Posts Tagged ‘FAST AND FURIOUS’
This has not been a good week for President Obama, at least not a good week in court. Yesterday a judge in Texas ruled the President had to enforce all laws and today a different judge indicated he might just have to comply with the congressional subpoena to turn over additional fast and furious documents.
As you may remember, last year Obama cited executive privilege to prevent AG Eric Holder from turning over the requested Fast and Furious Records. The House held Holder in Contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over the documents regarding the failed gun-running program which armed Mexican drug cartels with weapons such as AK-47s.
Obama’s main argument was the case should be dismissed because the court system had no right to interfere in an argument between the executive and legislative branches. But U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson spent begged to differ.
“That lack of a judicial role is a deliberate part of the constitutional structure,” [Assistant AG] Gershengorn insisted, as he urged the judge to stick with the historic practice of the Congress and executive agencies sorting out such fights on their own.
“It has been messy. It has been contentious. It has been political … but it has worked,” he said.
Judge Jackson (who was appointed by Obama) insisted the constitution called for three equal branches of government.
“You keep talking about the two [branches] as if the third one isn’t there,” she said.
The judge called the fight over whether the documents are subject to legal privilege — in this case executive privilege — the kind of “classic legal dispute that this court has to [resolve] all the time.”
The judge rightfully suggested that if she refused to enforce the subpoena what she would really be doing is “tilting” the playing field toward the executive.
“If I adopt that position, aren’t I putting my finger on the scale in this very political dispute you want me to stay out of?” she asked.
..House General Counsel Kerry Kircher complained that Holder was seeking “absolute and judicially un-reviewable authority to determine what executive branch documents are privileged as against Congress.”
Jackson didn’t rule today but she referred positively to a ruling in a similar case issued in 2008 where the court ordered George Bush to comply with House subpoenas for testimony and documents about the firing of nine U.S. attorneys.
U.S. District Court Judge John Bates, a Bush appointee, ruled that he had authority to consider the issue and that White House advisers were not immune from appearing in response to the congressional subpoenas. However, the Bush administration appealed. Bush’s term finished and he was out of office while the appeal was pending. The dispute was soon resolved, so the D.C. Circuit dismissed the appeal without resolving whether Bates was right or wrong.The fight Wednesday left the Obama administration with some strange bedfellows. Jackson noted that the current administration’s arguments tracked closely with those made by the Bush administration five years ago.
This ruling is about more than finding out the truth about Fast and Furious. If the Judge rules the Administration has to comply with the subpoena (and it seems that she is leaning that way) she would be telling this President that he is not above the law, just as the Judge in Texas ruled yesterday. That would be two victories for Justice and the Constitution in two days.
A court fight over documentation of the Fast and Furious scandal, where the U.S. government trafficked weapons to drug dealers in Mexico, is just ratcheting up now.
But Katie Pavlich, author of the New York Times bestseller “Fast and Furious: Barack Obama’s Bloodiest Scandal and the Shameless Cover-Up,” news editor of Townhall.com and an expert on the Fast and Furious scandal, says the documents will be “damning” for Attorney General Eric Holder, and possibly even President Obama.
She said both politicians should be concerned “based on the evidence that Attorney General Eric Holder chang[ed] his testimony multiple times under oath in front of Congress.”
“I think these documents are pretty damning to him,” she told WND in an exclusive interview.
It was reported just last month that a federal judge has ordered the House Oversight Committee and Holder to work with a mediator in their battle over the paperwork from the Fast and Furious scandal.
The 2009 exposure of Fast and Furious by whistleblowers revealed the government’s deliberate decision to sell guns to prohibited buyers and allow them to be taken to drug cartel operations in Mexico.
Read Pavlich’s comments about the government’s false flag operation against gun dealers as well as how the government retaliated against the whistleblowers who revealed the scandal.
Pavlich earlier revealed how the government, when the operation blew up, decided to attack and retaliate against the whistleblowers who brought to the public’s attention the misbehavior.
She also explained earlier to WND how the goal of the operation was to create a false flag situation that the Obama administration could use to lobby for more gun control.
