Senator Chuck Grassley is like a dog after a bone when it comes to investigations. It is a point of pride for the Senator. He even puts this on his website when describing himself:
As Iowa’s hired hand in Washington, Grassley immerses himself in the nitty-gritty work of rigorous government oversight. Grassley is a leader when it comes to shedding light on the federal bureaucracy and bringing transparency to the people’s business.
In fact, Grassley’s whistleblower laws have become the federal government’s #1 anti-fraud tool. Thanks to his ongoing legislative victories to protect whistleblowers, taxpayers have gotten back more than $22 billion that would otherwise have been lost to fraud .
So when the ATF sent Asst. Director McDormand and a delegation of ATF heavies to brief Sen. Grassley on Operation Gunrunner, I’m guessing they thought they could blow smoke and he’d buy it. According to an internal report presented at a meeting of Special Agents in Charge, they thought it went well.
ATF briefed Senator Grassley’s office relative to memo written to ATF and recent whistleblower allegations concerning Southwest Border. AD McDermond thought meeting went well and that ATF delegation provided full debriefing of Project Gunrunner and ATF’s Firearms Trafficking strategy overall.
It didn’t. Sen. Grassley sent a new letter to Attorney General Eric Holder describing the meeting saying:
I appreciate the staff briefing that Department of Justice (DOJ) and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) officials provided on February 10, 2011. However, the briefers focused on general issues related to challenges in successfully prosecuting gun trafficking cases. They refused to answer specific questions about the facts and circumstances that led me to request the briefing.
Specifically, they refused to say whether the approximately 103 weapons seized according to the Jaime Avila indictment were the only seizures related to the nearly 770 weapons mentioned in the indictment. They refused to say whether the third assault rifle purchased by Avila in January 2010—the one not found at the scene of CBP Agent Brian Terry’s shooting—has been recovered elsewhere. When asked whether ATF had encouraged any gun dealer to proceed with sales to known or suspected traffickers such as Avila, the briefers said only that they did not have any “personal knowledge” of that.
So now as a result of a dog and pony show gone bad, Sen. Grassley is now asking for very detailed documents. His document request is so specific that it indicates for all the world to see that he has inside information from whistle-blowers and he won’t be put off with a meaningless data dump. Here is what he requested:
Therefore, please provide the following documents to the Committee:
1) All records relating to communications between the ATF and the Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) who sold the weapons to Avila, including any Report of Investigation (ROI) or other records relating to the December 17, 2009 meeting “to discuss his role as an FFL during this investigation.”
2) All records relating to communications between ATF headquarters and Phoenix Special Agent in Charge (SAC) William Newell from December 1, 2010 to the present, including a memorandum, approximately 30 pages long, from SAC Newell to ATF headquarters following the arrest of Jaime Avila and the death of CBP Agent Brian Terry.
3) A copy of the presentation, approximately 200 pages long, that the Group 7 Supervisor made to officials at ATF Headquarters in the Spring of 2010.
4) Copies of all e-mails related to Operation Fast and Furious, the Jaime Avila case, or the death of CBP Agent Brian Terry sent to or from SAC Newell, Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) George Gillette, Group 7 Supervisor, or the Case Agent between November 1, 2009 and January 31, 2011.
Grassley set a deadline of February 23rd for receipt of the first batch of documents.
David Codrea sent a Freedom of Information Act request today requesting “any memorandum, report, summary or other communication that describes what happened at the meeting (with Grassley), including a description of any oral briefing and what was said by both sides, and include copies of any such documents filed or stored, or designated for filing and storage, at the Office of Public and Government Affairs.” It will remain to be seen what David gets back and how redacted any documents will be.
As an aside, SAC William Newell has been transferred to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City as the new ATF Attache. This and the thought that ASAC George Gillette could be promoted to head the Phoenix Division has caused much discussion on CleanUpATF.org.
I think Sen. Grassley’s request for specific documents has just upped the ante exponentially. The question then is when the mainstream media will deem it important enough to cover. We are still waiting for most of them to even acknowledge that a weapon sold in the U.S. could have killed Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.