Fast and Furious: Draft Contempt Charges Show Depth of Agency Involvement
A section of the draft of contempt charges against Attorney General Eric Holder is dedicated to explaining how Fast & Furious branches off into different departments within the Department of Justice (DOJ).
While most know about the operation being based in Phoenix, the strategy was actually developed in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General (ODAG) in Washington, DC. The ODAG decided it would be brilliant to concentrate on identifying the members of the trafficking network instead of seizing the firearms right away. The goal was to capture the big fish of the cartels.
The ATF Phoenix Field Office decided to use this strategy in Fast & Furious. But that wasn’t good enough for them, and in late January 2010 the office “applied for Fast and Furious to become an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) case.”
In order to do that, the agents had to tell all about their investigative strategy, i.e. gunwalking. It was approved and was given new funding. Also, since it became a prosecutor-led OCDETF Strike Force case, other departments would come in. Those include FBI, DEA, IRS, and ICE under the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona.
Fast & Furious came to the attention of ATF headquarters on December 8, 2009. The ATF’s Office of Strategic Information and Intelligence (OSII) told senior personnel about the operation, especially about recoveries of weapons in Mexico. But the more statistics they received, the more concerned they became about the operation.
Deputy ATF Director Billy Hoover called for an exit strategy in March 2010. He received one in May, but we all know it didn’t happen. The office continued to delay the indictments, and ATF headquarters never demanded them to arrest the straw purchasers.
Operation Wide Receiver, a gun tracking operation during the George W. Bush administration, is often brought up to deflect from Fast & Furious. Most people on the other side want to prosecute that case instead.
Well, as it turns out, the DOJ’s Criminal Division sent prosecutors to Arizona to help the US Attorney to prosecute cases, including Wide Receiver. Indeed, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division Lanny Breuer was very interested in the operation. James Trusty, senior official in the Criminal Division’s gang Unit, said Mr. Breuer was very interested in the case and wanted to be briefed on it.
A briefing on March 5, 2010, “highlighted the large number of weapons the gun trafficking ring had purchased and discussed recoveries of those weapons in Mexicio.”
Steve Martin, Deputy Assistant Director in ATF’s Office of Strategic Intelligence and Information, said everyone knew the guns were being linked to the cartels.
However it’s the wiretaps that prove how deeply involved the Criminal Division was with Fast & Furious. It shouldn’t come to anyone’s shock that the DOJ hasn’t handed over the applications to the Committee. After all, the top dogs signed them: Deputy Assistant Attorney Generals Jason Weinstein, Kenneth Blanco, and John Keeney.
It’s more than obvious the DOJ can say this was just a local issue. There’s more than enough evidence to prevent them from continuing to brush it off as a rogue field office mistake.