It was U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson who outlined the mediation plan, and a new status report will be due April 22. If no settlement is reached, a hearing will be held April 24 for the lawsuit by Congress against Holder over his decision to withhold tens of thousands of documents on the issue.
But Pavlich cites the timing and manner of how Obama decided to assert executive privilege over the documents – a move made only 15 minutes before a congressional contempt vote on Holder over the documentation.
“There is plenty of evidence that shows that they are liable,” Pavlich said. “These documents will show much more White House involvement.”
“The fact is there are at least 200,000 documents related to Fast and Furious,” said Pavlich, with “70,000 documents requested by the oversight committee and only 7,000 have been released. Many of which are completely blacked out.”
Pavlich said there is the possibility that not all of the documents related to Operation Fast and Furious will be released. There are certain situations when the justice system can keep information from the American people, she said.
She said the Department of Justice first stonewalled the documents, then released some following a court order, but the case now is “exactly where the Justice Department wants it to be, wrapped up in the court system.”
Pavlich does not expect the documents to be released at any time soon, as “there is no reason why they wouldn’t want” to delay release until after Obama leaves office. “They are going to delay it as long as possible.”
She said there are a number of repercussions possible, but “the next move” should be “to arrest Eric Holder on the Senate or House floor.”
Holder has defended his refusal to release the documents by saying the release could interfere with other investigations that the Justice Department is currently conducting.
This refusal to turn over all documents requested in a subpoena in 2012 has led to Holder being held in contempt in a bi-partisan vote.
The Office of the Inspector General earlier cleared Holder, but found fault with several other senior officials. One of the key reasons was that the IG said he found Holder “did not learn about Operation Fast and Furious until late January or early February of 2011 and was not aware of allegations of ‘gun walking’ in the investigation until February.”
However, there have been allegations he – and possibly Obama – knew much more, and much earlier, than they have admitted.
The BATF lost track of about 2,000 guns in Fast and Furious, two of which were linked to the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010.
In another related lawsuit, Holder actually has asked the federal court to delay production of the documents indefinitely.
The case was brought by Washington watchdog Judicial Watch, and Holder responded with a motion to stay the case, which essentially would suspend action indefinitely.
“It is beyond ironic that the Obama administration has initiated an anti-gun violence push as it seeking to keep secret key documents about its very own Fast and Furious gun walking scandal,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Getting beyond the Obama administration’s smokescreen, this lawsuit is about a very simple principle: the public’s right to know the full truth about an egregious political scandal that led to the death of at least one American and countless others in Mexico. The American people are sick and tired of the Obama administration trying to rewrite FOIA law to protect this president and his appointees. Americans want answers about Fast and Furious killings and lies.”
While Congress had found Holder in both civil and criminal contempt, the U.S. attorney for D.C., Ronald Machen, chose to ignore the congressional resolution that would require him to bring charges.
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2013/04/author-documents-damning-for-holder/#FMRQ4Y12lpEShJc4.99
by Dave Gibson
On Sept. 29, 2011, Rep. Edolphous Towns (D-NY) introduced the Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2011. That bill would have allowed Obama, as well as any future commander-in-chief to permanently seal any and all records pertaining to his presidency upon leaving office.
Under the proposed legislation, the Archivist of the United States would have been required to notify the former president, of any plans to make his records available for public inspection. If the president objected, they could not legally be made public.
View slideshow: Did Congressman Towns try to bury the facts about Fast and Furious forever?
The bill died in committee, but the legislation itself, though outrageous is not the big story here…
Congressman Towns is a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Affairs, the same committee which investigated the Obama administration’s role in Operation Fast and Furious and voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt.
What did he know and when did he know it?
Photo credit: Getty Images
Furthermore, all of the bill’s co-sponsors (Rep. Cummings (MD), Rep. Maloney (NY), Rep. Norton (DC), Rep. Kucinich (OH), Rep. Tierney (MA), Rep. Clay (MO), Rep. Lynch (MA), Rep. Cooper (TN), Rep. Connolly (VA), Rep. Quigley (IL), Rep. Davis (IL), Rep. Braley (IA), Rep. Welch (VT), Rep. Yarmuth (KY), Rep. Murphy (CT) and Rep. Speier (CA)), along with Rep. Towns, make up the entire Democratic membership of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Affairs.
