Tag Archives: investigation

Questions Arise In Obama Administration’s Choice of IRS Investigator

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IRS Needs Strong Systematic Investigation, Not Biased Appointee

CHICAGO, Jan. 15, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ — The Obama Administration has selected Barbara Bosserman, a trial attorney with the Department of Justice, to investigate the IRS harassment of pro-life and Tea Party organizations, uncovered in the spring of 2013. Bosserman personally donated nearly $7,000 to Obama’s presidential campaigns and the Democratic National Committee. Thomas More Society, an organization that helped expose IRS officials’ harassment of pro-life groups, thinks that Obama’s move is not in the best interest of resolving this serious issue.

“We are glad that the president has taken the initiative to conduct an investigation of the IRS for its harassment of pro-life and conservative organizations,” said Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel of the Thomas More Society. “However, we find it very disconcerting that the president has chosen someone so deeply entrenched in Democratic Party politics to spearhead the investigation. This does not have the flavor of an unbiased approach to handling a serious scandal that took place within a government office. Wouldn’t it be better for the president to select an individual without a partisan history, or a bipartisan committee, to conduct this investigation?”

Thomas More Society provided evidence for the initial investigation into the IRS scandal by the House Committee on Ways and Means. At the request of Congressman Aaron Schock, the Thomas More Society drafted two Congressional memos totaling over 500 pages of analysis and evidence about the harassment. These memos were presented before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means at a plenary investigative hearing in June.

The following links record the Thomas More Society exposure of the IRS pro-life discrimination scandal:

Congressman Issa Responds To Obama’s Remarks On Benghazi Whistleblowers

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Immediately after President Obama stated that he had no knowledge of efforts to block whistleblowers from telling their stories in regard to the Benghazi attack, Congressman and Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee , Darrell Issa ( R-CA) issued the following statement:

“A lawyer for Benghazi whistleblowers has publicly stated that the State Department is blocking her client’s ability to talk freely with counsel. Over the past two weeks, I have sent four letters requesting that this Administration make information available about how lawyers – who already have security clearances and are representing Benghazi whistleblowers – can be cleared to fully hear their clients’ stories. I have yet to receive any response from the Obama Administration.”

“Even if the President really doesn’t know anything about someone wanting to come forward, his position should be that whistleblowers deserve protection and that anyone who has different information about Benghazi is free to come forward to Congress. The President’s unwillingness to commit himself to protecting whistleblowers only aids those in his Administration who are intimidating them,” Issa Said.

Congressman Issa has presented four letters to the Administration requesting that information be made available to whistleblower’s attorneys in the Benghazi case.

Please visit the Committee’s site at http://oversight.house.gov/ for more information and to show support for Congressman Issa’s demand for answers in the ongoing Benghazi investigation.

Tuesday, November 8: Eric Holder To Be In The "Fast & Furious" Hot Seat Again

Attorney General Eric Holder is scheduled to appear again before a congressional committee to answer questions regarding the ongoing Fast and Furious investigation. He has not testified in the investigative hearings since May, when he testified under oath that he had only known about the anti-gunrunning program “a few weeks” before. However, a U.S. Senator told Mr. Holder about the operation a few months before he testified.

The National Rifle Association and 34 House members, including Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Darrel Issa (R-CA), have called for Eric Holder’s resignation. Sources say that there are other lawmakers who want Holder to resign, and it is expected that they could possibly add their voices to the call for his resignation after his testimony.

Tuesday proceedings are intended to find out what Eric Holder knew and when he knew about the gun smuggling operation that has spiraled completely out of control.

Holder’s testimony is expected to start at about 10am ET. To view the proceedings live, go HERE.

Operation Fast and Furious – Update

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.”

The More We Dig Into “Fast and Furious,” The More We Find

History of “Fast and Furious”

In 2009, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) office in Phoenix, Arizona, sold weapons to gun buyers, hoping to track them to weapons buyers traffickers along the southwestern border and into Mexico. This operation has become known as “Fast and Furious,” a.k.a. “gun walker.” Their efforts failed. The number of unaccounted for weapons was about 1,500, with about two-thirds of those guns going to Mexico.

