Tuesday, February 07, 2012

This is going to be a long one,

there's several posts at Sipsey speaking specifically of the last hearing, and more on just why the committee seems to be accomplishing so little: Boehner.

Yesterday was the devil's own day in the Gunwalker scandal investigation and the search for the truth suffered as a result. Several sources tell Sipsey Street that the committee's work has been slowed by the intervention of Speaker of the House John Boehner, with some saying plainly that "the fix is in."
Several sources close to the investigation, have "gone dark," no longer speaking on conditions of anonymity because they have been warned that to do so will be at the risk of their jobs, Prior to the hearing, this silence was represented to some that the committee was ready to exercise a "nuclear option," in the phrase of one, so Holder would have no warning of any evidence said to have been gathered by the investigation.
Considered in the cold light of day, such reports have to be considered as the worst hyperbole, if not deliberate disinformation. "Some 'nuclear option,'" said one. "More like a Black Cat" (a small firecracker).
Said one person very familiar with the investigation:
As for yesterday . . . (it was) a plea bargain of sorts where both sides save face. The Committee will accept the scalps of Breuer and Wienstein, DOJ will release enough of the (documents) to condemn them, claim cooperation (thus giving the appearance of recognizing congress's oversight authority), and Holder will survive - looking like a "leader" for offering them up (along with a few lower level ATF and DOJ folk). The Committee will chalk one in the "Win" column for oversight and holding people accountable. DOJ will have the same for cooperating and accountability. All sides win, all checks and balance intact and working fine, all powers respected and then they move on to the next act of political theatre. The only ones left to sweep up the mess, are the American and Mexican peoples - ignorantly secure in our beliefs that the system works and that our government is actually for us, by us, and of us.
That John Boehner has now become the most useful tool to the White House outrages many gun rights activists and Tea Party members, who look upon this turn of events as just one more sell-out in a long line of sell-outs.
Asked by this reporter what Boehner would get from such a deal, called "logrolling" by the source, he said, "Whatever he wants most or fears most. Politicians do these deals all the time, but this one is unusual in its size and scope. . . and the fact that a whole lot of people are watching."
Another source confirmed the foot of Boehner on the brake pedal of the Issa Committee investigation and said, "the only thing that will stop him is if somebody chucks him out of the car."
As press inquiries begin to grow about what influence Boehner has had on the Issa investigation, reports out of the hard-core gun rights groups that I spoke with today say that, in the words of one, "if this is the game that Boehner is going to play, we can play, too," pointing out that Boehner is facing a primary challenge in his home district in the spring. "I can see a lot of people suddenly invested in the idea that Boehner has to be dumped," said one.
Yesterday a lot of people, including this writer and the whistleblowers, were frankly discouraged at the outcome of the hearing. Today, however, that sense of betrayal has turned to anger, and resolve.
Said one source of this writer very familiar with the investigation and unhappy with the latest turn:
The real question, for many of us, is what now? I'm reminded of that guy in the Matrix where he sold everyone out just so he could get plugged back in, to "taste a steak again," (to) go back to the ease of living the lie rather than the burdens of fighting the reality. I believe many of us find ourselves standing face to face with similar paradigms, and now, forced to make that same decision. So I ask you, do you prefer easy with a side of steak? Or like me, and I borrow from Capt. John Paul Jones, "Give me a fast ship, for I intend to go into harm's way."
As I readied this post for publication, I received another call from a gun rights activist in Ohio. "Boner," he said, using a derogatory term of Buckeye conservatives for the Speaker of the House, "is going to wish he never heard of 'Gunwalker.'"
LATER: Yet another gun rights activist has forwarded this link for the campaign of David Lewis, Boehner's opponent in the GOP primary.