This, combined with the fact that the bulk of testimony from ATF whistle blowers was heard by the committee before this bill was introduced is not only troubling, but suggests that President Obama himself, along with Eric Holder may have directed the disastrous program known as Fast and Furious which put thousands of weapons into the hands of the Mexican drug cartels.
As committee members, all of the bill’s sponsors now have direct knowledge of both Holder’s and Obama’s involvement, or the lack thereof, in the gun-running scheme.
So, if neither Holder, nor Obama knew of the program, as these Congressional Democrats repeatedly claimed throughout Holder’s contempt hearings…Why then, would all of them feel the need to enact unprecedented secrecy of Obama’s presidential records?
To date, not one media outlet has explored nor even mentioned this attempted abuse of power.
By Richard A. Serrano
WASHINGTON — Republican congressional investigators have concluded that five senior ATF officials — from the special agent-in-charge of the Phoenix field office to the top man in the bureau’s Washington headquarters — are collectively responsible for the failed Fast and Furious gun-tracking operation that was “marred by missteps, poor judgments and inherently reckless strategy.”
The investigators, in a final report likely to be released later this week, also unearthed new evidence that agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Phoenix initially sought to hide from the Mexican government the crucial information that two Fast and Furious firearms were recovered after the brother of a Mexican state attorney general was killed there.
According to a copy of the report obtained Monday by The Times, the investigators said their findings are “the best information available as of now” about the flawed gun operation that last month led to Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. being found in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over subpoenaed documents.
Two more final reports, they said, will deal with “the devastating failure of supervision and leadership” at the Department of Justice and an “unprecedented obstruction of the [congressional] investigation by the highest levels of the Justice Department, including the attorney general himself.”
The first report did allege some Justice Department involvement, however, notably that Kenneth E. Melson, then acting ATF director, was made into a “scapegoat” for Fast and Furious after he told congressional Republicans his Justice Department supervisors “were doing more damage control than anything” else once Fast and Furious became public.
“My view is that the whole matter of the department’s response in this case was a disaster,” Melson told the investigators.
Fast and Furious, which allowed some 2,500 illegal gun sales in Arizona with the hope that agents would track the weapons to Mexican drug cartels, began in fall 2009 and was halted after U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in December 2010. By then, most of the weapons had been lost, and two were recovered at the scene of his slaying.
The five ATF managers, since moved to other positions, have either defended Fast and Furious in congressional testimony or refused to discuss it. They could not be reached for comment Monday. At the Justice Department, senior officials, including Holder, have steadfastly maintained that Fast and Furious was confined to the Arizona border region and that Washington was never aware of the flawed tactics.
The joint staff report, authored by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, was highly critical of the ATF supervisors.
They found that William Newell, the special agent-in-charge in Phoenix, exhibited “repeatedly risky” management and “consistently pushed the envelope of permissible investigative techniques.” The report said “he had been reprimanded … before for crossing the line, but under a new administration and a new attorney general he reverted back to the use of risky gunwalking tactics.”
His boss, Deputy Assistant Director for Field Operations William McMahon, “rubber stamped critical documents that came across his desk without reading them,” the report alleged. “In McMahon’s view it was not his job to ask any questions about what was going on in the field.”
They added that McMahon gave “false testimony” to Congress about signing applications for wiretap intercepts in Fast and Furious.
His supervisor, Mark Chait, assistant director for field operations, “played a surprisingly passive role during the operation,” the report said. “He failed to provide oversight that his experience should have dictated and his position required.”
Above Chait was Deputy Director William Hoover, who the report said ordered an exit strategy to scuttle Fast and Furious but never followed through: “Hoover was derelict in his duty to ensure that public safety was not jeopardized.”
