There's Still No Evidence That Eric Holder Knew About Operation Fast and Furious


Contrary to the smoking gun being waved around in the right blogosphere, there’s still no evidence that Attorney General Eric Holder knew about the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms program "Fast and Furious," in which ATF agents stood idly by as guns that were illegally purchased in the United States were trafficked to Mexico, where cartels used them to kill U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and God only knows how many Mexicans. 

As evidence that Holder knew about the program, Big Government and the Washington Examiner have both cited a speech Holder gave in Cuernavaca, Mexico, in April 2009, in which the AG said:

Last week, our administration launched a major new effort to break the backs of the cartels.  My department is committing 100 new ATF personnel to the Southwest border in the next 100 days to supplement our ongoing Project Gunrunner, DEA is adding 16 new positions on the border, as well as mobile enforcement teams, and the FBI is creating a new intelligence group focusing on kidnapping and extortion.  DHS is making similar commitments, as Secretary Napolitano will detail.

Big Government and the Washington Examiner have pointed to this speech as evidence that Holder lied when he told the House Oversight Committee in May that he had no knowledge of Fast and Furious while it was being conducted. But Project Gunrunner, which Holder mentioned in his Cuernavaca speech, and Fast and Furious, which led to Terry's death, aren’t the same program.

Project Gunrunner began under President Bush in 2005 and involves several law enforcement agencies within the DOJ, including the FBI, the DEA, the ATF, and the U.S. Marshals. Straw buyers would purchase guns illegally, and ATF would bust them before they left the parking lot. The program apparently turned up a lot of meth heads. 

Fast and Furious, the subject of two investigations--one by the DOJ Inspector General’s office, one by the House Oversight Committee--began in 2009 and was intended to catch bigger fish; perhaps whoever was directing the straw buyers. Since the program was exposed by CBS earlier this year, the DOJ has called the actions of those involved with Fast and Furious "illegal." 

DOJ Spokesperson Tracy Schmaler said in an email today that it was inaccurate to conflate the two programs.

"Holder said he became aware of the ATF agents concerns about certain tactics used in Fast and Furious earlier this year. That’s when he asked the IG to investigate those concerns,” she emailed today. “That’s different than knowing there are enforcement efforts along the SW border to stop illegal gun trafficking. The department has several agencies working on those efforts including ATF, FBI, DEA, Marshals." 

And yet, Big Government and the Examiner both seem to think that Project Gunrunner and Fast and Furious are the same operation. "Holder bragged about Operation Gunrunner in 2009," is the title for the Examiner's post, in which Barbara Hollingsworth writes, 

Big Government found a 2009 speech by Holder on the Department of Justice's own website that proves the attorney general was well aware of Operation Gunrunner back in 2009:

The problem with Holder’s feigned ignorance is that he gave a speech in Cuernavaca, Mexico, on April 2, 2009, in which he boasted about Operation 'Gunrunner” and told Mexican authorities of everything he was doing to insure its success.

When questioned by the media, Holder also denied knowing anything about Gunrunner:

"Holder's office at first vehemently denied ATF has ever knowingly allowed weapons to get into the hands of suspected gunrunners for Mexico's drug cartels," CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reported.

But at the arms trafficking conference in Cuernavaca, Holder not only acknowledged the program, he bragged that he was in the process of expanding it.

Not only has Justice denied that Holder's 2009 speech proves he knew about Fast and Furious, but Oversight told me pretty much the same thing.

"The speech doesn't prove Holder knew about Fast and Furious. It shows the framework, the mindset, of the Department of Justice and Obama Administration," an Oversight Committee spox told me. "You're basically seeing the foundation for operation Fast and Furious. You're seeing these new programs, and that two months into Holder's time at Department of Justice they had decided to change the way ATF operated." 

There's also the word of Acting ATF Director Ken Melson, who told Oversight last week that Holder had no knowledge of Fast and Furious. The entire transcript from that hearing has not been released, but according to the Washington Post, “people familiar with [the hearing] said that [Melson] indicated that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. did not know about [Fast and Furious], that it would be unusual for other Justice Department officials in Washington to know the details and that the U.S. attorney’s office in Phoenix was overseeing the program.”

