The “Project Gunrunner” is a growing scandal that could
bring down the Obama White House. It is potentially far bigger than Watergate.
At the minimum, watch the two videos below to be aware of the basic facts.
"Project Gunrunner" drug cartel scandal
February 23, 2011 8:03 pm ET
Report by Sharyl Attkisson Credit: CBS News
Human Events reports that Jon Stewart Makes Fun Of Gun Walker.
(emphasis mine) [my comment]
Jon Stewart Makes Fun Of Gun Walker, Darrell Issa Not
The scandal radar is pinging furiously.
by John Hayward
Jon Stewart took on the “Gun Walker” scandal and “Operation Fast and Furious” on The Daily Show yesterday:
The Daily Show - The Fast and the Furious - Mexico Grift
House Oversight chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) was not terribly amused. “This bit on Fast & Furious would be funny if it wasn’t done with your money, by your government,” Issa pointed out via his Twitter account.
Issa nevertheless made a point of including a link to the Daily Show bit, so I suspect he sees the significance of the Daily Show debut of this astonishing scandal he has worked so hard to investigate. “Gun Walker” is on the cultural radar screen now, and the people who get all their news from Jon Stewart know what it is.
Once they stop laughing, they might start wondering what the true purpose of such a violently absurd program might have been, and just who might have dreamed it up [Watch video at the end of this entry for the answer]. Hint: it wasn’t soon-to-be-former-acting-ATF-director Ken Melson. The answers to those questions will come from Issa and his committee, not Jon Stewart, and they won’t be very funny.
Below is a series of articles which trace the Gunrunner
scandal as it has exploded during the last month.
New York Post reports that A 'Fast and Furious' border fiasco.
A 'Fast and Furious' border fiasco
Last Updated: 2:48 AM, June 20, 2011
Posted: 11:08 PM, June 19, 2011
Michael A. Walsh
There's a war along the Mexican border all right, but it's not necessarily the one you're thinking of. In fact, this one has spread all the way to the halls of Congress.
Issa's Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is investigating an insane ATF operation -- a supposed sting that involved THE DELIBERATE FUNNELING OF THOUSANDS OF WEAPONS TO ULTRA-VIOLENT MEXICAN DRUG CARTELS in 2009-10.
Issa: House committee chairman demanding answers from feckless feds.
The op's name, "Fast and Furious," came from the series of movies about an undercover drag racer working for the FBI -- which gives you some idea of the lack of seriousness behind this cockamamie scam.
The Justice Department, which oversees the ATF, says the idea was to allow the sale of handguns, AK-47s and .50 caliber rifles to so-called "straw purchasers," who'd then pass them along to the cartels. In theory, ATF agents would then trace the extent of the smuggling networks in an effort to stop the illegal cross-border gun trade.
Oops No 1: The agency had no real way to trace the guns once they left the country -- and no real power to operate in Mexico.
Oops No. 2: The gangs used the weapons for what you'd expect. AT LEAST TWO AMERICAN AGENTS HAVE BEEN KILLED WITH FAST AND FURIOUS GUNS. God knows how many Mexicans have died; since 2006, more than 40,000 have died in the drug wars.
The operation was vehemently opposed within the Phoenix Field Division of the ATF, where the scheme originated. Agent Pete Forcelli testified: "What we have here is a colossal failure of leadership. We weren't giving guns to people for killing bear, we were giving guns to people to kill other humans."
Issa and his Senate counterpart, Charles Grassley, accuse Melson of being intimately involved in the details of the operation, and claim Attorney General Eric Holder is stonewalling their investigation. "Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, DOJ continues to deny that Operation Fast and Furious was ill-conceived and had deadly consequences," they wrote in their June 14 report. Holder says he never knew about Fast and Furious.
Even if Melson winds up the only scapegoat, it's clear the operation fit with the thinking of this administration. With the Mexican president standing beside him in 2009, President Obama claimed that "more than 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the United States, many from gun shops that line our shared border."
Newsflavor reports that The Mainstream Media tries to smear Issa.
