Popcorn!! AG Holder to testify on “Fast and Furious”

October 28, 2011

Under oath, baby, under oath:

CBS News has learned Attorney General Eric Holder has agreed to appear before the House Judiciary Committee regarding “Fast and Furious.” The hearing will take place Dec. 8th.

Judiciary Committee member and head of the House Oversight Committee Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) had requested that Holder appear, in part to dig deeper into when-he-knew-what about ATF’s so-called “gunwalking” operation Fast and Furious.

In May, Holder testified that he only first heard about Fast and Furious a few weeks before. However, as CBS News reported, documents and memos indicate he had been sent multiple briefings mentioning Fast and Furious in 2010.

Holder later explained in a letter to Congress that he didn’t read those memos, and that in any event, nobody at the Justice Department who knew of Fast and Furious was aware of the specific “gunwalking” tactics used.

Could this be the moment Holder falls on his sword for Obama?

CBS’ Sharyl Attkisson (aka, She Who Was Screamed At) also reports that Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) wants a public hearing with former ATF Director Ken Melson. Melson, you may recall, rejected the presence of DoJ “minders” and testified before the committee last July without telling his bosses, bringing his own lawyer and and directly tying top subordinates of Eric Holder to Operation Fast and Furious. My guess is that Cummings wants Democrats to be seen as pro-active on this in order to give his caucus some distance from a scandal that could (should) threaten Obama’s reelection.

Or he wants to play attack dog. Could be either.

Regardless, the real show will be before the House Judiciary Committee when Eric Holder raises his right hand and starts answering or dodging pointed questions about what he knew, when he knew it, who developed this felony stupid plan, and who approved it.

Can’t wait.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Gunwalker: Holder’s resignation is almost inevitable

July 6, 2011

And the only way that doesn’t happen is if he is fool-enough to stay in office, Obama is fool-enough not to fire him, and Congress has no choice but to remove him from office.

Consider: On the 4th of July, a national holiday, acting head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives gave testimony to House and Senate investigators on Operation “Fast and Furious,” aka “Gunwalker.”

Without telling his bosses.

And bringing his own lawyer, not the Bureau’s and not the Department of Justice’s.

To quote Allahpundit — Dude!

This morning, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Charles Grassley released a copy of a letter (PDF) they sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on July 5 about Melson’s testimony. Melson’s revelations raise even more serious issues not only about the operation itself, but about apparent attempts by the Justice Department to mislead Congress on the details of the operation.

Contrary to the Justice Department’s denials, according to Melson, ATF agents specifically witnessed transfers of weapons from straw purchasers to third parties without taking any further action. Melson claimed that it was not until the public disclosure of the operation that he personally reviewed the “hundreds of documents” related to the case. He said he became “sick to his stomach” when he learned the full story. Even more shocking is that some of the “gun trafficking ‘higher-ups’ that the ATF sought to identify were already known to other agencies and may even have been paid as informants” by agencies such as the FBI and the DEA.

Melson provided detailed information and documents to the Office of the Deputy Attorney General at the Justice Department. But that information was not given to Congress by then-Acting Deputy Attorney General James Cole. In fact, “Melson was not allowed to communicate to Congress” and “Justice Department officials directed [ATF’s senior leadership] not to respond and took full control of replying to briefing and document requests from Congress.”  According to the letter Issa and Grassley sent to Holder, it was “two days after [Melson] told [Cole] about serious issues involving lack of information sharing” that the Wall Street Journal suddenly reported that Melson was about to be ousted by the Obama administration.

Emphasis added. The Deputy Attorney General is the Attorney General’s chief assistant — the department’s number two. Here is how his authority is described by the DoJ:

The Deputy Attorney General advises and assists the Attorney General in formulating and implementing Departmental policies and programs and in providing overall supervision and direction to all organizational units of the Department. The Deputy Attorney General is authorized to exercise all the power and authority of the Attorney General, except where such power or authority is prohibited by law from delegation or has been delegated to another official. In the absence of the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General acts as the Attorney General.

