Posts Tagged ‘Fast and Furious’

Obama Contributor, Who Helped Enact Assault-Weapons Ban, Ran ‘Fast and Furious’

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Original Story Via:  CNS News | Fred Lucas

Dennis K. Burke, who as a lawyer for the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee in the 1990s was a key player behind the enactment of the 1994 assault-weapons ban, and who then went on to become Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano’s chief of staff, and a contributor to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential primary campaign, and then a member of Obama’s transition team focusing on border-enforcement issues, ended up in the Obama administration as the U.S. attorney in Arizona responsible for overseeing Operation Fast and Furious.

When Obama nominated Burke to be U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, Burke told the Arizona Capitol Times he believed he understood what the president and his attorney general wanted him to do.

“There’s clearly been direction provided already by President Obama and Attorney General Holder as to what they want to be doing, and this is an office that is at the center of the issues of border enforcement,” said Burke.

Over the course of several days, left multiple telephone messages with Burke for comment on this story. He did not respond.

Dennis K. Burke has had a long career working as an aide and political appointee to Democratic elected officials. From 1989 to 1994, he was a counsel for the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, working in that capacity for several years on an assault-weapons ban, which was finally enacted on Sept. 13, 1994 as the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. That act expired on Sept. 13, 2004. (See NYT: Dennis Burke, Sen. DeConcini, Weapons Ban.pdf)

From 1994-95, Burke served in the Clinton Justice Department in the Office of Legislative Affairs, and in 1997-99, he was an assistant U.S. attorney in Arizona.

From 1999 to 2003, Burke was chief deputy and special assistant to Arizona Attorney General Janet Napolitano.

In 2003, when Napolitano became governor, Burke became her chief of staff. He stayed in that job until the fall of 2008, when he left to help Democratic political campaigns, including then-Sen. Obama’s presidential campaign.

Federal Election Commission (FEC) records show that on Jan. 9, 2008, while working as Gov. Napolitano’s chief of staff, Burke contributed $2,000 to then-Sen Obama’s presidential primary campaign. Since 1997, according to FEC records, Burke has contributed a total of $16,350 to various Democratic candidates.

After Obama was elected in November 2008, Burke joined his presidential transition team, serving on the Immigration Policy Working Group.

Eight days before Obama’s inauguration, on Jan. 12, 2009–while Burke was working on the transition team–Obama met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C. At that meeting, Obama “pledged” to take action to stop the flow of guns from the United States to Mexico.

Obama also decided to put Burke’s old boss, incoming Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, in a leadership role in making the gun-trafficking problem a top priority.

“President-elect Obama expressed support for efforts in the border states in both the United States and Mexico to eradicate drug-related violence and stop the flow of guns and cash,” incoming White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement at the time. “He told President Calderón that he intends to ask the Secretary of Homeland Security to lead an effort to increase information sharing to strengthen those efforts. He pledged to take more effective action from the United States to stem the flow of arms from the United States to Mexico.”

When Napolitano became Homeland Security secretary, Burke moved from the Obama transition team to become her senior adviser. On Feb. 25, 2009, a little more than a month after Obama had made his “pledge” to Calderon, Napolitano testified in the House Homeland Security Committee. She stressed that stopping the flow of guns to Mexico was a top priority of the Obama administration and key focus of her work.

Responding to a question about violence on the border, Napolitano said the administration was going to work with the Mexican government on the issue. Then she said: “Secondly, it is looking at, government-wide, at what we can do to stop the southbound export of weaponry, particularly assault-type weapons and grenades that are being used in that drug war.”

Napolitano further noted that drug cartels were targeting Mexican government officials and law enforcement officers, and that, given the seriousness of the threat, Obama’s national security adviser, the attorney general, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and Customs (of which the Border Patrol is part) would all be working on the issue.

“I’ve met with the attorney general of Mexico and the ambassador already,” said Napolitano during the February 2009 hearing. “One of the things that I particularly am focused on is southbound traffic in guns, particularly assault weapons, and cash that are being used to funnel and fund these very, very violent cartels.”

The same day Napolitano testified in the Homeland Security Committee, Attorney General Holder addressed the issue of drug-trafficking-related gun violence in northern Mexico. He said he had had conversations about the issue with the Mexican attorney general and that the Obama administration believed that re-instating the assault-weapons ban in the United States–the one Dennis Burke had initially helped push through as Senate aide in 1990s–would help the situation in Mexico.

