Darrell Issa was on the Hugh Hewitt radio show on Tuesday and he gave us an insight into where we are with the Gunwalker scandal investigation and where it is going. Excerpts from the transcript with emphasis supplied by me. My comments follow the excerpts.
HH: . . . But Darrell Issa, this Fast and Furious program run by the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is just stunning. Would you explain to people what it is and what your committee is looking into?
DI: Well, Hugh, this is often called Project Gunrunner, because it was really about knowingly, deliberately letting guns be sold to straw purchasers who were going to supply them to the narco-terrorist groups on both sides of the border, and they did. And even at our discovery, our investigation, which is now, you know, 20 subpoenas, incredible amount of depositions, leading up to the office of the Attorney General, has shown us that this was authorized at the highest level. They regret that it went badly, that two American agents are now dead, and countless Mexicans are dead, and 2,000 weapons, 1,600 of them are still unaccounted for. They regret it, but they’re probably still doing similar programs. And that’s why this is such a big thing. If you think you can let guns walk in order to “lead to the bad guys”, you’re missing the whole point of law enforcement. You don’t let drugs walk, you don’t let the money walk, you don’t let guns walk. You do that, you’re part of the crime. . .
HH: . . . But when did this Fast and Furious program start that countenanced, basically, Americans selling guns with the effort to sting someone on the other side? When did it start?
DI: It started with this administration.
HH: It is?
DI: It started with, literally, the political appointees, many of whom had to approve specifics of this, including funding. And understand, there were agents at the ATF who have testified that they believe this was a good program. And there are agents who gave up their careers, basically, by refusing to be involved in it. So it was controversial. But it’s not about the agents in Arizona, or a similar program in Texas. It’s about the approvals all the way back in Washington. This is the Iran Contra decision. The Iran Contra decision was made by people around the President in the White House. This decision was made at least by people in the Office of Attorney General Holder. And they’re hiding behind every delay tactic they can, claiming that we’re going to interfere with an investigation. I’ve got to tell you, Hugh, I don’t want anyone to walk because of our investigation. But if some meth addict doesn’t get a strong sentence for buying guns, that’s probably not the worst damage if this kind of program continues, and we believe it continues to today.
HH: Is there any evidence that Attorney General Holder approved the selling of these guns?
DI: There is evidence all the way up to Lanny Breuer in the office, a very famous name from the past. And he is an immediate assistant of Eric Holder. President Obama, as a good lawyer, used his terms very carefully. He said neither I nor Attorney General Holder authorized this program. There’s a long way between authorized and knew.
HH: Has Attorney General Holder appeared in front of your committee yet?
DI: He has not. As a matter of fact, they have been refusing to even go through depositions voluntarily. We had a deal with them, and candidly, they reneged on it the moment my plane was off the ground. So far, we have had to issue more subpoenas on this than all others combined in all other investigations. This has been the real investigation where you can see the stonewalling, and you can see it for a reason. People got people killed, and they were people who are appointed by this President.
HH: So American agents may have been murdered as a result of this program?
DI: Their guns were found, with those serial numbers, at the scene, and by the way, long time after emails indicate that they knew this program was out of control.
HH: And so in terms of that chain of command, have you subpoenaed the Attorney General yet to come?
DI: We have not. One of the natures of this investigation is we’re going through this step by step, because we want to understand is there a problem at Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire all the way up to Washington? Is there a problem at Justice? The one thing I can tell you today is this was a joint task force operation. So DEA, Justice Department, the U.S. attorney in Arizona, all these elements had to be part of it, which is what should really tell you there’s something wrong at the highest levels, but there may be something wrong in the ability for somebody at a operative level to pull the stop cable. It doesn’t appear as though we had it. And candidly, that’s what concerns me. There should be a culture in a law enforcement that says if something’s really wrong, you don’t just obey the orders. . .
HH: . . . But is the DOJ its most radical department? Are the ideologues congregated there to a greater extent than they are elsewhere?
DI: I think to a certain extent they are, although I don’t think they hold a candle to EPA. Very clearly, though, Eric Holder, Lanny Breuer, and these other political appointees, have a strong record of having justice be whatever the President wants.
…and by the way, not since Nixon has someone been able to say that and had no one argue back.
Here we see the confirmation of what my sources were telling me almost from the very beginning. From 8 March:
Let me tell you what this was, and where it came from, based on a conversation I had with a long-time, well-informed veteran of American government intelligence operations the other day.
