Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The politics of Gunwalking. "The case would be weaved into anti-ATF story." Power-hungry hoplophobes need the federal gun cops to enforce their will.

This just in from the Department of Justice: "All gunwalking was the fault of George W. Bush! (And did we mention he eats cuddly kittens, too?)"

Katie Pavlich has a story whose headline tells it all: "Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer Blames Second Amendment For ATF/DOJ Gun Walking Mistakes."

And while the Arizona Daily Star serves up a muddled mishmash of a story quoting mostly people who don't know shit from shinola about the scandal, entitled "Rhetoric, conspiracy theories, politics muddle reality of Fast and Furious," Chris Scholl, Sharyl Attkisson's producer at CBS, has this article on the CBS blog: ATF Gunwalking docs show Justice Dept. feared bad press.

An e-mail exchange among Justice Department officials in 2010 shows some in the Department worried about bad press if reporters knew the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives let guns "walk" into the hands of drug cartels.

The e-mail exchange occurred in October 2010, almost four months before the gunwalking scandal broke publicly.

It's included among more than 500 pages of documents released Monday by the Justice Department in response to a Congressional subpoena. The exchange is especially revealing because it demonstrates a level of awareness among some at Justice, which oversees ATF, that the practice of "gunwalking" could be viewed as embarrassing.

"It's a good case," wrote Laura Sweeney, a Justice public affairs specialist about a gunwalking case known internally as Operation Wide Receiver started in 2006. "But the only obstacle will be explaining why we let them continue to send guns to Mexico while we were investigating."

Among the recipients of that e-mail was James Trusty, at that time Justice's Deputy Chief for Litigation. "I think we can navigate through this stuff fine," Trusty wrote. "Bottom line is bad guys who trafficked guns into MX (Mexico) are being targeted and indicted, so I don't see any of these questions as being so dreaded as to negate the good news component."

The case prosecutor pointed out that ATF had intercepted 50 of the hundreds of weapons ATF let walk in Wide Receiver. Sweeney in Public Affairs wrote, "Well done!!"

The three agreed to move forward on publicizing arrests in the case, minimizing the negative gunwalking aspect. But a second e-mail exchange later shows that higher officials in the department eventually nixed publicity.

"Why did we decide not to do any press (even a press release) on it?" wrote Mythili Raman, Chief of Staff to the head of Justice's Criminal Division.

"Lots of guns allowed to go south," Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein replied. "(we) agreed the case would be weaved into anti-ATF story."

Let's boil this down to its essence. Power-hungry Hoplophobes who want citizen disarmament need the federal gun cops to enforce their will. Therefore, anything which might serve to discredit the gun cops in the eye of the public must be covered up. Even, it seems, if it occurred in the previous administration that they viscerally hated and, if this had NOT involved the ATF, that they would have run to the press microphones faster than Charlie Schumer at re-election time in order to discredit the other political party.

It is all about appetite for power and the critical importance of the audience not catching on to the man behind the curtain. That's politics right there, buddy.

And, as far as politics and Dubya's hated minions play into the meme of "Wide Receiver -- Dubya did it first so you can't blame us," the Obamanoid media outlets have as yet been strangely silent (except for the New York Times) on the one apparent conflict of interest pointed up by this story of the earlier, much different and much smaller operation -- that of former Arizona U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton, who now represents the Terry family.

From the NYT:

A 2006 memorandum to the United States attorney in Arizona at the time, Paul Charlton, showed that A.T.F. agents asked whether it would be an acceptable tactic if illegal weapons were given “to the criminals with A.T.F.’s knowledge and/or participation, to be released into the community, and possibly into Mexico.”

The memorandum said that A.T.F.’s counsel had objected, “citing moral objections.” The documents do not show what Mr. Charlton replied, but about 400 guns disappeared as part of Wide Receiver, officials have said. In a twist, Mr. Charlton is now representing the family of the slain Border Patrol agent. He recalled in an interview discussing an operation that would keep the guns under surveillance and work with Mexican authorities so they could as well; he said he did not recall and would not have approved losing track of the guns.

Mind you, the only documents now being leaked by the White House are those that strengthen their "Bush did it first" meme. Absent the complete documentary record, we have only what Bush-era appointees who touched Wide Receiver like Charlton have to say.

