When the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee released a report — “The Department of Justice’s Operation Fast and Furious: Accounts of ATF Agents” (pdf) — it infuriated law enforcement officers and American citizens across the country.
One police commander in New Jersey told Law Enforcement Examiner, “We need to get to the bottom of this renegade operation fast. I am furious that our government actually contributed to the killing of two American law enforcement officers — one in the U.S., the other in Mexico.”
The (at times) shocking report includes testimony from four Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) agents offering firsthand accounts about the controversial Operation Fast and Furious that allowed suspects to walk away with illegally purchased guns.
The gunrunners reportedly smuggled the weapons into Mexico and the agents, who were supposed to conduct surveillance, lost track of the suspected gun smugglers and the weapons which are believed to still be in the hands of Mexican drug cartel members.
“This is a prime example of an administration that is clueless in running a law enforcement operation,” said former intelligence officer and police detective Mike Snopes.
“[Attorney General Eric] Holder and his minions are being deceptive in this case claiming they were unaware of the operation,” said Snopes.
Two of the approximately 2,000 guns that ATF let criminals walk away with were found at the murder scene of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010.
“ATF agents have shared chilling accounts of being ordered to stand down as criminals in Arizona walked away with guns headed for Mexican drug cartels,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House committee investigating the government snafu.
“With the clinical precision of a lab experiment, the Justice Department kept records of weapons they let walk and the crime scenes where they next appeared. To the agents’ shock, preventing loss of life was not the primary concern,” said Congressman Issa.
“These agents have risked their lives working for the ATF and they’ve risked their careers by coming forward to speak the truth about a dangerous strategy that was doomed from the start,” Senator Chuck Grassley said.
“Th[is] report shows the street agents’ perspective on this risky policy to let guns walk. It should help people who are wondering what really happened during Operation Fast and Furious understand why we are continuing to investigate.”
“Transparency appears to be in short supply in the Obama Administration these days. I know that dozens of FOIA requests go unanswered and investigators seeking information usually must watch the ‘Washington two-step’ before seeing any progress made on their requests for information,” said political strategist and attorney Mike Baker.
According to Baker, highlights of the Congressional report include:
The supervisor of Operation Fast and Furious was “jovial, if not, not giddy but just delighted about” walked guns showing up at crime scenes in Mexico according to an ATF agent.
- Another ATF agent told the committee about a prediction he made a year ago that “someone was going to die” and that the gun-walking operation would be the subject of a Congressional investigation.
- The shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords created a “state of panic” within the group conducting the operation as they initially feared a “walked” gun might have been used.
- One Operation Fast and Furious Agent: “I cannot see anyone who has one iota of concern for human life being okay with this …”
- An ATF agent predicted to committee investigators that more deaths will occur as a result of Operation Fast and Furious.
- Multiple agents told the committee that continued assertions by Department of Justice Officials that guns were not knowingly “walked” and that DOJ tried to stop their transport to Mexico are clearly untruthful.
While President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder denied knowledge of the operation, according to law enforcement sources, the rationale for the operation that went awry was that Attorney General Holder and his staff at the Justice Department wanted to show proof of his, and other Obama administration officials’, statements that the majority of firearms used by Mexican drug cartels originated in the United States and are smuggled into that drug war-torn country.
“The aim is to use the violence and death south of the border to take away Americans’ Second Amendment rights to own and bear arms,” said former police officer Edie Aguino.
In addition, investigation into this and other actions by President Barack Obama, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the U.S. Department of Justice show that they knowingly distort figures to hide from federal lawmakers, state political leaders, and the American people the rampant corruption in this nation’s immigration court system as well, according to a Beltway watchdog group.
Adding insult to injury, U.S. taxpayers finance the enormous number of court appeals filed by illegal immigrants — through their taxpayer financed legal counsel deported — for criminal convictions and fraudulent marriages.
The suspected pervasive corruption allows deportable aliens to evade hearings without consequences and permits more than 1 million removal orders to be ignored by the Obama Administration, say officials with Judicial Watch, a public-interest group that investigates public and political corruption.
From 2000 to 2007, Americans doled out $30 million for aliens’ court costs, according to a new report from a former immigration court judge — Mark H. Metcalf — in south Florida, considered a hotbed within the immigration system.
The veteran jurist says the nation’s immigration courts, which are operated by the DOJ, are ruled by deception and disorder and are at the heart of a system that nurtures scandal. About 250 overwhelmed judges preside over hundreds of thousands of cases annually and rarely are their deportation orders enforced, according to Judicial Watch.
Even after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, 50% of all aliens who were free pending trial disappeared, according to figures provided in the judge’s report. Between 2005 and 2006 the number of aliens who failed to appear at their court hearing grew to 59%.
The Government Accountability Office’s report on visa holders states that up to four million aliens remain in the country illegally once their visas expire.
Further, officials at Judicial watch revealed that the DOJ deceptively reported the figure as “only” 39% by combining aliens who were free pending trial with those in custody who were forced by authorities to appear in court. That allowed the so-called bail-jumpers to appear as a smaller part of a bigger overall figure.
The GAO told Congress that immigration courts rule in favor of aliens only 20% of the time when in fact its 60% and that aliens appeal deportation orders in only 8% of cases when the figure is actually 98%. Many more examples are included in the judge’s report, which refers to the DOJ’s findings and statistics as a sham.
“Accuracy, credibility, relevance, and timeliness elude this agency and the flow of believable statistics to the public,” it says. Judge Metcalf suggested that Congress order its investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct an in-depth probe.