Newell, the special agent in charge in Phoenix, was asked at a news conference after the Avila indictment whether his agency would ever let guns knowingly cross the border. Newell answered, “Hell, no.” But, he said, suspects under surveillance sometimes elude agents, which could result in guns winding up in Mexico.
Grassley got a similar answer.
In a Feb. 4 letter to the senator, the Justice Department said ATF never “knowingly allowed the sale of assault weapons to a straw purchaser who then transported them into Mexico.” ATF, the letter added, makes “every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation into Mexico.”
Newell flat lied at the conference; the Justice Department flat lied to Grassley in their letter; and BATFE and the JD are spinning this as hard as they can to try and make this look less nasty. Speaking of spin,
Gentlemen and Ladies, This just hit minutes ago. Panic and chaos are taking place at ATF headquarters in advance of the anticipated media releases today and tomorrow. Below is a message just sent from the subordinate of Jim McDermond from the ATF Office of Public and Governmental Affairs. An emergency request is being issued to all ATF Public Information Officers to find ATF stories with a positive spin to counter-influence was is expected today. Very insulting and very much the character of ATF management. Please respond to me that you received this. I think it will be critical to your stories and for Senator Grassley to further see demonstrated ATF’s continued desire to spin and cover up.
Sipsey Street has this link to the letter and documents in Sen. Grassley's latest letter to Holder; transcript of the letter at Sipsey if you want to read it there. I'm going to borrow these paragraphs; imagine yourself a clown at JD or BATFE who reads this:
In light of this evidence, the Justice Department‟s denials simply don‟t hold water. On February 4, 2011, the Department claimed that the ATF did not “knowingly” allow the sale of assault weapons to straw purchasers and that “ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation into Mexico.”13 Clearly those statements are not accurate. These documents establish that ATF allowed illegal firearm purchases by suspected traffickers in hopes of making a larger case against the cartels. ATF was not alone. The U.S. Attorney‟s office appears to have been fully aware and engaged in endorsing the same strategy.
Congress needs to get to the bottom of this.
After close of business last night, I received a one-page response to my letters of February 9 and 16.14 The response asks that I direct to the Inspector General any individuals who believe they have knowledge of misconduct by Department employees. You should know that just after Agent Terry died in December, at least one whistleblower contacted the Office of Inspector General before contacting my office. Despite reporting the allegations multiple times by phone, Internet, and fax, no one contacted the whistleblower until after my staff contacted the Acting Inspector General directly on February 1.
I have received no documents in response to my February 16, 2011, request. Last night‟s DOJ reply cites the Justice Department‟s “longstanding policy regarding pending matters” as a reason for withholding documents “relating to any ongoing investigation.”15 However, as you know, that policy is merely a policy. It is not mandated by any binding legal authority.
In addition to providing the documents I previously requested, please explain how the denials in the Justice Department‟s February 4, 2011 letter to me can be squared with the evidence.
Very polite way of saying
You lied to us.
You tried to blow us off.
You ignored the whistleblowers, and have lied about that.
Knock off the "We couldn't tell you" bullshit, and
We're waiting to see how you try to spin having lied to us. Again.
From Codrea's latest,
There was one moment of unintended hilarity, though, in the statement from Acting Director Kenneth Melson:
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) will ask a multi-disciplinary panel of law enforcement professionals to review the bureau's current firearms trafficking strategies employed by field division managers and special agents.
Oh, your strategies are going to be reviewed, alright, Mr. Melson.
Count on it.
Yeah. And not by people you can count on to scratch your back.