“Well, as President Obama indicated during the campaign, there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons,” Holder said. “I think that will have a positive impact in Mexico, at a minimum.”

Four-and-a-half months later, on July 10, 2009, Obama nominated Burke to be the U.S. attorney in Arizona. The Senate confirmed Burke on Sept. 15 of that year.

It was in July 2010, after his nomination as U.S. attorney, that Burke told the Arizona Capitol Times that he had “been working on homeland security and border enforcement issues” during the transition, and that there had “clearly been direction provided already by President Obama and Attorney General Holder as to what they want to be doing.”

“What I hope to do, if confirmed by the Senate,” Burke told the paper, “is to ensure that those plans and strategies are being implemented and we’re moving quickly on prosecutions.”

After the nomination, former Sen. Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.) had high praise for Burke’s work in getting the assault weapons ban through Congress back in the 1990s.

“We ended up getting senators who had never voted for a gun bill, like Lloyd Benson of Texas and Sam Nunn of Georgia and Al D’Amato of New York, who were friends of mine that I worked real hard,” DeConcini told the Arizona Capitol Times. “But Dennis worked the staff. He was responsive to them and several of the senators mentioned to me what a great staffer you’ve got there, and I said, ‘Boy, you’re telling me.’”

The Arizona Republic has reported that “DeConcini said Burke fostered the measure in concert with a key figure in the White House, policy analyst Rahm Emanuel, who years later would become chief of staff for President Obama. … ‘Dennis was the one who worked with everyone on the Judiciary Committee to line up these members and votes,’ DeConcini said. ‘Dennis had all these pictures of these guns–the Streetsweepers and the AK-47s. And it passed by one vote. A lot of it was not my eloquence on the bill, it was stuff that Dennis had done.’”

Six weeks after Burke was confirmed, on Oct. 26, 2009, Eric Holder named him to the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee (AGAC) of U.S. Attorneys. In his capacity as an adviser to Holder, Burke chaired the AGAC subcommittee on border and immigration law enforcement while Operation Fast and Furious was happening.

The same month that Burke joined Holder’s advisory committee with a specific responsibility to report to Deputy Attorney General David Ogden on border and immigration enforcement, Ogden’s office made a significant change in the federal government’s strategy for dealing with gun-trafficking on the Mexican border.

“This new strategy directed federal law enforcement to shift its focus away from seizing firearms from criminals as soon as possible, and to focus instead on identifying members of trafficking networks,” House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa wrote in a May 3 memo to other members of his committee, summarizing what the committee had learned about Fast and Furious.

“The Office of the Deputy Attorney General shared this strategy with the heads of many Department components, including ATF,” said Issa.

The next month, November 2009, the ATF in Arizona moved forward with the new strategy by creating Operation Fast and Furious.

“Members of the ATF Phoenix Field Division, led by Special Agent in Charge Bill Newell, became familiar with this new strategy and used it in creating Fast and Furious,” Issa wrote in his May 3 memo. “In mid-November 2009, just weeks after the strategy was issued, Fast and Furious began. Its objective was to establish a nexus between straw purchasers of firearms in the United States and Mexican drug-trafficking organizations (DTOs) operating on both sides of the United States-Mexico border.”

“Straw purchasers,” Issa explained, “are individuals who are legally entitled to purchase firearms for themselves, but who unlawfully purchase weapons with the intent to transfer them to someone else, in this case DTOs or other criminals.”

Remarkably, under Operation Fast and Furious, the ATF deliberately allowed guns to move south across the U.S.-Mexico border and into the hands of the drug cartels. Weapons were allowed to be sold to straw purchasers with the intent of tracing the guns to the cartels.

“During Fast and Furious, ATF agents used an investigative technique known as ‘gunwalking’–that is, allowing illegally purchased weapons to be transferred to third parties without attempting to disrupt or deter the illegal activity,” Issa wrote in the May 3 memo. “ATF agents abandoned surveillance on known straw purchasers after they illegally purchased weapons that ATF agents knew were destined for Mexican drug cartels.”

