The more information that comes out about the reckless “Fast and Furious” gun running operation conducted by the Phoenix BATFE office, the more clear it seems that knowledge of the operation, and approval for it, went a lot higher than the Phoenix field office, or even the BATFE.
There is now clear evidence, uncovered by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee headed by Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) that senior Obama Administration officials were aware of this disastrous operation.
Last Tuesday, Rep. Issa conducted another round of hearings. Among those who testified were William Newell and William McMahon, BATFE Special Agents who oversaw the program in Phoenix. Those hearings revealed that senior Dept. of Justice officials, including former Deputy Attorney General David Ogden and Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, knew about the program.
Additionally, other federal agencies were identified as having been made aware of the operation, including the IRS, DEA and ICE.
The Committee also heard testimony from four BATFE agents stationed in Mexico during the time “Fast and Furious” was in operation. All testified they knew nothing of this scheme, in spite of promises from Obama Administration officials, and Obama himself to share all relevant information with Mexican authorities engaged in the fight against the drug cartels.
When asked about the operation, these BATFE agents described it as absurd and ill-conceived, and declared that it was not consistent with established BATFE procedures or methods.
One of the biggest bombshells to come out of the hearing was the revelation that Agent Newell had sent an e-mail, under the subject line “You did not hear this from me,” to Kevin O’Reilly, the National Security Director for North America. That e-mail, dated Sept. 2010, included information about “Fast and Furious.”
After repeated questioning, Newell admitted he had spoken to O’Reilly about the operation.
This revelation, that a senior White House official knew about the program, combined with the senior DOJ officials listed above, casts serious doubts on claims by Attorney General Holder and even President Obama that they knew nothing about “Fast and Furious.”
As more is learned about the “Fast and Furious” operation, two serious questions come to the forefront: Did BATFE abandon standard procedures and methods in this project in order to achieve the political goal of making U.S. gun laws the issue in the war against the Mexican drug cartels? And if so, was it the BATFE that proposed and advanced the scheme, or was it senior political appointees in the Obama administration who wanted to “prove” that it is American gun freedoms that are “causing” the violence in Mexico? Stay tuned for more as details continue to emerge.