"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." . . . 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." -- Old DC intelligence community member, quoted in Meetings: Part One.
At approximately 5:40 PM on Monday, 29 June 2009, Deputy Attorney General of the United States David Ogden landed in "Duke City" -- Albuquerque, New Mexico -- via Southwest Flight #663. Albuquerque was named for the Spanish Viceroy Francisco Fernandez de la Cueva, the Duke of Alburquerque, but somewhere along the line the first "r" in the spelling was dropped. However that may be, it's named after a duke, thus it is known as "Duke City."
Shortly after landing DAG Ogden had dinner at Garduno's Restaurant at the Winrock Mall on Louisiana Boulevard, where, it is said, they have "chile so hot it makes your ice water." After dinner, he went to his lodgings at the Sheraton Albuquerque Downtown, just five blocks down Louisiana.
He came into Duke City to give the keynote address at the Violent Crimes and Firearms Trafficking Summit and to witness the ATF-ICE Memorandum of Understanding signing ceremony in a room just off the Grand Ballroom at the Sheraton.
Ogden spoke immediately after H. Marshall Jarrett, Director of the Justice Department's Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys (more about him in a minute). First, here is Ogden's speech. Pay close attention to the clues and nuances, as well as the words:
Thank you, Marshall, for that kind introduction and to Ken Melson and ATF for inviting me to speak with you this morning. I want to commend Ken and his staff at ATF for organizing this excellent program on one of the most important sets of issues facing the Department and this country today -- it is an honor to help kick it off.
Let me begin by welcoming all the law enforcement officers, agents and prosecutors. Thank you for taking the time to come from across the country to participate in this conference. You are on the frontlines of our fight against violent crime and firearms trafficking. By coming together in forums like this, you help bring the coordinate and combined force of your agencies to bear on this vital task of making our streets and neighborhoods safe. Thank you for your personal contributions and commitment.
I am very pleased to be joined here on stage by four fine colleagues and leaders. Ken, Marshall, and Lanny represent and lead essential components of what is a unified effort, cutting across the entire Department of Justice, to address illegal firearms trafficking. (Emphasis supplied, MBV) It is only through the combined efforts of ATF, the U.S. Attorney's Offices and the Criminal Division -- working together in a coordinated strategy -- that we can be truly effective in intercepting, prosecuting and shutting down gun trafficking networks.
John Morton -- a fine former colleague at DOJ -- also represents and leads a key component of our united effort. When we learned that John was leaving us for DHS, we were, of course, sorry to lose such a valued colleague and a gifted lawyer, but we were also thrilled to know that we would have a great partner at ICE. In the short time that John has been at DHS, it is clear that he is an asset to our common cause. With these fine leaders working together and with each of you, we will prevent the flow of guns that is fueling the escalating violence and drug trafficking that threatens our safety and the safety of the Mexican people.
I wish I could participate in the entire program.
The Southwest Border is the Front Line of the Fight Against Illegal Gun Trafficking.
I'd like to take a moment to say a few words about our efforts to prevent firearms from traveling across the border to Mexico and contributing to the alarming rise of drug cartel violence there. Keeping guns out of the hands of the Mexican drug warlords is a top priority for the Department, and a key element of our campaign against them. It is one that the President and the Attorney General have promised to address quickly and aggressively.
For the past three months, I've been leading the Department's efforts against the Mexican cartels. All of the Department's law enforcement agencies -- ATF, DEA, FBI, and U.S. Marshals Service, together with our partners at DHS and Treasury -- are central players in our strategy which utilizes multi-agency, intelligence-based, prosecutor-led task forces. (Emphasis supplied, MBV.) The federal law enforcement components are joined by attorneys from the 94 United States Attorney's Offices and the Department's Criminal Division as well as our hundreds of partners in state, local, tribal and international law enforcement agencies. Interdiction and border security are central to our task. But our partnership also uses shared intelligence and law enforcement tools including prosecution to directly attack the powerful criminal drug trafficking organizations. Our efforts have resulted in extraordinary recent enforcement successes like Project Reckoning and Operation Xcelerator.
Stepping up the fight requires new resources and we've already jumpstarted the process. For example, ATF has reassigned 100 agents to the Southwest Border to focus on these very issues. I want to thank Ken and all the ATF field offices represented here for answering the call and picking up the slack that must follow from pulling that many agents from your offices. To assist this effort, we have obtained additional funding for Project Gunrunner. These funds will allow ATF to open five new field offices and support their efforts to better detect, deter and combat firearms trafficking offenses. DEA and the Marshal's Service, the U.S. Attorney's offices and the FBI have also added resources and sharpened their focus.
Increased Cooperation between the Department and DHS
But folks, we will be successful only if we take a cooperative, coordinated approach -- across all level of government, both domestically and internationally -- to communicate to illegal firearms traffickers that their activities will no longer be tolerated. When we work together, we have a substantial impact.
The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security know that our success depends upon working closely together and together we are laying the groundwork for greater success. Last week, DOJ and DHS signed a new Memorandum of Understanding to make sure that our law enforcement components are fully coordinated on investigations involving firearms trafficking, drug trafficking and other serious crimes. The two agencies announced that ICE would fully participate in the key Fusion Centers that coordinate cases on a national and international scale. This marks a significant milestone. From now on, an ATF agent in Las Cruces, an ICE agent in El Paso, and FBI agent in Laredo or a DEA agent in Tucson can "connect the dots" when working on seemingly disparate investigations that are actually part of a larger firearms trafficking enterprise. (Emphasis supplied, MBV)
(MBV NOTE: So, what then are the chances that these other agencies were uninformed about Fast and Furious and other gunwalking operations?)
