Sunday, October 16, 2011

SSI Exclusive: Is this any way to run a cover-up? The Empire Flounders Back. Selective document releases from the White House help prove Issa's case.

"You leaked WHAT?!?!?"

While the entry of "Mighty Mouth" Lanny Davis into the Gunwalker cover-up deflection game just highlights that Hillary must be up to her eyeballs in this scandal, Pat Dollard observes that "Obama Admin Desperately Attempting To Shift ‘Fast & Furious’ Blame to Bush Administration." Dollard reprints this article from AP by Pete Yost, who continues to be the White House's go-to guy for story-planting:

A second Bush administration gun-trafficking investigation has surfaced using the same controversial tactic for which congressional Republicans have been criticizing the Obama administration.

The tactic, called “gun walking,” is already under investigation by the Justice Department’s inspector general and by congressional Republicans, who have criticized the administration of Democratic President Barack Obama for letting it happen in an operation called “Fast and Furious”.

Emails obtained by The Associated Press show how in a 2007 investigation in Phoenix, agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — depending on Mexican authorities to follow up — let guns “walk” across the border in an effort to identify higher-ups in gun networks. Justice Department policy has long required that illicit arms shipments be intercepted whenever possible.

The 2007 probe operated out of the same ATF office that more recently ran the flawed Operation Fast and Furious. Both probes resulted in weapons disappearing across the border into Mexico, according to the emails. The 2007 probe was relatively small — involving over 200 weapons, just a dozen of which ended up in Mexico as a result of gun-walking. Fast and Furious involved over 2,000 weapons, some 1,400 of which have not been recovered and an unknown number of which wound up in Mexico.

Earlier this month, it was disclosed that the gun-walking tactic didn’t begin under Obama, but was also used in 2006 under his predecessor, George W. Bush. The probe, Operation Wide Receiver, was carried out by ATF’s Tucson, Ariz., office and resulted in hundreds of guns being transferred to suspected arms traffickers.

The older gun-walking cases now coming to light from the Bush administration illustrate how ATF — particularly its Phoenix field division, encompassing Tucson, Ariz., as well as Phoenix — has struggled for years to counter criticism that its normal seize-and-arrest tactics never caught any trafficking kingpins and were little more than a minor irritant that didn’t keep U.S. guns out of the hands of Mexican gangs.

Even those cases against low-level straw buyers are problematic for the ATF. There is no federal firearms trafficking law, making it difficult to prosecute cases. So law enforcement agencies resort to a wide variety of laws that do not carry stringent penalties — particularly for straw buyers.

Documents and emails relating to the 2007 case were produced or made available months ago to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, though the Republicans on the panel have said little about them. In the congressional investigation, committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., has focused on the questions of what Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, knew about Fast and Furious, and when he knew it.

The 2007 probe began when an ATF agent identified several suspects from Mexico who bought weapons from a gun shop in Phoenix over a span of several months.

According to the emails obtained by AP, the probe ran into trouble after agents saw the same suspects buy additional weapons from the same store and followed the suspects south toward the border at Nogales, Ariz., on Sept. 27, 2007. ATF officials notified the government of Mexico to be on the lookout. ATF agents saw the vehicle the suspects were driving reach the Mexican side of the border, but 20 minutes later, Mexican law enforcement authorities informed ATF that they did not see the vehicle.

Committee spokesman Frederick Hill said the documents on the 2007 probe stand in contrast to statements “the Obama administration’s Justice Department made to Congress in February 2011 that ‘ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico.’”

Hill added that one difference between the 2007 incident and Operation Fast and Furious was that in the 2007 operation, “Mexican authorities were notified. However, in Operation Fast and Furious the Mexican authorities were deliberately kept in the dark.”

The emails from the 2007 probe show there was concern that ATF in Arizona had engaged in a tactic that resulted in the guns disappearing inside Mexico.

“Have we discussed the strategy with the US Attorney’s Office re letting the guns walk?” headquarters official William Hoover asked in an Oct. 4, 2007 email to William Newell, then ATF’s special agent in charge of the Phoenix field division.

“Do we have this approval in writing?” asked Hoover. “Have we discussed and thought thru the consequences of same? Are we tracking south of the border? Same re US Attorney’s Office. Did we find out why they missed the hand-off of the vehicle?”

At the time, Hoover was assistant director for the office of field operations. He was ATF’s deputy director from May 2009 to September 2011 and is now special agent in charge of ATF’s Washington, D.C., field division.

