First update on the civil suit against the Justice Department, from UT San Diego:
WASHINGTON — A federal judge seemed skeptical Wednesday of the Justice Department’s bid to dismiss a congressional lawsuit seeking records related to Operation Fast and Furious, a bungled federal gun-tracking operation in Arizona.
It was not a gun-tracking operation. It was not bungled. It did exactly what it was set out to do, it sent guns to Mexican narcoterrorist cartels, and it forced US gun stores to sell to people who should never have gotten guns. There was no tracking involved, as whistleblower John Dodson stated – they were not allowed to track guns sent south, and they were intended to be recovered at crime scenes. People buying guns included felons who could not have passed NICS background checks, except that the government gave them permission to buy guns by letting them pass background checks.
When asked about the breakdown, Stephen Fischer, a spokesman for the NICS System, said the FBI had no comment. However, an ATF agent who worked on the Fast and Furious investigation, told Fox News that NICS officials called the ATF in Phoenix whenever their suspects tried to buy a gun. That conversation typically led to a green light for the buyers, when it should have stopped them.
From the UD SD story again, the judge is at least doing her job:
Judge Amy Berman Jackson sharply challenged the department’s claim that federal courts have no jurisdiction in the dispute. Department lawyer Ian Gershengorn said the battle over the documents should be resolved by the checks and balances between the legislative and executive branches.
“I’m a check and balance,” countered Jackson, an appointee of President Barack Obama. “The third branch exists.”
Well, she seems better than other Obama appointments. And she seems to understand that there has been no “check and balance” when the Department of Justice and the president have simply claimed executive privilege and hushed everything up – which is the reason for the lawsuit. She is seeing things up close, so she probably has to acknowledge what’s going on. She’s being presented with information directly, and can’t just ignore things like the media does.
To some degree, this is also a story of how the media not only gets it wrong, but how the media is carrying water for Obama.
The department has turned over thousands of pages of material on the operation itself. The continuing dispute is over documents describing how the department responded once Congress started investigating.
That’s what the Justice Department sent as “documents”. Page after page after page.
Gershengorn said that if the suit were dismissed, Congress had other powers at its disposal, such as the power of the purse. He said that negotiations and accommodation between the House and the executive branch are messy and contentious, but that the system allows for accountability with voters.
That is absurd, insulting, and the kind of thing that would get Sam Adams heating up the tar and sending somebody to get feathers. The DOJ is hushing up a the murder of two federal agents and hundreds of mexican citizens, hushing up their program that is the kind of violent criminal conspiracy that would make headlines for years if it were done by organized crime, but instead, is hushed up because the media simply refuses to report it, and refuses to report the truth because they love their great leader.
Saying that Congress can simply use “the power of the purse” to reduce budgets for departments is absurd. No one is held accountable for this:
People need to go to prison, not have their department funding meddled with. The DOJ lawyer Gershengorn should be with them as an accomplice after the fact to murders.
House lawyer Kerry Kircher called the notion that there haven’t been meaningful negotiations and accommodations “preposterous.”
“We’ve been negotiating for four months,” Kircher said.
He also said the House was at a disadvantage.
“This is an asymmetrical relationship here,” Kircher said. “They have the documents. We don’t have the documents.”
As to Congress’ powers, such as reducing spending for the executive branch, he said, “All that means is they get less money” – not that the committee gets the documents.
Presented with this kind of thing, I’d like to say the judge won’t just rule in favor of who appointed her, but there’s little telling.
David Codrea at Examiner.com has some info on “Guns Across the Border“, a book that tells the story of Operation Wide Receiver.
“Operation Wide Receiver,” a precursor to “Operation Fast and Furious” wherein U.S. guns were bought by straw purchasers and “walked” under the noses of ATF investigators into Mexico, has been the subject of numerous Gun Rights Examiner reports. The central figure in those reports was Mike Detty, a gun writer, a firearms dealer, and the confidential informant who literally risked his life over the course of years to do what he believed was right, only to find the obvious criminals weren’t the only ones he couldn’t trust.
Operation Wide receiver really was a botched sting. The ATF in Mexico knew that guns were coming, the Mexican authorities knew guns were coming. The smugglers turned out to be good at smuggling and got a lot of guns past both US and Mexican authorities through a variety of tactics. Smugglers are good at smuggling? Who’da thunk it?
Fast and Furious, by contrast, was not a botched sting. The ATF in Mexico (ATF attache Darren Gil) and the Mexican authorities had no idea guns were coming, and the purpose was to find guns at murder scenes in Mexico, about which ATF supervisors were “almost giddy”.
Wide Receiver sought to track and interdict guns being smuggled south using a combination of RFID-tracking devices embedded in the shipments and overheard surveillance aircraft. Wide Receiver failed because of the limitations of the technology used, compounded by the ineptness of its installation and the unexpected resourcefulness of the cartel’s gun smugglers.
As a result of the mistakes made in Wide Receiver, guns were lost: approximately 450 made it into Mexico. As a result, the botched operation launched in 2006 — and in this instance, actually botched — was shut down in 2007.
Compare the mistakes of Wide Receiver to the operations launched under Eric Holder’s Department of Justice, which had the advantages of learning from the postmortem failures of Wide Receiver two years before.
Fast and Furious used neither tracking devices nor aircraft, ran interference for smugglers with local law enforcement on multiple occasions, and federal agents were not allowed to interdict weapons.
Wide Receiver shut down within a year after 450 weapons went missing in a botched law enforcement operation. Fast and Furious purposefully ran at least 2,020 weapons to the Sinaloa cartel without any intention of arresting the straw purchasers and smugglers. Other operations in other states — CBS News’ Attkisson cites allegations of “at least 10 cities in five states” — allow the possibility that (if the other operations were as prolific as Fast and Furious) Holder’s Department of Justice may have intentionally sent more than 12,000 guns into criminal hands in the U.S and Mexico, enough to arm three U.S. Army brigades.
Law enforcement operations sometimes go horribly wrong, and every indication is that Operation Wide Receiver executed by the ATF during the Bush administration while Alberto Gonzales was the attorney general was a “keystone cops” operation of the first magnitude. It was a horrible failure.
But Fast and Furious was no accident.