A July 4 meeting between the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) front man Kenneth Melson and Congressional investigators revealed the Department of Justice has actively engaged in a “cover-up” and “remain silent” campaign concerning the controversial firearm program that allowed U.S. weapons to cross into Mexico in the hands of criminals.
The hush, hush meeting revealed a couple of things, first, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder knew a lot more about this operation than he has previously admitted and Melson will not be the Obama Administration fall guy.
This investigation began when senior Republican Congressional lawmakers embarked on quest to find out why Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered in December of last year with a gun that traced back to an ATF program. However, Agent Terry’s family and lawmakers were met with roadblocks from ATF leaders.
That all changed with the Fourth of July meeting between lawmakers and investigators when Melson exposed that it was the Department of Justice (DOJ) who silenced ATF leaders.
“If his account is accurate, then ATF leadership appears to have been effectively muzzled while the DOJ sent over false denials and buried its head in the sand,” Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-CA) chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote in a letter Tuesday to AG Eric Holder. “That approach distorted the truth and obstructed our investigation.”
“According to Acting Director Melson, he became aware of this startling possibility only after the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and the indictments of the straw purchasers.” (Straw purchasers are criminals who buy weapons for other known criminals who cannot legally buy firearms)
The secret meeting also produced admissions that ATF “made many mistakes” with the controversial gun walking program “Fast and Furious.” In fact Melson’s private attorney, Richard Cullen, a former federal prosecutor was present at the July 4 meeting with investigators to protect the acting director.
Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) who also sits on the Government Oversight Committee said this scandal has quickly lent itself to a “he said, she said” scenario.
Chaffetz also cited his concern about AG Holder’s knowledge of the reckless ATF program. “We received page after page of redacted ATF documents. And in May Holder said he only learned about the gun walking program, even though we have questionable ATF memos that date back to January of this year.”
Another concern with ATF’s “Fast and Furious” program is wire-tapping. “Wire tapes require senior administration approval and we still don’t know who authorized them for this program,” Chaffetz finished.
Lawmakers also learned over the holiday weekend that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) were involved in buying guns with taxpayer money using an informant in order to target Mexican drug cartels.
The informant in question happened to be a high-ranking drug dealer the DEA used as an informant before deporting him for undisclosed reasons. His name resurfaced after the FBI reportedly hired the drug dealer as a counter-terrorism informant who claimed he could offer intelligence that al Qaeda suspects were traveling back and forth along the southern border.
Once the FBI activated the former-DEA informant a new DEA wiretap overheard a questionable conversation and alerted the ATF.
Adding insult to injury are claims from a high-ranking Los Zetas leader that the U.S. sanctioned firearm sales. The Los Zetas leader was arrested over the weekend in connection with the murder of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agent Jamie Zapata earlier this year.
Mexican federal police say, Jesus Rejon Aguiler boasted that all the weapons his cartel uses are bought in the U.S. The cartel leader even accused the American government of participating in the sale of weapons, something U.S. officials adamantly deny.
While the exact number of weapons that have walked to Mexico is not known, the disastrous result is violent cartel members are now in procession of these guns and they will turn up at crime scenes on both sides of the border for years to come.
The question Americans’ must demand from lawmakers is “why?” Why were guns allowed to be purchased by known criminals? Why was Mexico kept in the dark about the failing program? Why did DOJ allow this program flourish and carry on?
The level of incompetence surrounding this program is very telling. It appears that the U.S. government’s intelligence agencies have failed to learn the tragic 9/11 lesson; it is imperative that three-letter acronym agencies must share information.
As the country approaches the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, America and her enemies now recognize that agencies like the DOJ, FBI, DEA and ATF are not sharing intelligence and continue to put intra-agency politics ahead of national security.
© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
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Breaking news from senior officials at the White House has confirmed negotiations between the President and Department of Justice have begun to rethink the New York City trial of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and his cohorts.
Amid a growing number of lawmakers, residents and surviving family members the President has began to rethink giving terrorists a platform to insult America in such a open trial.
