Saturday, September 3, 2011

ASAC Hurley about to be hurled under the bus too. The "Let's blame Phoenix for everything" meme of the cover-up continues.

Alan Lengel, pro-gun control commentator at the federal law enforcement blog Tickle the Wire offers this opinion about Emory Hurley, Assistant United States Attorney Gunwalker in Phoenix:

Fed Prosecutor Emory Hurley Deserves Some Blame in ATF’s “Fast and Furious” Operation

There seems to be plenty blame to go around when it comes to the ill-thought out “Operation Fast and Furious”, ATF’s program that encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hope of tracing the guns to the Mexican cartels.

Some have already taken a hit as a result. ATF Director Ken Melson just stepped own. So did Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke.

But someone who deserves a fair share of the blame in the mess appears to be Arizona’s Assistant U.S. Attorney Emory Hurley, who was the point man in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Operation Fast and Furious. He has since been transferred from the criminal to the civil division.

Sources tell Hurley let guns walk and prevented agents from stopping and questioning some straw purchasers and seizing weapons. Agents were frustrated and angry with Hurley.

Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley, in a Sept. 1 letter to Acting Arizona U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel, pointed the finger at Hurley as well. The letter was posted on the CBS News website.

“Witnesses have reported that AUSA Hurley may have stifled ATF agents’ attempts to interdict weapons on numerous occasions,” the letter said. “Many ATF agents working on Operation Fast and Furious were under the impression that even some of the most basic law enforcement techniques typically used to interdict weapons required the explicit approval of your office, specifically from AUSA Hurley.”

“It is our understand that this approval was withheld on numerous occasions.

“It is unclear why all available tools, such as civil forfeitures and seizure warrants, were not used in this case to prevent illegally purchased guns from being trafficked to Mexican drug cartels and other criminals..

“We have further been informed that AUSA Hurley improperly instructed ATF agents that they needed to meet unnecessarily strict evidentiary standards merely in order to temporarily detain or speak to suspects.”

Hurley did not comment through a spokesman for his office.

Espresso Pundit bounced a theory about all of this and asked for comments.

I'll be on Sunday Square Off this Sunday morning on Channel 12. We discuss the Dennis Burke firing, Fast and Furious, Congressional Jobs package and predictions. As usual, I had a big cup of coffee in the Green Room and was so jacked that I couldn't see out of my left eye...I have to wait an hour before I try to drive, but it makes for better TV.

I floated this theory to the panelists after the show and they thought I was full of it, so I'm going to bounce it off you guys.

I think that Dennis Burke's downfall was that he was part of the culture of arrogance and corruption in the Napolitano Administration and lost his bearings. So when he saw Fast and Furious, he knew it was illegal, but simply didn't believe that the rules applied to him. . .

So I think that Burke spent a decade learning that the rules didn't apply to him and that one of the scandals got too big to contain and he was fired for it. He should have looked at Fast and Furious and realized that it was an insane policy and then spoke up. Instead, it was just one more program that was against the rules--but that he knew he could get away with.

My comment:

There are at least three dynamics going on here.

First, Burke owed his job as a USA to Napolitano. I'm sure that they have maintained social contacts since Janet the Second went to DC to become America's top secret political policeman. Remember too that Fast & Furious was an OCDETF investigation -- that is, prosecutor-driven. (See Grassley/Issa latest letter to Phoenix USAO). The other thing is that any OCDETF investigation is perforce multi-agency, including of course DHS agencies including ICE. Question for Burke under oath: did you and Nappy have conversation, official or unofficial, about Fast and Furious?

Second, as a new USA Burke would come to the job inexperienced, leaning on more experienced subordinates like Hurley for guidance, less likely to confront his DOJ superiors about potential federal lawbreaking. In technical terms, he was an inexperienced schmuck who owed his position to his political connections. He was tailor-made as a sap, manipulatable from above and below.

Third, one of the reasons that Phoenix became the F&F stage was because he was so politically reliable and inexperienced. Any experienced USA confident of himself and what he was doing probably would have rejected such a BS operation out of hand, just as experienced ATF street agents did because they KNEW that it made no sense from a law enforcement perspective. By the same thinking. ATF SAC Newell was an anti-gun zealot, politically reliable and, actually, not too bright when it came to the important things. These guys were made for each other and made for manipulation by cynical superiors and scheming underlings. not that it exculpates them in any way. It simply makes it easier to understand the dynamics.

