If the Justice Department thought this weeks shakeup of the ATF would blunt the pressure from the Senator Grassley, Rep Issa investigation of arguably the dumbest federal government program ever, they were very wrong. Today the two Congressional investigators announced they were expanding their probe into the program which resulted in violent Mexican Drug cartels getting automatic weapons courtesy of Uncle Sam.
“Project Gunrunner” (A.K.A Fast and Furious) was a project of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Fireworks where basically some “geniuses” high up in ATF (and possibly the DOJ) thought it would be a great idea to sell assault weapons to the violent Mexican drug cartels. The US government decided–in order to fight the Mexican Drug Cartels, we should arm them and let them keep their weapons once they were used in committing crimes .
Those assault weapons ceded to the drug cartels have been used for crimes in Mexico, used to kill a Border Agent named Brian Terry, turned up at the scenes of violent crimes in Phoenix, and 11 other violent crimes across the country.
Since the Congressional investigation began the White House has been trying to stymie the release of information about this ill-advised program but Issa and Grassley have remained in the hunt.
In an obvious attempt to shake of the congressional pursuers, earlier this week the justice department announced Ken Melson, the man who oversaw the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives “Fast and Furious” but claimed he knew nothing, is leaving ATF and returning to Justice Department headquarters (after they interviewed Melson on July 4th, the Issa and Grassley warned the DOJ not to take revenge. on the acting director). The Department also announced that Dennis Burke, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona was resigning and the assistant U.S. attorney who helped run the program, Emory Hurley, was reassigned from working on criminal cases and will now work in the civil division at the Arizona U.S. attorney’s office.
Mr. Grassley called the shake-up “an admission by the Obama administration that serious mistakes were made in Operation Fast and Furious, and is a step in the right direction that they are continuing to limit any further damage that people involved in this disastrous strategy can do.”
Mr. Issa, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the panel’s investigation will continue “to ensure that blame isn’t offloaded on just a few individuals for a matter that involved much higher levels of the Justice Department
In a letter to Ann Scheel, the acting U.S. Attorney in Phoenix, Grassley and Issa gave notice that the investigation would be intensified.
In the letter the two sought an extensive list of paperwork– emails, memos, notes and the like – from six top officials, including Ms. Scheel and Dennis Burke, the former U.S. Attorney who was ousted in the shake-up. The lawmakers had signaled on Tuesday that their investigation would intensify
In their letter, Messrs. Grassley and Issa zeroed in on a court filing by the Phoenix office seeking to deny Mr. Terry’s family rights under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, and expressed concerns about conflicts of interest in prosecuting the Terry case. “Since your office directed and approved the daily tactical decisions in Operation Fast and Furious, it is hard to avoid the perception that a conflict of interest exists,” the two wrote.
In other words….fasten your seat belts…this is going to be a bumpy flight.