By: Amy Lutz
In December 2010, a firefight broke out between Mexican drug runners and US Border Patrol Agents in Arizona. During the battle, Agent Brian Terry was shot and killed. Soon after the deadly skirmish, authorities determined that the drug runners had received two of the rifles utilized in the battle through Operation Fast and Furious. This terrible “mistake” was the spark that set the powder keg of controversy over the operation ablaze. Representative Darrell Issa utilized the newly Republican-controlled House to launch an investigation on Operation Fast and Furious earlier this year. The investigation is on-going, but amid the cloudy landscape of a possible cover-up, one revelation stands out. According to the Attorney General of Mexico, 200 murders have occurred in his country because of Operation Fast and Furious and 11 killings in the United States have similar ties.
As the hearings on Capitol Hill continue, one question remains unanswered: Who knew and when? How far up the governmental hierarchy did this information travel? Well, according to the evidence released thus far, many powerful figures in the Federal Government were well aware of the program and did little, if anything, to halt it’s dangerous progression. On October 26, 2009, right after Group VII became Operation Fast and Furious, 13 ATF officials gathered together over a conference call. The issue discussed was the “possible adoption of the Department’s strategy for combating Mexican drug cartels.” Since Operation Fast and Furious had begun a mere month before the call, it is unlikely that the plan was not discussed. Kenneth Melsen, the Director of the ATF at the time was on the call. The current Director, B. Todd Jones, was not listed by name, but his title at the time “Chair of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee” was listed as being on the call, so it is very likely that he took part as well. Additionally, according to an email from George T. Gillet, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix office, the Acting Director and Acting Deputy Director of the ATF were being briefed weekly on the progress of Operation Fast and Furious. The upward trajectory of knowledge does not stop there, however. According to documents released within the past week, Attorney General Eric Holder may have known more than he originally let on. Holder claimed on May 3rd that he had heard about the Operation “for the first time over the last few weeks,” yet according to a 2010 memo, that appears to be less than true. Michael Walther, Director of the National Drug Intelligence Center, informed Holder that the straw purchasers linked to Operation Fast and Furious “are responsible for the purchase of 1,500 firearms that were then supplied to the Mexican drug trafficking cartels.” Now, based upon my comments in previous blog posts, it’s clear that I do not believe our Attorney General to be qualified for his position. This recent evidence does nothing but solidify my position on the issue.
Stay tuned for America's Car Crash Part 3: More than a Serious Mistake