Internet, so he could see the straw buyers walk out with the weapons.
Mexican government officials were enraged by the operation, and Mr. Holder has asked the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate it.
But Mr. Issa has his panel looking into the matter as well, and he has been sparring with the Justice Department, which says it is worried about spoiling the ongoing criminal case against those accused of killing Mr. Terry.
Mr. Issa held up redacted documents sent to the committee by the Justice Department that had entire pages blacked out.
“If you’re going to count pages like this as discovery, you should be ashamed of yourself,” he told Ronald Weich, assistant attorney general for legislative affairs, who also appeared before the panel.
Mr. Weich, who used to work as a Senate staffer, said the department has promised to get to the bottom of the operation and deflected most other questions. He said that investigation will include who the highest-ranking official was who authorized the program.
Mr. Weich also defended two earlier letters he had sent Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, that said the administration did not knowingly let guns slip across the border. Mr. Weich said that information was correct at the time he sent the letters, though he acknowledged the agents’ testimony raises questions about their accuracy now.
Mr. Terry’s mother, sister and cousin also testified at the hearing, saying they have not been told much about the contraband firearms found at the scene of his death.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Stephen Dinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Lois Lerner emails reveal gaping open-records loophole
- Two-thirds of illegal immigrant children approved for asylum: report
- Top Justice official denies conspiring with IRS on tea party targeting
- Boehner: No bill on border surge
- Taking Obama to court a long shot but lawsuit not folly, Congress is told
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By Mark Davis
The nation founders, the Lone Star State thrives
- Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's trial to test definitions of political corruption
- CURL: Obama, staffers not even pretending any more
- Rahm Emanuel: Send illegal immigrant shelter kids to Chicago
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- D.C. seeks stay in order striking down ban on handguns in public
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- HUSAIN: Fleeing Iraqi Christians find safe haven at the Shrine of Imam Ali
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Washington Times strikes content and marketing partnership with Redskins
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq