Congressman Issa releases details of secret wiretap applications in Fast & Furious case
Let's put the points together.
1) Multiple gun dealers ordered to make gun sales that they didn't want to make, and they were order to make those sales precisely because the government believed that the people they were selling the guns to were Mexican drug gang members.
2) The government knew that these guys were taking guns to Mexico, but neither traced these guns nor told the Mexican government that the guns were being taken there.
3) That the government did not try to arrest these guys despite having wiretap evidence that they were taking the illegal guns to Mexico and that there were straw purchases.
4) That despite Holder's testimony on multiple occasions (one as recently as June 7, 2012) the wiretap applications that were sworn to before a federal judge did have explicit information on gun walking. Top political appointees at DOJ thus did know about the gun walking program at least in March 2010, months before Brian Terry was killed.
From Roll Call:
. . . 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.More information on Holder lying to Congress. CBS's Sharyl Attkisson has more information here:
Holder and Cummings have both maintained that the wiretap applications did not contain such details and that the applications were reviewed narrowly for probable cause, not for whether any investigatory tactics contained followed Justice Department policy.
The wiretap applications were signed by senior DOJ officials in the department’s criminal division, including Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco and another official who is now deceased. . . .
While Issa has since said he has obtained a number of wiretap applications, the letter only refers to one, from March 15, 2010. The full application is not included in what Issa entered into the Congressional Record, and names are obscured in Issa’s letter.
In the application, ATF agents included transcripts from a wiretap intercept from a previous Drug Enforcement Administration investigation that demonstrated the suspects were part of a gun-smuggling ring.
“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 letter says.
The application included details such as how many guns specific suspects had purchased via straw purchasers and how many of those guns had been recovered in Mexico.
It also described how ATF officials watched guns bought by suspected straw purchasers but then ended their surveillance without interdicting the guns.
In at least one instance, the guns were recovered at a police stop at the U.S.-Mexico border the next day.
The application included financial details for four suspected straw purchasers . . . .
“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 says. . . .
. . . . The Justice Department approved the wiretap application on March 15, 2010. . . . The affidavit describes in detail how ATF agents had surveilled multiple suspected gun traffickers for Mexican drug cartels, but made no arrests or interdictions. Previously, Holder had testified that the wiretap application gave no hint of gunwalking.
"Contrary to the Attorney General's statements, the enclosed wiretap affidavit contains clear information that agents were willfully allowing known straw buyers to acquire firearms for drug cartels and failing to interdict them-in some cases even allowing them to walk to Mexico. In particular, the affidavit explicitly describes the most controversial tactic of all: abandoning surveillance of known straw purchasers, resulting in the failure to interdict firearms," says Issa. . . .
But the former head of ATF, Kenneth Melson, appeared to support the Republican position on the wiretaps when he testified to Congressional investigators on July 4, 2011. Melson said that he read through the Fast and Furious wiretap applications after the scandal broke publicly and "it was apparent to me that (ATF agents) were suggesting that there was probable cause to believe that this information-that these straw purchasers were taking guns across the border."
Melson says as a result, he cautioned his colleagues to distance from a Feb. 4, 2011 statement the Justice Department made to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) claiming there had been no gunwalking. . . . Melson testified, "and said, you know, you better back off, you better back...the statement in this letter, this Feb. 4 letter to Senator Grassley, because I don't believe we can say that in light of the information that our agent was swearing before a federal district court judge to get the wiretap."
The wiretap application disclosed that Fast and Furious suspects had already purchased nearly 1,000 firearms in Fast and Furious, that they had not been arrested, and that many of the weapons had already been recovered in criminal hands in Mexico. Nine months later, two weapons in the case were used in a shoot-out with illegal immigrants and the Border Patrol that ended in the death of Special Agent Brian Terry."The fact that ATF knew that Target 1 had acquired 852 firearms and had the present intent to move them to Mexico should have prompted (Justice) Department officials to act" back in March of 2010, says Issa in a letter detailing some of the wiretap affidavit contents. "Target 1's activities should have provoked an immediate response by the (Justice Department) Criminal Division to shut him and his network down."
However, Holder has repeatedly testified (03:22) the wiretap affidavits gave no hint of gunwalking. Most recently on June 7, 2012, Holder testified, "There is nothing in those affidavits as I've reviewed them that indicates that gunwalking was allowed. That's--let's get to the bottom line and so I didn't see anything in there that would put on notice a person who was reviewing either at the line level or at the Deputy Assistant Attorney General level you would have knowledge of the fact that these inappropriate tactics were being used.". . . .