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  • Operation Fast and Furious: The First Political Casualties

    With the resignation this week of Dennis K. Burke, the Obama-appointed U.S. Attorney in Phoenix, we have the first high-level casualty in the burgeoning scandal known as Operation Fast and Furious.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Emory Hurley is also being transferred from the criminal division to the civil division, although the Department of Justice (DOJ) claims that it was at Hurley’s own request. They join other key individuals—such as Kenneth E. Melson, who has been relieved as the Acting Director of the ATF and moved to the DOJ’s Office of Legal Policy as a “forensics” expert—involved in what Representative Darrel Issa (R–CA) very succinctly called a “felony stupid” law enforcement operation.

    Testimony before Issa’s House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform as well as e-mails that Issa was able to obtain show that the prosecutors in Burke’s office were involved in this reckless operation. It resulted in more than 2,000 weapons being handed to Mexican criminals and members of drug cartels who have brutally and viciously killed a shocking number of people.

    The weapons included (unbelievably) dozens of .50 caliber sniper rifles—“approximately the number of sniper rifles a Marine infantry regiment takes into battle,” according to Carlos Canino, the Acting Attaché to Mexico for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) who testified at Issa’s hearing on July 26.

    This out-of-control operation was finally cancelled after two weapons sold to straw buyers with the approval of the ATF were found at the murder scene of border agent Brian Terry. But in recent weeks, it was revealed that even before Terry was killed, weapons from the ATF sting had been linked to eleven more violent crimes at six other crime scenes. Some of these weapons turned up as early as January 2010, “just after the program began,” according to the Los Angeles Times. Yet the ATF continued the operation until Terry’s death. That takes this operation from “felony stupid” to criminally reckless.

    According to the Arizona Republic, Burke said he was unaware that agents were not interdicting the purchases. But Burke admitted that “it should not have been done the way it was done” and he took “responsibility for that.” However, Attorney General Eric Holder made no mention whatsoever of Operation Fast and Furious in his statement praising Burke, despite the fact that there is no other evident reason for Burke to be resigning from his position at this time other than his involvement in this wayward operation.

    Burke claimed he was not “falling on a sword or trying to cover for anyone else,” but his resignation and the transfers of Hurley, Melson, and two other ATF supervisors involved in the program give the appearance of sacrificial lambs being offered up by the Administration to try to tamp down this scandal and direct attention away from Holder and his deputies. Former Arizona Senator Dennis DeConcini told the Arizona Republic that it is “just typical Washington cronyism” and “it would be absolutely outrageous for ‘Justice Main’ to take it out on [Burke] and make him the fall guy.”

    To date, Holder and his top deputy, James Cole, have refused to provide the information and documentation demanded by Issa and Senator Chuck Grassley (R–IA) about who approved this operation, although Holder has claimed that he did not know about it. The idea that neither the ATF (a division of DOJ) nor the U.S. Attorney in Arizona would seek the approval of Holder or his deputies for an operation crossing an international border that could potentially affect our foreign relations with another country is highly implausible to those familiar with internal DOJ procedures and policies.

    This is particularly true given the tremendous attention that President Obama and other top Administration officials (like Hilary Clinton) gave to the supposed problem of U.S. arms being smuggled into Mexico—including a joint press conference by President Obama with President Filipe Calderon in Mexico City in April 2009. That may explain why the Administration is now trying to stanch the bleeding being caused by the public revelations about Operation Fast and Furious with these resignations and transfers.

    One other important consideration should be kept in mind: A great deal was made of the termination of a number of U.S. Attorneys during the Bush Administration. The claim was that the attorneys—political appointees who served at the pleasure of the President—were somehow unlawfully fired because they had not made the prosecution of voter fraud cases a priority. This was treated as a huge scandal by the mainstream media and certain Members of Congress and even resulted in an investigation by the DOJ’s Inspector General. Of course, in that faux scandal, no one was killed and no government agency helped supply known, violent criminal organizations with hundreds of dangerous weapons. Quite a contrast.