The purpose of the operation was to trace the guns recovered from crimes scenes “to their original straw purchaser, in an attempt to establish a connection between that individual and the DTO.”

The ATF Phoenix Field Division applied to Justice Department headquarters to become an “Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force” (OCDETF) case. In preparing their application in early January 2009, the ATF in Phoenix wrote a memo explaining the investigative technique of Fast and Furious.

The application for Fast and Furious was approved and, in January 2010, as Issa stated in his memo, it “became a prosecutor-led OCDETF Strike Force case, meaning that ATF would join with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service, and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement under the leadership of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona.”

In other words, it was under the leadership of Dennis Burke.

“Although ATF was the lead law enforcement agency for Fast and Furious, its agents took direction from prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” Issa says in his May 3 memo. “The lead federal prosecutor for Fast and Furious was Assistant U.S. Attorney Emory Hurley, who played an integral role in the day-to-day, tactical management of the case.”

Issa states in his memo that Burke’s U.S. attorney’s office made it more difficult for ATF agents to interdict guns.

“Many ATF agents working on Operation Fast and Furious came to believe that some of the most basic law enforcement techniques used to interdict weapons required the explicit approval of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and specifically from Hurley,” Issa wrote. “On numerous occasions, Hurley and other federal prosecutors withheld this approval, to the mounting frustration of ATF agents. The U.S. Attorney’s Office chose not to use other available investigative tools common in gun trafficking cases, such as civil forfeitures and seizure warrants, during the seminal periods of Fast and Furious.”

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office advised ATF that agents needed to meet unnecessarily strict evidentiary standards in order to speak with suspects, temporarily detain them, or interdict weapons,” Issa said. “ATF’s reliance on this advice from the U.S. Attorney’s Office during Fast and Furious resulted in many lost opportunities to interdict weapons.”

A report on Fast and Furious released by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Democrats in January 2012, indicates that on Jan. 5, 2010, officials from the ATF Phoenix office met with Assistant U.S. Attorney Hurley and determined that the gun-trafficking investigation should continue because it wasn’t ready for prosecution. The Democrat report quotes a briefing paper prepared by the ATF three days after the meeting–which would be Jan. 8, 2010–that says U.S. Attorney Burke was briefed on the matter and agreed that the investigation should continue.

“Investigative and prosecutions strategies were discussed and a determination was made that there was minimal evidence at this time to support any type of prosecution,” said the ATF briefing paper, “therefore, additional firearms purchases should be monitored and additional evidence continued to be gathered. This investigation was briefed to United States Attorney Dennis Burke, who concurs with the assessment of his line prosecutors and fully supports the continuation of this investigation.”

Eight days after this briefing paper was produced, on Jan. 16, 2010, straw buyers bought three assault-weapon rifles, two of which would figure prominently in the unraveling of the program. They were the weapons that would later be found at the scene of the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

On. Nov. 24, 2010, just a few weeks before Terry was murdered, Burke–who had begun his career in public service working to enact an assault-weapons ban–had an email exchange with another U.S. attorney about an investigation he was working on that involved “straw purchasing of assault weapons.”

“What a great investigation. What is the ETI (estimated time of indictment!)” U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan for the Western District of Washington said to Burke in an email.

Burke responded, “Would love to chat. We are about to indict around [REDACTED] clowns for a Gun Trafficking to Mexico operation. It’s a T-III investigation that we have been working w/ATF for a long time and IRS is all over some money laundering charges. It’s going to bring a lot of attention to straw purchasing of assault weapons. Some of the weapons bought by these clowns in Arizona have been directly traced to murders of elected officials in Mexico by the Cartels, so Katie-bar-the-door when we unveil this baby.”

The e-mail exchange, with the subject line “Gun Shows,” did not specifically mention Operation Fast and Furious.

Operation Fast and Furious was halted after Dec. 14, 2010 after two of the guns that a straw buyer had been allowed to purchase during the operation ended up at the murder scene of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. Fast and Furious later became the subject of a congressional investigation, and an investigation by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General.

On Dec. 14, the same day of Terry’s murder, Burke sent an email replying to an e-mail from Monty Wilkinson, Attorney General Holder’s deputy chief of staff. In this email, Burke said his office had a large firearms trafficking case that he wanted to discuss. In a follow up e-mail the next day–Dec. 15, 2010–Burke alerted Wilkinson that Agent Terry had been murdered. Wilkinson responded, “Tragic, I’ve alerted the AG, the Acting DAG, Lisa, etc.”

