Friday, January 20, 2012

FINALLY. Fifth Amendment Time in the Gunwalker Scandal. FOX breaks the story I knew was coming yesterday: "Federal official in Arizona to plead the fifth and not answer questions on 'furious'" But, is the fix in? Issa staff reported to have witheld information from Grassley. "The roach motel of press inquiries."

William La Jeunesse reports:
The chief of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona is refusing to testify before Congress regarding Operation Fast and Furious, the federal gun-running scandal that sent U.S. weapons to Mexico.
Patrick J. Cunningham informed the House Oversight Committee late Thursday through his attorney that he will use the Fifth Amendment protection.
Cunningham was ordered Wednesday to appear before Chairman Darrell Issa and the House Oversight Committee regarding his role in the operation that sent more than 2,000 guns to the Sinaloa Cartel. Guns from the failed operation were found at the murder scene of Border Agent Brian Terry.
The letter from Cunningham’s Washington DC attorney stunned congressional staff. Last week, Cunningham, the second highest ranking U.S. Attorney in Arizona, was scheduled to appear before Issa‘s committee voluntarily. Then, he declined and Issa issued a subpoena.
Cunningham is represented by Tobin Romero of Williams and Connolly who is a specialist in white collar crime. In the letter, he suggests witnesses from the Department of Justice in Washington, who have spoken in support of Attorney General Eric Holder, are wrong or lying.
“Department of Justice officials have reported to the Committee that my client relayed inaccurate information to the Department upon which it relied in preparing its initial response to Congress. If, as you claim, Department officials have blamed my client, they have blamed him unfairly,” the letter to Issa says.
Romero claims Cunningham did nothing wrong and acted in good faith, but the Department of Justice in Washington is making him the fall guy, claiming he failed to accurately provide the Oversight Committee with information on the execution of Fast and Furious.
"To avoid needless preparation by the Committee and its staff for a deposition next week, I am writing to advise you that my client is going to assert his constitutional privilege not to be compelled to be a witness against himself." Romero told Issa.
This schism is the first big break in what has been a unified front in the government’s defense of itself in the gun-running scandal. Cunningham claims he is a victim of a conflict between two branches of government and will not be compelled to be a witnesses against himself, and make a statement that could be later used by a grand jury or special prosecutor to indict him on criminal charges.
Readers may well wonder why we didn't cover the subpoena of reluctant witness Patrick Cunningham, chief of the Criminal Division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona, whose resignation on 27 January was broken by David Codrea on Wednesday. The reason is both simple and complex.
It is simple in that I knew more was coming on the story of Cunningham and didn't want to go until I had something to write about. It is complex because this event comes at what may be a critical juncture in the investigation which some are interpreting as a reluctance on the part of the Issa committee to fully explore the many leads they have already developed because of their political sensitivity.
"I won't say that the fix is in, but the Committee seems to be buying into the 'Made-in-Phoenix' line pushed by the White House," said one source with inside knowledge of the investigator's work. This seems to be reflected in the subpoena letter from Issa to Cunningham. From the Politico story linked above:
“Senior Justice Department officials have recently told the Committee that you relayed inaccurate and misleading information to the Department in preparation for its initial response to Congress,” wrote Issa. “These officials told us that even after Congress began investigating Fast and Furious, you continued to insist that no unacceptable tactics were used.”
The White House is happy for Issa to go after Cunningham for this is consistent with their denial that the White House had anything to do with gunwalking. Indeed, from the evidence above it would seem that the White House has determined Cunningham to be one of the designated sacrificial goats to that end.
This also comes at a time when journalists -- "mainstream" and despised bloggers alike -- have for weeks encountered a black hole when it comes to trying to find out what the Committee is working on and whether the story is progressing. "They've become the roach motel of press inquiries," said one. "Inquiries go in, but nothing comes out."
"The Issa Committee has always played their cards very close to the vest, but now," said a journalist, "they won't even admit they're in the game." One source described what he called "the lame excuse" floated by one Committee insider that the strategy was to get Holder "by not letting him know that they know what he knows." At this, I blurted out in response, "What? Like Holder and Company don't know what crimes they committed? Don't know the evidentiary trail -- the emails, the meetings? They're the CRIMINALS for Pete's sake, and believe me by now they understand exactly how well they are compromised by leaks and whistleblowers."
I added, "What they don't know is the political will of the GOP to pursue the trail to the end." The source agreed. The exact extent of the willed purpose of the Issa investigators is brought into greater suspicion by reports that they are no longer sharing all their information with the staff of Senator Charles Grassley. Requests by this reporter, both directly and indirectly, of committee staffers have yielded no reply beyond silence.
Another source familiar with the Issa investigation shared his fears about the direction and speed of the investigation. "They are afraid of the FBI" and are unwilling to really go after the Brian Terry murder cover-up and the use of FBI paid informants to buy weapons from the straw-buyers, he said. "They are afraid of the White House, too," indicating a reluctance to go after certain players in the early meetings such as that one held in March 2009 between ATF SAC Bill Newell and White House and DHS operatives, including, according to one report, Dennis Burke.
If it is true that Burke participated in the March 2009 meeting -- and I hasten to add that I have not confirmed it -- that predates his appointment as U.S. Attorney for Arizona when he was still Janet Napolitano's right-hand guy on terrorism and border issues. That is hugely significant, given Burke's predilection for gun control. (See "Personnel is Policy" Part One and Part Two.)
The Issa Committee investigators may indeed simply be playing a deep game here with the final goal of taking on all of the powerful players in the Gunwalker Conspiracy. Or, it could be that the fix is in for the "modified, limited hangout." Time, and the actions of the committee, will tell.
But for the moment at least, the committee isn't telling.
As long as they understand that the entire legitimacy of their two-party system hangs in the balance, with ghastly consequences if they fail, I suppose we can do nothing but wait, uneasily. Saying a prayer wouldn't hurt either.


