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Entries in Charles Grassley (3)

Wednesday
Aug012012

House Report Cites Five Former ATF Officials in Fast and Furious Operation

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House and Senate must improve the leadership of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to a draft report that was critical of the government's botched "Operation Fast and Furious" that resulted in hundreds of guns falling into criminal hands.

The report, prepared by California Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, cited five one-time ATF officials in particular for instituting the gun-tracking operation and then failing to stop it after things went wrong.

Those named were former Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Field Division William Newell, former Deputy Assistant Director for Field Operations William McMahon, former Assistant Director for Field Operations Mark Chait, the former Deputy Director William Hoover, and former acting ATF director Kenneth Melson.

The ATF first allowed up to 2,000 firearms to cross the border into Mexico in order to find violent criminals involved in gun trafficking and drug cartels.  However, many of those weapons were misplaced and two turned up at the murder scene of a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Arizona.

The Justice Department initially denied knowledge of Operation Fast and Furious and then admitted it was aware of the program.  Attorney General Eric Holder appeared before numerous congressional committees to testify about what he knew and is currently being held in contempt by the House for not turning over documents requested by Issa.

Two other reports from congressional Republicans are due that will allege further missteps by the Justice Department's criminal division and the office of the attorney general.  Holder and members of the Obama administration have called the probes a "witch-hunt."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec082011

Fast and Furious Scandal: DOJ Official Faces Heat, Eric Holder to Testify

Sen. Charles Grassley. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, demanded on Wednesday that the head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division resign over the controversial Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' gun trafficking program known as Fast and Furious.

Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer has provided inaccurate statements and information to Congress on Fast and Furious, which allowed thousands of weapons to flow into Mexico.

ATF officials say they hoped to track the guns to their ultimate destination, and then make arrests.  Instead, many of the guns were used in crimes, including one that was used in the murder of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in December 2010.

In recent months, ongoing Congressional investigations have focused on what senior Justice Department officials knew about the program. Attorney General Eric Holder -- who some accuse of misleading Congress about his involvement in the scandal -- is set to appear before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday to testify again about it. Emails prove Holder was far more involved -- and for far longer -- than he previously admitted.

Last Friday, the Justice Department withdrew a Feb. 4, 2011 letter that was sent to Sen. Grassley that asserted that ATF did not let guns walk into Mexico.

Breuer has said that he was not involved in the review or drafting of the letter sent to Grassley’s office --despite emails showing that he was aware of the initial inquiry from Sen. Grassley and sending drafts of the letter to his personal non-government email account.

“So imagine my surprise when I discover from documents provided Friday night that Mr. Breuer was far more informed during the drafting of that letter than he admitted before the Judiciary Committee.  In fact, Mr. Breuer got frequent updates on the status of the letter while he was in Mexico.” Grassley said on the Senate floor.  “If you can’t be straight with Congress, you don’t need to be running the Criminal Division.  It’s time to stop spinning and start taking responsibility.  I have long said that the highest-ranking official who knew about gunwalking in Operation Fast and Furious needs to be held accountable.”

In a statement, Justice Department Director of Public Affairs Tracy Schmaler said, “Assistant Attorney General Breuer has acknowledged his mistake in not making -- and therefore not alerting Department leadership to -- a connection between the allegations made about Operation Fast and Furious and the unacceptable tactics used years earlier in Operation Wide Receiver.  He has acknowledged that mistake to Congress and to the Attorney General, who continues to have confidence in Assistant Attorney General Breuer’s ability to lead the Criminal Division.”

According to a CBS News report, documents show ATF authorities sought to use U.S. weapons found in Mexico -- guns it allowed to flow over the border -- as justification to stiffen gun laws in the U.S.

Wednesday
Dec072011

Grassley Wants DOJ Official to Resign in Fast and Furious Scandal

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Wednesday demanded the head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division resign over the controversial ATF gun trafficking program known as Fast and Furious.

Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer has provided inaccurate statements and information to Congress on Fast and Furious and a Bush-era gun running case called Wide Receiver in which the ATF also let guns walk into Mexico.

Under the botched program hundreds of guns flowed into Mexico.  ATF officials say they hoped to track the guns to their ultimate destination, and then make arrests. Instead, many of the guns were used in crimes, including one that was used in the murder of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in December 2010.

In recent months ongoing congressional investigations have focused on what senior Justice Department officials knew about the program.  Attorney General Eric Holder is set to appear before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday to testify about the scandal. Last Friday the Justice Department withdrew a Feb. 4, 2011 letter that was sent to Sen. Grassley that asserted that ATF did not let guns walk into Mexico.

Breuer has said that he was not involved in the review or drafting of the letter sent to Grassley’s office despite emails showing that he was aware of the initial inquiry from Sen. Grassley and sending drafts of the letter to his personal non-government email account.

“So imagine my surprise when I discover from documents provided Friday night that that Mr. Breuer was far more informed during the drafting of that letter than he admitted before the Judiciary Committee. In fact, Mr. Breuer got frequent updates on the status of the letter while he was in Mexico,” Grassley said on the Senate floor.  “If you can’t be straight with Congress, you don’t need to be running the Criminal Division. It’s time to stop spinning and start taking responsibility. I have long said that the highest-ranking official who knew about gun-walking in Operation Fast and Furious needs to be held accountable.”

In November, Breuer admitted that he made mistakes after being briefed last year about questionable tactics from Wide Receiver by not raising the issue with senior DOJ leadership as prosecutors moved to indict the case in 2010.

“At the time, I thought that -- dealing with the leadership of ATF was sufficient and reasonable,” Breuer told the Senate Judiciary committee last month when he was asked why he did not raise the issue to DOJ leadership,  “I thought that that was the appropriate way of dealing with it. But I cannot be more clear that knowing now -- if I’d known then what I know now, I of course would have told the deputy and the attorney general.”

In a statement, Justice Department Director of Public Affairs Tracy Schmaler said, “Assistant Attorney General Breuer has acknowledged his mistake in not making -- and therefore not alerting Department leadership to -- a connection between the allegations made about Operation Fast and Furious and the unacceptable tactics used years earlier in Operation Wide Receiver.  He has acknowledged that mistake to Congress and to the Attorney General, who continues to have confidence in Assistant Attorney General Breuer’s ability to lead the Criminal Division.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio