Operation Fast and Furious – Update
September 2, 2011: Newly obtained emails show that the White House was better informed about a failed gun-tracking operation on the border with Mexico than was previously known. Three White House national security officials were given some details about the operation, known as Fast and Furious. Background information on Operation Fast and Furious can be found here. The three White House officials who were briefed were Kevin M. O’Reilly, director of North American Affairs for the White House national security staff; Dan Restrepo, the president’s senior Latin American advisor; and Greg Gatjanis, a White House national security official.
The emails were sent between July 2010 and February of this year, before it was disclosed that agents had lost track of hundreds of guns. The supervisor of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) operation in Phoenix specifically mentioned Fast and Furious in at least one email to a White House national security official, and two other White House colleagues were briefed on reports from the supervisor, according to White House emails and a senior administration official.
Just hours after the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, federal officials tried to cover up evidence that the gun that killed Terry was one the government intentionally helped sell to the Mexican cartels in a weapons trafficking program known as Operation Fast and Furious. The revelation comes just days after a huge shake-up of government officials who oversaw the failed anti-gun trafficking program – AG Eric Holder is shifting people around the DOJ. Meanwhile, Congress renewed its demand for more answers. In an internal email the day after Terry’s murder, Assistant U.S. Attorney Emory Hurley (who has been reassigned) and U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke (who has resigned) decided not to disclose the connection to the Terry murder, saying “this way we do not divulge our current case or the Border Patrol shooting case.”
Late Thursday (September 1, 2011), Senator Charles Grassley’s office revealed that 21 more Fast and Furious guns have been found at violent crime scenes in Mexico. That is up from 11 the agency admitted just last month. “The Justice Department has been less than forthcoming since day one, so the revisions here are hardly surprising, and the numbers will likely rise until the more than 1,000 guns that were allowed to fall into the hands of bad guys are recovered – most likely years down the road,” Grassley said.
White House Still Denies Involvement
A senior Obama administration official said the emails, obtained Thursday, did not prove that anyone in the White House was aware of the covert “investigative tactics” of the operation. “The emails validate what has been said previously, which is no one at the White House knew about the investigative tactics being used in the operation, let alone any decision to let guns walk,” said the official. “To the extent that some [national security staff members] were briefed on the top lines of ongoing federal efforts, so were members of Congress.”