This misguided operation had serious consequences. On December 15, 2010, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was shot and killed during an effort to catch several bad guys targeting illegal immigrants in Arizona. When law enforcement came to the scene, they discovered two of the killers’ assault rifles were among those sold as part of Operation Fast and Furious. Operation Fast and Furious was shut down after Terry’s murder. Two weapons involved in Fast and Furious were found at the site of Terry’s murder. Additionally, Fifty seven Fast and Furious weapons have been connected to at least an additional eleven violent crimes in the U.S. Forty two weapons were seized from two crime scenes in El Paso, Texas, alone.

In December 2010, ATF agent Vince Cefalu said, “Simply put, we knowingly let hundreds of guns and dozens of identified bad guys go across the border.” Other agents later came forward, congressional hearings were held, and President Barack Obama called the operation “a serious mistake.” Cefalu was forced to resign. On August 30, 2011, more Fast and Furious related personnel changes occurred when the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that Kenneth Melson, the acting head of the ATF who presided over the operation, was replaced and transferred to the Office of Legal Policy.

Kenneth Melson resigned as head of ATF the Department of Justice announced August 30, 2011. He will be replaced by B. Todd Jones, a federal prosecutor in Minnesota. The White House is still hoping to get Senate confirmation for Andrew Traver, head of the ATF in Chicago. Then, on the same day, U.S. Attorney for Arizona, Dennis Burke, who oversaw the legal aspects of the Fast and Furious operation and provided advice to agents involved, announced his resignation. Emory Hurley, the lead prosecutor for Operation Fast and Furious cases in Burke’s office, was reassigned.

Fast and Furious is technically legal under ATF rules because the agents were not directly supplying guns to the cartels. ATF agents in Phoenix implemented the operation, naming it Operation Fast and Furious because most of straw buyers worked at auto shops, like Vin Diesel’s character in the 2001 movie, The Fast and the Furious. According to ATF in January 2010, ATF agents worked with the Phoenix DEA and the U.S. prosecutors in Arizona on the investigations. In some cases, ATF agents even used DOJ-funded wire tapping to track the guns.

Arizona US Attorney Dennis Burke Resigns

Arizona US Attorney Dennis Burke, whose office was heavily involved in the Fast and Furious operation, resigned yesterday (August 30, 2011). Burke said his resignation would be effective immediately. Said Burke, “it is the right time to move on to pursue other aspects of my career and my life and allow the office to move ahead.” His resignation comes two weeks after his testimony about Fast and Furious before Issa’s committee. “I get to stand up when we have a great case to announce and take all the credit for it regardless of how much work I did on it,” Burke said. “So, when our office makes mistakes, I need to take responsibility, and this is a case, as reflected by the work of this investigation, it should not have been done the way it was done, and I want to take responsibility for that, and I’m not falling on a sword or trying to cover for anyone else.” Issa’s office said Burke’s resignation does not excuse him from his promise of future testimony. “The committee still expects him to honor his commitment,” committee spokesman Frederick Hill said.

Darrell Issa’s and Charles Grassley’s Investigation

The gunrunning operation is now the subject of a Congressional investigation, led by U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), to identify who in the DOJ was responsible for or knew about the sting. Issa and Grassley have made it clear that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder – a confidant of President Barack Obama – is a central focus of their investigation. So far, the DOJ has ignored the Issa/Grassley investigation. But recent testimony from ATF director Kenneth Melson claimed that the cartel leaders targeted by Fast and Furious were allegedly paid informants for the DEA and the FBI. If true, the allegations could harm the credibility of the entire Justice Department.

Issa said in a statement that “the reckless disregard for safety that took place in Operation Fast and Furious certainly merits changes.” He said his committee will pursue its investigation to ensure that “blame isn’t offloaded on just a few individuals for a matter that involved much higher levels of the Justice Department.” Grassley, whose investigation brought problems with Operation Fast and Furious to light, called for a full accounting from the Justice Department as to “who knew what and when, so we can be sure that this ill-advised strategy never happens again.”

Issa released emails at the outset of his hearing on the Justice Department’s Operation Fast and Furious, showing two high-ranking officials were “briefed weekly” on the investigative strategy. The emails are the most direct evidence yet of involvement in the operation by top Justice Department officials, and make it unlikely such officials were ignorant about the details of the operation when the Justice Department initially denied assault guns were knowingly allowed to go into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

Four ATF agents, in transcribed interviews with Issa’s office, are contradicting the Justice Department’s account of Operation Fast and Furious, saying hundreds of weapons – including assault rifles and military-grade sniper weapons – were allowed to escape into the clutches of Mexican drug cartels in a reckless investigative strategy. Their testimony raises the question of whether Ronald Weich, a deputy to Attorney General Eric Holder, lied to congressional investigators in a February 4, 2011, letter denying the allegations. Grassley said he had no proof whether AG Eric Holder or President Barack Obama were told about the existence of Fast and Furious. Said Grassley, “This is all the purpose of our oversight: number one, to make sure things like this don’t happen again, and number two, to make sure that whoever was involved in this is held responsible.”

