It looks like a close ally of Attorney General Eric Holder, head of the Criminal Division Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, has decided (1) to throw himself under the fabled bus in order to protect his boss from the unfolding fiasco of Operation Fast and Furious:
The Obama administration appears to be attempting to defend Attorney General Eric Holder as the Justice Department dumped more than 650 pages worth of Operation Fast and Furious documents on congressional investigators late Monday.
There are two reasons why the timing of this release is significant: first, 28 members of Congress are currently calling on Holder to resign immediately. Second, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday — and this appears to be an attempt to divert pressure for Fast and Furious away from Holder.
The new documents, according to Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, “indicate that contrary to previous denials by the Justice Department, the criminal division has a great deal of culpability in sweeping the previous Wide Receiver strategy under the rug and then allowing the subsequent Operation Fast and Furious to continue without asking key questions.”
“Most importantly, officials raised very appropriate questions related to Operation Wide Receiver at the same time that many of these same officials were receiving briefings on Operation Fast and Furious,” Grassley said in a statement. “It begs the question why they didn’t ask the same important policy questions about an ongoing case being run out of the same field division.”
Operation Wide Receiver was a Bush administration program similar in nature to Operation Fast and Furious. In a statement he gave after the release of the new documents, Breuer took responsibility for not having learned from the mistakes made during Wide Receiver and implementing the failed tactics again under Fast and Furious.
“When the allegations related to Operation Fast and Furious became public earlier this year, the leadership of ATF and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona repeatedly assured individuals in the Criminal Division and the leadership of the Department of Justice that those allegations were not true,” Breuer said. “As a result, I did not draw a connection between the unacceptable tactics used by the ATF years earlier in Operation Wide Receiver and the allegations made about Operation Fast and Furious, and therefore did not, at that time, alert others within Department leadership of any similarities between the two. That was a mistake, and I regret not having done so.”
That reads like a political suicide note to me, how about you? Even if he is pulling the “I accept responsibility but no blame” scam.
Before we go any further, let’s set the record straight, since it looks like Team Hopenchange is setting up a “Bush did it too!” excuse and Grassley may be buying into it. The referenced Bush-era program, Operation Wide Receiver, was a stupid idea that, when it went wrong, was stopped by responsible adults in DC. Per Bob Owens at PJMedia:
In Operation Wide Receiver, Tucson agents allowed the sales of more than 500 firearms to known straw purchasers. Like Gunrunner/Fast and Furious, the operation apparently backfired.
Some firearms in Wide Receiver were equipped with RFID tracking devices. In Wide Receiver, it seems the illegal purchasers seemed more than slightly knowledgeable of the ATF and how to take their aerial and electronic tracking procedures down.
Knowing the time aloft numbers for virtually all planes used in government surveillance, the buyers had a simple method of getting their purchases across the border undetected. They simply drove four-hour loops around the area.
As surveillance planes were forced to return to base for refueling, the smugglers simply turned and sprinted their cargo across the border.
The RFID tags also turned out to be problematic.
Rather than making large enough holes for the tags to be laid out inside weapons, agents force-fit them into the rifles.
That cramming caused the antennae to be folded, reducing the effective range of the tags. And an already short battery life (36-48 hours maximum) meant that should purchasers allow the firearms to sit, the tracking devices eliminated themselves.
Once it was realized that Wide Receiver was having the unintended result of letting guns slip across the border and that the plans to track them had failed, the operation was stopped.
In the case of Fast and Furious, however, there was no plan or capability to track the guns, and the US government deliberately facilitated their transit to Mexico — including possibly selling guns directly to cartel buyers. See the difference? The Bush administration stopped Wide Receiver after it realized the operation was a failure and around 450 guns had reached Mexico. That’s bad enough, but Operation Fast and Furious represents a quantum leap in boneheadedness, because getting guns to Mexico was the objective. And it succeeded, to the tune of at least 2,000 weapons and maybe as many as 12,000. (2)
So let’s not fall for this latest variation on “It’s Bush’s fault!”, shall we?
Meanwhile, Lanny Breuer is scheduled to testify today. This is no low-level, coffee-fetching flunky we’re talking about; as head of the Criminal Division, Breuer is an appointee of the President and reports directly to Eric Holder’s chief deputy and, you can bet, often briefs Holder, himself. If he’s being set up to take the fall, it means they’re worried the trail leads straight to Holder — and perhaps to his boss.
The timing of the document dump and Breuer’s mea culpa is interesting (in that Washington way), because it was recently announced that AG Holder himself would testify before the House Judiciary Committee on December 8th. This latest development could be a show born of panic, meant to build a firebreak between Holder and the Gunwalker scandal: Breuer confesses “mistakes were made” and resigns.
Then Holder can testify that he was “shocked, shocked” to learn what was going on and that “lessons will be learned” and “steps taken” — and then he’ll breathe a sigh of relief over his narrow escape when he gets back to his limo.
All nice and neat and clean.
(1) Or was encouraged to, for the greater good. This is Washington, after all.
(2) Which probably doesn’t include the count of grenades.
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)