Second, on some of the deceptions and deals going on, including that the FBI is in this up to their eyebrows:
As the Democrats in last Thursday's hearing sang the song of "permanent director of the ATF," specifically, Andrew Traver, I mentioned to "authorized journalists" seated around me that,
a. The Democrats controlled the House, Senate and White House from 2009-2011 and thus could have had any director they wanted, and,
b. Traver was an anti-firearm rights ideologue whose confirmation hearing in the present time would be more than problematic, even though they still controlled the Senate and could assure success.
In other words, they could have had Traver at any time in the past three years and elected not to do it.
As I wrote here back in July 2010, when I broke the story of Traver's long-postponed selection to replace Ken Melson:
So let's sum up: Traver has been an ATF agent for 23 years, starting out as an entry-level jack-booted thug ("an original member of the Entry Control Team, forerunner of the Special Response Teams"). Since then, he has risen through the agency hierarchy, all the while making friends of notorious Illinois anti-firearm rights politicians of both parties. He has had personal friendly contact with Barack Obama and Hizzonor, the King of Chicago Richard Daley. He has worked with the virulently anti-firearm Joyce Foundation and the IACP, putting his efforts and his name to a report which calls for more firearm bans and regulations that amount to the gutting of the Second Amendment. Traver is, then, an extremely politically well-connected, anti-firearm, pro-citizen-disarmament zealot.
Traver was even closer friend to Rahm Emanuel, Clinton adviser on gun policy, who later became a Congressman from Chicago and then Obama's Chief of Staff. He is now, of course, Mayor of Chicago.
And, as I wrote back in March 2011, an incident involving Eric Holder early in 2009 shaped everything that came later:
It is early March, 2009. Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United States had walked into a buzzsaw a couple of weeks before when on 25 February, according to CBS News:
Attorney General Eric Holder was busy announcing the capture of more than 50 alleged members of the notorious Sinaloa Cartel yesterday when he unwittingly stepped into a larger debate about gun control.
Responding to a reporter's question on weapons' regulations, Holder said, "Well, as President Obama indicated during the campaign, there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons. I think that will have a positive impact in Mexico, at a minimum."
Holder refused to speculate when legislation would move forward. "There are obviously a number of things that are -- that have been taking up a substantial amount of [Obama's] time, and so, I'm not sure exactly what the sequencing will be," he said.
Almost immediately, the Blue Dog Democrats went spastic, burning up the phone lines to the White House. Rahm Emanuel was reported to be "livid" at the faux pas. The long-time supporter of the Brady Bunch, citizen disarmament and specifically the ban on semi-automatic rifles of military utility (the misnamed "Assault Weapons Ban"), was not upset about the goal, just the impolitic nature of the public announcement.
CBS reported in the same story that even pro-citizen disarmament advocate Nancy Pelosi, then Speaker of the House, recoiled:
. . . "I think there are a lot of Democrats on Capitol Hill cringing at Eric Holder's comments right now," Wayne LaPierre, president of the National Rifle Association, told ABC News.
Lending credence to LaPierre's claims, The Hill reports that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded to Holder's remarks during her weekly press conference by stating, "On that score, I think we need to enforce the laws we have right now. I think it's clear the Bush administration didn't do that."
Pelosi's comments reflect the fact that Democrats may not now want a fight over gun regulations with so many other matters on the president's agenda.
So, that's Item One of our Gunwalker Conspiracy Time Line: February 2009, "Eric Holder handed his head by Pelosi and Emanuel on his public advocacy of a new AWB." Here's Item Two, from a story on Sipsey Street in October 2011:
Sources familiar with the congressional investigation into the Gunwalker Plot say that investigators are homing in on early conversations -- and meetings -- between ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Field Division William Newell and his self-described "long-time friend," Kevin O'Reilly, a State Department employee then on the National Security Council. This is reflected, say the sources, in the subpoena issued this week by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee seeking, among other things, "All communications to or from William Newell, former Special agent in Charge for ATF's Phoenix Field Division, between . . . March 16, 2009 to March 19, 2009."
The sources also say that Newell met personally with O'Reilly during this early period in the Obama administration and they believe that Newell may have "weaponized" the desire for more better statistics on the part of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others to support the "90 Percent" meme -- that 90% of weapons seized in Mexico from the drug cartels actually came from American civilian market sources.
Newell, who the sources say was familiar with the tactic of "gun walking" from the previous failed Operation Wide Receiver in Tuscon where Newell had participated in it, probably provided the germ of the idea that "walked" weapons could be used to "boost the statistics" of weapons found at crime scenes in Mexico, in the words of an early whistleblower in this case.
If this is true, it places Kevin O'Reilly, a State Department employee responsible to Hillary Clinton, as the critical potential witness in the early history of the Gunwalker Scandal.
So, even before the Obama administration decided upon a new director for ATF, a State Department guy on the White House's National Security Council is chatting about guns and the border with somebody that now even the Democrats say -- as they try to blame the entire scandal on him -- is the Number One Gunwalker in the United States, William "Gunwalker Bill" Newell.
