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Archive for July 26th, 2011

President Obama Signs Law to Extend FBI’s Mueller 2 More Years; One More Step to Go

FBI Dir. Robert Mueller/fbi file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Inch by inch, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III is moving closer to staying on the job for two more years.

President Obama on Tuesday, in the midst of all the craziness about raising the debt ceiling, signed legislation that enables Mueller to extend his 10-year term two more years. His term is set to expire on Aug. 2.

The House and Senate both passed the law.

Now, in the next phase, the Senate must approve the nomination of Mueller, which is considered a sure thing.

Congressman Connolly Says Congress Undermining ATF

Rep. Connolly

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.) — in the midst of a committee hearing Tuesday in which Congressional members bashed ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious — took time to criticize Congress itself for failing to support ATF.

“I guess I have a slightly different take on this subject,” said Connolly, a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which is investigating the controversial Fast and Furious operation. ” I don’t defend Fast and Furious and I don’t defend the actions of the U.S. Attorney at the time in Phoenix and I certainly believe it was a botched attempt that led to tragedy. Perhaps many tragedies.

“But there’s another part of the story I doubt very much the press will print…because it’s so much easier to print who screamed the loudest at ATF and that you got beat up.

“But what the press won’t proint tomorrow is the fact that Congress’s hands are hardly clean on this subject. We have done everyting to make sure that the F in ATF is nullified.”

“We have made sure that you haven’t got a permanent director for six years….What private company would think it’s ok to lack a permanent CEO for six years?

“We have done everything in our power to try to defang ATF to make sure that it’s toothless. We’ve done everything we can to fight your budget and reduce (it) so that you don’t have the resources to the do the job.

“Some how were’ going to stop the hemorrhaging of arms trafficking going into Mexico with that kind of paltry set of resources.”

Blago Won’t Vanish Quietly; Wants a 3rd Trial

Ex-Gov on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

No suprise: Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich won’t ride off into the sunset — or head to prison — quitely.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Blagojevich, who was convicted last month of 17 of 20 public corruption charges in his retrial, filed a motion Monday for a retrial, alleging judicial bias and error that helped the prosecution “strip away the effective aspects of the defense case.”

“Virtually every error in this trial stemmed from the fact that this Court deprived Blagojevich of the presumption of innocence and exhibited bias against the defense,” the motion asserted, according to the Trib. “The Court formed a closed mind to the evidence and made findings of fact.”

The motion said that “the government did not only benefit from the first trial, it used every opportunity to strip away the effective aspects of the defense case. … The Court rubber-stamped the government’s requests.”

Former ATF Official in Mexico Apologizes to Mexico for Fast and Furious

Darren Gil/cbs file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Darren Gil, the former attache for ATF in Mexico City, apologized Tuesday to his Mexican counterparts for Operation Fast and Furious, the ATF program that encouraged gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers, with the hopes of tracing the guns to Mexican cartels. ATF lost track of many of the guns, some which have showed up at crime scenes.

“As former head of ATF in Mexico, I would like to apologize to my former Mexican law enforcement counterparts and the people of Mexico for Fast and Furious, ” Gil testified Tuesday before a hearing on the operation before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in Washington.

“I hope they understand it was kept secret from me and my colleagues and unfortunately the results of this operation is that the Mexican people will continue to suffer the consequences of narco related firearms violence.

“To put it bluntly, it’s inconceivable in my mind and in the mind of any competent agent to allow firearms to disappear at all. Further more, it’s even more inconceivable that a  competent agent would allow firearms to cross (an) international border, knowing that they were designated for the worst of the worst criminals in the western hemisphere.”

Gil was the first of several witnesses to testify Tuesday morning.

Witnesses also offered condolences to the family of Brian Terry, the Arizona U.S. Border Patrol Agent who was killed last December. Two guns from the Fast and Furious Operation were found at the scene.

Committee members expressed frustration and near disgust at the testimony of  William Newell, the former head of the Arizona, ATF, who admitted the operation had flaws, but the agency did not “walk guns.” Newell continually said he should have conducted more “risk assessment” when conducting the operation to better pinpoint problems.

He said he would do several things differently if he did it again.

Rep. Darrell Issa said that Newell was entitled to his opinions, but not the facts.

Carlos Canino, ATF Acting Attaché to Mexico, expressed his disgust about the investigation and spoke of the hurt he felt when ATF agents told him they were embarrassed to carry an ATF badge after publicity surfaced about Fast and Furious.

Agents Lost Track of More than 1,000 Guns in Fast and Furious; ATF Agents in Mexico Were Furious About Operation

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The latest report on ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious shows that ATF officials in Mexico City were becoming increasingly alarmed and incensed when learning of the number of guns linked to the operation that were being found  at violent crime scenes in Mexico.

The report, released by Rep. Darrell Issa(R-Calif.) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia), also stated that federal agents running the operation out of Arizona could not account for more than 1,000 guns bought by suspects in  the operation that encouraged gun dealers in Arizona to sell to middlemen or straw purchasers, with the hopes of tracing the guns to the Mexican cartels.

The report is being released just at the Issa’s Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is set to conduct hearings on the matter on Tuesday at 10 a.m. The testimony is expected to be explosive.

“The consequences of arming Mexican drug cartels seem obvious,” Issa said in a statement. “But even guns turning up at crime scenes in Mexico wasn’t enough for Justice Department officials to arrest straw purchasers and shut down their trafficking operations. Tragically, it wasn’t until Fast and Furious guns were found at the murder scene of a Border Patrol Agent that Justice officials finally ended this reckless and arrogant effort.”

Grassley added: “ It’s incomprehensible that officials at the Justice Department, the ATF and the U.S. attorney’s office would keep their counterparts at the U.S. embassy in Mexico City in the dark about Operation Fast and Furious. Keeping key details secret while straw purchasers continued buying weapons for gun traffickers jeopardized our relationship with our southern ally and put lives at risk.”

A press release issued by Issa and Grassley also stated:

There was little to no information sharing from the Phoenix Field Division, ATF Headquarters and the Justice Department to their colleagues in Mexico City. Every time Mexico City officials asked about the mysterious investigation, their U.S. based ATF counterparts in Phoenix and Washington, D.C. continued to say they were “working on it” and “everything was under control.”

Lanny Breuer, the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division at the Justice Department, was clearly aware of Operation Fast and Furious and touted the case during a visit to Mexico.

ATF officials in Mexico City were incredulous that their agency would knowingly allow guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, and they were incensed when they finally began to learn the full scope of Operation Fast and Furious and the investigative techniques used.

To read report click here.