Andre Howard of Lone Wolf Trading Company in Glendale, AZ is not stupid. After being forced to cooperate with the ATF agents runnings Operation Fast and Furious, he took the smart step to record some of his conversations with one of the lead agents in the operation, ATF Agent Hope McAllister.
These tapes have been turned over by Mr. Howard to the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General and to Congressional investigators. In the tape below obtained by Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News, Howard and McAllister are discussing the third firearm that turned up at the scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder. The transcript of the tape can be found on the CBS News website above.
If you may recall, President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich have all said that that the DOJ Office of Inspector General should be the lead investigator into whether there was any wrongdoing in Operation Fast and Furious. Sharyl Attkisson reports today that the OIG is reported to have passed these tapes along to one of the subjects of the investigation – the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Arizona.
Law enforcement sources and others close to the Congressional investigation say the Justice Department’s Inspector General obtained the audio tapes several months ago as part of its investigation into Fast and Furious.
Then, the sources say for some reason the Inspector General passed the tapes along to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona: a subject in the investigation. It’s unclear why the Inspector General, who is supposed to investigate independently, would turn over evidence to an entity that is itself under investigation. The Inspector General’s office had no immediate comment.
I am speculating here but one explanation as to why OIG turned over evidence to the U.S. Attorney’s Office would be so as to coach their testimony whether before OIG investigators or before Congressional investigators.
The role of OIG in this investigation is and has been tainted from the very start. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) recognized this early on which is why he called for an assignment to an outside Inspector General in a letter to the head of Integrity Committee of the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency back in March.
UPDATE: The DOJ OIG sent a response to CBS on why the tapes were given to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona:
A spokesman from the Office of the Inspector General today said, “The OIG officially provided the United States Attorney’s Office with a copy of the recordings in question so that the USAO could consider them in connection with the government’s disclosure obligations in the pending criminal prosecutions of the gun traffickers. Prior to receiving the tapes, the OIG made clear that we would have to provide a copy of the recordings to the United States Attorney’s Office because they would need to review them to satisfy any legal disclosure obligations.”