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  • Warty||

    The most amazing part of this whole thing is that they named it Operation Fast and Furious.

  • Hank||

    Operation Road House doesn't ring the same bells it used to.

  • Ted S.||

    What do you have against The Fast and the Furious and Road House?

  • ||

    Who could have guessed ATF agents have such horrible taste in movies? Who, I ask?

  • ||

    The novelization was really, really good?

  • ||

    The last good novelization was for Herbie Goes Bananas, ProL, and everything has been awful ever since. You should know this.

  • ||

    Who wrote that, Alan Dean Foster?

    I haven't read a novelization since I was a kid.

  • ||

    Foster has written all novelizations throughout time, so...yes.

  • ||

    Ain't it the truth? Does he still do that? I wonder how that gig pays?

  • ||

    You know, maybe there's money to be made in writing novelizations of non-blockbusters that have legs in international and/or DVD markets.

  • ||

    Like...Herbie Goes Bananas.

  • ||

    I haven't looked--I'm a little scared to--but is there a novelization of that fine, fine film?

  • Warty||

    No novelization, but there is this:

    Trivia

    In September of 1987, a security guard at an abandoned hospital in Brazil took a day off work in order to see Herbie Goes Bananas at a movie theater with his family. While he was absent, two scavengers removed a canister from the site that contained radioactive material used for radiotherapy, which led to a major nuclear accident.

  • ||

    Giving the world, through a radiation-generated time loop, Repo Man.

  • ||

    Wait till you find out about Operation Ballistic Ecks Vs. Sever.

  • ||

    I agree the speech isn't a smoking gun, but I also smell the magnificent smell of politicians covering up some shenanigans.

  • SFC B||

    It almost stretches my credulity that the AG of the USA wouldn't have had some knowledge of a plan by a US government law enforcement agency that involved multiple Federal agencies ignoring the illegal purchase of high-powered firearms and transfer of these firearms to violent drug gangs based in an allied and neighboring country, without alerting that country's government. That is the sort of mad-hatterly insane plan that I can't imagine every office drone in the ATF and FBI wouldn't want to get some sort of official cover from "higher" before allowing.

    The only way I think he could claim he didn't know about it is through some sort of willful ignorance; like his assistant gave him a nod to warn him that F&F was going to be discussed next so he'd leave the briefing room.

  • ||

    Ignorance is not an excuse in the military or private sector.

    If you could convince the bosses that you didn't know what was going on in your agency or battalion for 2 years, they would fire you for incompetence instead of prosecuting.

  • aeronathan||

    The smoking gun is the $10 million in funding somebody in DOJ asked for in the stimulus bill....

  • ||

    I suggest that gunrunner morphed to fast & furious / gunwalker and was run by the same operators. There is no shortage of DC apparatchiks happily using any circumstance to crush personal arms possession in US.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I was under the belief that the Fast and Furious operation was a facet of Project Gunrunner.

  • Riggs||

    See the comment I just added from an Oversight spox: "The speech doesn't prove Holder knew about Fast and Furious. It shows the framework, the mindset, of the Department of Justice and Obama Administration. You're basically seeing the foundation for operation Fast and Furious. You're seeing these new programs, and that two months into Holder's time at Department of Justice they had decided to change the way ATF operated."

  • mems||

    Oversight spox

    Another Star Trek reference from Reason.

  • Ray||

    Rock out with your Spock out.

  • ||

    So he gave a speech about a "framework" of an operation so important he told the leaders of Mexico about it - then didn't ask for an update from his people for two years?

  • ||

    "100 new ATF personnel to the Southwest border in the next 100 days to supplement our ongoing Project Gunrunner."

    I am not a conspiracy guy. But I just wonder what this "supplemnentation" was all about? Could he not have been briefed on Fast and Furious and thought it was an extension of Gunrunner? Just sayin'.

  • Apogee||

    One might ask why those ATF agents acting as whistleblowers for such a nasty operation were re-assigned and/or relieved of their duties?

