The Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) program “Operation Fast and Furious" allowed gun stores near the Mexican border to sell semiautomatic weapons in bulk to "straw purchasers" and then track their journey. Many of the guns were linked to crimes, including the killing of a Border Patrol agent.
Chair of the Committee, Darrell Issa (R-CA),released three emails by ATF officials discussing the program. The committee is investigating who at ATF and the Department of Justice knew and authorized the program.
Rep. Issa and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) released a report on “Operation Fast and Furious," which says border patrol and ATF agents were told to "surveil" weapons and not interdict. It also said agents warned of devastating consequences, including criminal activity, but supervisors ignored their warnings.
At a House hearing on the program Wednesday, ATF Agent John Dodson said, "Every time we questioned that order, there was punitive action."
Dodson told Rep. James Lankford (R-OK) the ATF stopped tracking the weapons once they traveled too far from the border. He said the ATF lost track of 1500 - 1800 weapons.
Issa said the administration ignored committee requests for documents on “Operation Fast and Furious." Issa issued a subpoena on March 31, 2011 to the acting Director of the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATFE) Agency Kenneth Melson to determine what he knew and if he signed off on the program.
This is disturbing. Obama's team thought it would be a great idea to lose track of almost 2000 weapons as a means of law enforcement? Uh, hello? And it appears there has been some lying or concealment to the committee beyond just ignoring subpeonas. From the AP:
"To allow a gun to walk is idiotic," said Forcelli. "This was a catastrophic disaster."
Early this year, Weich, head of Justice's office of legislative affairs, wrote in a letter that ATF makes "every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation into Mexico." Issa asked whether Weich now considers that to be false.
"I'm not prepared to say at this time," replied Weich.
Mr. Weich may have some 'splainin' to do.