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Ouch! Make ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious Mess Go Away

William Newell

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

OUCH! Make it stop.

It’s becoming all too painful to see the Congressional probe into ATF’s highly-flawed operation dubbed Fast and Furious.

Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley have been leading the charge into the investigation of the operation that encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hope of tracing them to the Mexican cartels.  The two Republicans have been releasing one embarrassing fact after another over the past months.

ATF has looked bad. So has the Justice Department.  On Tuesday, it was all the more painful to watch the Issa’s  Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hold a hearing on Capitol Hill.

Some ATF agents who testified, who were based in Mexico ,were apologetic and embarrassed about Fast and Furious. That was heartening and good to see.

But what wasn’t so fun to see was William Newell, the former head of the ATF Phoenix Division, who helped lede the Fast and Furious operation.  Newell may be a decent guy, but I’m told he lacked the experience needed to foresee that Operation Fast and Furious was going to be a disaster.

Newell came off like the consumate company man. He drove committee members up the wall when he consistently said ATF did not “walk guns”, when in fact ATF, under his leadership,  clearly did. As if that weren’t bad enough, he admitted that there were some flaws in the operation, but refused to come clean and say it simply stunk.

He just kept saying he should have conducted more “risk assessment” during the operation to better pinpoint problems. It sounded bad.

Interestingly, Newell has been holed up in Washington helping Congressional investigators and the Inspector General’s Office investigate the whole mess.  He’s been assigned to be the ATF attache in Mexico City. He has yet to go.

And if ATF and the White House have any smarts, they won’t send him to Mexico  as the attache.  The Mexican  government is still fuming over the operation that put more deadly guns into the hands of the out-of-control drug cartels. If they do, you can bet that Newell won’t be given a king’s welcome down there. In fact, who knows, the Mexican government could arrest him for his role in Fast and Furious.

In any event, let’s get the warts and all of this operation out in the open quickly. Let’s end this painful mess.

Make it go away.


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