The Ulsterman Report: Congressman Issa Under Attack by Obama
Published by Ulsterman on June 21, 2011 in US Politics
As Darrell Issa pushes for further investigations into the Obama administration’s deadly Project Gunrunner scandal, a just-published Washington Post report takes aim not at President Obama – but Congressman Issa.
Unexpected? No. Congressman Darrell Issa had to know that once he began his quest for the truth of who knew what and when that powerful forces within the mainstream media would engage in an aggressive campaign to protect and insulate President Barack Obama from the growing scandal of Project Gunrunner. A just-published Washington Post report by Jerry Markon and Sara Horwitz is the first of what will likely be an ever-increasing volley of attacks against Darrell Issa and any others who dare demand the truth from the Obama administration.
The Post article makes clear its intent to smear Issa while ignoring the facts of the Project Gunrunner/Fast and Furious scandal at its outset, making the claim that Congressman Issa was “briefed” on aspects of the operation in 2010. Without giving any details as to the specifics of that briefing, or expounding upon the fact that the briefing was done at the request of Issa himself, who was even then attempting to get details on the project, the Washington Post hopes to paint Issa as already having been “in the loop” on an ordeal that now has both Republicans and Democrats declaring an absolute disaster, shockingly absent of leadership by any within the Obama administration. The Post’s headline attacking Darrell Issa also neglects to reflect the strongly worded rebuke of Frederick R. Hill, a spokesman for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Hill described to the Washington Post the view that the Department of Justice knew less about Operation Fast and Furious than did members of Congress with the following: “This irresponsible and false accusation is indicative of a Justice Department bereft of leadership and rattled by the revelations of its own misconduct.’’
As for Sari Horwitz [one of the many “people about to go to jail, but don’t know it yet” when the ESF’s dollar Ponzi scheme collapses], the other author of the anti-Issa hit piece, she actually wrote an article late January of this year describing Project Gunrunner as, “…A SIGNATURE EFFORT BY THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION to assist Mexico in stemming the flow of guns south of the border. Horwitz also attempted the dubious connection within that same article between the need to support Project Gunrunner with continued funding, and the shooting tragedy of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
So it appears one side of the Washington Post’s mouth is attempting to state the Obama administration – namely Eric Holder and Barack Obama, knew little about the details of Project Gunrunner, while the other side of the mouth recently described the plan as “A SIGNATURE EFFORT BY THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION …”
Nice try Washington Post. This investigation, and the involvement of high ranking officials within the Obama administration, will not be covered up. The truth will be known…
Newsflavor reports that Senate Now Taking Aim At Obama Gunrunner Scandal.
The Ulsterman Report: Senate Now Taking Aim At Obama Gunrunner
Published by Ulsterman on June 29, 2011
… The fact Senate Republicans and Democrats are now working together to unblock the Obama administration’s refusal to turn over repeatedly requested documents is a significant development that poses potentially great risk to Obama administration officials.
According to various media reports, a bi-partisan effort by a growing number of Congressional members is now underway to find out if Eric Holder and other senior Obama administration officials played any part in not only the Gunrunner project itself, but a subsequent cover-up when the scandal broke following the death of an ATF agent killed by weapons the Obama administration encouraged to enter into the hands of Mexican drug cartel members. These weapons have since been used to kill law enforcement officials and citizens on both sides of the American-Mexican border. …
… Congressman Issa has already gone on record declaring that Attorney General Eric Holder “absolutely knew” of Project Gunrunner, despite Holder testifying differently to that alleged fact during earlier hearings. If ATF Director Melson offers testimony confirming Issa’s declaration that Holder was in fact aware of Project Gunrunner much earlier than Holder had indicated under oath, the Attorney General will likely face a very difficult political and legal outcome. Speculation is also running rampant that Homeland Security officials were also likely to have been “in the loop” regarding Project Gunrunner – including DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano herself.
What is more known at this point is that regarding Attorney General Eric Holder, and yes, even President Barack Obama, we are now hearing A TERM BEING WHISPERED not just by Republicans in Congress, but some of their Democrat counterparts as well: IMPEACHMENT.
