Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Republicans on a Witch Hunt against Attorney General Eric Holder

The Republicans are at it again. They are attacking Eric Holder and threatening him saying unless he resigns they will bring a formal "contempt" vote against him.
I decided to study the "Fast and Furious" program the Republicans are so up in arms about. After my studies, I am very concerned that the Press hasn't shared very much about the actual issues. The news stories suggest this is a recent issue about the "Fast and Furious" program and some type of cover up perpetrated by the Attorney General. However, this is totally wrong. Here is what I found out.
The reality is, this issue is actually about the decade long Drug War in Mexico, the weapons the US and other countries are sending to the Cartels that are fueling the War, and the ATF's mission to identify the Leaders in the Gun Running Operations. The ATF's mission is actually called "Operation Gun Runner" and started in 2005 during the Bush Administration. Operation Gun Runner used a new software search program called "eTrace" which enables identification of the weapon's original owners.  The ATF's mission was noble. They wanted to stem the flow of the weapons by identifying the Gun Running Leaders. They started a new program titled "Fast and Furious" in early 2009 because one of the key targets worked out of a Chop Shop -- similar to the popular movie. As the program progressed, some local ATFs became frustrated because they didn't believe the program was going fast enough or enabling them to identify the higher ups in the Gun Running operations. They were able to reach the lower levels, not the Leaders.  One local group in Phoenix led by ATF Special Agent William Newell went rogue. In late 2009, he started using a procedure called "Gun-Walking."
We've all heard of "stings." Gun-Walking is a type of sting. The ATF group in Phoenix utilized certain Gun Shops to sell ATF weapons and they watched the bad-guys purchase the guns so they could follow them and identify their leaders. This was not standard procedure. They were supposed to arrest the buyers and not allow the guns out of their sights. Newell wanted to follow the guns to their leaders. He was successful in some cases and arrested a few leaders. He allowed these procedures to continue. While some arrests were made, they lost track of many of the weapons. In total, 2020 firearms were "Gun-Walked" and the vast majority were from Agent Newell's group.  While these 2020 firearms are but a small fraction of the weapons shipped to the cartels in Mexico, not all of these weapons have been recovered and one of these weapons was identified in the death of a border agent shot in 2010, about a year after Newell initiated the "Gun-Walking" project.
After the agent was killed, a whistle blower agent wrote to Sen.Grassley to report what happened. Grassley, on the Judiciary Committee contacted Darryl Issa who initiated an investigation who then began the Congressional Hearings.
Agent Newell testified about this before Congress last July, 2011. The NY Times wrote about his testimony here. Agent Newell was under oath as he testified to what happened as were many of his associates.

Though Issa and Grassley know what occurred, for political reasons, they are continuing this Witch Hunt against Attorney General Eric Holder. Even though AG Holder has provided over 7,000 documents, they are demanding more. They've even asked for the names of confidential informants and evidence for future arrest cases of those arrested.
As Issa and Grassley continue to attack AG Holder. Here is what they are forgetting:
1. Project Gunrunner started in 2005, under George Bush
2. The "Gun-Walking" aspect they disagree with occurred in one location by one lead agent
3. The ATF's main objective: Stop the Gun Running to the Cartels in Mexico. Root out the Leaders of the Gun Runners.
4. The Bad Guy shot the gun that shot the agent, not one of the ATF agents. And the gun was one of a huge number of assault weapons carried by those that shot him.

Unfortunately Issa and Grassley and Republicans continue to pander to their Political Benefactors - the NRA and the 1%. They would like to dissolve the ATF. Many may even wonder if they would like to see the expansion of more guns/arms selling.

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