What happened next, you ask? What is Item Three on our Gunwalker timeline? Why the Obama administration finally settled on an acting Director for the ATF -- someone decidedly NOT Traver. Someone who was not even close to being an obvious choice: Ken Melson. The date was 8 April 2009. Why Melson? He was not Traver, certainly. He was not a friend of Obama or Emanuel and was not particularly known as much more than a career DOJ apparatchik, a non-entity. His last promotion had come from George W. Bush when he was named director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys in May 2007. The Obamanoids never put Melson up for a hearing as permanent director, either, although they certainly could have assured his confirmation. Yet they did not. This was always a mystery to many observers. In the light of what subsequently happened, perhaps the appointment of Melson is less mysterious -- if more sinister.
Since we can certainly see that they had the ability to confirm whomever they chose, why then did they choose Melson? In the light of what we now know about Gunwalker and the murder of Brian Terry, it seems obvious that they were hedging their bets with a designated schmuck.
Recall what we do know about events that led to Brian Terry's death. ATF was actually only trusted with two parts of the conspiracy --
1. They were to coerce American licensed firearm dealers into selling weapons to straw buyers who provided those weapons to the money-men/smugglers of the cartels. They were then to document to follow, but not arrest, the straw buyers and their superiors when the weapons were put in the smuggling pipeline. They were forbidden to follow of arrest the cartel middlemen/managers.
2. They were to count those weapons when they showed up in Mexico beside dead bodies, using the E-Trace system. That, and only that.
There was no attempt, unlike Wide Receiver, to coordinate with the Mexicans or track the weapons. There was no "sting gone bad" because THERE WAS NO STING. The purpose of pushing American civilian market firearms into Mexico was to push American civilian market firearms into Mexico. The evidence supports no other conclusion.
Those two things, and only those two things, were what the ATF was trusted to do. But that was not all that was going on. Recall this portion of the report released the night before Thursday's hearing by the Issa committee.
Shockingly, though, other federal law enforcement components of the Department of Justice were already aware of the two cartel associates that ATF had finally identified. Their names appeared frequently in DEA call logs provided to ATF – in December 2009.11 Inexplicably, ATF failed to review all the materials DEA had provided, missing these prime investigative targets.
Additionally, DEA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had jointly opened a separate investigation specifically targeting these two cartel associates.12 As early as mid-January 2010, both agencies had collected a wealth of information on these associates.13 Yet, ATF spent the next year engaging in the reckless tactics of Fast and Furious in attempting to identify them.
During the course of this separate investigation, the FBI designated these two cartel associates as national security assets.14 In exchange for one individual’s guilty plea to a minor count of “Alien in Possession of a Firearm,” both became FBI informants and are now considered to be unindictable.15 This means that the entire goal of Fast and Furious – to target these two individuals and bring them to justice – was a failure. ATF’s discovery that the primary targets of their investigation were not indictable was “a major disappointment.”
NOTE 12: Meeting with Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and Congressional Staff at Robert F. Kennedy Building, Justice Command Center, Oct. 5, 2011 10:00 AM [hereinafter FBI Meeting]. See also Head Shot, Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces [hereinafter Head Shot]. This reaction and lack of follow-through typify the serious management failures that occurred throughout all levels of the Department during Fast and Furious.
NOTE 13: FBI Meeting, supra note 7. See also FD-302 supra note 8.
NOTE 14: FBI Meeting, supra note 7.
NOTE 15: Head Shot, supra note 12.
NOTE 16: Transcribed Interview of James Needles, at 30 (Nov. 4, 2011) (going on to describe it as “very” frustrating)
The October meeting on Operation Headshot by committee investigators with DOJ, FBI, DEA and ATF personnel on 5 October came a month after the wider world learned of two "stone cold killers" who were paid confidential informants of the FBI in the FOX News report by William Lajeunesse entitled "EXCLUSIVE: Third Gun Linked to 'Fast and Furious' Identified at Border Agent's Murder Scene."
A third gun linked to "Operation Fast and Furious" was found at the murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, new documents obtained exclusively by Fox News suggest, contradicting earlier assertions by federal agencies that police found only two weapons tied to the federal government's now infamous gun interdiction scandal.
Sources say e-mails support their contention that the FBI concealed evidence to protect a confidential informant. Sources close to the Terry case say the FBI informant works inside a major Mexican cartel and provided the money to obtain the weapons used to kill Terry.
Unlike the two AK-style assault weapons found at the scene, the "third" weapon could more easily be linked to the informant. To prevent that from happening, sources say, the third gun "disappeared."
. . . Months ago, congressional investigators developed information that both the FBI and DEA not only knew about the failed gun operation, but that they may be complicit in it. House Government Reform and Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, fired off letters in July requesting specific details from FBI director Robert Mueller and Drug Enforcement Administration chief Michele Leonhart.
"In recent weeks, we have learned of the possible involvement of paid FBI informants in Operation Fast and Furious," Issa and Grassley wrote to Mueller. "Specifically, at least one individual who is allegedly an FBI informant might have been in communication with, and was perhaps even conspiring with, at least one suspect whom ATF was monitoring."