Pajamas Media reports that The ATF's Kenneth Melson Blows the Whistle on the Justice Department.
Gunwalker: The ATF’s Kenneth Melson Blows the Whistle on
the Justice Department
A blockbuster development in the Operation Fast and Furious scandal.
July 6, 2011 - 8:52 am - by Hans A. von Spakovsky
In a blockbuster development in the Operation Fast & Furious gun-running scandal, Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson secretly testified before House and Senate investigators on July 4 with his own personal lawyer present, former United States Attorney Richard Cullen, WITHOUT the knowledge of the ATF or the Department of Justice.
… Melson’s revelations raise even more serious issues not only about the operation itself, but about apparent attempts by the Justice Department to mislead Congress on the details of the operation.
Contrary to the Justice Department’s denials, according to Melson, ATF agents specifically witnessed transfers of weapons from straw purchasers to third parties without taking any further action. Melson claimed that it was not until the public disclosure of the operation that he personally reviewed the “hundreds of documents” related to the case. He said he became “sick to his stomach” when he learned the full story. Even more shocking is that some of the “gun trafficking ‘higher-ups’ that the ATF sought to identify were already known to other agencies and may even have been paid as informants” by agencies such as the FBI and the DEA.
Melson provided detailed information and documents to the Office of the Deputy Attorney General at the Justice Department. BUT THAT INFORMATION WAS NOT GIVEN TO CONGRESS by then-Acting Deputy Attorney General James Cole. In fact, “Melson was not allowed to communicate to Congress” and “Justice Department officials directed [ATF’s senior leadership] not to respond and took full control of replying to briefing and document requests from Congress.” According to the letter Issa and Grassley sent to Holder, it was “two days after [Melson] told [Cole] about serious issues involving lack of information sharing” that the Wall Street Journal suddenly reported that Melson was about to be ousted by the Obama administration.
The details of Operation Fast & Furious just keep getting worse from the standpoint of prosecutorial ineptitude and incompetence. But with Melson’s testimony, it is also appears that THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AND SPECIFICALLY DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL JAMES COLE HAVE BEEN OBSTRUCTING CONGRESS and engaging in a cover-up to prevent Congress and the public from finding out just how much the leadership of the Justice Department was involved in this expanding scandal.
New York Post reports that 'Fast & Furious' gets hotter for Holder.
'Fast & Furious' gets hotter for Holder
Last Updated: 4:26 AM, July 7, 2011
Michael A. Walsh
Don't look now, but the real action in Washington this week isn't the partisan wrangling over the debt ceiling but something -- literally -- even more incendiary: Operation Fast and Furious, which seems about to explode right in the face of Attorney General Eric Holder -- and maybe other administration officials, too.
Also known as Project Gunrunner, the Arizona-based operation was supposed to be a sting, under which … the Justice Department, allowed "straw purchasers" to transfer weapons from gun shops in Arizona to Mexican drug cartels to trace and halt crossborder arms-trafficking.
That's the official version, anyway -- but it's crumbling, fast.
The ATF's acting director, Kenneth Melson, has been singing like a canary to congressional investigators as he pushes back against administration pressure for him to resign and take the fall for something that, at the very least, had to include the US Attorney's Office, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and possibly the Homeland Security Department.
In a letter to Holder released yesterday, Rep. Daryl Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley accused the Justice Department of blocking their investigation into the burgeoning scandal (which has resulted in the deaths of at least two American agents and countless Mexican civilians), muzzling the ATF and involving other federal agencies, including the FBI and the DEA, in funding the crackpot scheme.
"The evidence we have gathered raises the disturbing possibility that the Justice Department not only allowed criminals to smuggle weapons, but that taxpayer dollars from other agencies may have financed those engaging in such activities," they wrote.
"It is one thing to argue that the ends justify the means in an attempt to defend a policy that puts building a big case ahead of stopping known criminals from getting guns. Yet it is a much more serious matter to conceal from Congress the possible involvement of other agencies in identifying and maybe even working with the same criminals that Operation Fast and Furious was trying to identify."