Issa also said he is certain the Fast and Furious operation was known by most top officials at the Justice Department and that AG Eric Holder either knew and misled Congress, or was so out of the loop that he’s guilty of mismanagement. “How is it that the No. 2, 3, 4 at Justice all knew about this program, but the No. 1 didn’t?,” Issa said. “Is it because he said ‘don’t tell me’? Is it because they knew what they were doing is wrong, and they were protecting their boss? Or is it that Eric Holder is just so disconnected … ?” “Whichever it is – he knew and he’s lied to Congress, or he didn’t know, and he’s so detached that he wasn’t doing his job – that really probably is for the administration to make a decision on, sooner not later,” Issa said.

The Obama administration sought to intimidate witnesses into not testifying to Congress on Tuesday about whether ATF knowingly allowed weapons, including assault rifles, to be “walked” into Mexico. Darrell Issa said at least two scheduled witnesses expected to be asked about a controversial weapons investigation received warning letters from ATF to limit their testimony.

Congressional investigators say acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson told them documents he reviewed convinced him reports about gunwalking were true. Melson told investigators when he reviewed documents relating to one specific case, he found what he called “a smoking gun.” According to a partial transcript of Melson’s testimony to Congressional investigators, “interdiction could have occurred, and probably should have occurred, but did not occur.”

Where Are Investigations Going?

“He [Melson] was part of the bad judgment. And when I say bad judgment, it wasn’t just him,” Issa said. “They had to go to Justice to get money, to get FBI agents, all of the other people that helped coordinate this, and to get the wiretaps they used. This was a program so stupid from the start.”

Former El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) director Phil Jordan thinks this scandal goes as high as Attorney General Eric Holder. From his decades of law enforcement experience working with Washington-based Justice Department officials, Jordan said he’s sure this kind of program would have needed approval from either the Attorney General or one of his direct deputies. The revelations about Operation Fast and Furious keep getting worse. The Obama administration needs to start showing some accountability and providing answers. Which officials knew about the program and its failures is still a big question. President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have denied knowledge of Operation Fast and Furious before this spring, and no one at the Justice Department – the ATF’s parent agency – has acknowledged a role in authorizing or running the program. Yet Operation Fast and Furious didn’t materialize out of nowhere. In the latest round of congressional hearings on the gun sting gone wrong, agents of ATF posted to Mexico City testified that they pleaded with their superiors in Washington to end the operation. “Hey, when are they going to shut this, to put it bluntly, damn investigation down?”

Investigations into a gunrunning sting gone wrong are getting closer to the top of the U.S. Justice Department and its head, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. A congressional report released last month revealed that top DOJ officials knew about Operation Fast and Furious. “The Oversight and Government Reform Committee will continue its investigation to ensure that blame isn’t offloaded on just a few individuals for a matter that involved much higher levels of the Justice Department,” said Issa. “There are still many questions to be answered about what happened in Operation Fast and Furious and who else bears responsibility.”

Who Knew What When?

In June, 2011, President Obama said in a press conference: “My Attorney General has made clear that he wouldn’t have ordered gun running into Mexico. . . That would not be an appropriate step by the ATF.” He then deflected further questions, citing an “ongoing investigation.” Press secretary Jay Carney said that the President “did not know about or authorize this operation.” But as Heritage.org’s Rory Cooper wrote, “If that’s the case, how could neither he nor Attorney General Eric Holder not know about an operation that everyone else at the Department of Justice seemed to be actively involved in, including the Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Attorney and head of the ATF?” Obama should take this seriously. And so should the American people. The ATF sold guns to criminals in Mexico, a life has been taken, and crimes have been committed with the weapons that were trafficked by the federal government. And yet questions remain under the Administration that called itself “the most transparent in history.”

The more I dig into it, the more I learn. As the old saying goes, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

But that’s just my opinion.