The exchanges between Burke and Holder’s deputy chief of staff at the time of Agent Terry’s murder are reported in the report published by the committee Democrats.

“Several hours later on December 15, 2010, U.S. Attorney Burke learned that Agent Terry had been murdered,” says the Democratic report. “He alerted Mr. Wilkinson, who replied, ‘Tragic, I’ve alerted the AG, the Acting DAG, Lisa, etc.'”

“Later that same day, U.S. Attorney Burke learned that two firearms found at Agent Terry’s murder scene had been purchased by a suspect in Operation Fast and Furious,” says the Democratic report. “He sent an email to Mr. Wilkinson forwarding this information and wrote: ‘The guns found in the desert near the murder [sic] BP officer connect back to the investigation we were going to talk about—they were AK-47’s purchased at a Phoenix gun store.’ Mr. Wilkinson replied, ‘I’ll call tomorrow.’

Despite this email from Wilkinson, Burke told the committee he did not recall actually having such a phone conversation, and the Department of Justice told the committee that Wilksonson does not recall making the call. Also Attorney General Holder himself testified that his deputy chief of staff never told him about the tie between the gun-trafficking investigation and Agent Terry’s murder.

“In his interview with Committee staff, U.S. Attorney Burke stated that he did not recall having any subsequent conversation with Mr. Wilkinson that ‘included the fact that Fast and Furious guns were found at the scene’ of Agent Terry’s murder,” the Democrat report said.

“In a November 2011 hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Charles Grassley asked Attorney General Holder, ‘Did Mr. Wilkinson say anything to you about the connection between Agent Terry’s death and the ATF operation?'”

The Democratic report says: “Attorney General Holder responded, ‘No, he did not.” In a January 27, 2011, letter to the Committee, the Department stated that Mr. Wilkinson ‘does not recall a follow-up call with Burke or discussing this aspect of the matter with the Attorney General.'”

Brian Terry’s murder caused an apparent change of plans for the Justice Department.

“Washington-based Justice Department officials had earlier discussed bringing Attorney General Eric Holder to Phoenix for a triumphant press conference with Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke to herald the conclusion of the Department’s flagship firearms trafficking case,” said a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee memo from May 3, 2012. “In the aftermath of Agent Terry’s death, the task of announcing indictments at a press conference fell to ATF Phoenix Division Special Agent in Charge William Newell and Burke. Holder did not attend.

“At the press conference on January 25, 2011, Newell triumphantly announced the indictment of 20 members of an arms trafficking syndicate that had been supplying weapons to the Sinaloa Cartel, Mexico’s largest and most powerful cartel led by the notorious Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman,” the May 3 memo said.

When Newell was asked if ATF agents purposefully allowed weapons to enter Mexico, he responded, “Hell no.”

Two days after the press conference, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote then-Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson about reports from whistleblowers regarding gunwalking and Agent Terry’s death.

Allegations of gunwalking “are based on categorical falsehoods,” Burke said in a Jan. 31, 2011 e-mail to Jason Weinstein, the deputy assistant attorney general for the criminal division.

Days later, on Feb. 4, 2011, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich responded to Grassley denying that the Justice Department “sanctioned” the sale of guns to people they believed were going to deliver them to Mexican drug cartels.

As the scandal began to build by that summer, Brian Terry’s mother–Josephine Terry–testified at the hearing of the House Oversight Committee. The mother of the slain Border Patrol agent told the committee that Burke informed the family of the agent’s death, but did not provide details about Operation Fast and Furious.

“He was just trying to explain to us exactly what happened and–roundabout way–we really never got anything out of the visit that he did have,” Josephine Terry told the committee on June 15, 2011. Asked how she found out about Fast and Furious, she responded, “Most of it I heard is from the media. We haven’t really got anything direct–phone calls or nothing from anybody.”

At the same hearing, Weich, who wrote the Feb. 4, 2011 letter to Grassley, told the committee, “Everything that we say is true to the best of our knowledge at the time we say it. As more facts come out, obviously our understanding of the situation is enhanced.”