That's the key to this mess -- and the reason that Operation Fast and Furious might turn out to be THE BIGGEST WASHINGTON SCANDAL SINCE IRAN-CONTRA.
As Issa and Grassley note in their letter, had the other agencies shared information -- theoretically the goal of the post-9/11 revamp of the intelligence and law-enforcement agencies -- "then ATF might have known that GUN TRAFFICKING 'HIGHER-UPS' HAD ALREADY BEEN IDENTIFIED."
So if the identities of the Mexican criminals were known to the feds, what was the point of Project Gunrunner -- and why is Holder so desperately trying to stonewall by withholding hundreds of documents from Congress?
Unfortunately for the administration, this one's out in the open now.
Melson testified behind closed doors on July 4, but the country needs to hear him speak -- loudly and publicly. "Let me be clear," Issa wrote to Melson in April, "we are not conducting a concurrent investigation WITH the Department of Justice, but rather an independent investigation OF the Department of Justice."
Exactly. Because this one's not just a domestic issue. A Mexican senator, Rene Arce Islas, told Fox News that he believes whoever is responsible for the monumental, lethal cock-up should be tried not only in America but in Mexico, too.
That's not going to happen, of course. Even if any prominent American officials are implicated, there is zero chance they'd have to face Mexican justice.
But Issa's charge that Holder & Co. are obstructing a congressional investigation is serious. Not even the Justice Department is above the law.
The best way to disinfect the putrid mess that is Operation Fast and Furious is to expose it to sunlight. Let's hear what the attorney general and others have to say in open hearings.
Because somebody's got some "splainin' " to do -- fast, before the American people get furious.
Investors.com reports about A Watergate For Obama.
Fast And Furious Scandal: A Watergate For Obama?
Posted 07/13/2011 06:23 PM ET
Border: A 2-year-old video shows a high Justice official saying "the president has directed us," including the attorney general, to speed up Project Gunrunner and the offshoot that got a border agent killed.
This tape has no 18-minute gap, and while it does not feature the president himself, the March 24, 2009, video may rival the tape that turned a "third-rate burglary" into a presidential resignation. No one died at Watergate. Agent Brian Terry lost his life in the administration's obsessive pursuit of gun control.
As we have noted, Attorney General Eric Holder himself gave a speech to Mexican authorities in Cuernavaca, Mexico, on April 2, 2009, taking credit for Gunrunner as well as Fast and Furious for himself and the Obama administration.
Holder told the audience: "Last week, our administration launched a major new effort … to supplement our ongoing Project Gunrunner."…
The Sacramento Bee reports that Websites Launched to Support Obama Impeachment.
Websites Launched to Support Obama Impeachment &
By Americans for Legal Immigration PAC
Published: Wednesday, Jul. 13, 2011 - 9:28 am
RALEIGH, N.C., July 13, 2011 -- /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- ALIPAC is launching two new website projects to help inform the public of President Obama's impeachable actions, while organizing Americans to lobby the Congress and protest if necessary.
The two main driving issues behind ALIPAC's call for Obama's impeachment are the Gun Walker Fast and Furious scandal, which Congressional investigations have determined the U.S. Justice Department under Obama was supplying thousands of assault rifles to invading cartel smugglers. These guns have been used to murder untold numbers of American and Mexican citizens and police.
Current investigation status indicates that the highest levels of the Justice Department were involved with this scandal, that U.S. tax dollars were used to fund the gun purchases, and that OBAMA IS STANDING BY THOSE WHO TRANSPORTED THE GUNS.
New York Daily News reports that Obama administration faces outrage over guns in Mexico.
Fast, furious and wrong: Obama administration faces
outrage over guns in Mexico
Thursday, July 14th 2011, 12:58 PM
The Fast and the Furious is movie franchise that's been incredibly successful to its backers. But when it comes to our government, Operation Fast and Furious has been an incredibly unsuccessful effort turned into a scandal that's rocking the Obama administration.