“Would like your opinion on a verbal approval from the US Attorney in Phoenix re the firearms walking,” Hoover emailed ATF’s senior legal counsel for field operations on Oct. 5, 2007. “This is a major investigation with huge political implications and great potential if all goes well. We must also be very prepared if it doesn’t go well.”

The lawyer, Anne Marie Paskalis, wrote back: “Sure. We will work this out. Perhaps a conference call … to discuss what if any assurances they have received from USAO that this investigation is operating within the law and doj (Department of Justice) guidelines.”

On Oct. 5, Hoover wrote Carson Carroll, then ATF’s assistant director for enforcement programs and services at agency headquarters in Washington, D.C., saying “I do not want any firearms to go South until further notice. I expect a full briefing paper on my desk Tuesday morning from SAC Newell with every question answered. I will not allow this case to go forward until we have written documentation from the US Attorney’s office re full and complete buy in. I do not want anyone briefed on this case until I approve the information. This includes anyone in Mexico.”

On Oct. 6, Newell, the Phoenix SAC, wrote Carroll: “I think we both understand the extremely positive potential for a case such as this but at this point I’m so frustrated with this whole mess I’m shutting the case down and any further attempts to do something similar. We’re done trying to pursue new and innovative initiatives — it’s not worth the hassle.”

Newell, as the special agent in charge of the Phoenix division, was at the center of Operation Fast and Furious. He has acknowledged that mistakes were made in the agency’s handling of the operation, and has been reassigned to a Washington headquarters job.

Now before I get into analysis of this remarkable White House spinmeister-directed leak, understand that like Henny Youngman, this is a case of "Take my leaked documents -- PLEASE!" They apparently shopped them to multiple outlets including the friendly Talking Points Memo clods and even the strangely equally-friendly FOX News' DOJ reporter Mike Levine, a guy who almost defines the term "Stockholm Syndrome" by his slavish parroting of DOJ spin, including this remarkable example which sought to muddy the waters of the reporting of his fellow FOX correspondent William LaJueunesse on the third firearm reported at the murder of Brian Terry which was "disappeared" by the FBI. As I commented then:

Levine is a guy so apparently firearms-illiterate that he let a DOJ-approved lawyer who represents another guy who is an obvious perjurer -- both of whom having a huge incentive to deceive or even lie -- buffalo him on such an plain bit of firearm silliness, and to let it into his story unchallenged.

Now, back to the analysis. This won't take long, the desperation-prompted idiocy of White House spinmeister Eric Schultz is just too easy to deconstruct.

First, recall my story from Thursday, "Was the Gunwalker Plot Bill Newell's idea and the Obama National Security Council's opportunity? Will O'Reilly survive?"

It is short, so I will refresh your memories by reproducing it in its entirety:

Sources familiar with the congressional investigation into the Gunwalker Plot say that investigators are homing in on early conversations -- and meetings -- between ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Field Division William Newell and his self-described "long-time friend," Kevin O'Reilly, a State Department employee then on the National Security Council. This is reflected, say the sources, in the subpoena issued this week by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee seeking, among other things, "All communications to or from William Newell, former Special agent in Charge for ATF's Phoenix Field Division, between . . . March 16, 2009 to March 19, 2009."

The sources also say that Newell met personally with O'Reilly during this early period in the Obama administration and they believe that Newell may have "weaponized" the desire for more better statistics on the part of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others to support the "90 Percent" meme -- that 90% of weapons seized in Mexico from the drug cartels actually came from American civilian market sources.

Newell, who the sources say was familiar with the tactic of "gun walking" from the previous failed Operation Wide Receiver in Tuscon where Newell had participated in it, probably provided the germ of the idea that "walked" weapons could be used to "boost the statistics" of weapons found at crime scenes in Mexico, in the words of an early whistleblower in this case.

If this is true, it places Kevin O'Reilly, a State Department employee responsible to Hillary Clinton, as the critical potential witness in the early history of the Gunwalker Scandal. Sources also say that there is a "not unfounded" fear that O'Reilly, who was suddenly transferred to Iraq "to keep him from being interviewed by the committee" according to one, "will not survive the deployment."

Now, poor old language-challenged White House press flack Eric Schultz, whose expletive-laced screaming at CBS' Sharyl Attkisson generated so many headlines recently, is so desperate to deflect responsibility for the Obamanoids' gunwalking thousands of weapons to the Mexican cartels by blaming the Bushies that he heedlessly flings selected documents into the public eye which serve to reinforce my earlier story.

