By Mark Wachtler
March 25, 2012. Washington. (ONN) The deadly and illegal ATF Fast and Furious scandal just won’t go away. After almost a year of smoke screens and refusals to cooperate with Congress, the US Attorney General’s office has officially stopped providing details to Congress in their investigation of the operation that sold military weapons to Mexican drug cartels. Last year, the Dept of Justice admitted it had provided false testimony to Congress during questioning. Now, President Obama and Attorney General Holder have taken the unprecedented step of asserting their self-proclaimed authority over Congress.
The Fast & Furious trail of guns from the ATF to Mexican drug cartels. Image courtesy of publicintelligence.net.
Being an illegal, covert practice of supplying over a thousand military weapons to Mexican drug cartels, the ATF’s Fast and Furious program apparently had the approval of local US Attorneys. Since the death of a US border patrol agent with one of the guns supplied by the ATF to the cartels, Congress has launched investigations into both the ATF and the Justice Department.
In December, the Attorney General’s office officially admitted to providing false statements to Congress when being grilled for information over the ‘botched’ ATF gun-selling program. Read the Whiteout Press article, ‘DOJ admits to False Congressional Admissions’ for more information.
DOJ humiliated by details
Two days ago, details of Congress’ investigation into Fast and Furious leaked out and were reported in a number of media outlets including the Chicago Tribune. The findings appeared to paint the Justice Department in the most corrupt light possible. What was once an unbelievable suspicion that the US Justice Department was actually providing arms to the Mexican drug cartels, has suddenly become not only a proven fact, but one with layers of supporting documentation and cover-ups.
The information was released from part of a letter sent to US Attorney General Eric Holder by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA). According to the Chicago Tribune report, ‘The revelation that officials twice declined to arrest their prime suspect shows that agents were keenly aware of Celis-Acosta’s activities yet repeatedly turned down opportunities to charge him with felony offenses and bring a quick end to the Fast and Furious probe. Instead, the investigation dragged on for months more, with the loss of about 1,700 US firearms on both sides of the US-Mexico border’.
Not just once, but twice, Eric Holder’s Justice Dept had captured their stated number one prime target of the entire Fast and Furious operation. Unfortunately, the agency’s number one most wanted man had somehow been released both times, even while he possessed an illegal firearm, one of the same firearms sold during Fast and Furious. Critics wonder if Mr. Holder is afraid of what Manuel Celis-Acosta might testify to if ever brought to justice. In an operation that saw the ATF sell over a thousand military weapons to a Mexican drug cartel in the stated attempt to capture one man, to find that they captured him and let him go twice raises suspicion.
Another example of the seemingly damaging information slowly coming to light regarding the Fast and Furious operation is the experience of Uriel Patino. According to the Tribune account, Patino had purchased 434 weapons through Fast and Furious by March 2010. By the time the secret, covert gun-selling operation was cancelled, Patino had bought 720 firearms for his drug cartel from the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA)
No one is more suspicious than Senator Charles Grassley and his Senate staff. They have been meticulous in demanding answers from the Attorney General’s office regarding the secret Fast and Furious program. If America ever truly finds out what really happened, and how a US Border Patrolman and hundreds of innocent civilians died over it, it will be due to the Senator and his staff.
It’s for that reason that the Justice Dept announced it would no longer cooperate with the Senate’s investigation into the Fast and Furious operation. When media outlets printed the story of how the DOJ had captured and released their prime target, twice, all while making a fortune selling arms to Mexican drug cartels, the Justice Dept assumed it was obviously Senator Grassley’s office that was responsible for leaking the details of their investigation.
Justice Dept responds
In a letter to Rep. Issa and Sen. Grassley quoted by CNN, Assistant Attorney General Robert Welch wrote, “While we do not know who provided these letters to reporters, we are deeply disturbed that the sensitive law enforcement information contained in them has now entered the public realm. This public disclosure is impeding the department's efforts to hold individuals accountable for their illegal acts."
Grassley vs. Holder, Round 3
This isn’t the first time Senator Grassley’s staff has fought it out with the Justice Dept over their investigation. Four months ago, the Attorney General’s office was forced to admit that it had provided false testimony to Congress regarding Fast and Furious. Of course, they had no idea how or who provided the false testimony that in itself created a cover-up. In response, Congressmen demanded the DOJ turn over all emails, memos and other communications that show how the DOJ came to their final ‘false’ testimony.
In an obvious attempt to bring the investigation to an abrupt halt, or drag it out for years, the Attorney General’s office dumped 14,000 pages of documentation onto Sen. Grassley’s staff. Whether or not they ever find the smoking gun that implicates specific individuals with contempt of Congress, we still don’t know. But based on the current revelation that the DOJ had protected the stated number one target of Fast and Furious, not just once, but twice, it appears there may be more to the secret ATF program than previously feared.