Operation Fast and Furious - "Obama's Watergate" as one pundit put it - established in 2009, and Project Gunrunner, established in 2005, were ATF programs aimed at stopping guns from getting into the hands of criminals in Mexico. The ultimate goal was to track the flow of arms and determine how the market functioned, but the initiative has had an unsurprisingly disastrous effect.
The mission allowed U.S. officials to permit "straw purchasers" to buy guns - hundreds of them at once, sometimes - and then to sell them to Mexican drug cartels while the ATF sat idly by, doing nothing to stop it. (Straw purchasers legally purchase weapons in the U.S. with the known intention of later trafficking them to drug cartels).
During a hearing on Capitol Hill, agents assigned to Fast and Furious testified that those who opposed the operation and raised objections were told to "get with the program" and threatened with job retaliation if they continued their opposition.
Special Agent John Dodson, in his prepared testimony, stated: "Simply put, during this operation known as Fast and Furious, we, ATF, failed to fulfill one of our most fundamental obligations, to caretake the public trust; in part, to keep guns out of the hands of criminals."
Fellow whistleblowers Olindo James Casa and Peter Forcelli also testified about how they objected to such clandestine methods of moving guns - and nothing was done about it by ATF higher-ups.
Spin all you want, the bottom line here could not be more clear: ERIC HOLDER'S JUSTICE DEPARTMENT WAS ESSENTIALLY SANCTIONING GUN VIOLENCE IN MEXICO. And, worst of all, TAXPAYERS WERE FUNDING PART OF IT.
According to Investor's Business Daily, $10 million was appropriated for Project Gunrunner. As the IBD says, " THINK ABOUT ALL THE CRIMINAL AND DRUG CARTEL JOBS SAVED OR CREATED. And our attorney general once bragged to a Mexican audience about implementing it."
Worse yet: Project Gunrunner resulted in the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Terry was killed in December 2010 while patrolling an area near Tucson known as Rio Rico by an illegal immigrant working for the Sinaloa Cartel. His family now wants justice and is threatening to sue. At least in part through the Terry family's efforts, the outrageous ATF program has come to light.
So far, Holder has denied any knowledge of the program, but Republicans are wise to look for a smoking gun - literally. They've called for numerous documents relating to the operation. Someone had to know about it, and if it's the highest levels of the Justice Department, then heads there should roll.
But instead of calling for an investigation, which is what the President should do - especially as he'll be in the fight of his life for reelection - his administration is desperately attempting to implement a classic diversion. Rather than address the scandal, just this week the Justice Department and ATF announced that they soon would require gun dealers in four border states to report anyone purchasing two or more semiautomatics in a five-day period.
The point of this request, says the White House, is to provide a targeted approach to address the problem of illegal gun trafficking. But what's IRONIC about this is that the federal government wants to expose law abiding gun owners to increased scrutiny at the same time that IT IS ACCUSED OF ESSENTIALLY ARMING CRIMINALS WITH NO SCRUTINY AT ALL.
The more we learn, the worse Fast & Furious looks. Mexican drug violence has killed more than 30,000 people since 2006. It appears the Justice Department did nothing but increased that body count.
The Examiner reports that Fast and Furious was not a renegade operation.
Fast and Furious’ not a ‘renegade operation,’ sources say
July 14, 2011
By Dave Workman, Seattle Gun Rights Examiner
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ botched OPERATION FAST AND FURIOUS WAS not a “renegade operation” but A COORDINATED EFFORT "FROM THE TOP DOWN,” congressional sources and ATF insiders told the Seattle Gun Rights Examiner today.
According to sources close to the on-going investigations conducted by Senator Charles Grassley and Congressman Darrell Issa, every piece of evidence unearthed so far reinforces the belief that this was a “coordinated effort” that involved individuals high up in the Obama administration. That's why Grassley and Issa want e-mails and other materials involving a dozen current and former Justice Department officials, as this column reported.