In addition, today ATF and ICE are signing another agreement to ensure coordination between the Departments on firearms investigations. This new agreement will help ensure seamless cooperation by maximizing the agencies' ability to work closely together to stem the illegal flow of arms in and out of the United States. This means more integrated and efficient investigations into breaking up illegal firearms trafficking networks. Now ATF agents and ICE agents who are tracking separate leads concerning the same illegal firearms trafficking organization will more effectively share their intelligence, avoid conflicts and potentially pool their efforts.
These are just two recent examples of a new era of partnership between the Departments which the AAttorney General and I are deeply committed to -- like Secretary Napolitano and Deputy Secretary Lute. (Emphasis supplied, MBV.)
(MBV NOTE: I can't wait for Janet Napolitano to be asked about the Gunwalker Plot under oath. I just can't wait.)
Increased Cooperation with Mexico
We also know our partnership can't stop at the border. Victory in this fight requires that we forge a closer working relationship with out Mexican partners across the border. The Calderon Administration has shown extraordinary courage and resolve in attacking the cartels head-on and we are working with them in this initiative.
To that end, the Attorney General was in Mexico earlier this year to express his personal commitment to using all available resources to stem the southbound tide of firearms and bulk cash. The Department is undertaking a broad review of our firearms trafficking strategy to ensure that we have sufficient resources and coordination to be as effective as we can.
The Department also is fully committed to ATF's eTrace initiative with our Mexican counterparts. eTrace allows law enforcement agencies to identify trafficking trends of drug trafficking organizations and other criminal organizations funneling guns into Mexio and from the United States. eTrace also assists in developing investigative leads in order to stop firearms traffickers and straw purchasers before they cross the border. (Emphasis supplied, MBV.)
(MBV NOTE: Indeed? Before they cross the border? How? Certainly eTrace use by the Mexican government can track the weapons once found beside the bodies of dead Mexican citizens, but how so BEFORE they cross the border? Is this the intellectual predicate for gunwalking? That we should let some weapons across in order to later interdict others? How many murders then would be enough? In any case, Ogden recognizes eTrace as a valuable tool for tying American civilian market firearms to deaths in Mexico. But to what end?)
Firearms Trafficking Is a Nationwide Problem that Requires a Nationwide Strategy.
As Ken and others have mentioned this morning, the problem of firearms trafficking is more than a Southwest Border issue, it's a nationwide problem that requires a nationwide commitment. Firearms trafficking going on away from the border supports equally damaging gang violence and drug trafficking.
As you know, firearms trafficking cases take time to develop and are not always glamorous. Prosecuting individual straw purchasers may not seem in isolation to have a lot of jury appeal or to be making a dent in the trafficking problem. But that straw purchaser was not a victimless "paperwork" violation -- it was the action that provided the guns to the drig trafficker, who used them in horrific acts of violence. Pursuing that seemingly unglamorous case each of you -- as prosecutors and agents -- help reduce the violence outside your jurisdictions. . .
Let me close by saying how grateful the Department is to the law enforcement officers, agents and prosecutors here today. We share your mission and will do everything in our power to support the important work you do every day for the cause of justice.
To that end the Department is convening this summer at the National Advocacy Center the first-ever training conference on firearms trafficking across the Southwest Border. This conference will mark the first time we have brought together ATF, ICE, DEA, FBI and U.S. Attorneys to train agents and prosecutors on firearms trafficking investigations and prosecutions. I hope many of you can be there.
As vanguards in this work, you carry a heavy burden. The task is difficult, dangerous and vitally important. The Attorney General and I appreciate your efforts, and assure you that you have the full support of the Department of Justice.
Following his speech, Ogden participated in the ATF-ICE MOU ceremony and then at 10:30 left for the New Mexico District U.S. Attorney's Office for a half hour one-on-one with U.S. Attorney Gregory J. Fouratt. At 11:30 he participated in a working lunch with the Senior Staff of Fouratt's office, which included Fouratt, FAUSA Steve Yarbrough, Criminal Division Chief Fred Frederici, Civil Division Chief Jan Mitchell and Administrative Officer Ruth Cox. After lunch Ogden met with Albuquerque USAO personnel and with the folks in the Las Cruces branch office by video teleconference for another half-hour.
At 1 PM Ogden met with FBI SAC Carol Lee, DEA SAC Joseph Arabit, U.S. Marshal Gorden Eden and ATF Bill Newell. The meeting lasted about 25 minutes and then he was driven to the U.S. Distict Courthouse on Lomas Boulevard in Albuquerque, where he met with Chief U.S. District Judge Martha Vasquez.
By 2:45 he was enroute back to the airport where he took Southwest Flight #328 back to Baltimore-Washington International Airport. He was in the air by 4:00 PM and landed at 9:50 PM EDT.
He slept in his own bed that night.
No doubt he was happy that he had communicated the new administration's firearms trafficking plan to the DOJ and DHS masses. A few months later, Gunwalker was going full tilt boogie.
(In "Meetings: Part 3" we will deal with H. Marshall Jarrett, Director of the Justice Department's Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys, who he is, who he replaced and his own performance at the Summit.)