Fast and Furious: the targeted cartel heads were our informants

February 10, 2012

Great. Just great. As they say on Twitter, #EpicFail :

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has acknowledged that guns were allowed into the hands of Mexican criminals for more than a year in the hope of catching “big fish.”

The memorandum from staffers with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform says the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration were investigating a drug-trafficking organization and had identified cartel associates a year before the ATF even learned who they were. At some point before the ATF’s Fast and Furious investigation progressed — congressional investigators don’t know when — the cartel members became FBI informants.

“These were the ‘big fish,'” says the memo, written on behalf of Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. “DEA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had jointly opened a separate investigation targeting these two cartel associates….Yet, ATF spent the next year engaging in the reckless tactics of Fast and Furious in attempting to identify them.”

According to Issa and Grassley, the cartel suspects, whose names were not released, were regarded by FBI as “national-security assets.” One pleaded guilty to a minor offense. The other was not charged. “Both became FBI informants and are now considered unindictable,” the memo says. “This means that the entire goal of Fast and Furious — to target these two individuals and bring them to justice — was a failure.”

Representatives with the Justice Department and its subagencies declined to comment.

In other words, not only did the right hand not know what the left hand was doing, but all the fingers on the same hand were blithering idiots. In sum, one sub-agency of the US Department of Justice was supplying untraceable guns to murderous cartels to catch drug lords working as informants for another sub-agency of the US Department of Justice.

And all it cost was the life of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, possibly that of ICE Agent Jaime Zapata, and over 300 Mexican nationals.

I can understand why DoJ representatives declined to make a statement. They probably wanted to consult with their defense attorneys, first.

Read the rest at Bob Owens’ personal blog.

RELATED: Earlier Gunwalker posts.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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So, the ATF was running guns *and* drugs? Ahem… WTF??

August 5, 2011

Are we sure they’re not the Mafia in disguise?

From the El Paso Times:

U.S. federal agents allegedly allowed the Sinaloa drug cartel to traffic several tons of cocaine into the United States in exchange for information about rival cartels, according to court documents filed in a U.S. federal court.

The allegations are part of the defense of Vicente Zambada-Niebla, who was extradited to the United States to face drug-trafficking charges in Chicago. He is also a top lieutenant of drug kingpin Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman and the son of Ismael “Mayo” Zambada-Garcia, believed to be the brains behind the Sinaloa cartel.

The case could prove to be a bombshell on par with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ “Operation Fast and Furious,” except that instead of U.S. guns being allowed to walk across the border, the Sinaloa cartel was allowed to bring drugs into the United States. Zambada-Niebla claims he was permitted to smuggle drugs from 2004 until his arrest in 2009.

In other words, an arm of the federal government allowed one gang to bring drugs into the US in return for information about other gangs. Drugs that would enrich the gang through proceeds from their sale. Drugs that would destroy lives through their use and through the violence association with the trade. Drugs that are a federal crime to move and sell. These aren’t minor offenses being overlooked here for the greater good.

Erick Erickson of Red State wonders why  Holder still has a job. While that’s a good question for many good reasons, look at the dates in the article: these operations date back through George W. Bush into Bill Clinton’s administration, indicating a tradition of “felony stupid;” they include contract killings done for the cartel while the assassin was under ICE “supervision.”

Granted, the source for this is himself a cartel member who has every incentive to save himself by claiming he was working for the US, but, if he has the proof to back this up or can get it turned over via discovery… “Bombshell” would be a very mild description. And, in the light of what we already know and are learning about the “Gunwalker” fiasco, it’s disturbingly plausible. At the very least, this is another avenue for Congressman Issa’s already-busy investigators to follow.

Meanwhile, I have to ask: What the Sam Hill is going on at ATF??

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Gunwalker: “What did he know and when did he know it?” UPDATE: ATF armed Sinaloa cartel?

July 27, 2011

Oh, my. I think the fuse has been lit on blowing this fiasco wide open, and the spark is headed right for the White House:

At a lengthy hearing on ATF’s controversial gunwalking operation today, a key ATF manager told Congress he discussed the case with a White House National Security staffer as early as September 2010. The communications were between ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix office, Bill Newell, and White House National Security Director for North America Kevin O’Reilly. Newell said the two are longtime friends. The content of what Newell shared with O’Reilly is unclear and wasn’t fully explored at the hearing.

It’s the first time anyone has publicly stated that a White House official had any familiarity with ATF’s operation Fast and Furious, which allowed thousands of weapons to fall into the hands of suspected traffickers for Mexican drug cartels in an attempt to gain intelligence. It’s unknown as to whether O’Reilly shared information with anybody else at the White House.

Congressional investigators obtained an email from Newell to O’Reilly in September of last year in which Newell began with the words: “you didn’t get this from me.”

“What does that mean,” one member of Congress asked Newell, ” ‘you didn’t get this from me?’ “

“Obviously he was a friend of mine,” Newell replied, “and I shouldn’t have been sending that to him.”

Newell told Congress that O’Reilly had asked him for information.

So now we are certain that someone senior at the White House knew about Operation Fast and Furious (aka “Gunwalker”) in late 2010, yet as late as this last spring, Holder and Obama were claiming they had learned of it only much later.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told Issa that he did not learn about Fast and Furious until this spring. President Obama said that Holder told him he would not have allowed guns to go into Mexico.

Hmmm… We’ve already established that it’s about as likely as the Sun rising in the West that Holder didn’t know, but what about Obama? If this org chart (PDF) is still accurate (1), then NSC staffers with regional responsibilities report to the Deputy National Security Adviser, who reports to the National Security Adviser, who reports to… the President of the United States.

Very suggestive, but not proof-positive.

As Ed Morrissey asks, why did O’Reilly want to know, and why did Newell feel compelled to say “You didn’t get this from me?”

Either O’Reilly was attending a meeting of peers and wanted to be brought up to speed — it  is in his purview, after all, but then why the “cloak and dagger” stuff? — or was he briefing those above him? And how high did the briefing go?

Let’s keep in mind that this debacle has cost the lives of at least one US federal agent and roughly 150 Mexican civilians, federal agents, and soldiers. Agencies of the US government supplied weapons to criminal cartels that threaten the stability of our large southern neighbor and then lost track of nearly 2,000 of those guns. It is a monument to gross stupidity and incompetence — and very possibly criminal, what Rep. Darrell Issa has called “felony stupid.”

With the revelation that people on the President’s national security staff knew about Gunwalker, it’s about time for subpoenas.

Footnotes:
(1) While O’Reilly’s office doesn’t appear on this org chart, I think it’s reasonable to assume that, whether it’s new or renamed from “Western Hemisphere Affairs,” he too would report to the Deputy NSA.

UPDATE: “The ATF armed the Sinaloa Cartel. It’s disgusting.”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)