On June 29, 2011, a reporter asked the Oversight Committee about leaked documents related to whistleblower ATF Agent John Dodson.

“Congressional investigators later determined that the individual who was behind the leaked documents was the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, Dennis Burke–the Obama Administration political appointee who led the office in charge of Operation Fast and Furious,” said Issa’s May 3 Oversight Committee memo.

“Burke later testified that the reporter contacted him, and that he believed the reporter had already seen the documents or had them read to him from someone else in the Department of Justice. Instead of e-mailing the documents to the reporter in Washington, Burke, who was in Arizona at the time, e-mailed them to a friend of his in Washington, who then printed out the documents and then delivered them to the reporter personally,” Issa said in his May 3 memo. “These efforts successfully kept Burke’s fingerprints off of the leak until he publicly admitted his role more than two months after his August 2011 resignation as blame for Fast and Furious spread.”

On Aug. 18, 2011, House Oversight Committee staff interviewed Burke. They asked him: “To your knowledge as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, did the highest levels of the Department of Justice authorize [the] non-interdiction of weapons, cutting off of surveillance, as an investigative tactic in Operation Fast and Furious?”

Burke responded, “I have no knowledge of that.”

The committee also asked, “Did you ever authorize those tactics?”

Burke answered, “No.”

During that same Aug. 18, 2011 interview, the committee staff asked Burke: “And did anyone ever—from the Department of Justice, Main Justice I will call it–ever tell you that you were authorized to allow weapons to cross the border when you otherwise would have had a legal authority to seize or interdict them because they were a suspected straw purchase or it was suspected that they were being trafficked in a firearms scheme?”

Burke answered, “I have no recollection of ever being told that.”

Twelve days after this interview, on Aug. 30, 2011, Burke resigned as U.S. attorney. Burke’s assistant U.S. attorney, Emory Hurley, the lead prosecutor in Operation Fast and Furious, also resigned, as did ATF Director Melson.

During an Oct. 19, 2011 hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Charles Grassley asked Burke’s old boss, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano, “Have you had any communications with Mr. Burke about Operation Fast and Furious?”

Napolitano said, “No.”

Grassley followed up: “So you then obviously didn’t talk to him, anything about Agent Terry’s death?”

Napolitano said that after Agent Terry was killed, “I went to Arizona a few days thereafter to meet with the FBI agents and the assistant U.S. attorneys who were actually going to look for the shooters. At that time, nobody had done the forensics on the guns and ‘Fast and Furious’ was not mentioned. But I wanted to be sure that those responsible for his death were brought to justice, and that every DOJ resource was being brought to bear on that topic. So I did have conversations in–it would have been December of ’09 [actually 2010]–about the murder of Agent Terry. But at that point in time, there, nobody knew about Fast and Furious.”

It was not until Dec. 2, 2011 that the Justice Department withdrew its Feb. 4, 2011 letter from Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich to Grassley in which DOJ had denied that gun-walking had occurred.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has subpoenaed about 100,000 documents from the Department of Justice. The department has produced about 7,600 documents. The committee believes that is insufficient.

Last week, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted on a resolution of contempt against Attorney General Holder for withholding documents that the committee has subpoenaed.

Just hours before the vote, on June 20, Deputy Attorney General James Cole notified the committee that President Barack Obama was invoking executive privilege to deny the committee access to the documents.

On June 28, the full House of Representatives voted, 256-67, with 17 Democrats joining the Republican majority, to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to release the documents requested by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. should be posted on the walls of every Post Office in the land. Most wanted criminals of all time.


Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Original Story Via:

The historic 255-67 vote by the House of Representatives to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to provide documents relating to the investigation of Operation Fast and Furious was “necessary for justice to be served,” the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms said.

Holder repeatedly did not comply with a subpoena issued last October by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Instead, he successfully appealed to President Barack Obama to claim executive privilege at the last minute in an attempt to shield the documents from Congressional review.

“As the highest ranking law enforcement officer in the nation, the attorney general is not above the law,” CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb declared. “It should not have come to this. Eric Holder should have complied with the subpoena. If he had cooperated fully with the Fast and Furious investigation from the outset, none of this would have been necessary and he knows it.

“The only conceivable reason that Holder and the Obama administration do not want to turn these documents over,” he said, “is that they contain damning evidence of either incompetence or complicity, or both.