Sources say the FBI is using the informants in a national security investigation. The men were allegedly debriefed by the FBI at a safe house in New Mexico last year.
Sources say the informants previously worked for the DEA and U.S. Marshall's Office but their contracts were terminated because the men were "stone-cold killers." The FBI however stopped their scheduled deportation because their high ranks within the cartel were useful.
In their July letter, Issa and Grassley asked Mueller if any of those informants were ever deported by the DEA or any other law enforcement entity and how they were repatriated.
Asked about the content of the emails, a former federal prosecutor who viewed them expressed shock.
"I have never seen anything like this. I can see the FBI may have an informant involved but I can't see them tampering with evidence. If this is all accurate, I'm stunned," the former prosecutor said.
To characterize , as the committee report does, the alleged "failure to deconflict" Operation Head Shot and Operation Fast and Furious as a "serious management failure" is akin to criticism of the Holocaust on the grounds that it was a serious misuse of the German railway system.
It is no wonder that observers, including this writer, are prepared to believe on the basis of this latest "memorandum" and the failed hearing that it preceded that "the fix is in" and in some ways has been from the very beginning.
To paraphrase Admiral Josh Painter in The Hunt for Red October, predatory federal bureaucrats and the politicians they serve don't take a dump without a plan. And senior policy executors don't start something this dangerous without having thought the matter through.
A contingency plan is a plan devised for an exceptional risk which is impractical or impossible to avoid. Contingency plans are often devised by governments or businesses who want to be prepared for events which, while highly unlikely, may have catastrophic effects. -- Wikipedia.
I submit that the selection of Kenneth Melson would not have been made without an eye to the series of events -- both before his nomination and those that were planned for after -- that became the Gunwalker Conspiracy. All planners, military, political or business, do contingency planning as part of the decision-making process. The people who planned Gunwalker at the highest levels of the Obama administration in early 2009 had to take into consideration a number of "what ifs" in the event of failure.
What little we know about Operations Headshot and Fast & Furious makes it plain that the Gunwalker Conspiracy and the murder of Brian Terry can only be explained as compartmentalized clandestine pieces of the same criminal enterprise to subvert the Constitution by building a predicate for more gun control atop the mountain of dead bodies in Mexico and the exaggerated threat that the cartels would do the same thing here.
Plausible deniability is, at root, credible (plausible) ability to deny a fact or allegation, or to deny previous knowledge of a fact. The term most often refers to the denial of blame in (formal or informal) chains of command, where upper rungs quarantine the blame to the lower rungs, and the lower rungs are often inaccessible, meaning confirming responsibility for the action is nearly impossible. In the case that illegal or otherwise disreputable and unpopular activities become public, high-ranking officials may deny any awareness of such act or any connection to the agents used to carry out such acts. It typically implies forethought, such as intentionally setting up the conditions to plausibly avoid responsibility for one's (future) actions or knowledge. In politics and espionage, deniability refers to the ability of a "powerful player" or actor to avoid "blowback" by secretly arranging for an action to be taken on their behalf by a third party—ostensibly unconnected with the major player. In political campaigns, plausible deniability enables candidates to stay "clean" and denounce advertisements that use unethical approaches or innuendo based on opposition research. -- Wikipedia.
In Gunwalker everything would have of necessity been on a need to know basis, with those supervising a particular function only briefed with a back story that justified, legally and bureaucratically, what they themselves were doing. The old lie of fake necessity, national security, covers a lot of possible objections. Thus, the political types like Eric Holder and Kenneth Melson would not be briefed on "tactics" or the particulars of Fast and Furious and Headshot. To do so in a compartmentalized clandestine operation would have been foolish. The political appointees only needed to know what not to notice, what not to be too inquisitive about. "Plausible deniability" has been a popular concept for bureaucrats and politicians for a long time before anybody ever thought to call it that.
This reduces the number of critical players necessary to carry out such a plot, with each carefully selected ("Personnel is policy") and placed exactly where they can execute and supervise their portion of the larger plan. Certainly this would explain the March 2009 meeting with attendance of people like O'Reilly, Newell and, it is said, Burke (while he was still Napolitano's henchman at DHS) among others.
Deception planning. Contingency planning. Plausible deniability. All of these would have been taken into account by the Gunwalker conspirators before the first weapon was smuggled. And, with the inconvenience of the whistleblowers like John Dodson aside, their preparations have been working out pretty damned well.
The Issa Committee itself is buying into -- in ignorance or on purpose -- the deception that counts on the public's preconceived notions of the ATF as a bumbling agency that has given us Ruby Ridge, Waco and the Good O' Boys Roundup scandals. Going after Holder and others for "managerial failures" is like issuing Bonnie and Clyde a speeding ticket after a bank robbery. They will be happy to dispute the ticket before a local magistrate as long as you take no notice of the blood-stained cash on the floorboards.