“They knew what they were doing,” said one Grassley staffer to this column Thursday. “When we started looking into this in January, little did we know when we started what this would lead to. At first, it was too unbelievable to believe, but when you start looking into things…”
Early in the process, some ATF insiders expressed concerns that the people responsible would never be held accountable, and that someone would be “thrown under the bus.” That apparently almost happened to Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson, but he turned the tables on that by appearing secretly with his own attorney at a meeting with congressional investigators on July 4, as this column noted here and here. ATF whistleblowers have offered strong evidence in the form of e-mails and other documentation, that Fast and Furious reaches to the highest levels of Eric Holder’s Justice Department, hence the cover-up that has been suggested by Issa and Grassley.
Now with revelations by National Gun Rights Examiner David Codrea that A SIMILAR OPERATION OCCURRED IN FLORIDA, the investigation is branching out. Investigators are finding that every interview leads to more information, more allegations to be checked out.
Still, Obama administration apologists in the press continue their campaign to divert public attention and point the blaming finger at firearms dealers and current gun laws. Guilty on all counts is the New York Times…
… there is also ample evidence that building a smoke screen is precisely what the Obama administration is doing, though not very well. Perhaps a counter-editorial in this morning’s Washington Times sums it up best:
THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT'S EFFORT TO CONTAIN THE OPERATION FAST AND FURIOUS GUNRUNNING SCANDAL IS CRUMBLING. Members of Congress are demanding full disclosure regarding the bizarre scheme to funnel guns to Mexican drug cartels, supposedly to help sniff out the higher-level bad guys. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. isn’t helping congressional investigators understand the rationale behind this breathtakingly dumb idea…
Beth Levine, spokeswoman for Senator Grassley, noted via telephone this morning that the investigation is nowhere near the proverbial “bottom of this.” Grassley and Issa, with their concurrent investigations, are determined to get there.
My reaction: Project Gunrunner (aka Operation Fast and Furious)
might turn out to be THE BIGGEST WASHINGTON SCANDAL SINCE IRAN-CONTRA.
1) Project Gunrunner was an insane ATF operation which involved the deliberate funneling of thousands of weapons to ultra-violent mexican drug cartels in 2009-10.
2) The agency had no real way to trace the guns once they left the country and no real power to operate in Mexico.
3) The weapons have since been used to kill law enforcement officials and citizens on both sides of the American-Mexican border, at least two american agents have been killed.
4) The operation was vehemently opposed within the ATF.
5) Project Gunrunner was "a signature effort by the obama administration”
6) A similar operation occurred in Florida.
7) Attorney General Eric Holder is stonewalling the investigation of the scandal. (Congressman Issa has already gone on record declaring that Attorney General Eric Holder "absolutely knew" of Project Gunrunner)
8) A bi-partisan effort by a growing number of Congressional members is now underway to find out if Eric Holder and other senior Obama administration officials played any part in not only the Gunrunner project itself, but a subsequent cover-up.
9) The term IMPEACHMENT is being whispered in congress.
10) Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson secretly testified before House and Senate investigators on July 4 with his own personal lawyer present, without the knowledge of the ATF or the Department of Justice.
11) ATF agents specifically witnessed transfers of weapons from straw purchasers to third parties without taking any further action.
12) Some of the "gun trafficking 'higher-ups' that the ATF sought to identify were already known to other agencies and may even have been paid as informants" by agencies such as the FBI and the DEA. (If the identities of the Mexican criminals were known to the feds, what was the point of Project Gunrunner -- and why is Holder so desperately trying to stonewall by withholding hundreds of documents from Congress?)
13) The federal government wants to expose law abiding gun owners to increased scrutiny at the same time that it is accused of essentially arming criminals with no scrutiny at all.
14) The justice department's effort to contain the operation fast and furious gunrunning scandal is crumbling.
Conclusion: To understand the true purpose behind the Gunrunner Project and what might be exposed if investigation continues, now would be a good time to watch part 5 of the ESF and its history.
What I have been afraid to blog about: The ESF and Its History (part 5)
To see parts 1-4 and the links for the material covered in the video, click here.
(To donate, click here)