“We are disappointed, but not surprised,” Gottlieb continued, “that Holder’s Democrat cheerleaders tried to portray this as a witch hunt, and tried to blame the Bush administration, but their arguments do not wash. This is about the rule of law and finding the truth about a horribly mis-managed gun trafficking operation, the murder of an American Border Patrol agent and what appears to have been a cover-up by the Department of Justice.”

CCRKBA had urged gun owners to contact their congressional representatives in support of the contempt vote.

“We are proud,” Gottlieb noted, “of the 17 Democrats who joined the Republican majority on this vote. This was not about partisanship, but accountability and transparency. Fast and Furious has a body count, and so long as people provide cover to the attorney general, the blood is on their hands.”

With more than 650,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is one of the nation’s premier gun rights organizations. As a non-profit organization, the Citizens Committee is dedicated to preserving firearms freedoms through active lobbying of elected officials and facilitating grass-roots organization of gun rights activists in local communities throughout the United States. The Citizens Committee can be reached by phone at (425) 454-4911, on the Internet at or by email to

Analysis: House Vote on Holder Contempt Only Part of Dilemma

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Original Story VIA:

The full House of Representatives may vote on whether to cite Attorney General Eric Holder for Contempt of Congress sometime during the final week of June, but now that President Barack Obama has asserted executive privilege over subpoenaed documents, it appears a confrontation is imminent between Congress and the White House.

Holder asked the president for executive privilege protection after he met with Congressman Darrell Issa and Senator Charles Grassley June 19.  Fireworks erupted when Holder, after suggesting he might provide some documents to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, instead only offered Issa and Grassley a briefing on what is in the documents in exchange for an end to the contempt proceeding. Both Issa and Grassley said that offer was a non-starter. They wanted the documents.

The president’s last-minute leap into the middle of the Operation Fast and Furious is seen by some observers as a well-timed strategic move to bog down the investigation – and prevent further revelations that may be embarrassing to the White House – until after the November election. Critics including Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Indiana Congressman Dan Burton have questioned what may be in the documents that President Obama doesn’t want the public to see.

After all, as noted by Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) during the heated committee debate, if there is nothing in those documents to link the White House directly to the scandal, then why claim privilege?

In an interview with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, Issa put it bluntly: “We were asked to take a pig in a poke…I think they knew we couldn’t accept that. Brian Terry’s family couldn’t accept that. The American people couldn’t accept that.”

Just 45 minutes before the Oversight Committee began debate on the contempt citation June 20, Issa received notification that the White House had invoked executive privilege on the subpoenaed documents. That announcement ignited a firestorm in the committee, and across the airwaves as debate erupted between Obama administration defenders and those demanding full disclosure on the gun walking operation.

Democrats seemed to quickly retreat to the “Bush did it” defense, noting that former President George W. Bush invoked executive privilege at least a half-dozen times during his administration. Republicans quickly dredged up an embarrassing video of then-Sen. Obama blasting Bush during a March 19, 2007 interview with CNN’s Larry King for claiming executive privilege.

“There’s been a tendency on the part of this administration,” Obama said at the time, “to try to hide behind executive privilege every time there’s something a little shaky taking place. The administration would be best served by coming clean on this.”

The Oversight Committee’s 23-17 vote was split rigidly along party lines, with Democrats circling the wagons around Holder and the president’s executive privilege claim.

Still, the documents remain out of reach for the committee, and that is troubling.

For 18 months since Grassley launched the initial Fast and Furious probe to find out how guns from Fast and Furious wound up at the murder scene of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, the White House had insisted it had no prior knowledge of Operation Fast and Furious, and did not approve it. By taking that position, the White House was able to keep some distance between the scandal and the Oval Office.

By raising the stakes with executive privilege, the president inserted himself right into the middle of the controversy. That surprised many people, because it elevated the dispute between Issa and Holder over the Fast and Furious documents to the highest level possible, and opened the door to speculation that there must be something in those documents that could cause considerable embarrassment to Holder, or even the president. But until the documents are actually read, nobody could know that for sure.

Gowdy, in an interview one day after the Oversight Committee vote, told Fox News that, “There’s something in those documents that the Department of Justice or the White House doesn’t want us to have.”