The thing to remember about Ruby Ridge and Waco is that although both are considered ATF screw-ups, it was the FBI which racked up the body count and that agency's employees never paid a moments heed to the the casualties nor did they suffer the least inconvenience because of it. In this, the Gunwalker Conspiracy mirrors earlier deadly federal misadventures, perhaps because it also uses some of the same conspirators, including most especially Eric Holder. No wonder the DOJ staffers behind Field Marshal Holder at Thursday's hearing were smirking more often than not. The deception plan is working to a tee. Designated goats like Melson, selected beforehand for their weaknesses, are performing to the script.

Having watched all this Oversight Committee theater from both near and far now, I have to wonder why the principal players in the investigation think that we commoners are so stupid as to believe that THEY are so -- innocently, gullibly -- stupid to faithfully execute the Obama administration's own deception plan while pretending to investigate it. If there is some sort of "deep plan" that the committee is supposed to be executing here, I see no evidence at the moment that it is one which will lead to the truth and to justice for the many victims of Gunwalker.

What can we do about it? For one thing, we can insist that someone get to the bottom of what really happened with Operation Headshot and the FBI's role in the murder of Brian Terry and the subsequent cover-up to protect their "stone cold killer" snitches. More on that later.

Over at Daily Caller, they contacted Boehner's office about this:
TheDC followed up and asked Steel if his boss supports the 103 Republican House members who have either demanded Holder’s resignation or expressed “no confidence” in him via a formal House resolution, or both.

Rather than answer the question to quell concerns about the strength of Boehner’s leadership as the controversy gathers steam, Steel dodged it by responding with the same exact boilerplate message just nine minutes after he sent it the first time.

“The Speaker appreciates the hard work that Chairman Issa and many others have done to expose this scandal,” Steel emailed again. “President Obama’s Department of Justice needs to be accountable.”

Steel used identical language to respond when TheDC asked him the same question in mid-January at the House Republican retreat in Baltimore.

Steel would not answer, however, when TheDC asked him if Boehner supports House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa’s threat to hold Holder in contempt of Congress if he fails to produce subpoenaed documents by Issa’s Feb. 9 deadline.

Steel also wouldn’t answer when TheDC asked him if the speaker supports Issa’s call for Holder to apologize to the Mexican government, and to the families of the more than 300 victims of Operation Fast and Furious in Mexico.

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