    Holder doesn't seem to be moving too quickly to correct those wrongs.

    The assertion that the DOJ asked the IG to look into the operation is also problematic, given that this administration has tampered with IG's in the past who asked the wrong questions.

  • Gibby||

    Holder doesn't seem to be moving too quickly to correct those wrongs.

  • Apogee||

    Holder doesn't seem to be too quick

    Au Contraire - You don't rise to AG of the US if you're not quick enough to at least save your own ass.

    If it's true that Holder didn't actually know of this operation, then one might expect that he'd be pissed enough at the cost to his boss to go after those who screwed up.

    Instead, it looks as though he's doing everything to stall and obfuscate - and it's blowing up in his face. Exactly why couldn't the DOJ put the whistleblowers in partnership with the IG and conduct an actual investigation, rather than issue completely redacted FOIA requests?

  • Gibby||

    As I said, he's not too quick. If ANYONE other than Obama had won in 2008, he wouldn't be AG.

  • Apogee||

    Sorry - the excuse of 'stupid' doesn't cut it, because it doesn't explain the treatment of the whistleblowers.

    Holder may be an idiot, but that has no bearing on the involvement of the Obama administration in the direction of the operation.

  • ||

    So Holder had no idea that the department he purportedly runs was smuggling assault weapons across the border in an official capacity.

    Not seeing how that's much better.

  • Gibby||

    Look up.

  • Hank||

    "Eric, what would you say... you do here?"

  • Eric||

    I have people skills, dammit! What the hell is wrong with you people?!

  • juris imprudent||

    Bang!

    Oh that's inappropriate isn't it?

  • ||

    It's not that I'm lazy, I just don't care.

    Where's the motivation?

  • ||

    It astonishes me that "I didn't know about this official operation" is viewed as saying something GOOD about Holder. If that's your BEST case scenario, why aren't you fired?

  • ||

    Sure there is no smoking gun. The fact that Holder has refused to cooperate with the investigation and produced only a few massively redacted documents may have a little something to do with that. If he didn't know, why is he acting so guilty?

  • ||

    ""If he didn't know, why is he acting so guilty?""

    Because the top dog is always trying to limit the damage to his/her agency.

  • Apogee||

    But that's not working.

  • ||

    Maybe, maybe not, "limit" is an important word. If there are things unknown that could cause greater harm and they stay unknown, then it's working.

  • Apogee||

    I'm guessing "maybe not", as it's become a national story with the recent inclusion of the FBI, IRS, DEA and a host of other alphabet bureaucracies - the greater the expansion of involvement, the harder and harder it is to 'limit' said damage.

    Shit, any low level podunk Police force knows to conduct a bullshit 'internal investigation' whenever something threatens the higher ups.

  • ||

    Thats not working either. The identical operation supplying guns to honduran gangs has come to light. How many others are there?
    Now investigators are onto the money trail and it is starting to look like they not only let the guns walk, but likely funded the actual purchases.
    Again I ask: If they were willing to do this, what will they do if they manage to disarm us?

  • Apogee||

    what will they do if they manage to disarm us?

    200 Million + guns in the US?

    No fucking way.

  • Chris M.||

    Obama disarms me every time he smiles. He's so dreamy.

  • ||

    Thanks. Now I have to clean the coffee of my screen.

  • ||

    Sure. And if the worst is true and this program was nothing but a political stunt done to justify gun control, wouldn't covering up be the logical thing to do by your logic?

    The fact that he is acting guilty is good evidence that he is guilty.

  • ||

    If that was really their plan, it's the most harebrained of harebrained schemes. It would take a lot more than some US-made assault weapons showing up in Mexico to reinstate the ban. I mean, every Mexican man, woman, and child could be toting a red,white, and blue AR-15 and Dem politicians in moderate districts would still be terrified of the NRA.

  • juris imprudent||

    You didn't see the idiot news segment I did tonight.

  • ||

    They sure are hitting all of the Obummer administration talking points.

  • ||

    I can see Holder not being personally in the know. He IS, however, ultimately responsible for the policies carried out in his name. I say, hang him.