Having an experience in low-level political corruption and log-rolling didn't hurt. But political reliability at the expense of morality and common sense was critical.

There is an old guerrilla's prayer which goes, "Oh, Lord, make my enemies slow, arrogant and stupid." Fast and Furious showcased all three characteristics. They could not have gone along with this unless they were at least both stupid AND arrogant.

Throughout administrations of both political parties, federal LE agencies have not in recent memory been called to account for misdeeds or subjected to serious oversight. They did it because they thought, not without reason, that they could get away with it.

And, absent some very principled and courageous ATF street agents, they would have. In fact, it would still be going on.

Remember that. And remember that "Gunwalker Bill" Newell did not get up one morning and, in between his shower and brushing his teeth, decide to create his own foreign policy, violate the ITAR regulations and commit numerous acts of war on a sovereign government and its people. Such decisions come from above, where policy is decided and actions to facilitate that policy are handed down to underlings.

Newell was one such underling. Burke was another. Both were compromised from the start or they would never have been given the task. Had they demurred, they would have been transferred and/or replaced.

Think of Hannah Arendt's "banality of evil." Evil does not come more banal than Mssrs. Burke and Newell.

Posted by: Mike Vanderboegh | September 02, 2011 at 10:41 PM


Anonymous said...

Thanks for that. In other news, do you still intend to release your book??

Anonymous said...

"Newell did not get up one morning and, in between his shower and brushing his teeth..."

Damn right he didn't!

I love your descriptors.

As for banality. That is why we have a constitution and bill of rights. But those are inconvenient, and our government now ignores them at will with full, or nearly full judicial support. Not to mention the media.

Eric Holder alway's has that little smirk on his face. I always thought there was a reason for it. I've noticed it on Obama's mug too and on the face of every would be Marxist congressional potentate in "mordor on the Potomac.

Evidently there's a joke we haven't heard or they all know something that we don't. Well, some of us do.

Anonymous said...

"Oh what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive."
-- Sir Walter Scott, in his long poem Marmion (1808), canto 6, stanza 17.

Meanwhile, in politics and in pro football, (Going to watch Obama's pre-game warmup speech?), timing is not the most important thing, it's the ONLY thing. My apologies to coach Lombardi.

The Obama team is timing their plays to delay anything important from happening until the public is focused on Chaz Bono's performance on DWTS.

Grassley is in a holding pattern, not of his own making, until he becomes chairman of his committee. Issa is slowly building up to a focus apparently timed to peak with the end of the primaries so that Gunwalker can be used in the general election campaign to beat Obama over the head.

One of the most effective tactics is to interfere with your opponents' timing. Our best interests probably lie closely with the success of Grassley's and Issa's goals, and certainly not with Obama's. So what should we be doing, if anything, to enhance the chances that the outcome will be to our advantage and not Obama's?

Anonymous said...

So what should we be doing, if anything, to enhance the chances that the outcome will be to our advantage and not Obama's?--Anon@7:38

I have the good fortune to reside in a state where Obamacare will be decided by a ballot issue that calls for its repeal.

I helped with the the successful petition drive and I will walk door-to-door in a get-out-the-vote effort.

This kind of political activism puts pressure on the Obama administration because they will have to defend themselves against a populist revolt in the Midwest where unemployment is high. Obama will have a hard fight to win Pennslyvania, Ohio and Michigan this time.

You should be just as active in a local tea party as you are in a militia. Fight the soft war now so as to gain time to fight the hard war that will surely follow.


Anonymous said...

"Fight the soft war now so as to gain time to fight the hard war that will surely follow."

Sounds a little like "Fred." That would be "Appleseed" Fred from Shotgun News.

Which is good news and bad news. You would think, given Obama's "support" for our freedoms in general and the Second Amendment in particular that America's gun owners would be swamping the firing lines at Appleseed Shoots. But while participation continues to double each year, the percentage of what the numbers could and should be is appallingly low. And the quality of marksmanship displayed is even worse.

The first target fired at an Appleseed is the humbling "Redcoat" target. It's a good way of assessing what skills the shooters walk in the door with and how much they improve after two days of intensive firing and coaching. At a Texas appleseed fully 80% of the shooters who fired that first "Redcoat" target showed that they could not reliably make a head shot at 100 yards. In Texas! You would think people in Texas could shoot! You would also think American's would be using the time we have left to prepare for the worst and learning how tho use their firearms effectively.

But you would be wrong.