And they said Melson, a longtime career Justice official, “often stayed above the fray” instead of bringing Fast and Furious to an “end sooner.”
But, the investigators said, ATF agents said that they were hamstrung by federal prosecutors in Arizona from obtaining criminal charges for illegal gun sales, and that Melson “even offered to travel to Phoenix to write the indictments himself. Still, he never ordered it be shut down.”
In the November 2010 slaying in Mexico of Mario Gonzalez, the brother of Patricia Gonzalez, then attorney general for the state of Chihuahua, two of 16 weapons were traced back to Fast and Furious after they were recovered from a shootout with Mexican police.
But 10 days later, ATF Agent Tonya English urged Agent Hope MacAllister and their supervisor, David J. Voth, to keep it under wraps. “My thought is not to release any information,” she told them in an email.
When Patricia Gonzalez later learned that two of the guns had been illegally obtained under Fast and Furious, she was outraged. “The basic ineptitude of these officials [who ordered the Fast and Furious operation] caused the death of my brother and surely thousands more victims,” she said.
The following month, Agent Terry was killed south of Tucson. Voth emailed back, “Ugh … things will most likely get ugly.”
Media just now reporting on a clever move by Congressman Darrell Issa to enter into the public record a document that appears to contradict the entire Obama administration’s contention it knew little to nothing about the failed and deadly Fast and Furious operation – a SIGNED wiretap application by top DOJ officials no less. THIS COULD BE VERY BIG.
Mr. Issa contends the wiretap application contradicts Mr. Holder’s claim that nothing in there would have shown gunwalking was going on.
“The affidavit explicitly describes the most controversial tactic of all: abandoning surveillance of known straw purchasers, resulting in the failure to interdict arms,” Mr. Issa said in a letter he placed in the Congressional Record. It appears on pages H4409 through H4411 of Thursday’s official chronicle of its debates.
The information in the wiretap affidavit is sealed and was not supposed to be released in public, but Roll Call reported Friday that Mr. Issa was using constitutional protections for speech and debate in Congress to put the information before the public.
Read more in News
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An email seeking comment from the Justice Department wasn’t immediately returned Friday.
OBAMA DOJ ROCKED BY WIRETAP DOC
While the news comes forth that U. S. Attorney Ronald Machen will not prosecute Attorney General Eric Holder in regards to the House vote for contempt, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa dropped a bombshell into the Congressional Record.
The May 24 letter to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member on the panel, quotes from and describes in detail a secret wiretap application that has become a point of debate in the GOP’s “Fast and Furious” gun-walking probe.
The wiretap applications are under court seal, and releasing such information to the public would ordinarily be illegal. But Issa appears to be protected by the Speech or Debate Clause in the Constitution, which offers immunity for Congressional speech, especially on a chamber’s floor.
According to the letter, the wiretap applications contained a startling amount of detail about the operation, which would have tipped off anyone who read them closely about what tactics were being used.
Both Holder and Cummings claim that the wiretap applications were reviewed strictly for probable cause, not for whether they followed DOJ policy. They deny that the details that are affirmed in the letter to Cummings.
According to the letter, “The wiretap affidavit details that agents were well aware that large sums of money were being used to purchase a large number of firearms, many of which were flowing across the border.”
The application included the details of how many guns were purchased and how many had been recovered in Mexico.
It also described how ATF officials used surveillance to observe gun purchases by suspected straw purchases, but then ended the surveillance without prohibiting the buyer or confiscating the guns.
The application also detailed that though the alleged straw purchasers showed virtually no income in the previous year, they purchase $373,000 worth of guns in cash.
“Although ATF was aware of these facts, no one was arrested, and ATF failed to even approach the straw purchasers. Upon learning these details through its review of this wiretap affidavit, senior Justice Department officials had a duty to stop this operation. Further, failure to do so was a violation of Justice Department policy,” the letter reads.
While thousands of wiretaps are reviewed each year by the DOJ and the applications are written in such a way as to obtain approval.
The good thing in all of this is that Rep. Issa got the information in the record, which was a very clever move on his part.