Open letter to Darrell Issa and Chuck Grassley on the anticipated OIG Fast and Furious report
A joint release by David Codrea and Mike Vanderboegh
Dear Rep. Issa and Sen. Grassley,
Congratulations on the exceptional leadership you both have shown in advancing congressional investigations on the Fast and Furious “gunwalking” criminal enterprise. The two of you have taken things a long way since we first felt compelled to write an open letter requesting attention and action nearly a year ago.
We once more feel a need to correspond openly because we realize our voices are small compared to the many larger ones demanding your attention, and because it is in the public’s interest to be aware of the points we wish to call your attention to.
As you know, there have been some reassignments of ATF officials tied to your investigation, as first reported on January 4 by Gun Rights Examiner and Sipsey Street Irregulars. Speculation backed by informed opinion regards this as a tactical preparatory maneuver prior to the release of the long-awaited Office of Inspector General report on Fast and Furious, as well as the upcoming return of Attorney General Holder to testify before your committee. We believe that the personnel moves were made as a result of a draft of the OIG report.
We understand government audit procedures REQUIRE the auditor to present a draft report to the agency for its comments before finalizing the report. This is why DRAFT reports are sensitive--they can and often do change in response to agency comments/reactions, and DRAFT reports are not OFFICIAL/final reports.
Still, in light of this week’s developments, it seems a fair question to determine, if DOJ and ATF are in possession of a draft copy of the report, and if there have been any leaks.
Next, we would remind you that in Rep. Issa’s September 20, 2011 telephone conference with bloggers, he answered “Yes” to the following question:
Might “making sure this never happens again” include prosecutions?
As the sidelining of ATF officials appears to confirm, but with our full acknowledgment and respect for their presumption of innocence and right of due process, the current acting director appears intent on treating potential criminal violations as mere personnel matters.
But there are other reasons we’re writing you today that have to do with the soon-to-be-released OIG report, itself controversial in terms of true independence and objectivity.
There is this observation from one of the advisers who has helped us navigate the way the federal government works from the beginning of our Gunwalker investigation and reporting, and which Mike Vanderboegh forwarded to your investigators yesterday evening:
Attorney General Holder has already told us what the OIG report will find: "The gunwalking was a local operation that got out of hand." At most he will say, at the February 2, 2012, hearing: "We have taken appropriate personnel actions against the ATF staff involved in inappropriate aspects of Fast & Furious; now, let’s move on to the gun control legislation you need to enact to keep this from happening again."What we need to look at is the OIG report's SCOPE AND METHODOLOGY section, which is likely to say something like: "We investigated allegations that guns were walked under authority of the ATF and U.S. Attorney's offices in Phoenix, Arizona. Despite credible evidence that guns were walked in multiple locations, including Chicago, Houston, and Miami, we did not investigate gunwalking in those locations because Attorney General Holder instructed us not to. Therefore, our report makes no observations or conclusions about gunwalking that may or may not have occurred in those locations. We conducted our work under Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards between February 2011 and December 2011."Before y'all snicker, consider what the Treasury Department Inspector General wrote and published in its audit of the accuracy and completeness of the NFRTR, in its 1998 report: "Our scope did not include a review of the accuracy of ATF's certifications in criminal prosecutions that no record of registration of a particular weapon could be found in the registry. We also did not evaluate the procedures that ATF personnel use to search the registry to enable them to provide an assurance to the court that no such registration exists in specific cases. Accordingly, this report does not provide an opinion as to the accuracy of the registry searches conducted by ATF."
If the Committee recognizes that Attorney General Holder placed artificial constraints on the gunwalking investigation, and there is credible evidence of gunwalking in other locations, he'll be toast. I would consider recommending to the Committee that it be sensitive to these distinctions.
Importantly, there are supplements we hope you will demand in addition to the OIG report: The work papers used to develop it. Government auditing standards require that evidentiary work papers used as the basis for report findings be fully documented, have evidence of supervisory review, and that the auditors are independent and free from outside influences that could affect the integrity of the audit.
We had initially considered filing a FOIA request for the work papers after the final OIG report is published , but based on documented (and illegal?) stonewalling shown to date on prior requests, and the need for timely and effective action, we believe this is something you are best equipped to lead on.
We believe the OIG will be hard-pressed to refuse to release interviews it conducted, particularly because the interviews would form at least part of the basis for whatever the OIG determines. The limitations--who was not interviewed--will also be evident. As our adviser notes, “The work papers will be hot stuff, that's for sure.”
Please keep these concerns in mind, both in your review of the report whenever it is finally released, and in your questioning of AG Holder. We would also ask you to share our concerns with other committee members interested in determining the truth by following the evidence, and then committed to pursuing justice for the gunwalker victims, their survivors, and the American people.
Thank you for your interest and consideration. As always, please let us know if there is anything we can do to help further your outstanding efforts.
David Codrea & Mike Vanderboegh