It would appear that the DEA does not want to be the fall guy in Operation Fast & Furious*, either: DEA head Michele M. Leonhart admitted in a letter to Senator Grassley (Judiciary) and Rep. Issa (Oversight) that her organization was in fact involved in the investigation, and provided support for it. This is a significant admission by Ms. Leonhart, given that (as Bob Owens** of Pajamas Media reminds us) there is an existing allegation by the former head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives (BATFE) Phoenix office that the DEA was a full partner in the proceedings.
The DEA is, of course, under the jurisdiction of the Justice Department; with this admission and as-yet-partial corroboration (and no doubt a similar one from the FBI, which has also been formally requested to provide Grassley & Issa with information on its involvement in Fast & Furious) it becomes harder for Holder and his immediate staff to credibly claim that higher-ups were unaware of the program. The next step for Congress will be to get more details from the DEA. Which officials in the DEA were fully aware of the program? Which officials indicated their concerns with the numerous ethical and practical irregularities found in the program? What was the result of those concerns being aired? Was there an internal investigation into said irregularities? If there was one, was it squashed until after the death of Border Agent Terry? If it was, who ordered the squashing? – and so forth.
As I’ve mentioned in the past – and will probably mention again in the future – a scandal of this (potential) magnitude builds up over time. And when it does, it often results in some very interesting side issues being raised – like this one from Bob Owens:
Gunwalker[***] took place in Arizona, where DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano was both governor and state attorney general, using personnel the secretary had in her own state administration. It is highly unlikely that Gunwalker occurred on Napolitano’s “home turf” and one of her current areas of focus without her knowledge — or advice.
Indeed, it does seem highly unlikely, doesn’t it?
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*Short version: the US government deliberately had guns be illegally resold to Mexican narco-terrorists as part of an ill-conceived investigation. The US government then promptly lost track of said guns, which later turned up at crime scenes in Mexico, including at least one shooting death of a US Border Patrol agent. Put simply, we messed up severely: the question is how far up the taint goes.
**Bob, by the way, has been doing yeoman work following this story. Check him out.
***Project Gunrunner was the parent operation, and was in itself not necessarily pernicious. The problem here is not the sting operation, per se; it’s the alleged deliberate lying to the Mexican government and lower-ranking BATFE agents, plus the loss of control over the illegally-resold guns. Which last part is in marked contrast to fundamental BATFE policy; they’re not supposed to lose track of the guns.