ATF Officials in Mexico Denied Access to Gunwalking Info by U.S. Counterpartsby Hugh Holub on Jul. 26, 2011, under atf, politics
Press Release from US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform July 26, 2011:
ATF Officials in Mexico Denied Access to Information by U.S. Counterparts about Reckless Strategy that Allowed Guns to Fall Into the Hands of Mexican Drug Cartels
Issa, Grassley release staff report focusing on impact of Operation Fast and Furious on Mexico
WASHINGTON – Findings in a second staff report released by Representative Darrell Issa and Senator Chuck Grassley show that ATF officials based in the United States Embassy in Mexico City were increasingly worried about the alarming rate of guns found in violent crimes in Mexico from a single ATF operation based out of the ATF’s Phoenix Field Division. Issa is Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and Grassley is Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“The consequences of arming Mexican drug cartels seem obvious. But even guns turning up at crime scenes in Mexico wasn’t enough for Justice Department officials to arrest straw purchasers and shut down their trafficking operations. Tragically, it wasn’t until Fast and Furious guns were found at the murder scene of a Border Patrol Agent that Justice officials finally ended this reckless and arrogant effort,” said Issa.
“It’s incomprehensible that officials at the Justice Department, the ATF and the U.S. attorney’s office would keep their counterparts at the U.S. embassy in Mexico City in the dark about Operation Fast and Furious. Keeping key details secret while straw purchasers continued buying weapons for gun traffickers jeopardized our relationship with our southern ally and put lives at risk,” Grassley said.
The report released today outlines several important findings, including:
• There was little to no information sharing from the Phoenix Field Division, ATF Headquarters and the Justice Department to their colleagues in Mexico City. Every time Mexico City officials asked about the mysterious investigation, their U.S. based ATF counterparts in Phoenix and Washington, D.C. continued to say they were “working on it” and “everything was under control.”
• Lanny Breuer, the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division at the Justice Department, was clearly aware of Operation Fast and Furious and touted the case during a visit to Mexico.
• ATF officials in Mexico City were incredulous that their agency would knowingly allow guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, and they were incensed when they finally began to learn the full scope of Operation Fast and Furious and the investigative techniques used.
Issa and Grassley are leading a congressional inquiry into the ill-advised strategy known as Operation Fast and Furious.
A copy of the report can be found here
Chairman Darrell Issa Hearing Preview Statement
Tuesday’s hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will examine the effects of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) program dubbed “Operation Fast and Furious.” Specifically, we will review the impact of this program on our neighbor to the south, on our agents working in, and on the people of Mexico.
The Committee’s task today is serious, and the Administration’s effort to impede this investigation slows our work to make public the truth of an acknowledged—and failed—operation. The Acting Director of the ATF, in a transcribed interview with investigators, has said that the Justice Department is trying to push all of this away from its political appointees. That is not the response this Committee, Congress and the public, should expect from the ‘most transparent Administration in history.’
In this hearing, lawmakers will hear firsthand from field agents who have worked in Mexico for years and who were systematically kept in the dark by officials in Phoenix and at headquarters about the real nature and scope of “Operation Fast and Furious.” The Committee will also hear testimony from ATF supervisors who chose to allow weapons to flow from illegal sales in the United States directly into the hands of Mexican drug cartels—without interception or interdiction.
To date, President Obama has been keen to talk about who didn’t know about the program and who didn’t authorize it. These answers will not suffice. The American people have a right to know—once and for all—who did authorize it and who knew about it.
Working with our counterpart in this investigation, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the Committee will remain focused on these basic questions and pursue the trail of truth to the highest levels of government. We owe the men and women in law enforcement nothing less because it is their lives on the line.
Mr. Carlos Canino
ATF Acting Attaché to Mexico
Mr. Darren Gil
Former ATF Attaché to Mexico
Mr. Jose Wall
ATF Senior Special Agent
Mr. Lorren Leadmon
ATF Intelligence Operations Specialist
Mr. William Newell
Former ATF Special Agent in Charge
Phoenix Field Division
Mr. William McMahon
ATF Deputy Assistant Director for Field Operations
(West, including Phoenix and Mexico)
Testimony of Carlos Canino
Testimony of Darren Gill
Testimony of WilliamNewell
Testimony of McMahon