    Congress should continue to try to get to the bottom of this law enforcement fiasco. Representative Paul Gosar (R–AZ) appropriately termed Burke’s resignation only one of the “small steps on the long road to accountability for the Department of Justice.” He added that the American people must be “informed about who authorized this program, who allowed it to continue despite grave misgivings on the part of dedicated ATF agents, and who is responsible for the lack of transparency from DOJ thus far.”

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    11 Responses to Operation Fast and Furious: The First Political Casualties

    1. carol,az says:

      Assign a special (independent ) prosecuted to further advance the investigation of the case in support of Grassley and Issa.No it's not over.

    2. @USAGeorge says:

      Some open society. SOmething is wrong when any government agency hinders and hides it's doings. Next we will hear the old "matter of national security"line. No,enough of this and whatever the outcome the people have a right to know what went on and the goverment agencies best remember whom they serve. If they are cloudy as to their responsibilities they simply have to go.

      • O8sys says:

        Clearly….the Obama admin wants this to go away, much like Watergate and Nixon. The SILENCE of the LAMBS is deafening.

    3. sanjuan says:

      Holder, Calderon and Hillary Clinton should all be handcuffed and put in front of the International Court.
      All three have conspired to murder US Citizens and Law Enforcement along with all's counterparts in Mexico.
      Did any of these weapons go through a State Dept Program, only to be redirected to the Middle East to arm the Terrorist Freedom Fighters ?
      All three will get away with the gun running and drug smuggling because no one on the Hill has the backbone to go after them.
      We have now become the most corrupt gov't and criminal enterprise on the face of the earth. I'm sure they had help from the America Hating UN.

    4. darf says:

      The people need look no further than barry obama working "Under the Radar", to disarm the American people. This operation smacks of Cass Sustine, giving the people a nudge.

    5. Russell says:

      Even the thought that Holder, Clinton and Obama did not know of Fast and Furious involving meddling in the affairs of a foreign nation is ludicrous on the face. Obama and Company have ignored the demands of Congress and Federal and State Judges too many times for them to go along now with Issa and Grassley. Obama doesn't like the Constitution and feels so powerful now that he and all his minions will simply ignore the Congressional investigations. The Fast and Furious investigation will die a slow and lingering death. And the press in America will assist in this.

    6. Todd says:

      Holder should be a "casualty" as well. If he denies knowing about the operations, he is lying to the American people as well.

    7. Lloyd Scallan says:

      "Sacrificial Lambs" to save Holder and his favorite lackeys in the DOJ and ATF. If we truly want to get to the bottom of this debacle, we should not depend on anyone in Congress. Those such as Charles Grassley, making "deals" with Holder, then act incredulous that Holder did not honor the "deal". Either complete incompetence or total naiveté.

    8. William Homolka says:

      Holder, like Resident Obama, is a liar. Both approved of this insane operation to generate support of the UN Small Arms Limitation Treaty to disarm the American public. Liars, cheats and thieves to the core!

    9. Tim AZ says:

      The results of the 2012 election will determine weather or not the regime will ever be held accountable to the American people for their trespasses against the American people. If the regime can successfully incite civil unrest among the American people they can then declare martial law and elections will be a thing of the past. Let us not give them the civil unrest that they desperately need to avoid being held accountable to the American people, and place them selves permanently in power over the American citizenry. We must practice restraint and remove them using the tools provided us in the Constitution through the election process. Don't underestimate how psychologically damaging this would be for the regime to be unable to escape the principles listed within the very thing they despise the most. The very essence of America the U.S. Constitution. We shall overcome.

    10. Diognesyes says:

      I hope the Mexican government, will realize that pursuit of the criminals responsible for this crime against humanity, will benefit them far longer, and much more profitably, than any bribe or pay off, the current administration can offer, let alone come up with. Their own people deserve justice for this travesty. No U.S. official should be able to hide under the cloak of diplomatic immunity when committing illegal acts, not sanctioned by public vote. I wonder, if faced with the thought of prosecution, and internment in a Mexican jail, if a few people already implicated , wouldn't be more forthcoming, with our own government about who ordered what, when, where, and how.

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