“I don’t know who they’re protecting or what they’re protecting,” Gowdy said.

He suggested that Obama and Holder might be trying to provide cover for Lanny Breuer, the assistant attorney general in charge of the department’s criminal division.

“His fingerprints are all over Fast and Furious,” Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, stated.

House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Kantor held out some hope that a crisis could be avoided if the attorney general provided an acceptable compromise prior to a contempt vote by the full House. However, the odds of a compromise get lower as the clock ticks down to the House vote.


Thursday, June 21st, 2012

BELLEVUE, WA – President Obama’s claim of executive privilege to prevent Congressional access to documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious smacks of monumental hypocrisy and looks like an attempt to cover blood on the administration’s hands, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms said today.

It did not prevent the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform from voting 23-17 to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.

In a March 2007 interview with Larry King on CNN, then-Senator Barack Obama complained about a ‘tendency’ on the part of the Bush administration to ‘hide behind executive privilege’,” CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb recalled. “Now we must find out what is in those documents that the White House wants to hide from the American public.”

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has been investigating Fast and Furious since March 2011. Guns linked to the operation are also linked to the murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, and untold numbers of Mexican citizens.

“Today’s action by the White House creates the strong suspicion that the Obama administration is trying to hide from the fact that they have blood on their hands,” Gottlieb observed. “That’s not rhetoric; we’re talking about the deaths of countless Mexican citizens and especially a dead federal officer. Fast and Furious has given us a verifiable body count.

“There is evidence that those involved in Fast and Furious thought it could bolster calls for additional gun control,” Gottlieb said. “If that’s accurate, it demonstrates a callousness that goes beyond the limits of human decency. It is imperative that that the American public knows all the facts of this case prior to the election. The people responsible for this disaster must be held accountable, and that will not happen so long as the administration continues to stonewall, and hiding behind executive privilege suggests that Holder and the president have no intention of coming clean.”

With more than 650,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is one of the nation’s premier gun rights organizations. As a non-profit organization, the Citizens Committee is dedicated to preserving firearms freedoms through active lobbying of elected officials and facilitating grass-roots organization of gun rights activists in local communities throughout the United States. The Citizens Committee can be reached by phone at (425) 454-4911, on the Internet at or by email to

Don’t Blame 2nd Amendement for Mexico Gun Violence

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Original Story VIA: Opposing Views

Submitted by National Shooting Sports Foundation on Apr 9, 2012

During his recent visit to the White House, Mexico President Felipe Calderon renewed his call for a U.S. assault weapons ban as a

During his recent visit to the White House, Mexico President Felipe Calderon renewed his call for a U.S. assault weapons ban as a solution to the drug cartel-caused violence that plagues his country. He also claimed, according to columnist Bill Press, that violence levels are directly related to the number of guns in circulation. Both of these assertions are demonstrably false.

Click here to see our gallery of the most popular guns in America.

Calderon’s pleading for an assault weapons ban (AWB) ignores what multiple studies have shown: that the AWB, which existed from 1994 to 2004, was not an effective crime-fighting tool, largely because they were never used in crime in the first place. Also, since the ban expired, Americans have purchased millions of modern sporting rifles — rifles based on the AR platform whose ownership was restricted by the AWB — yet at the same time violent crime has continued to decline in the United States to its lowest level in decades, demonstrating there is no correlation between the number of guns in circulation and the level of violence.

Let’s take a look at a few other points raised in Press’s column:

“We did a count, said Calderon, and discovered 8,000 American gun shops along the border with Mexico.” This is only relevant if you incorrectly believe federally licensed firearms retailers are somehow responsible for guns going to Mexico. They are not, of course. This is really like saying there are “too many” Ford dealers in a state where there are X number of DWI arrests in which the vehicle driven was a Ford. This also ignores the fact that firearms are only transferred by a firearms retailer after a background check has been performed on the buyer.

“Calderon claimed that in Washington, D.C., the rate of homicides per hundred thousand inhabitants is ‘higher by 10 — more than 10 or 20 than the largest number in any of the big cities in Mexico.’” Even if you assume this statistic is true (I haven’t checked), it is despite the fact that Washington, D.C., has the most stringent gun-control laws in the United States. It’s time to admit it that gun control is a failed social experiment.

