CBS News has been among the few mainstream media outlets to treat the “Operation Fast and Furious” scandal as a big story all along. They just published some tapes of an amazing conversation between Arizona gun dealer Andrew Howard, who was one of the dealers used by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to deliberately sell American guns to Mexican drug cartels, and ATF agent Hope MacAllister.
Howard’s Lone Wolf Trading Company sold the guns that later turned up at the scene of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder. The tapes were made in February, just as the scandal was appearing on the radar screen of those who did not choose to studiously ignore it, like most of the supposedly scandal-hungry mainstream media.
A.W.R. Hawkins has a great write-up this morning of the “Watergate-sized leak” these tapes blow in the Obama Administration’s stone wall. I wanted to add a few other points from the CBS News transcript that jumped out at me:
First and foremost, after talking some smack about Senator Charles Grassley of the Judiciary Committee – who, according to the tapes, is an “arrogant bastard” – Agent MacAllister claims she actually suggested hiring a private investigator to dig up dirt on Grassley to shut him up. She makes it sound like a joke she told to break the tense mood in a meeting with her superiors. It sounds like MacAllister is a real live wire during ATF conference calls.
Agent: That’s kind of what my suggestion but nobody thought that was funny like if I were a P.I. I’d put him on Grassley, I’m sure there’s a lot would go away. Actually my one suggestion was just tell him in a registered Republican. I’m sure if he knew that everything would be fine, they didn’t like that either.
(I think CBS made an error in transcription, and what she said was “just tell him I’m a registered Republican.”) Remember, she’s hanging out and shooting the breeze with the guy who sold the weapons that murdered Brian Terry – a gun dealer the ATF wants to have sustained contact with straw buyers for Mexican terrorist gangs.
The conversation that culminated in the private investigator comment began with Howard asking MacAllister, “Do your people have any confidence that you forestall a subpoena?” She thinks they’re in good shape, because “as of right now, we don’t have any interest from anybody in the majority party to the extent that [Grassely] has shown interest.”
By “majority party” she means Democrats, because she’s talking about the Senate. She’s expressing confidence that the Democrat Party can keep Fast and Furious hidden from the American people. The people running Fast and Furious knew it was a nightmare in need of serious cover-up from Day One, and they were counting on the Democrat Party to help.
To add a bit of bipartisanship to the outrage, however, it should be noted that Howard thinks Democrat Pat Leahy, who heads the Judiciary Committee, is also an “arrogant bastard” and an “a-hole.” MacAllister does not object in any way to this assessment. That might finally get Leahy interested in investigating the greatest abuse of law-enforcement power in modern history.
Here’s the real bombshell: these tapes make it clear that, contrary to his absurd denials, Attorney General Eric Holder was actively involved in covering up the “Gun Walker” scandal.
Agent: My understanding also is that the Attorney General’s office is supposed to come out little bit stronger…um…
Dealer: I understand that.
Agent: position…which may or may not, um, you know, help.
Dealer: I’ll tell you what I’ll give him that, he’s got f—ing b—s making that statement. I don’t wanna even go there.
Agent MacAllister and her buddy obviously know Holder is deliberately running a cover-up. Howard is admiring his “f—ing b—s” for trying to claim ignorance before Congress.
Dealer: What’s Holders’ office got to say about this?
Agent: Well like I said they’re supposed to come out with little more um b—-y statement than they have in the past, so…
Dealer: God they’re (intell)
Agent: I mean at some point they’re gonna say have to say Grassley you’re just gonna have to sit your a– down. I mean that or they’re gonna have to (unintell). I mean like I said my understanding is he can’t call a hearing. Somebody from the majority party has got to call a congressional hearing and as of right now…
Dealer: Patrick Leahy’s an a—-e, you know that. He gets ahold of something he’s like a dog with a bone.
Agent: As of right now we don’t have any info that’s occurred. So…
Dealer: No, not now, but
Agent: I know there was a presentation given to Judiciary committee and everybody aside from Grassley is is satisfied. At least at this point.
Dealer: So they say you know I don’t trust em…
Agent: No but I mean that’s all I’ve got…it’s all (unintell.)
(Emphasis mine.) Well, it’s a damn good thing for America that Chuck Grassley wasn’t satisfied, isn’t it? Tough break for Agent MacAllister, Eric Holder, ATF director Ken Melson, and the other conspirators, though.
A final point: the CBS tapes strongly tie the FBI into the Gun Walker debacle. Agent MacAllister actually thinks the FBI is floating in hotter water than the ATF:
Dealer: But you have got to put the word out there to all the departments tell the f——g FBI shut the f— up. (whispering)
Agent: FBI’S got their own problems, trust me.
Dealer: I know I hear.
Agent: They’ve got their own problems.
Agent: If anybody’s gonna get sued it’s gonna be the FBI in my opinion.
[…] Dealer: What is it with the FBI they just have a h— on for you guys or what?
Agent: The FBI’s got their own problems. Like I said they’re focusing on our problems they should probably turn it inward, cause they got their own problems right now.
Dealer: That ain’t no lie.
Agent: So.. so hahaha.
The conversations also address the weapons found at the scene of Agent Brian Terry’s murder, including the mysterious “third gun,” whose existence was heavily concealed until just last week. These two were talking about the third gun in February. They’re discussing evidence that was excluded from court records.
CBS News reports that the tapes of MacAllister and Howard’s conversation made a very interesting journey through the Justice Department:
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.
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.”
In a conference call with bloggers on Tuesday, Rep. Issa said he would “very much like to have a true special prosecutor” to cut through the Gun Walker stonewall, once he has concluded his own investigation. He hopes that will happen later this year, but he’s got a lot to look into, including other gunwalking operations in Florida and Indiana.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder must go. Now. It is painfully clear he cannot be trusted anywhere near the Justice Department. America desperately needs his job to be taken over by some relentless a-hole who acts like a dog with a bone.