"Do you think," he asked me, "that this happened accidentally in a vacuum?" Meaning that one day "Gunwalker Bill" Newell, Phoenix SAC, just got a wild hair and decided to invent his own foreign policy. "Things like this happen because of meetings. People sit in meetings and they decide what they want to happen. And then they take decisions, make policy and implement that policy to achieve those ends." He added, "That's why State is so nervous. They signed off on this. In a meeting."
Gunrunner, I pointed out to him, predated the Obama administration. "Yes, but 'walking guns' didn't." I told him it seemed to me that given the dates on the documents that the meetings crafting this policy must have taken place sometime in mid-2009. "And who took power in January, 2009?" he replied.
He continued, summing up this way. The gun issue was known to be radioactive. Every time the Democrats embraced it they got killed at the polls the next election cycle. What was needed, in Rahm Emanuel's parlance, was a good crisis to exploit, something to change the paradigm. The gun confiscationists had always danced in the blood (my term, not his) of every mass shooting and gotten nowhere, to their chagrin and frustration. What was needed was a game changer. Something that fit the meme of "we've got to tighten up on American gunowners, gun stores and gun shows because they are feeding the slaughter." Mexico was perfect. The ATF controlled the reporting of the statistics, the headlines were lurid and if the rest of us gunnies knew that you don't get automatic weapons, hand grenades and RPGs from gun shows and gun stores, most of the American people were too ignorant of the issue to care about the distinction. But the fact was, as the IG report and other sources concluded, the amount of weapons from those legitimate American sources did not meet the allegation. More importantly the statistics didn't meet the policy need. So, how to "fix" that? Project Gunwalker. If there weren't enough semi-auto "assault rifles" in Mexico, the ATF could fix that. And the murders would follow, justifying the policy change of cracking down on "assault rifles," gun shows and the like.
"So," I said, "you're saying that this was a deliberate attempt by policymakers at the highest levels of the Obama administration to subvert the Second Amendment and further diminish the free exercise of firearm rights of honest citizens?"
"You got it. Sucks, huh?" He laughed bitterly.
I thought of Zed in "Men in Black."
He added, "Of course the meeting transcripts won't reflect the truth so plainly, but then neither did the Wannsee Conference. These bastards always talk in riddles about what they're really after. Watch what they do, not what they say."
"A similar program in Texas."
I was also happy to see that Congressman Issa confirmed, for the first time in "mainstream" media, my early contention that there was a Houston operation that mirrored Phoenix's Fast and Furious.
Contrary to Congressman Issa's insistence above that he is still being stonewalled, The Hill is reporting ("Rep. Cummings defends not signing letter to Obama on gun-tracking program") that DOJ is cooperating but has "technological difficulties:
But a Democratic aide with Cummings said that the Justice Department (DOJ) had recently been cooperating very well with Issa’s subpoena for documents relating to the gun-tracking operation.
“It’s not consistent with what we’ve been experiencing with DOJ,” the aide said. “As of late they’ve been cooperating and showing us documents and pulling together documents in response to the subpoena, so I can’t imagine that given what we know about the investigation that we would have signed a letter saying that DOJ was not cooperating.”
An aide to Cummings said that none of the 31 Democrats let him know that they were planning to send the letter to Obama and that he was not asked to sign on to it. . .
Earlier this year, Issa subpoenaed the DOJ for documents relating to the operation. The day before Holder was set to appear before the House Judiciary Committee, the DOJ delivered 92 pages worth of publicly available documents and told the committee that about 400 pages of other documents would be made available for the committee staff’s in-camera review, but could not be handed over to the committee because of their sensitivity.
There is still a large cache of requested documents that the DOJ has not produced for the committee.
Republican and Democratic aides with the committee have told The Hill that the DOJ appears to be actively trying to fulfill the request and has been working to keep the committee abreast of its progress, which has been slowed by technological difficulties within the agency.
Fast and furious activity yielding little results. Who's shucking and jiving who here? "Technological difficulties," huh? On 15 June it will be six months since Brian Terry's murder. The first letter from Senator Grassley to Ken "Gunwalker Man" Melson was on 27 January. "Technological difficulties," my aching posterior.
In any case, it seems that Darrell Issa as a pretty good grasp of the size of the beast he's taken on. This is by no means enough. As David Hardy writes:
The hearings are set to begin June 13. We can only hope they do serious work. I've seen a lot of hearings where the legislators and staffs are coming at an issue cold, and have many things on their plate, whereas the agency people have inside knowledge, and have worked on nothing but the issue for weeks. And many where the legislators didn't know how to cross-examine a person, so they gave long speeches with a question mark at the end, or failed to react and follow up on answers.
From my own interactions with certain Congressional staff members, I have hope that this will not be the case.
Film at eleven.