On February 2, Senator Grassley’s investigators talked to Agent Gary Styers about his knowledge of Operation Fast & Furious. The following day Agent Styers sent out a memo about this conversation and it quickly spread through the ATF. However, on February 4, Assistant Attorney General Ron Weich sent a letter to Senator Grassley claiming guns were not allowed to walk. They had to withdraw the letter in the fall because it was a “false letter.”
Agent Styers documented everything discussed with the investigators. He knew all the agents in charge of Fast & Furious, but did not know the roles of individual agents. He described, in third person, his role in an operation regarding a transaction at a gas station (bold my emphasis).
While positioning to observe the suspects, Special Agent Styers and other detailed agents were told by Special Agent [Hope] McAllister that agents were too close and would burn the operation. While the agents were repositioning, the transaction between the suspects took place and the vehicle that took possession of the firearms eventually left the area without the agents following it.
The investigators asked Agent Styers about statistics and reporting. He claimed he didn’t know if anyone was trying to skew statistics. But he did want to know why he was being asked to trace firearms that haven't been recovered because the ATF has the Suspect Gun Database, which is for firearms that haven’t been recovered. Supervisor Voth wanted it done this way so if someone else traces the firearm they would know it was connected to Agent Styers’ case.
“Special Agent Styers relayed that even though he disagreed with the requested procedures, he followed the request of Group Supervisor Voth,” he wrote. He told investigators others were told to do the exact same thing.
At the end, the investigators asked Agent Styers about his impression of Fast & Furious and anything he felt was incorrect about the way it was handled. Agent Styers said Fast & Furious “had systematically divided and isolated agents from the group.” One case agent asked numerous agents advice about wiretaps and while they gave them their best opinions, the case agent largely ignored them.
Agent Styers went on to say “first and foremost, it is unheard of to have an actual wiretap investigation without full time dedicated surveillance units on the ground.” No ATF agents were assigned to surveillance. People from other agencies may have done it, “but it seemed that either the case agent or Group Supervisor would poll the office for agents who were available to respond at short notice.” He also said it was “odd to have a majority of ATF Agents working on a wiretap investigation, who had never worked such a case. Especially, when numerous, permanent Group VII agents and detailers had previous wiretap experience."
Senator Grassley states this memo quickly traveled through the ranks in the ATF from the Dallas Field Division to the Assistant Director of Field Operations Mark Chait at ATF headquarters the afternoon of the 3rd.
But Congress never knew this memo existed until late 2011.
“According to ATF personnel, the memorandum was discussed by high level ATF personnel and possibly forwarded to DOJ headquarters on February 3, 2011,” wrote Senator Grassley. “Specifically, it has been alleged that individuals within the Deputy Attorney General’s (DAG’s) office and the Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA) at the Department were aware of or actually read the memorandum before the Department’s February 4, 2011, letter was sent.”
“The possibility that DOJ was aware of this memorandum on February 3, 2011, and still sent the erroneous letter to Congress on February 4, 2011, raises more questions about DOJ’s claim that faulty information from Department components inadvertently led to the false letter.”
Senator Grassley wants to know if all the records relating to this memo have been gathered and also which DOJ personnel received a copy and which ones knew about it.
Operation Fast & Furious is linked to the deaths of Border Patrol Agent and hundreds of Mexicans. 1,400 weapons are still out there.