    We will never see any sort of change until the people in charge are made personally accountable, up to and including imprisonment the death penalty.

  • ||

    Voltaire said " Every now and then you have to hang an admiral to encourage the others."

  • ||

    Juxtaposing hanging and Holder has "unfortunate implications," as the tvtropes crew might put it. Can we just fire him in disgrace?

  • ||

    There's also the word of Acting ATF Director Ken Melson, who told Oversight last week that Holder had no knowledge of Fast and Furious.

    "Why would we tell that guy? He's just window dressing."

  • ||

    And, I read today that there was another Gunrunner op sending weapons to MS-13 in the Honduras. The number of guns mentioned was around 1,000.

    If Holder didn't know about a massive interagency sting operation sending thousands of guns into known criminal networks, then he should be fired.

    If Holder did know and didn't stop it, then he should be fired.

    This isn't that hard.

  • ||

    I'm doubtful the president didn't know about this, let alone the Attorney General.

  • Apogee||

    And there's the problem. Melson knows he can only leak so far - he most likely knows the difference between not falling on your sword and career (gubmint work) suicide.

  • cynical||

    Or literal suicide, depending on how paranoid you're feeling.

  • Captain Obama||

    They used to keel-haul traitors back in the day. I don't have a keel so this is the best I can do.

  • ||

    Don't ever compare Obama to Mal again.

  • ||

    That would make Michelle Morena Baccarin. (How do you punctuate that sentence?)

  • ||

    Like Vince Foster

  • ||

    ""If Holder didn't know about a massive interagency sting operation sending thousands of guns into known criminal networks, then he should be fired.""

    Maybe. But Reagan didn't resign over Iran-Contra.

    ""If Holder did know and didn't stop it, then he should be fired.""

    I agree.

  • Gray Ghost||

    Admittedly, wasn't Reagan's Alzheimer's starting to kick in around the time of Iran/Contra? He may genuinely not have known what was going on during the last part of his 2nd term.

    Not that his infirmity should be an excuse for keeping that job, of course.

  • mems||

    There were other factors at work with Iran/Contra.

    1) Reagan was very, very popular with most Americans.

    2) It was clear that the principle reason for the media to pursue Iran/Contra so vigorously was to take Reagan down politically.

    3) The Dems miscalculated by coaxing Oliver North to testify in front of Congress by granting him immunity for anything he might say. The Dems thought that they could catch North breaking the law and use that to turn public opinion against Reagan. Instead, North spilled the beans, shouldered all the blame and insisted everything was done to undermine the Ortega regime. The American people were not upset by the things North said because it seemed clear that North was truly working for what he thought was in the best interest of the country by working against the communists in Nicarauga. Some people even viewed North as a patriotic hero.

    4) Reagan's plausible deniability was enhanced by his reputation for being a hands-off manager.

    5) The American people were willing to cut the Reagan Administration some slack because Iran/Contra was only necessary because the Dems in Congress were actively working to undermine Reagan's policy wrt Nicarauga by defunding covert operations there. Some Congress critters even went so far as to travel to Nicarauga to apologize for and support the Ortega regime.

    I doubt the American people will be as understanding about Fast and Furious.

  • juris imprudent||

    North was a pretty despicable character, but I loved the way he pwned the idiot Congressman about what it means to run a covert op.

  • ||

    Let me posit this: The left very much wants strict gun control. Obama has been spouting the 90% lie since 2009. This was a PR effort to sway the public and congress to pass gun-control legislation. The rub being that the lie is transparent and was easily de-bunked.
    Rather than make a different assertion, they attempted to make the 90% lie come true by funneling thousands of arms to the cartels from the U.S.. That rivers of blood would flow and mayhem break out was all the better as it would make for more convincing PR. All the while there were quiet suggestions that the President might take some form of executive action if legislation was not a viable path.
    People got killed and the operation was exposed. Now the legislative path hasnt got a snowball's chance. Obama now announces he will take executive action.

    Obama and Holder didnt know. Right. No reasonable person buys that. They had means, strong motive, and opportunity. We cant go back in time and witness these guys actually planning and implementing 'fast and furious' or the identical operation in Florida funneling guns to honduras, but do we need to? People are convicted of felonies all the time on much less.