Anonymous said...

Ouch! Also: now we know the reason for the SOPA smokescreen. Misdirection has the tongues wagging as intended.

Dakota said...

I predict the "fix" is in ..... after all we are talking about the GOP here.

rdf67 said...

Well - when you run into a stone wall led by a minor league player - you bring out the immunity shield. Forget about sending Cunningham to jail - let him walk to get to the targets. He has resigned his job, pled the Fifth in disgrace, could probably be coaxed as a condition of immunity to give up his law license, and probably has enough info to bring this turtle to rabbit status. Burke has ties to the administration and he could be the next immunized guy in order to get to the truth on his appointment as anti-gun guy in Phoenix.

Anonymous said...

amazing how these guys will trample the constitution and then invoke the 5th. hang em high!!!!!!!!

Longbow said...

I don't think they get it. Time will indeed tell.

Anonymous said...


It's been my experience that if you are trying to pressure for activity and information, you do limited releases designed to create maximum pressure upon those you are attemptig to impact. That has apparently stopped which to my mind is not a good sign. It is a sign of defense, not engagement.

Considering the forces being dealt with here everyone conducting this inquiry should expect a white glove inspection followed by a rectal probing for an extended period. That's the way it was set up to be, you don't go after them and try not to become the taget of their attention because there is nothing you can do if they come after you. They will find something and failing in that, they will create it and destroy you and all those around you.

Government agencies are now weapons to be used against the enemies of the left. The media could stop that from happening but they won't because it is their job to assist the left with whatever/whomever it is attempting to do. They are the left after all and they drive public opinion and responses. They are in charge of the whole business in cooperation with certain other persons who are essentially communists by belief and commitment.

If you then surmise that having the use of government personnel by hiring and promotion and their resources and facilities would help your seizure of power, you pretty much understand what is now happening.

This is not one man. This is many like minded men and women who believe to their morrow that Marx had better ideas and Stalin is superior to Washington.

Once this has happened you have only one recourse left because all fairness and equity, all legitimate debate, all opposition will be attacked and destroyed and never allowed to exist again. It is who they are and what they do and they do it time after time, world wide.

BadCyborg said...

I'm betting the fix is in because somebody shook Issa'a closet and it rattled.

Remember. "Honest Politician" = oxymoron.

I'd be surprised if the fix hasn't been in since day 1.

Dutchman, where'd you say that great deal on .40S&W ammo was? I have two.

Mt Top Patriot said...

This is the same system of assholes that swindled 300 million Americans out of trillions and billions of their money. A rigged game where an illegal alien and natural born liar with no past became president by margin of vote fraud and 1 world bankster money laundering.

What's a couple of dead cops and 2000 rifles?

Anonymous said...

While Cunningham has the right to take the Fifth under questioning, Congress also has a duty to oversee operations within the Department of Justice, and the DoJ has a duty to answer to Congress. A refusal to do so should mean the end of Cunningham’s employment at the DoJ; if he cannot testify before Congress about his official actions, then he should not be employed in that position any longer.

The tactic leaves Issa with another option, too. He could offer Cunningham immunity from prosecution, which would then force him to testify before Congress about what he knew of OF&F — and perhaps more importantly, what his superiors knew about it, too. A refusal to testify at that point would amount to contempt of Congress, for which Cunningham could find himself facing significant jail time. That depends on how critical Issa views Cunningham to the OF&F scandal, and whether Cunningham himself was a big fish in the operation or just one of the middle men.

One point is pretty clear, though. Officials at the DoJ involved in this operation are fearing criminal prosecution, which means that this scandal just went prime time.

Ashrak said...

That there is absolutely no talk of this entire Scandal among the numerous debates, From CNN to FOX, is an indicator that the feckless GOP has no intention of doing anything but keeping the tightest lid on this possible.

Some say, well, there is no smoking gun. First, there is and lay near Brian Terry's lifeless body, but there is another too demonstrated by its presence.

I suggest geometry based proof is self evident.

A square plus B squared equals C squared.

There is endless look for C, the e mail, the phone call, the video, the order. It isn't found so some say there is C value. However, there are plenty of A and B values that, when squared and added, show what the value of C is.

Either low level actors coordinated entire Executive branch departments and their staffs without their leadership's knowledge (demonstrating individual incompetence and a total failing of the entire DOHS and the executive itself) or low level actors just did what they were told - (demonstrating individual incompetence and a total failing of the entire DOHS and the executive itself).

C Value? Epic Fail - with no way to spin it positively for anyone from Boehner to Barry.

The whole thing has been slowplayed to use for electioneering but now that the "bipartisan" responsibility is clear, the electioneering element is no longer of value. Thus, the entire thing is going to buried in favor of talking about cheating ex husbands, tax returns and "the economy".

Issa has one chance left. Either it all explodes on the second, or it's over. The meaning of oversight is either "holding responsible" or "looking past". Issa is about to show us what his definition is.

Anonymous said...

Surely Issa and his political party will retain absolutely no credibility if this does not proceed further?

Mt Top Patriot said...

So You Want a Revolution...

Anonymous said...

I don't think we've had this much fun with a U. S. Attorney since Kendall Coffey bit a stripper in Miami.

Anonymous said...

This is depressing and distressing.