Go back to Yost's story and re-read it.

Now, the first thing that leaps out at you is that the higher-ups at ATF -- and DOJ -- are very familiar with "guns walking." They recognize that this is a "badness thing," to use John Ringo's phrase. In this case they have taken every precaution, including interfacing with the Mexican government, and still the guns inadvertently walked south of the border.

Pay particular attention to the reaction of Billy Hoover, a man who continues to be employed by the ATF. Hoover, readers may recall, is the originator of The Ninety Percent Myth, stating under oath on February 2009: "There is more than enough evidence to indicate that over 90 percent of the firearms that have either been recovered in, or interdicted in transport to Mexico, originated from various sources within the United States."

Yet Billy is not pleased that the guns walked. Billy is, like all ATF & DOJ senior managers, risk-averse. Billy wants some damn answers about this excrement and he wants them now: "I expect a full briefing paper on my desk Tuesday morning from SAC Newell with every question answered."

Ah, yes, and then there's Tuscon SAC Newell, walking guns before it was cool. Getting his ass in the sling with Billy, it seems, but still managing to later get himself promoted to run the entire Phoenix Field Division.

Recall this paragraph from my Thursday story:

Newell, who the sources say was familiar with the tactic of "gun walking" from the previous failed Operation Wide Receiver in Tuscon where Newell had participated in it, probably provided the germ of the idea that "walked" weapons could be used to "boost the statistics" of weapons found at crime scenes in Mexico, in the words of an early whistleblower in this case.

Following that story, I received more confirmation of the allegations, including confirmation that Senator Grassley's office too is VERY interested in the early contacts between Newell and O'Reilly. It seems, say my sources, that Newell not only communicated by email and phone call with O'Reilly in early March 2009, BUT WITH OTHER WHITE HOUSE PERSONNEL AS WELL, INCLUDING AT LEAST ONE FACE-TO-FACE MEETING.

You know, the best disinformation is a lie wrapped in a kernel of truth. Recall that early on the DOJ floated the excuse that "gun walking" was all Newell's idea. We pooh-poohed that at the time, saying that Newell did not have the authority to make this multi-jurisdictional anti-law enforcement cluster coital situation happen.

But the Obama flacks knew what they were talking about, as far as it went.

Gunwalking WAS Bill Newell's idea, and nobody knew that better than the people he sold the idea to.

And now, thanks to the desperate and incompetent folks at the White House scandal deflection team, we have more details of the early experiences of William "Gunwalker Bill" Newell, the guy who sold the whole idea to the people in the White House -- who then began to make things happen to try to make the Ninety Percent Myth come true.

Hillary must be tearing her hair out in clumps at the incompetence of this cover-up. For she certainly, of all people, recalls what a successful cover-up looks like.


rexxhead said...

"...on Sept. 27, 2007. ATF officials notified the government of Mexico to be on the lookout."

This is the fundamental difference between 'Wide Receiver' and 'Fast & Furious': under WR, 'ATF officials notified the government of Mexico to be on the lookout'. Under F&F, not so much.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of cover-ups... I can't handle any more of that picture of Hillary. I simply can't imagine how Slick Willie managed waking up next to that more than once. How much $$$ would it take for you to bury it for good? Come on, Dutchman6, name your price!

W W Woodward said...

It's beginning to look like too many people know too much. Issa and Grassley need to be encouraged to keep the heat on high. Make that caldron boil over. People in panic mode make mistakes.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if HRC feels "strongly co-responsible" now now?


drjim said...

A Clinton doing something illegal??
Surely you jest....

Todd said...

It wouldn't surprise me at all to find Hillary Clinton involved in this, afterall, her hubby is the one who signed the UN Weapons Ban. The global socialist movement knows they have to take our weapons away like they've done to the Europeans.

Anonymous said...

Once again, we all turn to The Sipsey Street Irregulars for the facts.
Since O'reilly was suddenly assigned to Iraq; I believe it is safe to assume that his life is in grave danger.
This man is seriously in need of a well organized intervention on his behalf.
Good God!Where are Ross Perot and the black helicopters when you need 'em the most!!?
Hopefully, having worked for some real snakes in public office, O'reilly knew the value of CYA and took appropriate action like mailing the proverbial "plain manilla envelope" to some one or some entity capable of "taking care of business" if, God forbid, any "accident" should befall him.
America needs this man to tell what he knows about "F&F". We need him alive, preferably.