    Let me ask this: If these people were willing to unleash mayhem and murder to further an ideologically driven political agenda, how would they behave if they were able to disarm us?
    The answer to that one should chill your blood.

  • Virginia||

    Sure, so far no definitive proof has leaked but it's just a matter of time. No line manager would run guns without very specific coveryourass detailed instructions from up on high.

  • mems||

    +1

    And whomever takes the fall for this will be publicly reviled. A border agent died after all. That should provide a tremendous incentive to avoid taking the blame. If there is evidence, it will surface.

  • ||

    Come on, let’s be real here. If you have to parse words and look for nuances that let Holder off the hook then ask yourself why are you doing it? This taken with the 90% claim about American guns and Mexican crime and the POTUS remarks about “he was working on gun control in another way behind the scenes” paints a clear picture of what is going on. This is a clear cut attempt to subvert the 2nd amendment and there plenty more to support what I’m saying. If you agree with his position then fine just say so. This attempt to say he didn’t know is just intellectually dishonest.

  • ||

    Yep.

  • US Attorney General Prissy||

    Lawzy, I don't know nothin' 'bout sellin' guns.

  • Gibby||

    The irony here, is that Mexican drug cartels and MS-13 get guns with the help of the ATF, while I as a US citizen, have to jump through hoops to get one. And the biggest hoops are in Eric Holder's Chicago.

    Fuck his ass.

  • mems||

    The irony outrage here

    FIFY

  • ||

    Hmph.

    Let me guess. NOBODY in authority knew anything about this plan. Right? Heh, I suppose they'll find a Lyndie England to hang this on, then it'll be "move along, nothing to see, let's look forward, blah blah blah".

    So fucking predictable.

  • ||

    Fast and Furious...was intended to catch bigger fish; perhaps whoever was directing the straw buyers.

    I appreciate the post, but I believe this comment is highly speculative in that (1) I don't believe that has actually been stated by anyone officially (correct me if I'm wrong) and (2) even if it was officially stated- it's nonsense of the highest order. The suggestion that the Feds had to give guns to Drug Cartels (who were obviously, ultimately, directing the straw buyers) in order to confirm that they were violating the law might be the single goofiest thing I ever heard a Gumint agent say. And that's no small accomplishment.

    The Feds know the cartels are "breaking the law" so there's no need to throw Mickey-Mouse weapons charges on top of their current list of legal violations. There must have been another reason for this effort. I just can't think of one that isn't hugely problematic.

  • mems||

    Fast and Furious...was intended to catch bigger fish

    It was a bit irresponsible for Rigss to write this without qualification. Is it so hard to throw a "purportedly" or "ostensibly" in there?

  • mems||

    A bit OT, but a news blurb on the radio just reported that the Obama administration has announced new reporting rules for gun show sales in the border states. The NRA is claiming it's a political distraction.

  • mems||

    Doesn't the mere fact that there had to be a program created to set up strawman purchase to run guns to Mexico say that it is well known within Federal agencies that the whole narrative about American guns being purchased by drug cartels is bogus? If it is well-known, then what purpose would be served by setting up the program other than to create the "facts" needed to push the narrative?

  • The Media||

    Oh come on, it's not like he tweeted pictures of his package or anything. Give him a break.

  • ||

    Let's assume the basic premise is correct. Holder had no direct knowledge of Gunwalker (agreed: not the same thing as Gunrunner).

    So who authorized it and why isn't their head on a bloody platter before the Oversight Committee?

    If I am in charge of an organization and someone screws the pooch this dramatically I would want the S.O.B. who authorized it to face the modern day political equivalent of being drawn and quartered.

    We don't have that person. It's like the Nuremberg trials except that we don't even have everyone pointing to Eichmann and claiming no responsibility. We only have lots of people pretending they are appearing in the comic "Family Circus" and saying 'Not me!'

    I have trouble believing in invisible people doing all the bad things when a 5 year old tells me this sort of lie. When it's Eric Holder I like it even less.