Think about this: Melson, head of the BATF, gave Cole, Holder’s chief deputy, “detailed information and documents,” after Melson had seen enough to make him sick. And instead of letting himself be set up as the fall-guy, he got his own lawyer –a former US Attorney– rather than let government lawyers “represent” him. Gee, I wonder why he’d feel that need?

But wait, there’s more!

In a related article, Bob Owens quotes an email from the Phoenix BATF office referencing an inter-agency meeting that shows how widespread knowledge of Gunwalker was:

The October 27, 2009 email from ATF Phoenix Field Division Special Agent in Charge (SAC) William Newell regarded a Southwest Border Strategy Group meeting that focused on Fast and Furious. It contained a laundry list of high ranking Justice Department officials that attended the meeting, including:

  • Assistant Attorney General (Criminal Division) Lanny Breuer,
  • Kenneth Melson, Acting Director, ATF
  • William Hoover, Acting Deputy Director, ATF
  • Michele Leonhart, Administrator, DEA
  • Robert Mueller, Director FBI

Four other Justice Department directors or their representatives came from the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), Bureau of Prisons (BOP), U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), and the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA). The chair of the Attorney Generals Advisory Committee (AGAC) also attended the session. Their names were redacted in the released document. U.S. attorneys for all four southwest border states also attended.

With all this legal and bureaucratic firepower in one room being briefed on Gunwalker, there is absolutely no way Attorney General Eric Holder did not know what was going on, which may make the DoJ’s actions in response to requests for information from Issa’s committee Obstruction, a felony. And interference with Melson’s testimony may also be Tampering, under Title 18, Section 1512 of the US Code. (See subsections (b) and (c).)

This is why I say Eric Holder is a “Dead Bureaucrat Walking.” There is too much to indicate he is either monumentally detached from his supervisory responsibilities and thus incompetent, or (more likely) knew all along about an operation that let thousands of firearms be sold to straw buyers who were acting as cutouts for the Mexican drug cartels, in order to trace a putative “gunrunning network.” An operation that has cost at least 150 Mexican lives (1) and the lives of two US federal officers.

And thus my strong guess is that he will resign to protect President Obama, rather than be impeached and to try to head off an independent prosecutor, because I find it very hard to believe the President didn’t know, either.

LINKS: More from Moe Lane and Power Line. “El Mamito” says the Zetas buy all their weapons in the US. Given what we’re learning about Gunwalker, perhaps that should be “from the US.”

Footnotes:
(1) It’s no wonder the Mexicans are talking about extradition; I’d be screaming mad, too.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Gunwalker: ATF head to tell all?

June 28, 2011

Well, this could get very interesting. Instead of resigning in disgrace and going away quietly so that everything could be swept under the carpet, Acting ATF Director Ken Melson has agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a deal between Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA):

The head of the embattled federal agency that combats gun trafficking has agreed to talk with Senate investigators, a potentially important breakthrough as Congress tries to determine whether higher-ups in the Obama administration knew about a controversial sting that let assault weapons flow across the border into Mexico’s drug wars.

The testimony — expected next month from Kenneth Melson, the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — was brokered as part of a deal between Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and the committee’s top Republican, Iowa’s Charles Grassley. Grassley and his fellow Republicans were given full access to ATF documents, Melson, and other key witnesses; and in return, Grassley agreed to release three Obama administration nominees he had been blocking, according to correspondence obtained by Newsweek and The Daily Beast.

So, is Melson the new John Dean, or is this a prelude to being the fall-guy? At Pajamas Media, Bob Owens considers five possibilities:

  1. Melson falls on his sword.
  2. Melson implicates the head of the DoJ Criminal Division, who signed off on a Gunwalker wiretap.
  3. Melson implicates Attorney General Holder, himself.
  4. Melson also names Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano.
  5. Melson does the “full Dean” and implicates Obama.

For various reasons, Bob considers numbers two and three the most likely, leading to the resignation or even impeachment of the officials involved. Be sure to read the piece to find out why. Going a step further, Howard Nemerov makes a plausible argument that Holder and other officials could be charged as accessories before and after the fact to federal crimes.

Regardless, Melson’s forthcoming testimony promises some summer fireworks.

RELATED: Background on Gunwalker.

UPDATE: Welcome Hot Air readers!.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)