“It’s almost as if, like global warming, the issue of gun control has disappeared from public view.” Perhaps that is because support for gun-control laws is at a record low in the U.S., according to Gallup’s annual Crime Poll. The same poll shows that most Americans do not support banning so-called “assault weapons” (even using this demonizing misnomer for modern sporting rifles), the very ban President Calderon and Bill Press seek to reinstate.

The real truth about Mexico and guns has been discussed many times on this blog, but in light of new press coverage of Calderon’s remarks, it bears repeating.

The independent research group STRATFOR — a publication Bill Press cites in his column — has corroborated what NSSF has been saying for some time about firearms recovered from drug cartels in Mexico: that it is erroneous and grossly misleading to say that the majority of firearms recovered in Mexico came from the United States.

Only 12 percent of the firearms misused in Mexico were originally sold at retail in the United States. The proof can be found in the U.S. government statistics in a report released by the independent research group STRATFOR and that the pie chart clearly illustrates:

Also, according to ATF, firearms recovered in Mexico and successfully traced as coming from the U.S. were originally lawfully sold in the United States an average of 15 years before they were seized and traced in Mexico. So that means they were sold long before the “assault weapon ban” sunset in 2004. Good luck trying to find these facts reported anywhere in the mainstream media.

An editorial published in the Miami Herald taking up Calderon’s argument says that bazookas and automatic weapons are purchased in large quantities at U.S. firearms retailers and then trafficked to Mexico. This is ridiculous and patently false. It has been widely documented by such publications as the L.A. Times, Washington Post and CBS News, that the drug cartels are acquiring firearms and serious weapons like grenades from Central America and black market sources. Also, over 150,000 Mexican soldiers have defected to go work for the cartels, clearly taking their U.S. made firearms with them.

Our industry abhors the criminal misuse of firearms, whether on the streets of Miami or Juarez, Mexico. That is why the public should know America’s firearms industry cooperates with law enforcement to prevent the illegal purchase of firearms, most recently working with ATF along the border on a program called Don’t Lie for the Other Guy that warns the public about the serious penalties for straw purchasing.

We can all agree that there are serious crime problems in Mexico, and notwithstanding his factual misstatements, we do applaud Mexican President Calderon’s courage for cracking down on the drug cartels and rampant corruption in his country, that has even reach inside his inner circle. However, laying the blame for Mexico’s crime at the feet of the U.S. firearms industry is more an act of frustration than a crime-fighting strategy, and, as we’ve said before, sacrificing the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans as a means of addressing this issue is neither an option nor a solution.

Pathetic: Obama, Calderon, Press Avoid Fast and Furious Discussion

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Original Article VIA:

By Katie Pavlich
News Editor, Townhall

President Barack Obama just wrapped up a joint press conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Candadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The three world leaders discussed a number of topics including trade and energy, but what did they fail to discuss? Operation Fast and Furious. Although the topic of gun trafficking was discussed at length by both Calderon and Obama, reporters never asked about Fast and Furious specifically and the two leaders weren’t going to go out of their way to bring it up.

Calderon, as a expected, blamed Mexico’s cartel violence not on the cartels themselves, but on the large “flow” of guns from the United States into Mexico. Calderon reiterated his view the United States should re-instate the ban on “assault,” or semi-automatic weapons. It seems that President Calderon, who is always harping about the “flow” of guns from the United States into Mexico, would have expressed outrage that President Obama’s Justice Department had deliberately placed 2500 guns into the hands of ruthless cartels during Operation Fast and Furious. Instead, Calderon chose to blame the Second Amendment for his country’s out of control violence. Calderon also failed to mention the reason why his people are being slaughtered is because they don’t have the ability to legally own guns and fight back against the cartels. Mexico’s strict gun laws have left its innocent people as sitting ducks.

On the issue of guns flowing from “north to south,” President Obama, whose Justice Department once again, under leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder walked 2500 guns into Mexico, failed to mention Fast and Furious. In fact, President Obama predictably gave himself credit for stopping the so-called flow of guns from the U.S., south.

“When you have innocent families, women and children being gunned down in the streets, that should be everyone’s problem,” Obama said. “We’ve put in efforts to stop illegal gun trafficking from north to south.”

Calderon also gave Obama credit for stopping the so-called flow of guns from the U.S. into Mexico.