    If he's really not responsible then who is? That sort of answer takes five minutes to find out in reality by following the chain of command.

    If Holder doesn't know that answer then he should be dismissed for incompetence and gross mismanagement. If he does know the answer and is shielding that person from being called to testify then he is guilty of obstructing a Congressional investigation and Contempt of Congress. He should be behind bars.

  • family circus||

    Q: Who did it?

    A: Ida know.

  • ||

    Have they investigated Vladimir Guerrero?

  • Appalachian Australian||

    Something's seriously wrong with a U.S. Attorney General who does not know that his underlings are intentionally selling firearms to Mexican drug cartels.

    If Eric Holder had any integrity, he'd be arranging a round of firings from the top down. (Firings of the H.R. kind, not the ATF kind.)

  • mems||

    This is kind of interesting.

  • ||

    Transcript of the link:

    “DOJ’s Drug Enforcement Administration, which already has the largest U.S. drug enforcement presence in Mexico with 11 offices in that country, is placing 16 new DEA positions in Southwest border field operations specifically to target Mexican trafficking and associated violence.”

    “The DEA is also deploying four new mobile enforcement teams to specifically target Mexican methamphetamine trafficking, both along the border and in U.S. cities impacted by the cartels.”

    “DOJ’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is increasing its efforts by adding 37 new employees in three new offices, using $10 million in Recovery Act funds and redeploying 100 personnel to the Southwest border in the next 45 days to fortify its Project Gunrunner which is aimed at disrupting arms trafficking between the United States and Mexico.”

    “ATF is doubling its presence in Mexico itself, from five to nine personnel working with the Mexicans, specifically to facilitate gun-tracing activity which targets the illegal weapons and their sources in the United States.”

  • ||

    Well since Project Gunrunner began in 2005 What was Holder talking about when he said "New Effort" in his speech in Mexico in 2009? Could that be "Gunwalking" 2 new OP's "Fast and Furious" and "Castaway" perhaps??

  • Douglas Fletcher||

    We'll get the bastard yet.

  • DoDoGuRu||

    There's Still No Evidence That Eric Holder Knew About Operation Fast and Furious

    And that's still no reason not to go on a political fishing expedition. Sauce for the goose *cough* Valerie Plame *cough*.

  • ||

    Mr. Riggs is full of shit and not to be listened to for any reason. He has proven himself to be at best, a fool and at worst an agent of the enemy, your enemies.

    Do you really believe that the ATF director had the authority to do this without clearance? Who would he get clearance from, hmmmm? Holder, that's who and would holder do this without Obama in the loop? There is no way that happened.

    This goes right to the top and it's fingers extend into multiple agencies who are currently shitting themselves hoping that they are not somehow implicated.

    The people involved here are careerists and Marxists. At one time, we understood what that meant. We also understood what it meant when someone wrote stories backing up the bad guys. Some of us still do.

  • ||

    ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!

  • ||

    The word you seek is, treason.

    One who commits treason is a, traitor.

    The political party of the traitor does not matter.

    Treason is still treason.

  • Tango||

    Holder did know. What more do you need than the AG's speech transcript itself?

    http://www.justice.gov/ag/spee.....90402.html

    "Last week, our administration launched a major new effort to break the backs of the cartels. My department is committing 100 new ATF personnel to the Southwest border in the next 100 days to supplement our ongoing Project Gunrunner, DEA is adding 16 new positions on the border, as well as mobile enforcement teams, and the FBI is creating a new intelligence group focusing on kidnapping and extortion. DHS is making similar commitments, as Secretary Napolitano will detail."

  • ||

    Yeah, that pretty much describes Gunwalker, doesn't it?

    The funny thing is, the way Gunwalker was being run, it couldn't have resulted in any law enforcement action.

    The Mexicans were out of the loop, and were in fact lied to when they asked if anything was going on. There was no way to track the guns in Mexico. There was no DEATFBI operation in Mexico to follow up.

    If it couldn't lead to law enforcement action, then what was it for? I think we know the answer to that.

  • ||

    BULLSHIT! Holder knew and there IS PROOF!

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