In recent weeks surviving family members of 9/11 have stepped up their concern for a show trial in NYC. Joining the family members are those from law enforcement and fire departments who suffered a significant losses on 9/11. The cost for the trial is estimated to cost taxpayers more than $200 million per year and the last federal trial of the 20th highjacker took four years to complete.
In an effort to stop the September 11th show trial in NYC, Rep. Bill King (R-NY) has moved to defund the NYC trial of KSM and his cohorts. King explained he has introduced a bill that would prohibit the use of Justice Department funds to try Guantanamo detainees in federal civilian courts. King called the decision to try the case in NYC “one of the worst decisions ever made by any president.” He went on to say military commissions should be trying terror suspects.
Shortly after King’s announcement to cut funding for the trial, Governor of New York David Paterson said he too is seeking to have the trial moved to another location.
In an apparent change of heart, Mayor of NYC Michael Bloomberg said he called Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday to lobby for moving the trial outside lower Manhattan.
Mayor Bloomberg has spoken out against plans to move forward with the trial of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, accused mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, at the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan, joining a growing chorus of people who believe the circus trial will be too disruptive and cost the city too much money.
“It would be great if the federal government could find a site that didn’t cost a billion dollars, which using downtown will,” he said to reporters earlier this week.
“It’s going to cost an awful lot of money and disturb an awful lot of people,” the mayor said. “Can we provide security? Yes. Could you provide security elsewhere? Yeah, and I mean — the suggestion of a military base is probably a reasonably good one. They tend to be outside of cities so that they don’t disrupt other people.”
“He has a good point and the administration should listen to that point. KSM does not have to be tried in NYC,” Democrat Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) said during a MSNBC appearance. “If there is evidence that this will either make NYC a target or present unusual expenses, then the mayor- and I’ve been a mayor- should be listened to.”
This week’s statement from the mayor marked a 180-degree turn from his initial reaction to the news, two months ago, that the trial would be held in Manhattan. ”It is fitting that 9/11 suspects face justice near the World Trade Center site where so many New Yorkers were murdered,” he previously explained.
On behalf of the survivors of 9/11, Human Events, a conservative organization, put together a petition with signatures and have sent it to Attorney General Holder. It read in part; “Mr. Holder, as Attorney General of the United States, it was within your power to move the trial of KSM from a military tribunal to a civilian court. It is equally within your power to reverse that dangerous decision. The petition hereby request that you try al-Qaeda’s confessed 9/11 terrorist mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four al-Qaeda cohorts in a military tribunal, reversing your precedent-changing decision to try them in a civilian court in New York City.”
“Our final words are from David Beamer, father of Todd Beamer, one of the heroes of United Flight 93: ‘Our enemies must be thrilled’ he wrote of your decision to give KSM and the others a civilian trial in Manhattan. We are willingly handing them an opportunity to inflict economic harm on New York City, keep their cause in the headlines, gather new intelligence, create new terror strategies, stimulate recruiting, celebrate new found rights, and foist a fresh round of pain and suffering upon their victims.”
Currently the military tribunal has dismissed the case against KSM and four others without prejudice and they can take up the action and move forward with new proceedings, according to Rudy Giuliani former mayor of NYC during 9/11.
Other prominent lawmakers joining the Mayor Bloomberg’s quest to move the trial include Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) and Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY).
Speaking confidently about the possible NYC terror trial, John Boehner (R-OH) House Minority leader said the President doesn’t have the votes needed to try the case in the Big Apple.
Congress is almost sure to deny President Obama the funds necessary to conduct the trials in the federal courthouse just blocks away from the Twin Towers, ground zero of the 9/11 attacks that cut short the lives of nearly 3,000 civilians.
“The discussions are under way in case the option of holding the trials in New York City is foreclosed upon at either the state or the federal level,” an Obama administration official said.
Obama has stood by Attorney General Holder’s decision to move the suspects, including self-professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to New York to be tried in federal court. Recent polling on this issue finds the majority of Americans would rather see the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks be tried in military tribunals in a quiet fashion.
White House Deputy Press Secretary, Bill Burton said, while the White House backs Holder’s decision to try the mastermind of 9/11 in federal court, senior administration officials see the writing on the wall and there will most likely be a venue change.