The Phoenix New Times reports that Charlton Says He Trusted ATF Official in "Fast and Furious" Predecessor Operation; Got Memo on Gunwalking

Former Arizona U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton says he trusted the word of a federal firearms officials who told him in 2006 that a gunwalking operation wouldn't result in missing weapons. . .

Charlton received a memo about Wide Receiver in 2006, the New York Times reported yesterday.

Today, Charlton tells us that Bill Newell, who was the special agent in charge of the ATF's Arizona office at the time, told him in 2006 that the Wide Receiver "walked" guns would be recovered either in the United States or by Mexican authorities working with the ATF.

Asked why he believed the Mexican authorities could be trusted to do that, Charlton says, "Newell believed so. I took Bill at his word." . . .

Charlton tells New Times that he doesn't remember approving Wide Receiver.

And Jennifer Maldonado, a former assistant U.S. attorney working under him at the time, who wrote the memo to Charlton, says she doesn't know what happened to the investigation.

"My belief is that it was denied," says Maldonado, now a Tucson defense attorney. "I don't recall having any knowledge of any guns that disappeared."

We asked Maldonado, who had worked in the U.S. Attorney's Tucson division, why she thought the request to move forward with Wide Receiver was denied. "Because it didn't happen," she says.

She adds that she had no knowledge of any active gunwalking operation until she left the office in November of 2007. Charlton was dismissed from his job in December of 2006 along with six other U.S. Attorneys in what many saw as political maneuvering by the Bush Administration.

Maldonado talked about Wide Receiver with ATF agents at the time, she recalls, discussing whether the ATF would have someone working the San Diego area to monitor the guns and the people who had purchased them.

"Thank god we never did it," Maldonado says.

Yet as you probably figured out by now, Maldonado's statements conflict with the statements of ATF officials about the timing of Wide Receiver.

Yet neither Charlton nor Maldonado couldn't shed much light on that discrepancy. Maldonado says she doesn't believe the ATF "acted alone," especially since the 2006 memo makes it clear the ATF was seeking approval.

Whenever Operation Wide Receiver took place, it shouldn't have, Charlton says firmly.

Now a shareholder and practicing attorney at Gallagher and Kennedy in Phoenix, Charlton says he's not about to shirk responsibility for any decisions he made as a U.S. Attorney and invites investigators to follow wherever the gunwalking probe leads.

As the NY Times noted, Charlton is currently representing the family of Brian Terry in a lawsuit against the government.

Charlton tells New Times today that he will soon turn over the case to one of his partners, just to make sure the Terry family doesn't feel like he's becoming a sideshow to their case.

About damn time. Charlton hired an ex-ATF agent for a private investigator who is universally reviled and distrusted by the whistleblowers. None of them indicated to this writer any willingness to talk him, mostly in terms that were either profane, obscene, or both. Perhaps the new attorney will fire his sorry ass, too.

In any case, for the Obamanoids and their press familiars to blame "politics" for where they find themselves in the Gunwalker Scandal is both the height of hypocrisy and absolutely true. The politics that they have to blame, however, are largely their own. A little Frank Zappa is appropriate here:

"Do you love it?
Do you hate it it?
There it is,
The way you made it."


Mickey Collins said...

The standard statement for all present and former government officials, when they want to lie their ass off without repercussions:

"I don't recall having any knowledge".

Sure, Jenny, whatever you say.

Anonymous said...

"Just be damned sure you say `I don't remember; I can't recall; I can't give any honest, an answer to that that I can recall.'" -- President Richard M. Nixon's legal advice to his Watergate coverup team.

wv: sksorgi -- a wild party involving Chinese made semi-automatic carbines.

Dedicated_Dad said...

Mickey Collins: The standard statement from *ALL* liars!

After 4.5 hours of having lie after lie jammed up her backside by my Atty, when we broke for lunch the Ex's atty SCREAMED at her in the law-library (loudly enough to be heard all over the building) that from then on she was to say NOTHING but "I cannot recall."

Suddenly, when we resumed, she couldn't recall what *SHE* had said only an hour before - just before said break. She couldn't recall what she'd had for LUNCH!

The bailiff got reprimanded for snorting and even Hizzonner had trouble holding it in!

Good times -- good times...