Damning new evidence from Capitol Hill shows that ATF Directors and Justice Department Officials knew about and encouraged the purposeful trafficking of thousands of weapons across the southern border, despite strong objections from ATF agents. Thousands of innocent lives were taken as the result, including those of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and ICE Agent Jamie Zapata.
New emails released by House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa show that ATF Director Kenneth Melson was briefed weekly about Operation Fast and Furious and watched a live feed of straw purchasers (who serve as middle men, purchasing guns and giving them to cartel members) in Arizona gun shops from his cozy Washington D.C. office. Emails also show that Deputy Assistant Director for Field Operations William McMahon was enthusiastic about the operation.
“An e-mail from April 12, 2010, indicates that Acting Director Melson was very much in the weeds with Operation Fast and Furious. After a detailed briefing of the program by the ATF Phoenix Field Division, Acting Director Melson had a plethora of follow-up questions that required additional research to answer. As the document indicates, Mr. Melson was interested in the IP Address for hidden cameras located inside cooperating gun shops. With this information, Acting Director Melson was able to sit at his desk in Washington and – himself – watch a live feed of the straw buyers entering the gun stores to purchase dozens of AK-47 variants,” Chairman Issa said in his opening statement.
Senator Charles Grassley, who has been working closely with Rep. Issa, pointed out that officials from the Justice Department have been stonewalling the investigation for months. Attorney General Eric Holder has said he is unaware of who ordered the operation.
“On October 26, 2009, emails indicate that there was a meeting of senior law enforcement officials at the Justice Department. It appears to have included the heads every law enforcement component of the Department, including directors of the FBI, the DEA and the ATF. It also included the U.S. Attorneys for all the Southwest border states, the Director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and the Chair of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee,” Grassley testified.
Emails also show that ATF encouraged gun dealers to sell to straw buyers, in spite of their own hesitance to do so.